ALL ACCOUNTS AND MIXTURE: Prose by Rachel Ambrose

Butter and a Whole Lot of Need

My mama Eudora was a champion pie baker; her chocolate pecan pie could bring a woman to orgasm after three bites. I saw it happen clear as day in my kitchen when I was eight years old. Formative stuff, that kind of thing, hence my appreciation for beautiful, breathless women and a good piece of pie. Sometimes you can’t tell one from the other.

She died when I was twenty three, and like all good witches, she didn’t leave her recipe book behind. I have no idea where she put it, and neither does anyone else. It poofed into thin air when she did. Maybe the book never really existed in the first place, and it was all in her head. I call her a witch, but that’s not strictly true; there wasn’t any sorcery in her crust, just butter and a whole lot of need. Feminine need, like the itch to run your fingers down someone else’s spine to just feel their skin, to taste it with your thumb. And there was longing. If my mama couldn’t get my father to kiss her that night, she’d sweat it out in the kitchen, 3 AM in the middle of July with the sweet smell of strawberries hanging heavy in the air. And we all knew when she and Daddy were having a fight. That was the only time she’d make blueberry pie, his favorite. The chocolate pies were for her lady friends, and I viewed them like I viewed lipstick and moisturizer: a welcome reward for the backbreaking task of getting through motherhood unscathed.

When she died, at the moment of her passing, I was in the kitchen in my fancy apartment uptown, and inexplicably, the air was filled with the smell of cinnamon and peaches, and I knew. I ran to my car, shoes clacking against the pavement, heel straps flying undone behind me, and drove home like I had the fire of the Devil inside me. I honked my horn all the way there, because it was better than letting my screams echo in my own ears, and when I tore myself out of my seat belt and stumbled inside, it felt like the pilot light on the oven had gone out. There was no more warmth. There was only a cooling pie on the counter, chocolate and pomegranate, as if to mark my ascent into womanhood as she passed into the underworld. After the doctors and medics came, after arrangements had been made, after I had pressed my last kiss into her gray skin, I allowed myself to cut a slice. Bitter and sweet and dark and rich. I added the salt from my tears as a final flourish. Mama always did like a little salt.


Rachel Ambrose is a twenty-something writer from Connecticut. She enjoys reading and writing about powerful queer ladies, eating cake for lunch, and cooking eggs for dinner. She can be found @victorywhiskey on Twitter and victorywhiskeyjuliet on Tumblr. Her work has been previously published in 2014: A Year in Stories, Crack the Spine and The Colton Review.