Sccccrrraaaaaape... scratch, scratch, PLOP! ScrrrrrAAAAAPE-scrape-scrape, PLOP!
Her eyes popped open wide. She instantly held her breath as she tried to identify the noise that had woken her.
Straining, she could hear the faint sounds of wood scraping against metal... the barely-there ring in the air... singing in her ears.
The room was purpley-black, the sheets smelling delicately of downy.
Slowly and carefully the girl twisted and slid her feet from the warm, silky-soft cotton sheets and toward the thickly carpeted floor.
Olive green shag carpet, to be exact.
Emma's little back arched, reaching down the side of the bed. When her toes found the fuzzy warmth, she grabbed gropingly for her red plastic frames on the bedside table.
Glasses on her nose, she tip-toed to the doorway and leaned against the frame. Her knobby, freckled knees peeked out from the oversized t-shirt she slept in; a large, gray, much worn and washed affair stolen from an older male cousin or brother.
Pressing her side into the doorway, she hugged the frame tightly, willing herself not to be afraid. Her knuckles were white as she gripped the wood, tracing the grooves absent-mindedly with a thumb.
Why are old houses so creepy at night? She whispered silently to her eleven year old self. It doesn't help that I've had the monster dream again, where my family all turn into werewolves, vampires and ghouls... she swallowed.
The hallway was deep and murky; paneled in dark walnut it made a sharp contrast to the light blue pastel walls of the bedroom she was in.
Squeezing her eyes shut as the scary scraping sound began again, she quickly counted to eleven in her head (one year for each in her age). Her breath tight in her chest, she exhaled silently and slowly, feeling goosebumps trickle down her arms and legs, her hair standing on end and sending her into a shiver.
Heart thudding her pulse against her throat, she peered right, then left.
Her bedroom was the front room, on the left side of the corner of the hallway. She could see that the middle bedroom door on the right, part way down the hall, was open; her grandmother must be awake too.
Looking further down, she could see the blackness of the back bedroom, its door slightly ajar.
She stepped out into the hall and spun around, pinning her shoulders against the wall and freezing motionless for a moment. When nothing grabbed her, she began inching toward the dark of bathroom doorway.
There was a light on in the kitchen; the glow was leaking out into the hall.
Her hair had flopped thickly into her eyes. She roughly shoved the curls away so she could see, then padded silently toward the kitchen door, hugging the opposite wall with her back just in case something decided to jump out at her.
Then, the scraping stopped completely.
She was perhaps a foot from the door, splayed tightly against the wall.
Suddenly, a round figure burst through the swinging dutch doors of the kitchen, blocking the glow.
"What in the world are you doin' out here pressed against the wall Kid?" Her grandmother asked her sternly, frowning down at the child over her apron.
The woman wasn't tall, just under five feet, with ample curves above and below her tiny waist. Her bunny-slipper covered feet were spread shoulder-width apart; a linebacker couldn't have knocked her off balance.
She had one hand propped on her hip, and the other waggling a wooden spoon covered in cookie dough at the girl's nose. Her curly silver hair was coiffed perfectly; framing her ruddy cheeks and head like an electric halo.
"Well, I heard a noise and---"
"Fair enough. You wanna' help? Lordy! You 'bout scared the bejeezus outta' me like that. I oughta' make you warsh' dishes, you little TURKEY!" she finished with emphasis, grabbing Emma by the back of her t-shirt and hustling her into the kitchen.
The yellow, orange, white and green plaid linoleum gleamed brightly in the stove light. The shades were drawn, but the first light of sunrise was shining pinkly through their translucent cotton eyelets. The cream coloured walls with 50's style stripes and daisies began to lighten as the sun came up.
"Wash your hands and bring that stool over t'me," the old woman bellowed, tossing the spoon back into an enormous metal bowl and scraping the dough into a large ball in the middle.
Well, that explains the scary sound, thought Emma as she smiled to herself.
Cookie pans were greased and ready on top of the gas stove, as she brought the stool to the counter beside her grandmother.
Winking and staring sternly down into her granddaughter's brown eyes, magnified by their red frames, she thrust two teaspoons in to her little hands.
"Scoop 'em and ball 'em and put 'em not more nor less'n 2 inches apart on those sheets, y'hear?"
"Yes Ma'am," came the proud reply.
Leave it to her grandmother to make cookies at 4:30 AM the morning of Halloween.
I love food. I also love cooking.
I have been known to bake things "simply because," and lately my culinary creations have revolved around chocolate.
I bake every week for my choir companions (we rehearse fairly late in the evening) so this week it was double chocolate pecan cake and petit fours.
First take your favorite chocolate cake recipe (mine is gluten-free, vegan and has a bit of pumpkin and coconut oil in it) and add chocolate chunks/chips and pecans. Bake per usual.
Easy, huh? :-D
The petit fours I made were mocha cake with cinnamon coconut cream as the filling, and covered in dark chocolate-- again, all gf and v.
Having never made petit fours before, I owe my success to a petit-four pan-- I didn't have to fuss with baking sheet cake, freezing it and then carving or cutting out the little shapes with cookie cutters.
BAH to that I say! Not when there are pans with teensy little cake shapes that waste none of the precious batter! :-D
Anyway, I say the way to people's hearts is most definitely through their stomachs.
So, go show someone you love them.
Bake, cook, toss or just offer somebody a bite.
They'll love you for it. :-D