The aroma of blueberry pie filled the entire house, making Samuel’s mouth water. He stared as his mama gently carried the pie from the oven to the window sill. The light breeze carried the fragrance of goodness into his nostrils, distracting him from his homework. His 7-year-old stomach grumbled.
“We’ll let that cool down and it’ll be delicious with ice cream tonight,” mama said, putting away the potholders. “Keep an eye on your sister’s birthday dessert, but not your fingers.”
His younger sister Alice was born at the perfect time of year–the time when blueberries were at their ripest and sweetest. Samuel wasn’t as fortunate. He was born in December and he usually got apple pie for his birthday, which was good, but not as good as his mama’s blue ribbon blueberry pie.
He imagined how good it would be, how tasty and sweet. Alice would love it, but he would love it more.
A slight gasp broke into Samuel’s reverie just in time for him to see a small dirty hand draw back in pain. He stared intently at the pie, a look of bewilderment forming on his face. A small coat was thrown over the pie and it was quickly pulled from the windows sill.
Adrenaline pumped through his young veins.
Some filthy slyboots was making off with mama’s pie!
Samuel was out the kitchen door, running hard through the woods, fully determined despite the pace of the thief.
He was a strong and fast runner, but he wasn’t as fast of a runner. Fortunately Samuel was more careful. He saw the exposed root before the thief did. A piercing scream shattered the silence of the woods as the thief and the pie went down.
The sound of mama’s favorite ceramic pie dish cracking made Samuel’s blood boil. He knew mama would be devastated. She baked all her contest pies in that dish.
To Samuel’s surprise the thief was undeterred, grabbing for handfuls of pie chunks and swallowing the steamy mass without hesitation.
“What are you doing,” Samuel yelled. “You’ll burn yourself or cut yourself.”
He wanted to lecture the boy on the perils of stealing and the importance of being honorable.
Seeing that his warning was being completely ignored, he tried to wrestle the hungry thief away from the shattered pie and possible danger only to realize that the thief was actually a little girl. She was dirty and seemed to be starving, but definitely a girl.
Samuel was surprised, but moreso he was impressed. He was a fast runner, and usually no one could keep up with him… until today.
“What’s your name and why’d you steal my sister’s birthday pie,” he demanded, trying to sound stern like his father when it came to times of discipline.
Now the thief looked sheepish and slightly embarrassed with the guilt dying the skin around her mouth purple.
“Emma Lynn,” she said, quietly. Her mouth was still full of pie.
“I was hungry… I haven’t eaten in days…”
Samuel’s hungry stomach and anger was overtaken by sadness and compassion. The girl looked like she was around his age, but she hadn’t eaten in days. The thought worried him.
“You didn’t have to steal, though,”he said. “My family doesn’t mind sharing our food. We always have extra and we often have dinner guests.”
In the distance, he heard his mama yelling his name in that way she did when he was in trouble and there was no way to appease her.
“Here, we better go back,” he said, extending his hand.
Emma Lynn shook her head furiously, fear clouding her teary eyes.
Mama called his name once more, sending fear into Samuel’s bloodstream. When mama called your name once you were in trouble. If mama called your name a second time there was no hope.
Without a second thought, Samuel shoved his hand into the pie and smeared it across his face. He glanced down and Emma Lynn and smiled before he took off running, faster than he thought imaginable.
With each lashing, he was sure Emma Lynn must’ve heard his cries throughout the night. He wondered what she thought and if she was finally full.
With a sore backside and an empty stomach, Samuel laid face down on his bed that night thinking about the girl. Years later, as an adult, he would enjoy many more slices of blueberry pie and reminisce on how that one dessert connected him to the girl who became his running partner, his best friend, and his future wife.