How to Eat a Cherry Pie

Or Over the Falls in a Cherry Pie
Based on the Characters from Over the Falls in a Suitcase

By Kathleen Vincenz

“Choo, choo!” Lindsey called as she dragged Roscoe behind her on the green blanket from her bed. As the blanket train glided up and over the bumps in the tile floor, Roscoe expressed his thanks with a “Ga!” as he rocked side to side, back and forth. Nine-month-old Roscoe was a chunky baby with neck folds within folds and his sweaty strawberry-red hair sat up in tufts in protest to the heat.

Lindsey and Roscoe were headed to the kitchen. She’d just read him twelve board books and her throat was dry and sore and needed refreshing. As she entered the kitchen, she stopped the train with a “Whoa,” when she spotted a cherry pie on the counter.

The pie was nestled in Mom’s best blue ceramic pie pan and an R for Roscoe had been carved in the top of which cherries had bubbled and boiled. But the R was ruined. Someone had gashed through it when they’d stolen a piece of pie. And, in the vacant space where the piece of pie should have been sat a clump of cherries, as if they were holding a meeting to discuss the theft of their home. Probably Dad took the piece—dads always could eat what they wanted.

Mom had said she was making the pie for company—it seemed to Lindsey it had been important company but she hadn’t really listened. Maybe the company had already come and that was why the piece was missing. Oh, she wished it was true. It’d been two hours since lunch and she was feeling peckish—she’d just read that word in her new library book, The Sisters of the Green Valley.

“Peckish,” she said again and touched her stomach.

“Who are you talking to?” Jenna said into Lindsey’s ear.  

Lindsey jumped with a start and whipped around to glare at Jenna, but she stared instead at their teacup Yorkshire terrier, Meredith.  Jenna had pushed furry face in Lindsey’s. Staring face to face with the little brown and white dog with the wet black nose and red bow tied on top like a cherry, Lindsey couldn’t be mad and scratched Meredith under her chin. Meredith returned the affection with a lick on Lindsey’s hand with her purple sandy tongue.

“I don’t know which is hotter, Jenna,” Lindsey said. “Meredith’s tongue or your breath in my ear. How do you creep up on me like that?”

“I can creep up on you like that because you’re always daydreaming.” Jenna flicked her straight black hair behind her ear. “It’s hot in here. Why don’t we take Roscoe and Meredith and go—” She stopped as her gaze fell on the cherry pie.

“You ate the cherry pie?” Jenna sputtered as she set Meredith down. “When did Mom say we could eat it? I’m taking some too. You and Gwen can’t have it all.”

“Are you using my name in vain?” Gwen said as she walked in through the backdoor of the kitchen letting in a breeze of humid summer air that mingled with the heat in the kitchen from the baking of the pie. Mom hadn’t exactly picked the right day to bake a pie—she’d cooked the house along with the pie.

“But look, Gwen, Mom’s pie. Someone took a piece.” Jenna jabbed her finger at it. “Mom let me carve the R for Roscoe in the top and sprinkle it with sugar. And now my R is ruined!”

“So lame,” Gwen walked over in a languid model strut to where both Lindsey’s and Jenna’s long hair hung over the pie. She sniffed. “I am not governed by my baser instincts—I don’t droll over pie. Besides, Paul and I had Eggs Benedict at La French Bistro for $10 each.” Gwen touched her stomach, “I have to save my figure. He took me after church with his parents like I was part of the family.”

Lindsey had wished they’d invited her too—not for Paul but for Paul’s brother Matt. Not that she really had wanted to go—too much trouble ordering and thinking of something to say.

“Oh, la, la!” Jenna twirled her index finger in the air. “Eggs Benedict! Eggs covered in a yellow sauce on an English Muffin. Big whip. Dad can make that at home for a dollar.”

As Jenna said that, Lindsey remembered the movie Funny Girl they’d watched the other night when Barbra Streisand was impressed by paté until she realized it was liverwurst. Jenna had just given Gwen her Funny Girl moment.

“Oh, Eggs Benedict,” Lindsey mimicked Barbara Streisand, “I eat it all day.”

Jenna joined her in the mimic adding a tilted hand in the air. “Everyday!”

“You guys are so dumb,” Gwen said tossing her hair she’d cut short bob for the summer with her blonde streak on display. She hoped to volunteer at the hospital and wear a scrub. “I don’t care about Eggs Benedict, pie, or you—especially you.” She twisted to leave but she tripped on the blanket. “Ros—Jon. You guys leave Ros—Jon—on the floor to be tripped on?” She bent down to pick up Roscoe. “Come to Gwen, Jon.”

Gwen’s favorite exercise was sitting and bossing them from the living room, so her arms were two sticks so Lindsey helped Gwen lift him up.

“Baby Roscoe!” Jenna cajoled. “Come to Jenna.” She made a sweet face she used to cajole a new hat from Dad.

“No, to Lindsey!” Lindsey held out her hands. “Lindsey reads to little Roscoe.”

Gwen squeezed him tight. “I don’t what you dummies calling him Roscoe,” she said. “It took me nine months of cajoling Mom and Dad to name him Jon, with no “H” and you two ruin it by calling him Roscoe.”

“But look at him?” Jenna chucked him under a chin fold. “He’s a Roscoe.”

“Ga!” Roscoe said and Lindsey had to agree as she looked at his pokey nose and strawberry eyebrows and tufts of strawberry blonde hair like Dad’s. A Roscoe not a Jon. Poor hot sweaty baby with a fake name. She patted his tufts of hair, but they sprang back. She scooted to the refrigerator and got him a bottle of water. He sucked while Gwen rocked him.

“You just hate it because I discovered the right name,” Jenna said and turned her attention to the pie, poking at the hole in the top where the cherries had bubbled out. “Do you think we can have a piece? Do you think the company has already come?”

“How about using logic, dummies,” Gwen answered. “Ask.”

“I think you should ask first too.” Lindsey nodded but studied the three cherries at a meeting in the vacant space.

“Mom can we have a piece?” Jenna screamed.

Silence. Not even a parent telling them to come and ask them and not shout from another room.

Lindsey prodded the three cherries at the meeting. Who would notice if three cherries were gone even if the answer to Jenna’s yell was no? She plopped them in her mouth. “Mmmm.”

And then another “Mmmm” when the tartness of the cherries peeked through the sugar. Roscoe stared at her from Gwen’s arms, watching her chew.

“No fair! You took some filling,” Jenna yelled. “The best part. I thought you told me to ask first?”

“No answer,” Lindsey shrugged. “They’re probably entertaining the company. Duh. Do you remember who the company was?”

“Probably the aunts,” Jenna said and broke off a piece of crust by her R. As she ate it, Roscoe dropped his bottle of water and reached for it.

“That’s any awful nice pie for just Mom’s sisters,” Gwen broke off an edge of crust and chewed.  

“Roscoe’s watching you,” Lindsey picked up his bottle and set it on the sink. “Did you see him watch me eat the cherries?”

“He never tasted cherry pie!” Jenna exclaimed. “That’s why. I’ll just give him a cherry. No one will notice.” Jenna plucked a cherry from the pie.

“Roscoe-ie!” Jenna held the cherry in front of him, ruby red and shiny. “Baby, do you want a cherry?”

“Don’t give him the whole thing,” Gwen said in her “I’m-the-boss-of-the-family” voice. “Tear it in half.”

Jenna tore off a portion of the cherry, eating the other half before holding the cherry portion out to Roscoe. “Open wide, Roscoe-ie!” Roscoe opened his mouth and Jenna placed the cherry on his tongue. He gummed it. His eyes widened and then squished shut like a bird who dug in the earth for a gritty brown worm and was startled to discover he’d tugged out a sour gummy worm instead.

“A little tart, baby?” Lindsey smiled at him. “That’s the surprise of Mom’s cherry pies. Look, he wants more. He’s one of us.”

Roscoe had opened his eyes and his mouth. Jenna plopped another piece of a cherry in his mouth. He gummed his gums. He squished his eyes. He opened his mouth for more.

“I’ll get a spoon,” Jenna ran to the silverware drawer. Taking out a soup spoon, Jenna scooped out the cherry filling, devoured it herself, and then licked the spoon to a shine. “Ah, the filling is the best!”

“Jenna!” Lindsey protested. “That was supposed to be for Roscoe! Look at his face. His mouth is quivering. He’s going to cry.” Lindsey’s own mouth salivated as she imagined eating the cherries.

“Oh, I’ll get him more.” Jenna scooped out another spoonful and gave one cherry to Roscoe and ate the rest.

“Now look at what you did, dummy.” Gwen pointed to the pie.

The pie was hollow and vacant where Jenna had dug out the cherries, like a person could knock on the pie crust and hear an echo because no one was home.

Lindsey looked around guiltily for Mom, but she still was no whereabouts and hadn’t answered their question of whether they could have any. Jenna and Gwen looked around too. Lindsey sure wished she remembered who the company was.

“Oh, take Jon, you idiots. I’ll fix it.” Gwen thrust Roscoe at Lindsey. “I’ll just cut the crust where Jenna removed the cherries.”

She grabbed a nearby butter knife and approached the pie. Lindsey crowded around her with Jenna as usual breathing in Lindsey’s ear from behind.

“I’ll slice the crust with the lightest touch so it won’t crumble.” Gwen sliced with the dull butter knife.

“You did a terrible job!” Jenna yelled. “The pie is all jagged where you cut it.”

“Oh, dear.” Gwen sliced a bit more and then a bit more. Still jagged. “Oh well,” she nibbled the crust pieces and then swallowed them in a gulp. “Yumm.”

“Are you doing that on purpose?” Jenna demanded.

“I’ll fix it,” Lindsey handed Roscoe to Jenna. Almost a half of the pie was already gone. If she didn’t take some, it might all be gone. “You shouldn’t have used a butter knife. It’s too dull. You should have used—"

Lindsey glided her to the knife butcher block and withdrew a steak knife. Using her lightest touch like the surgeon she hoped she grow up to be, she sliced a minuscule sliver of pie. She was pleased. The slice was less than an eighth of an inch and perfectly straight. She slid the long narrow slice of pie off the knife and into her mouth. Oh, yum! Not too hot and not too cold—fairy-tale perfect. She smiled up at her audience.

“Lindsey!” Jenna howled. “You’re only supposed to make it straight. Not eat it.”

Lindsey shrugged and sliced another eighth and slid it into her mouth. That’d gone so well, she sliced another eighth. Oh, double, triple yum.

When she’d cut the additional sliver, a few cherries slurped out of the pie into the empty space in the pie pan where the original three had sat at the meeting.

“Don’t touch those cherries,” she warned. “They make it look just like the pie did when we came in.” It’s subterfuge because—she was pleased to say—the pie appeared as if no one had touched it after the original thief—only with a lot more missing.

“It doesn’t look at all like when we came in,” Jenna said. “Lots is missing. Meredith might as well have some if all of us did.” Down on the floor, Meredith stuck out her plum-colored tongue. She always did that when she was in the kitchen. Such a smart dog to know that anything the sisters ate was hers too.

“Here, take back, Roscoe.” Jenna thrust Roscoe at Gwen, who sat him back on the blanket. Jenna poked her index finger into the pie and then held it up with a cherry on top like Jack Horner.

She bent down and offered the cherry to Meredith. “For you.”

Meredith licked and licked. She squished her stubby black nose. Jenna laughed.

“Don’t like the sourness? That’s the best part.” Jenna returned to the pie.

“A dog and a baby can’t have the whole pie,” Gwen said. “I’m getting my fair share.”

“I am too,” Lindsey said.

Lindsey and Gwen opened the utensil drawer and studied the array of ladles, spatulas, and can openers.

“Ice cream scoop! For my fair share.” Gwen ran back to the pie, missing Roscoe watching from the floor.

“Ladle,” Lindsey laughed. “A ladle of cherries.”

“Move over!” Lindsey elbowed Jenna. “I have to get more.”

“Get out of my way,” Gwen said. “You can’t have it all. Don’t bump me.”

“You bumped me!” Lindsey scrapped the dish with her ladle.

“Girls!” Lindsey heard her mother say. “Don’t touch that pie!”

Lindsey looked up to see Mom, Dad, and Father Tom and Paul and Matt.

Lindsey felt the cherry pie dry on her face. Those were the company!

“Pie!” Roscoe squished his eyes shut.

“Ruff!” Meredith squished hers.