3 cups flour
Dash of ground red pepper (for spicy nights)
½ cup shortening
Tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
Tsp of baking powder
¼ cup molasses
Dash of cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
The baking supplies were arrayed on the counter when I heard a sharp rap on the front door.
“Hello. My name is Calista. I’m here to help you bake.” She wore red heels that rocketed her height to six feet.
“I’m so glad you’re here. I don’t want to screw this up.”
Calista laughed, her deep, brown eyes playful.
“Don’t worry darling, I will help you.”
My hands shook as I mixed the ingredients. Calista directed my movements without touching anything. She walked me through each step, her eyes focused upon the bowl. I’d never baked anything before, much less something like this. When it came time to roll out the dough, I discovered that I was on my own. I started hyperventilating. I would mess this up.
“It is very important that you are the only one to touch the ingredients now. This is a special part of the making that will bond him to you.”
I nodded and tipped the bowl so the dough would tumble onto the counter. Calista called out orders about how I should move and handle the dough. I rolled, kneaded and pinched, working out any air bubbles. Calista handed me a heavy, wooden rolling pin and told me to flatten the dough to a 2-inch thickness. As I pressed it flat, I worried that my kitchen island might not be large enough to hold it.
“Now, you must cut the shape. It doesn’t have to be perfect, the magic will take care of the details.”
Calista hummed a tune that felt familiar and foreign at the same time. I could sense power flowing out of her and into me. I was her conduit for the creation. My skin tingled and my curls wavered around my face. I wondered if there might be lightning.
I carved out a large, gingerbread man shape. It wasn’t perfect. Some of the lines were crooked and one arm was longer than the other. I turned to Calista who must have sensed my panic.
“It’s ok child. No man is perfect and neither should this one be.”
I placed the images I’d cut from magazines; a man’s face, chest, arms and legs on top of my cookie man.
Calista chuckled when she saw the pictures.
“He may not look like the pictures, but he will be handsome.”
My favorite cologne was next. The scent was woodsy, but not too strong. It mixed with the cloves in the dough and I could almost see brown eyes and dark hair with a devilish smile. I circled the figure with a piece of wood for strength and flexibility, a seashell for dreams and hopes and on one side a Nicholas Sparks book for romance while on the other side, a Dan Brown book for intelligence.
“Don’t forget the personal item, child. It must be something very important to you.”
I placed my St. Christopher’s medal on the chest of the figure. My father gave it to me when I was a little girl. I wanted him to feel as safe as I had wearing it.
Energy swirled through the kitchen. Anticipation filled the air as if the atmosphere was holding its breath, waiting for what might happen next.
Calista took my hands, chanting words that I couldn’t understand. Her touch sent another wave of power through my body and we closed our eyes.
Wind coursed through the kitchen even though the windows were closed. The silverware in the drawers rattled and in the cabinet, I heard a glass shatter. I kept the image of the man who would be mine in my mind. No longer would I attend parties or weddings alone. My bed would no longer be empty and cold. I was ready for someone to talk to, touch and love. A man to hold onto until my own body has withered away.
My head spun with the power and the scents in the room. My only connection to reality was Calista’s firm grip and the words pouring from her mouth. Whoosh, everything in the kitchen stilled. Calista released my hands and I watched her drop to the floor, exhausted.
On the kitchen island, my gingerbread man opened his eyes.