By Alexa Berman
The smell of oranges reminds me of my momma - of her sunshine soaked dresses, her perfectly coiffed golden hair, and her doe-like green eyes that I so graciously inherited. My momma was the kindest woman and the most brilliant cook to ever step foot in the kitchen. Every morning she’d roll out dough for pies and biscuits with her favorite rolling pin, her apron permanently coated in flour and fresh jams. The breakfast nook would sit laden with bacon, eggs, fresh fruit, toast, juice - and most importantly, her hot cakes. They were exceptional; always fluffy, dusted with powdered sugar, and glazed in fresh blueberry syrup. I loved them almost as much as I loved Momma.
Those hot cakes were waiting for me every single morning. They were always exactly the same with three to a stack and extra butter on the side. I would slide into the bay window’s padded booth, pour myself some juice, and dig in. Momma would stand by the counter, watching me stuff bite upon bite into my gaping mouth. She’d laugh and go back to rolling out doughs with that pin of hers as she moved on to prepare the various baked goods of the day.
The kitchen always smelled of one fruit or another. Sometimes it’d be ripe peach danishes or apricot jam, other times it’d be fresh blueberry muffins or sweet plum pie. That particular morning’s smell was different from the normal wafting scents of her jams. It was citrusy, but I couldn’t quite place it. I slid into the booth, illuminated by the ornate stained glass fixture emitting its usual soft glow. Greens, purples, and oranges bounced off the breakfast spread as the morning light shined through the mosaic above. Just as I did every morning, I poured myself a tall glass of apricot juice. My hotcakes sat there in their normal stack of three, glazed in blueberry syrup. I dug my fork in and shoved a massive piece into my mouth. I had it - I was finally able to place that citrusy scent. I took another bite, just to make sure. My mother smiled from the counter as her rolling pin rested on the day’s fresh dough.
Her hair looked far less perfect that morning - sort of matted on one side - and her green eyes looked oh so glassy. The rolling pin was stained with a much deeper red than any strawberry jam could ever have produced - the same deep red my hands dripped with. The smell of dough and baked goods failed to fill the kitchen air. Momma used to glow with the rays of sun coming through the bay window as she smiled brightly at me, but she looked so much colder now, so much greyer in the harsh light of the morning sun. The pieces of the mosaic that once illuminated my nook lay scattered across the floor, no longer reflecting illustrious colors onto the table.
I had taken my normal place in the bay window to a new stack of hotcakes that were almost as good as hers - but not quite. I didn’t have the same touch my Momma did, but at least I still had her company. I miss momma every day, but I don’t regret it. After all, she knew how much I hated oranges.