The following is an extract from “Making Mince Pies” from “Child’s Eye,” part of which was previously published in MsLexia:
I can’t wake him. He’s asleep in his chair with his head lolling at an uncomfortable angle, his mouth wide open, his eyes closed. I try shaking him but he doesn’t stir. Instead, his arm falls from the chair to his side and hangs loosely.
“Granpa, the pies are done.”
I flap the tea towel in front of his face and feel a tightening in the pit of my stomach. I shake him harder this time and shout his name with an urgency my parents use when we’re late and I can’t find my shoes. Still nothing. The tightening moves higher, constricting my chest and making me breathe harder.
“Granpa, they’re going to burn. They’ll be spoiled.”
I feel tears beginning to prick at the corners of my eyes. I’ll just have to do it myself. I’m not allowed, but I’ll just have to.
Back in the kitchen I take the gloves down from the peg and open the oven door. The blast of heat burns my face and makes me jump back in alarm. But there they are, two dozen mince pies, mincemeat bubbling away inside, tops golden brown and crispy. Just perfect. A minute later and they’d be spoiled. I can wake Granpa soon enough.
Very carefully I place my padded hands inside, as I’ve seen him do so many times before, and take out first one, then a second tray. I love this moment when the smell of hot sugar and pastry hits you. Granpa can’t resist it either. A hot mince pie wafted under his nose will wake him, no fear.