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The Modern Witch's Recipe for Enemy Pie

Elizabeth Cobbe is a playwright, arts critic, and software developer living in Austin, Texas. Her fiction has appeared in or is forthcoming from Fireside and Zooscape. She is currently at work on a novel about motherhood, miscarriage, and magic.

For the crust:
1 sleeve Graham crackers, crumbled
3/4 stick (6 tbsp) butter, melted
1/4 cup ashes, sifted to remove any fragments of bone
For the filling:
4 eggs, separated
1 14-oz can sweetened, condensed milk
1/3 cup sheer bile, distilled
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 word, THE word, the very word that she (he, they) spoke which marked her (him, them) as your enemy. Maybe it was the slur that carved away at your humanity, Prospero-like to Caliban; maybe it was the order to destroy one whom you loved more than yourself. Maybe it was the silent word, the dismissal, the thing not said that consigned you to the irrelevant shadows. When did she steal from you? What did she take? This word should hold a moment in time that has cut and twisted you hard.
2 oz ground artisanal hatred
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
Pinch salt
1. Prepare the crust. Combine Graham cracker crumbles, butter, and ash in a 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 350F/175C for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool under a full moon.
2. Make the filling. Beat egg yolks with an iron whisk until combined. Stir in the condensed milk, then the bile, a little at a time; the mixture will thicken. Continue whisking to prevent clots of memory from forming on the surface. Pour into crust. Bake 10 minutes.
3. Make the meringue. Combine the egg whites, hatred, and salt. Beat until not just foamy but capable of holding stiff peaks, sharp peaks, peaks of deliberate offense to remind her (him, them - you get the idea) of your fury. As the mixer churns, add the confectioners' sugar, and watch the spiraling of the egg whites to know that your resolve is firm.
4. Combine. Cover filling with the meringue, making sure the meringue comes into contact with the edges of the crust. If you like, create dips and swirls in the shape of your rage. Now whisper the word (the very word that marked her) over the unfinished pie, and let it scrape free the hurt from inside you. Dust with cinnamon.
5. Bake the pie. Bake until the meringue is lightly browned and feels the insult. While you wait, banish any thought of mercy from your heart... unless you're feeling doubt. You should not feel doubt. Knowing that your enemy will suffer untold and crippling pain in her spine and heart when she takes her first bite - that her friends and her fans will abandon her, that this is irreversible, and the piercing loneliness of expulsion will cut her to the quick - that's acceptable after what she's done. Right?
Oh dear.
6. Okay, look. We're not telling you to stop. We can't do that. It's already in the oven. Besides that, who are we to say what you do with the damage she's done? We could never understand the ways you've known grief. And besides that, what does mercy accomplish, really?
We should tell you, though: new hurt will grow again. You can always bake another pie, but the hurt will return, and this word you've spoken took with it a hint of your power. In your hurt, this pie feels like power, doesn't it? It is a pie, round and dangerous. It's got some of your strength locked in its custard.
7. Refrigerate. Set the pie on a rack to cool. Leave untouched in the refrigerator at least four hours. While you wait, prepare the main course, and remember that mercy is still possible. It's not our place to decide, for we have ourselves injured many over the years. Only - bear with us - if you, our fellow modern witch, decide to serve mercy (see page 326) instead... your power remains your own.
Author's note: Apologies to Mark Bittman, whose actual pie recipes are excellent. He is not my enemy.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, March 16th, 2021

Author Comments

In a time of so much rage and fury, I hope this story offers a small taste of peace. Thanks for reading.

- Elizabeth Cobbe
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