Fiction Fantastic 2024 Winning Story: “Secret Recipe” by Jocelyne Stevenson

The story below is a winner from our Fiction Fantastic Young Writers Contest, open to all youth in Lane County. For more information on this contest, including how to enter, visit here. Support this program with a donation.

You can purchase this story in the 2024 Winners Anthology, Realm of Forgotten Dreams.

“Secret Recipe” by Jocelyne Stevenson, Pleasant Hill Elementary School

Honorable Mention, Elementary Level, 2024

Secret Recipe

by Jocelyne Stevenson

Pleasant Hill Elementary School

“Anne, come help me cook!” hollered Mom from the kitchen.

“On my way,” Anne yelled back.

It was November twenty second and Thanksgiving was around the corner. That also meant all of her family members were too.

Anne had so much family, it was troublesome to count! She had Aunt Tracey, Aunt Stacey, Aunt Macey, Uncle Jerry, Uncle Trey, Uncle Larry, Uncle Steve, Grandpa Victor, Grandpa Matt, Grandma Jane, Grandma Belle, and all of her older and younger cousins. They were cooking food for the traditional Thanksgiving family dinner that happened every single year.

Anne thought the only good part of Thanksgiving was the pumpkin pie. Anne loved the creamy, velvety texture of the delicacy. Every year, her mom baked the scrumptious treat with her dad, Grandma Jane, and Aunt Tracey. Her mom said she’d show the recipe to her when she turned twenty. Mom’s secret recipe always awed her. Every Thanksgiving she begged her mother for it, but she always said no. This Thanksgiving it would change.

She finished brushing her teeth and slid on her pajamas. It was Thanksgiving eve and she had a plan. When the clock struck midnight, she’d find that pesky piece of paper. She tiredly reached for her alarm clock and set it for 11:55 pm before shutting her eyes and burying herself in her comforter.

Ring, ring, ring! Her alarm buzzed and vibrated. She reached up and turned it off as quickly as possible, in order not to wake up her little brother Joseph, whom she unfortunately shared a room with.

It was 11:56 pm and she needed to be in the kitchen by twelve o’clock. Silently, she tiptoed to the door and carefully turned the knob. She crept through the hallway like a ninja. When she finally got past the upstairs bathroom, she attempted the creaky, squeaky, wooden stairs. On one step, she nearly fell and twisted.

“Yikes,” she thought to herself.

This would be a lot harder than it seemed.

Step by step, cautious not to make any sound, Anne descended each stair. When she reached downstairs, she had to have to face the hardest task of them all. Anne had to cross by her parents’ bedroom door. It was going to be extremely difficult as her dad was easily awoken, and her mom frequently got up for water and midnight snacks.

Anne took a deep breath in and changed her mind set to a burglar sneaking through her very own house. She decided it was best to army crawl along the flat wooden floor because it would make no sound. After several seconds of careful crawling, she made it into the kitchen. She had an idea of where the recipe might be hidden, but it was a risky attempt because she would need to climb an unstable stool.

She checked the pantry and found nothing. She checked all the cabinets for it but found nothing. She checked everywhere, even the oven and fridge, but still found nothing. Not even a trace of where it could be.

She was about to give up when she stepped on the mat in front of the kitchen sink and heard a crackling sound. She checked to see what it was and, to her surprise, it was the homemade pumpkin pie recipe!

She never thought an old worn-out piece of yellow paper would make her this happy, but it did. She cheered silently so she wouldn’t wake her dad up. She padded to the dining room as silent as a mouse. Not even her pet cat, Simba, could hear her.

In the darkness, she continued, optimistically hoping she was going the right way, as it had gotten darker as the little light that shone on the stovetop had gotten dimmer the farther she walked from it. She was nearly there when she stepped on Simba. He violently hissed and growled so loudly Anne worried her parents would hear him.

And, like a fortune teller, Anne’s dad stormed from his bedroom to the living room, too tired to be furious at her. He snatched the recipe out of his daughter’s hand and sent Anne to her bedroom. Wiping a tear from her eye, Anne changed her alarm to 8:00 am, closed her eyes, and fell asleep with anger and exasperation.

Anne woke up the next morning before her alarm. She took a shower, made her bed, brushed her teeth, and got dressed. Then she woke up Joseph for Thanksgiving. Anne wasn’t in the mood to fight about him getting up so she simply took his pillow and blanket and put them somewhere he couldn’t reach. Then, she cleaned her room and wrote an apology note for her parents. She scurried downstairs to find her mom looking disappointed in her. Her father was still sleeping, so he wasn’t in on the conversation.

“You know you’re not supposed to take stuff from me without my permission. And you also know that you’re never allowed to leave your room after you’re sent to bed, only to get water, use the restroom, or inform me about an emergency. I accept your apology, but your pumpkin pie privileges have been taken away from you this Thanksgiving,” Anne’s mom explained.

“But Mom!” she protested.

Anne ran back up to her room, lividly slamming the door. She could tell this Thanksgiving was going to be bad.

Finally, all her aunts, uncles, grandpas, grandmas, and cousins came to the celebration.

Aunt Macey brought her signature mashed potatoes, Grandpa Matt brought his famous turkey, and her mom brought her delectable pumpkin pie. Everyone sat down at the extra-large Thanksgiving table and chowed down.

Since Anne was banned from her favorite dessert, she tried Grandma Belle’s asparagus and found it OK. Then she tried her cousin’s fall-themed cookies and thought they were tasty. She even tried Grandpa Matt’s turkey. Everything changed.

Anne realized she liked this more than the homemade pumpkin pie. She surprisingly ate the most out of everyone at the table. She enjoyed this Thanksgiving more than the rest.

When everyone left and it was time for bed, Anne brushed her teeth, dressed in her pajamas, set her alarm for 7:30 am, snuggled into her blankets, and closed her eyes in satisfaction.