Mark Johnson
4 min readAug 15, 2023


The suspense was killing her like slow, drawn-out torture. Biting her neon pink painted nails and tapping her feet, she tried to remain calm as the judges were a few contestants away from where she stood. Heather had entered her lemon wedges into the town bake-off at the seasonal fair, where she was looking forward to placing anything other than last. Lemon wedges, as her entry had gotten a lot of comments as the few previous years, it had pies that had come in first. Looking to do something different, Heather decided on lemon wedges, having found her now-deceased grandmother’s recipe book and felt she could win with it and pay homage to the woman who had raised her from a young child.

It was a risk, but Heather was game enough to try, as baking wasn’t necessarily her thing. Many ladies who entered the bake-off were all of a more mature age than Heather having either raised a family or were rooted in the middle of building one, making baking experience key.

The judges moved closer, tasting a berry pie; their expressions were always hard to read unless it was awful, making them politely spit out the bite. The berry pie was in the clear as each judge made many notes on the entry and then moved to the next entry.

Next would be Heather. Before doing a taste test, the judges sampled her entry and observed the wedges’ unique geometric shapes, the ratio of crust to filling, and its color. Heather froze like someone who had seen a ghost staring at each judge as they chewed; her purple sun dress billowed around her lean swimmer’s body as she tried to decipher the judges’ thoughts on her lemony dessert. They seemed pleased, and no one spit out their bite, so she seemed she was in the clear.

At the close, all the contestants stood by their dishes, each beaming with sunrays of accomplishments. The judges stepped aside to compare notes and score their cards for each contestant. The naming of the places for the bake-off was soon to come adding to the drama and suspense, which was more than Heather could handle. In the minutes before the winners would be announced, Heather found her boyfriend Andrew amongst the observers, standing tall, sipping a sweet tea, finding reassurance in his arms as her nerves were on edge.

Heather felt confident in her risk of baking lemon wedges in a sea of pies, and realizing everyone loved her grandmother’s cooking, she became at ease. Andrew swooped in for a kiss seeing the judges were returning to make the big announcement and knowing Heather would need to return to the stage.

She felt Andrew’s hand give her a little pat on her butt in encouragement; smiling as she left his side, she thought she had an excellent chance of winning. The roar of those enjoying other fair attractions filled the air as the head judge walked up to the podium, tapping the mic to make the announcement. The judge first explained how close that year’s bake-off had gone down and then proceeded to run down the list of winners’ names, none of which came with Heather’s name.

Heather had so direly hoped to win and represent her grandma that her spirits sank as she did not hear her name called. The big winner of the day was a grandmother who had succeeded in baking a lip-smacking apple pie in previous years, but this year she went with a delectable strawberry rhubarb pie. All was not at a loss as Heather received honorably mentioned for her lemon wedges, which people commended her for taking such a risk with her non-pie dessert, showing she had moxy.

Taking it all in stride, Heather knew if she wanted to, she could participate next year, but who knew? A year seemed so far away, and who knew what she’d be doing. She then scooped up her dish, took a bite of one of the remaining lemon wedges, and looked to find Andrew in the crowd.

Feeling content with her honorable mention entry and trying not to let the loss take her down, she began thinking of other things she could bake with her grandmother’s recipe book, which may create a winning entry. Upon coming to that thought, Andrew walked up to her picking her up off her feet for the moment as he told her how proud he was of her before kissing her lemony powder-sugared lips, and the two walked off holding hands to experience other elements of that year’s fair.



Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is a University of Chico graduate, a lover of the creative arts, avid photographer, with an undying entrepreneurial spirit.