Ann drove away from her childhood home knowing two things: her mother would be dead soon and her marriage was over. The sudden clarity of her situation sucked all of the air right out of her dirty, crumb covered car. She thought of pulling over, taking a minute, breathing but there was no time for something so self-serving. School would be out soon. The kids expected her, as they did every weekday after school. She didn’t want to disappoint them. [Disappointment would come soon enough.} So Ann drove with the window down taking in big gulps of the damp, early spring air, her fingertips turning white as she gripped the steering wheel as if gripping the wheel hard enough would somehow change the direction of her life.
Ann reached a stop sign just as the sun split the clouds. She glanced at her dry, pale hands, spun her mother’s sixty-nine-year-old engagement ring which sat nestled underneath her own wedding band. Every spin reminding her that Tess had been married for sixty-two years, fifty years longer than Anne’s volatile marriage to David. She resented her mother’s successful marriage. Tess had always been a difficult and demanding woman, putting her needs far above Ann and her father. And yet, William adored Tess. [William’s one indiscretion early in their marriage, followed by a mysterious tire slashing and a six-month stint at a local apartment complex changed the trajectory of his married life. His daughter, too young to remember, would see a devoted husband. A doormat if she was being more honest. William saw survival.]
Ann never understood her mother, nor, did she care to look closer at Tess. And just to piss Tess off, Ann chose to be accommodating, easy-going. She twisted herself like a noodle fitting into the crevices of others, never understanding the more she let go, the more she lost. By the time she met David, Anne was like a patched quilt, mismatched bits and pieces, thoughts, likes, and dislikes of all she had encountered sewn together forming an unknown woman.
And now? Anne liked what David liked. His thoughts were her thoughts. Ann’s every imaginable need or desire mirrored David’s. She felt content in his image. Until that morning she thought for the first time, Tess will be dead soon. [Relief flushed her cheeks.] Until some hour later that morning she watched her kids nibble on the biscotti she had made the day before, their heads bowed down, barely looking at her as she gave her husband, their father, a perfunctory kiss goodbye.
[What do they see when they look at me? They saw a lost woman.
Ann would never know this harsh truth. A blessing and a curse.]
Ann’s belly tightened. She felt beads of sweat under her sagging breasts and acid in her throat. She stared at her children and wondered if her own mother ever felt so invisible. Did it matter if she had? Would it have changed anything for Tess?
“Time to get dressed.”
The day would start the same, the day would end the same, and in between, Anne would make a decision. There was no good decision or bad decision, just a choice which led to a path and all that followed.
Pineapple Coconut Granola Biscotti
Makes about 36 cookies
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour plus more for rolling out
1 + 1/2 cups rolled oats plus 2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup raw sugar or granulated (I used raw sugar.)
1/4 light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup dried sweetened pineapple, chopped into small pieces
zest of 1 orange
1 egg white
Using a small bowl, mix together the flour, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Grab a large bowl. Add the melted butter and sugars. Whisk well. Add the eggs, vanilla, and orange zest and whisk until well combined. Stir in all of the dry ingredients. The batter will be stiff.
Preheat the oven to 325F. Like a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Put a bit of flour on your hands and on a clean countertop. Roll half of the dough into a log about 12-14 inches long. Transfer dough to prepared baking sheet. Pat and roll log until it becomes more oval-shaped. Repeat this process with the second half of the dough. Beat egg white until foamy. Using a pastry brush, cover the dough logs with the whipped egg white. Bake until beginning to crack and turn golden brown, 20-30 minutes. (Check at 20 minutes! I baked the dough for closer to 30 minutes.)
Allow to cool completely, about 1 hour. Using a serrated knife gently cut the biscotti on the bias into 1/2 inch slices. Spread out cut biscotti on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for another 20 minutes. Cool for a few minutes after removing from the oven, then allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Store biscotti in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to two weeks. Enjoy!
5 Biscotti Links To Check Out!
Celebrate a friend’s birthday this year with funfetti biscotti. Molly Yeh from My Name is Yeh has the recipe for you. Check it out!
Craving chocolate? Me too. Once Upon A Chef has a recipe for a double chocolate biscotti that is making my mouth water!
If you prefer savory over sweet, check out Molly Yeh’s parmesan rosemary biscotti. I bet it pairs well with a nice glass of white wine and a sunny, seventy-degree day.