Corn Muffins This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   I think my ability to write came from my Uncle Lester - not that he wrote well himself, but rather it was the way he said and went about things that I found inspirational. I think he was poetic in movement because he was a dancer.

He was my mother's brother, a widower with no children. After my Aunt Melba passed away, I was told he'd dance for hours on end in the studio he owned - in the dark, cool rooms full of mirrors and sometimes music. He would fly over the floor, which I doubt his toes often touched.

When I turned fourteen, my family moved to an apartment. My mother assumed both her brother and I had been moping long enough and what better way to cheer us up than to bring me over? He lived two floors above his dance studio on Maple Street. The studio was on the second floor and it had a big window, a reception room and three polished wood floor rooms with bars and mirrors.

Sometimes I would walk by and see long, lean girls stretching in black leotards and rose tights and was glad that, through all his loneliness, he was able to follow his dream.

I hadn't known what to expect as my mother took me through the costume and prop room that fateful day we met. I can still see the narrow hall with stairs that didn't even have a landing before the door.

At first he looked at me, expressionless. My mother stood next to us, purse in both hands and hoping she wouldn't miss the bus.

"Lester, this is Lauren. Lauren, Lester."

"Nice to meet you, Lauren," he said, extending a hand. I shook it, but he pulled me into the room.

"The pleasure is mine," I said as he shook my hand in return.

*        *        *

A lot of people are here at his funeral, out of politeness. It is mostly family. Many of the same people were at Melba's funeral. The day is raw and cold, the sort of day that dampens your spirits and turns everything gray.

It reminds me of a day much like this, many years ago. It had been a long day in ninth grade and I had gone to Lester's directly after school, feeling a little depressed. I found him squatting before his little oven, peering in the window.

"Lady Lauren," he stood up, "How are you doing?"

"All right, Sir Lester. What are you doing?

He spun around on his toes.

"I thought I would try my hand at corn muffins." He took them from the oven and showed them to me.

"Uncle Lester, you are using a dusting mitt for a potholder!" I laughed.

"Maybe that's what is burning." He put the tin down. "Never hurt anyone to be resourceful."

"I had better do my math before I forget how." I put my books down on the table.

"The weather even has you down, Laurie."

I was on my third problem when a yellow muffin rolled across the table. I looked up at Lester. He was pleased to have my attention.

"They escaped." He held the tin in front of him as the last few tumbled out. He grinned.

I lined them up on his wire rack.

"Geez, Lester, you can't even discipline your muffins."

I felt infinitely better. I watched him spoon batter into the muffin cups. This was my home.

He is being lowered into the ground now. I huddle under my umbrella and pretend my tears are merely the rain on my face.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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