what would have been


Perhaps the best that I can say is that they were beautiful.

No, wait.
That's not true.
It would be better to say that I had gone back to the drawing board. That I had been willing.
That the accidental substitution of baking soda for baking powder hadn't stifled my impules to make something good.
Yes, it would be better to say that I had not given up, that I had returned to the recipe, that I had risen early and gotten my hands sticky before I even put the coffee on.
Yes, it would be better to say that it was the effort that mattered, the attempt, and then the second attempt.
I would like the story more this way, because it speaks of imperfection and second chances and the accidental beauty of failure.
Because I could tell you then about the breakfast I made just after.
After I collected the lot and threw them, mournfully, into the trash.
I could tell you about the resurrection. About what comes despite - or perhaps because of - the misstep, the oversight, the ruin.
I could tell you about patience, and acceptance, and how when one door closes, and blah de blah.

But this isn't that story.

And what makes it not that story is that it happened again.


The early rising out of bed, the recipe trotted out, ingredients laid out, and a second attempt, this time certain of the outcome.

And again, the same substitution - accidental, unpremeditated, uncalculated, unseen.

For the second time, scones coming out of the oven, beautiful, fragrant, seemingly whole. And for the second time, a bite into that warmth revealing not a lemon doughiness but an acrid bitterness, something so terribly not right as to be inedible. And for the second time, there was nothing else to do but let go.

So maybe this story is about letting go. Letting go for a second time. Maybe letting go forever. Letting go and making way. Maybe this story is about getting out of the way. Maybe this is even a story about how failure has a sense of humor, too, teasing you like a cat with a ball of string, unraveling you. Maybe this story is about the best kind of faith, which is the kind that stubbornly resists all attempts to dismantle it. Maybe this is a story about how hope obliterates loss. Maybe this is a story about good intentions winning out over the wrong ingredients. Maybe this is less a story about scones than it is a story about the scone-maker, who doesn't really need the scones to tell her who she is or what she is capable of becoming.