My mother loved to bake. She would always make the best pies, and cookies, and all kinds of delicious treats. They always had the right amount of chocolate, sugar, or nuts in them. They had a taste that everybody's sweet tooth craved. Whenever someone asked her what she put in her baking to make it taste so great, she would always reply with a secretive smile on her face, "It's our secret ingredient!" Then she would ruffle my hair or pat me on the back.
I would always help her with baking. I remember when I first helped her. I was four or five years old. My mother was preparing all the ingredients, and told me to wash my hands before touching anything. Then she said, "Hold out your right hand." Of course, at the time I didn't know the difference between left and right, so I held out the wrong hand. "Other hand," my mother said, frowning. So I switched hands.
"Good. A little trick to remember which hand is left is to hold up your index finger and your thumb. See? It makes the letter L. The word 'left' starts with the letter L.
"Now, put your right hand"-I checked to see which hand was left and which was right-"over this bowl. Good! Now face it so the palm is upwards."
I did what she said. "Wait here a moment..." My mother turned around and began rummaging around in one of the cupboards that contained all the silverware. She turned around. I saw a bright flash and felt something sharp slice across my hand.
I let out a shriek as a bright red line appeared across my palm. My mother quickly grabbed my arm and squeezed a few drops into the bowl. I stood completely frozen, tears leaking out of the corners of my eyes. My mother crouched down and wiped away my tears with her thumb.
"Shh, it's okay. It's just a tiny cut, it won't kill you. Mommy just needs your blood to make the cookies taste better. I promise that it'll be better by tomorrow, okay sweetheart?"
I nodded. We continued to make cookies after that. I admit, they tasted pretty damn good when we finished.
After that, whenever I would bake with my mother, she would always ask me to hold my right hand over a bowl, palm facing upwards, cut along the newly formed scar, and squeeze at least three drops on blood into it.
But one day, when I was eleven or twelve, my mother said that a couple of drops of blood wouldn't make her special cake sweet enough. So she told me to place my left arm on the table and... cut a small chunk out of it. It hurt a lot, and I screamed and cried. When my father got home and saw the bloodstained bandage wrapped around my arm, my mother said that I had tripped and bashed it against a sharp corner on the sidewalk.
Soon, even chunks of my skin wasn't enough for her, and she went so far as to cutting off the flesh that covered my ribs. That was when my father started getting suspicious. By the time I was sixteen, I barely had any muscle on my left arm, the scar on my right hand was so deep, I had to keep a bandage on it for the entire day so it wouldn't bleed everywhere, and you could see my rib bones.
She would always tend to the wounds of course, dressing them, and then bandaging them up. My father eventually caught her trying to cut my thumbs off, and she ended up being put into a mental asylum for the criminally insane, or something similar. Eventually time went by and I met a nice man. We got married, and had three kids, two boys and a little girl. I enjoy baking lots. But my cakes don't seem to have the flavour I'm looking for. They almost need to be... sweeter.