Iam so deathly afraid of those women.nStrawberry pie again, Eleanor, how nice. Pity it didn’tnset.nEvery Fourth of July I vow not to, but sooner or later I sitndown and cry. I used to cry the minute Philo came in thenkitchen with the strawberries; he would start to hull them,nthinking it was the work I was crying about, having to makenseven pies. For the life of me I couldn’t make himnunderstand. “Come on, honey,” he would say to me. “It’snonly my family.”nNo matter how early we start for the camp on the islandnwe always get there late and they are all down on the docknwaiting, his brothers and sisters and their families, all thosenblunt Maine faces in one place at one time, all those waterynGoodman eyes, those huge Goodman women watching:nPhilo’s sisters Marge and Edna, standing foursquare withnRalph’s broad wife, Benjy’s bride.nOh Eleanor, strawberry pie.nWhen they all know his sisters won’t let my bread on thenpicnic table, and only blood relatives get to make the beans. Inbegged them to let me bring potato salad but Benjy’s wifenLane gets to do it, that hasn’t been in the family half as longnas me. Everybody else does such a good job that there arennever any leftovers, but the pie comes last, and there’s nontelling with pies. Either something goes wrong with- thencrust or the filling or else I get them almost perfect andnsomething happens, people rush out or get too full to eatnthem and I have all those leftovers reminding me there isnKit Reed is the author of twenty books, among them ThenBetter Part, The Ballad of T. Rantula, Magic Time, andnCatholic Giris. She lives in Middletown, Connecticut,nand teaches fiction writing at Wesleyan.nFourth of JulynA Short Storynby Kit Reednsomething the matter with the way I do things and all thenway home Philo grumbling; I hate the pies.nThey look lovely, Eleanor. Too bad Randolph couldn’t benhere, but I suppose in his business . . . Well Randolph is innNew York and it’s hard for him to get away, you know thesenactors; they don’t. How come we never see him on TV?nThen one of those big old girls sighs and says, “Pity Evviencan’t be here.”nWhat they mean is, Poor Eleanor, all those years andnnothing to show, when our own sons bring their wives andnall their children. They would come a thousand miles to benwith us. Every Fourth of July there is another grandbabynwhen all you have is poor Evelyn that Philo won’t even letnus mention in his hearing, and that fancy boy.nLast year Marge was scraping leftovers into the garbage;nshe stopped what she was doing for a minute, so dreamy Indon’t even know if she heard what was coming out of hernmouth. “You know, your girl Evelyn’s been gone for so longnI don’t know if I remember what she looks like. —OhnEleanor, my boys ate so much they didn’t have room fornyour lovely pie.”nWell I remember what she looks like. They sent for menfrom that terrible place in Augusta when she had thenoperation after her secret baby died. I had to tell Philo I wasnhaving my insides photographed, and then I had to go havenit done, so it wouldn’t be a lie. He said, “My sisters never getnsick,” but he didn’t mean to criticize. He was onlynwondering why bad things come to some but not to others,nas if you could prevent all kinds of trouble if you only putnyour mind to it.nStrawberry pie again, Eleanor, how nice. I can hear themnthis very minute. I help Philo up on the dock and then Inhave to get the hamper. Wish I could drop the filthy thingnnnMARCH 1992/25n