I could not forget the way I had frozen in front of the class. My
hands had shaken so badly that I could not35my notes. My
voice had become softer even to silence. Mr. Roberts had kindly
stopped me, “Nina, I know you’re shy, but you worked hard on this
project. If I give you until tomorrow, can you find your36?”
I had nodded. I had kept my head down, hoping that the school
When I got home that day, I could see an inviting light from the kitchen windows.
was baking. When Momma baked, I always watched and chatted with her. She always said it was my38that made her baked goods taste so sweet.
Momma39my face as I came into the kitchen. “What’s wrong, Nina?”
Tears shone in my eyes. I let the whole story out. Momma was silent for a moment. Then she said, “Let me show you something.”
I followed Momma to her bedroom. She pulled out a book from her old things,
40took out a blue ribbon (缎带) that said “First Place” from it.
“I started the school year as the41girl on the speech team, but I ended the year as the
blue ribbon winner. I won it for public speaking. It wasn’t easy—I was not sure of myself at all. I worked hard, and mostly I42my fears. You just need to find your courage.”
That was the second time someone had told me that. I followed Momma back to the kitchen. What was it that made me so afraid?
Soon Momma’s sweet cake rose in the pans, and the smell of it comforted me as I
43I would find my courage. Momma put a thick piece in front of me. “There’s nothing better for heartache than Momma’s love baked in a cake.”
I raised a forkful of warm cake to my mouth. All the fear in the world could not
Momma’s love. I felt44in Momma’s kitchen.
The next day I walked to the front of the classroom to give my presentation again. As I faced the class, I45the ribbon and the smell of Momma’s kitchen, and then took a deep breath