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The singular note of a pressurised hiss sang through the afternoon, its distinctive warble courtesy of a round relief valve jerking out a safety-insuring spray of steam.

Broadcast by vapour, the sweet aroma of heated molasses, brown sugar, bacon, and myriad spices filled the air, a teasing savouriness contained within a home battened down for colder months.  The concoction roiled for hours within the lockdown pot, a pressure-cooker gifted by mom, 1950s purchase in use nigh sixty years later.

Burgers and beans for Saturday dinner, she decided the previous night, at once setting a pantry-stored bag of uncooked beans to soak.  After lunch today, she retrieved the multi-generational recipe and assembled ingredients in the old, autoclave-like cookware.  Now, burgers baked and accessorising vegetables filled one plate, sliced and table ready.  Sesame rolls ringed a serving platter, future guardians of half-pound burgers.

Spurred to haste by a hungry clan, Jen offed the burner, slid both hands into protective gloves, and whisked the heavy cooker away.  She forgot the pressure bleed-off, an essential act at a critical juncture explained thrice by her wizened mother.

With a hard twist, Jen unleashed compressed forces itching to dissipate.  Cover exploded away, chased by the sealing gasket; both missed the petrifying Jen but not a cabinet, chipping a corner. Beans caught the indiscriminate propulsion energy wave, an impromptu re-enactment of Mt St. Helens, albeit spent in one second.

Family ran and Jen spun, looking up, around, and down, her horrified eyes scouring the showcase kitchen.  Family mimicked, scrutinising cabinet-sticking beans, ceiling-hanging beans, the new beanie décor of painted walls and hardwood floor.

Son Marco pounced on the shoe tray aside the sliding doors, inverting a sneaker. From the no longer pristine footgear, six gooey beans slow-slimed downward, assuring Jen the place of honour in family lore.

(Author’s note: while 300 word fiction, the story does root in family lore, springing from a cooking act of my godmother.  I know not what she served the night she bean-bombed her kitchen, but I always loved the story, one shared on occasion by my parents.)

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