Jackhammers, bobcats and grizzly men in high-viz blocked the road and driveway into the hall as a river flooded the footpath. This was not unusual, but today it was not acceptable. It was the ‘Great Lakes Bake-off’ and I needed to get inside that building by nine.
Currently I was caught in a line of traffic that snaked past the church, around the school and consumed the highway that dissected our small town. Cars, trucks and motorbike cavalcades merged like melted pizza toppings. It was mayhem.
The husband of my arch-nemesis, Maybelle, was head of traffic control. He narrowed his rheumy-red eyes when he saw my desperation. Snarling, Harrold tightened his knuckles wrapped around the “Stop-Slow” sign. He wasn’t going to make this easy.
Ten minutes to go.
My indicator ticked like a cursed time bomb. But I was stuck tight. A bus shelter was planted on the sidewalk to my right and the town’s “Welcome” sign barred my left.
In my rear vision mirror I caught sight of Maybelle slipping out of a friend’s ute clutching her entries. She slithered her way through the chaos and ducked under the ‘Stop-Slow’ sign kissing her husband on her way past. They turned and smirked in unison.
Directly across the street the Mayor exited his chambers and strolled through the congestion, meeting and greeting people, personally welcoming them to town. Oblivious to the increasing angst he eventually made his way to the hall and was ushered inside by the committee.
Five minutes to go.
The whole morning had been an unmitigated disaster. The chooks had broken out and decimated the veggie patch. A goanna had stolen the morning’s eggs. And the gas had run out leaving me with no cooker or hot water.
For ten years I’d suffered seconds to Maybelle’s firsts. But not this year. This year was going to be different. Perched next to me were my two secret weapons: carrot cake and potato salad. Each finished with their own special, home-made ingredients. Both entries were winners.
Three minutes to go.
Traffic started creeping forward. But not fast enough. Time was running out. Throwing the door open I launched myself into the traffic. Horns and abuse blasted behind me. I didn’t care. I had no choice.
Ducking my head and clutching my treasures, I sprinted the last thirty meters. Harrold put his hand out to stop me. But the charge of electricity created by the friction between my nylon dress and pantyhose blasted him aside.
I made the stairs and burst through the doors.
“June! You made it!”
I released my entries to the steward and collapsed.
“This is your year, June.” The Mayor winked.
“That’s a bit daring.” I turned to see Maybelle, still smirking, wiping her mouth. “Using cream-cheese icing as a binding in potato salad.”
In utter dismay I watched the Mayor’s face pucker as he encountered carrot cake coated in double egg mayonnaise. “Maybe next year, June.” Discreetly jettisoning the cake into a serviette, he moved on.