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Haley was putting the finishing touches on her famous apple pie when the phone rang. She dashed to answer it. After all, this might be the call that she had been waiting for. Even though her hands were still covered in flour, she grabbed the phone before it could ring a second time.
“Hello. You’ve reached the Williams residence,” she said, trying to make her voice sound calm and collected.
“Is this Haley Williams?” asked the voice on the other end of the line.
“Yes, it is. How may I help you?” Haley replied.
“Ms. Haley Williams, we are proud to announce that you are a finalist in the National Pie Competition. The championship round will be held next weekend in Tampa, Florida. You and your family are invited to join us. Good luck!”
“Why thank you very much,” Haley said graciously. “I am looking forward to it.” After hanging up, Haley took a deep breath and let out an ear-piercing scream of excitement. She jumped up and down and ran around the kitchen with glee. In the pandemonium, her apple pie was knocked off the counter and landed on the floor, where her two puppies immediately began to gobble it down. Haley just laughed at the mess. As she cleaned the floor she began to think very carefully about her plan for the upcoming week.
With the big competition only one week away, Haley decided that she better make three pies every day. This practice would allow her to experiment with the crust , the filling, and the baking time. She wanted to do everything she possibly could to ensure that her pie was a winner.
Her friend, Max, who was thrilled to find out that Haley was a finalist, offered his kitchen for practice. Haley thanked him. She knew that cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen would be excellent practice for the competition.
Haley worked hard all week, doing nothing but baking pies. Not every pie turned out well. Some had a soggy crust or burned a little on the top. Haley threw out the bad pies and carefully wrapped the successful pies and delivered them to her neighbors and friends. They were all delighted by the surprise and wished Haley good luck at the competition.
The day before the competition, Haley packed up all of the things she would need. She brought her favorite rolling pin for good luck. When she arrived in Tampa, Florida, she went straight to her hotel and got a good night’s rest. The competition started early the next morning, and Haley wanted to be ready.
The day of the competition seemed to fly by in one big blur. Haley was one of twelve finalists. Each finalist had their own counter top on which to prepare their pie and their own oven in which to bake it. Once everyone was set up at their station, the master of ceremonies officially started the clock, and everyone got to work. Every contestant had 90 minutes to prepare and bake their pies. Haley mixed and rolled out her pie dough. Then she peeled and sliced her apples, laying them carefully inside the crust. She seasoned the pie with cinnamon and sugar and laid strips of dough on top. She brushed the pie crust with butter and glanced at the clock. She was right on schedule; her pie took 45 minutes to bake and there were just 47 minutes left on the clock.
Haley opened the oven door, but she immediately noticed that something was wrong.
She didn’t feel a rush of dry heat in her face, and she realized that she had forgotten to preheat the oven. The oven wasn’t hot, and it would take several minutes to reach the correct temperature.
Haley felt her heart sink into her stomach. How could she forget such an important step? In all her practice, she had never forgotten to preheat the oven. Haley figured that she didn’t stand a chance of winning, but she refused to give up. She put her pie in the oven and set the oven to the correct temperature.
With 30 seconds left in the competition, Haley removed her pie from the oven. It wasn’t golden on the top, but it looked like it was cooked through. Haley sighed, disappointed that she had blown her chances at winning. But she delivered her pie to the judges and hoped for the best.
After tasting each pie and deliberating for hours, the judges handed the results to the master of ceremonies. “In third place….Haley Williams!” the voice boomed over the loud speaker. Haley couldn’t believe her ears. She walked to the front of the room to accept her trophy with a smile on her face. She knew that if it hadn’t been for her mistake, she might have won the grand prize.
But, she just hugged her trophy, congratulated herself on her accomplishment, and promised herself that she would do better next year.
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