On a hilltop town in a nearby land, little Loretta sat patiently in the booth by the big window of her Mom and Dad’s pizza shop.
Suddenly, a beeping sound filled Loretta’s ears. The timer! She smiled excitedly, and in the blink of an eye, she hopped out of the booth and dashed to the kitchen.
Loretta scooted through the kitchen door and skipped right over to the brick oven. Just as she arrived, Dad removed a pizza from the oven with the giant spatula, revealing the design painted on the brick oven floor: a sunflower.
The painted sunflower was Loretta’s most favorite thing in the entire pizza shop. It was quite beautiful; each golden petal was painted with its own special design, and the petals converged on a center of brown seeds that seemed to glow in the oven’s radiant heat. Loretta ran into the kitchen every time the timer beeped so she could sneak a glance at the glowing flower.
After Loretta admired the sunflower for a few seconds, Dad handed her a slice of the freshly cooked pizza for lunch. Mom had made this pizza, which meant it had extra cheese. Loretta happily took her slice and returned to the booth by the big window to eat it.
As she feasted on the cheesy goodness, she stared out the window toward the city that lay at the foot of the hill. She hadn’t looked closely at the city in quite a while, but something was different…
The city’s edge was much closer than before – it was slowly creeping up their hill!
A few months later, Loretta lunched on a slice of Dad’s thick-crusted pizza in the same booth by the big window. Dad’s thick-crust pizza was very different from Mom’s extra-cheese pizza but equally delicious. Again, Loretta peeked out the window, and again, she noticed something different…
A tall wooden wall encircled the city!
The more Loretta stared at the newly enclosed city, the more its shape looked familiar. She soon understood why – with the brown circular wall and the streets slicing through, the city looked just like a pizza!
BEEP BEEP went the timer, and Loretta broke her gaze with the pizza-shaped city and raced to the kitchen to see her favorite painted sunflower once again. Upon seeing its vibrant glow, an idea popped into Loretta’s mind.
She flew back to the booth by the big window, looked out on the pizza-city below, and wondered…if she had a gigantic spatula that could lift up the city, would there be a painted sunflower underneath?
As the months passed, Loretta noticed that the wall wasn’t doing its job. The city’s edge continued to creep up their hill like wildfire and finally reached the cozy pizza shop.
But at least business was booming! Mom and Dad hired two more pizza makers to keep up. Each new worker had a different way of making pizza, just like Mom and Dad. Caprice made her pizzas with toppings under the cheese. And Penley made his with cheese rolled into the crust.
Together, the pizza shop staff decided to form an assembly line to make the pizzas as fast as they could. Dad would roll the dough, Penley would spread the sauce, Mom would add the cheese, and Caprice would finish it off with toppings.
Loretta wanted to watch as the first assembly line pizza was made. So she watched as Dad rolled the dough and formed his famous thick crust.
She watched as Penley spread the sauce and thinned out the crust so cheese could later be rolled into it. Was he supposed to do that?
She watched as Mom added the cheese, sprinkling extra all over the pizza.
And she watched as Caprice finished it off with toppings by picking up the extra cheese and shoving the toppings underneath it. Could that be right?
Loretta managed one last look at the pizza before Caprice slid it into the oven – and it was a sloppy mess! The crust was unrolled so it was too thin and the cheese and toppings were uneven. What a disaster!
Dad bustled over and set the timer for the pizza to cook. But Loretta wasn’t sure that it would – not with the way it looked going in!
Before long, Loretta heard the beep of the timer. She sprinted toward the kitchen. But as she reached the door, a smoky smell grabbed hold of her nose. The beeping sound she heard was no timer…it was the screeching smoke alarm!
Loretta burst through the door to find Mom removing the pizza with the giant spatula. Mom threw the smoldering pile of dough into a nearby metal bin and turned to retrieve the fire extinguisher.
Loretta had been right that the pizza wouldn’t cook – instead, it burned! Then a sad thought crept into Loretta’s mind. She stepped hesitantly toward the brick oven, wafted away the smoke, and peered inside.
On the floor of the oven, she saw a charred, marred, sooty mess – her favorite painted sunflower was ruined. The fire had singed almost all of it, so much that its outline was barely visible.
With sadness in her heart, Loretta turned away from the oven and trudged toward her booth by the window. She sank into the seat, eyes fixed on her shoes, when out of the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of the city below.
She sat up to look at the city and discovered that she could still see the pizza-like form at its core. She paused for a moment, just observing, and then a grin gradually spread across her face. For what she imagined, very vividly, was taking a gigantic spatula, lifting up the concrete carpet that was the pizza-city, and finding, surely enough, her favorite sunflower painted below.