An old man sits on the rectory steps eating a peanut butter sandwich, the beggar’s fare today. His muscles curl tightly like a mole in protective mode. His eyes are shut like a baby drinking milk. Once he worshipped nature with paint he could afford. With a thin box of pencils and brushes he would bicycle out into the fields around the town where he was born. He left sketches, canvasses, and pictures for anyone to find. He left a mirror of his life without people: barns, flowers, birds, trees, clouds, left it all among the grasses, weeds, and anthills, face-up always toward the chance of rain. Now the parishioners file by, cautiously around him without looking down at his dirty shoes, his unkempt beard, his cud-like gnawing at the bread crusts. They scurry into their shiny cars and trucks. And it begins to rain.

About the Author

Joan Eyles Johnson is a playwright, poet and short story writer who won the Ernest Hemingway Prize for Short Fiction in 2016 for her story "The Night Packet" published in Fiction Southeast journal. Her stories have appeared in Ambit, Diabolique and more.

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