Herb-Woman

Rose hips grow by the wooden gate, red fruit already wrinkling in the late-summer sun. I pause with my hand on the latch, gathering a few and storing them away in my apron pockets before I go inside. They smell of hot wind and dust, but brewed into a syrup, they’ll cure cough and treat…

Ash and Smoke

I buy the kerosene at the shop around the corner. The woman selling it smiles at me, and we talk about the fresh spring weather, the crocuses popping up in her flower beds, and the barges coming down the river from the cities inland. It’ll be a rich year, she tells me. A blessed year….

On The Edge Of Living

All men die, I tell them when they ask me why the world ends the way it does. And when they die, they come here. We’re not dead. Not yet. They ask me why that is, but I don’t tell them the reason. I don’t tell them that we’re the forgotten people, the ones sent…

Almost Life

He was dying when he told me, “I had an almost life.” The nurses sent for me when he woke up. His face was gray in the moonlight, gray against his sheets, gray against the hospital walls. I sat on the edge of the bed, listening to the heart rate monitor blip softly in the…

Portrait of a Missionary

As a writer, I am fascinated by people. No two people carry the same stories. Their life experiences, their worldview, and their hopes and dreams are uniquely their own. No work of fiction can compare to the beauty and complexity of the world around us, but, caught in our jobs, our routines, and our day-to-day…

Go To Sleep

I come when the library closes. The lights are out, except for the lamp Mrs. Wilfe leaves on just for me. The doors are locked, and the windows have been shuttered. Even most of the reading desks are cleared. No one is left. Only me. Because I have to put the stories to sleep. I…

Heartsmith

They say the best shops are the easiest to find. I don’t agree with that. I’ve known many good shops in my time, shops that were hidden away, that took me all day to find. Sometimes the hunt is half the fun. But these days, people prefer main streets and wide roads, and convenience is…

I Knew

The house had a basketball hoop in the driveway. I remember that most of all. That day, the day we had a house, is too fragmented to remember perfectly. But I remember a few things. The real estate agent’s dusty car. The cracked pavement. The weeds. The peeling paint on the front door. And the…

Knitting Prayers

My grandmother kept prayers in her knitting basket. To me, it seemed an odd place to keep them. Prayers are meant to be kept in a Bible on the parlor shelf, or stuffed away in a church, gathering dust with the rest of the relics. At the very least, they’re supposed to be kept somewhere…

Where Peace Abounds

He throws me out after the fifth beer. My mother will follow me in an hour or so. She offends him less, I think, because she doesn’t answer back when he swears at her. She’s everything I’m not and wish I could have been. Soft and gentle, kinder than one of God’s angels, with mouse-brown…