2022 Writing Contest

1 The sky was a brilliant blue with two large eagles soaring over the lone cabin. It should have been the beginning of a lovely autumn day. Esther stood on the front porch of her home, tears of frustration and anger running down her face. Her crops, nearly an acre of assorted vegetables and herbs, her last chance to grow and harvest enough food to last her through the winter with maybe a little extra to sell, had been destroyed. And it wasn’t the first time. She had always managed to find enough to eat and save some seeds to plant before, but not this time. The whole field had been burned to the ground. How it had been done and when it was done, she didn’t know. She hadn’t heard anything, hadn’t seen the reflection of the flames, nothing. Why it had been done and by whom were questions she had no answers to. Slowly, dejectedly, she walked out to the still smoking remains of her crops. She dropped to her knees, running her fingers through the burnt plants and dirt. Lost in her despair and dejection, she didn’t hear the approach of the two men until they were right in front of her. Startled, and more than a bit fearful, she looked up at them. Even with rising sun behind them she could see they were strangers. They were very tall or seemed to be from her position on the ground. They were dressed in heavy coats with knit caps. One had a heavy beard while the other, who looked much younger, had a much lighter beard and wisps of curly brown hair sticking out from under his cap. The first man, with the heavy beard knelt down and offered her his hand. The second asked her, in a surprisingly gentle voice, if she was, hurt. She managed to shake her head no. He then told her she had nothing to fear from them. She allowed the first man to take her hand and help her to stand, saying as she rose, “I’m not hurt, just confused and devastated and a little bit afraid. Lately, I’m almost always afraid.” Esther looked at the two men. She wasn’t sure about them, having never seen them before. At her age, and after all that had happened, she wasn’t sure who she could or should trust any one anymore. Once on her feet, she realized that both men were much taller than she had thought. The first man, with the beard, was at least 6 feet, maybe a little taller. The second man was even taller. Standing next to them at her own slender height of 5 feet and a little more, she felt very small. The second man, smiling gently, wiped the tears from her face. If nothing else, she thought, they both had kind eyes. But eyes can lie, Esther thought almost immediately. Remembering her manners, she invited them into her little cabin. She apologized for not having anything to offer but coffee. The first man took off a backpack, which she hadn’t noticed before, and took out 4 carefully wrapped eggs, a small package of bacon and a small loaf of brown bread. Smiling at Esther, he offered to make breakfast for them. She tried to refuse their kind offer, but the smell of the bread and the thought of a real meal, won out in the end. Esther noticed that both men bowed their heads before eating. She could never get her husband to thank God for anything. His thinking was why should he thank God for what he had planted, watered, weeded, and harvested and sold for meat and more seed. Why should he thank God for any of it?