2022 Writing Contest

He was the one who put in the hard work. Esther smiled to herself. It made her happy to know there were men who weren’t afraid or ashamed to pray to God. During the meal the two men introduced themselves. “You can call me Michael”, said the man with the heavy beard. “And I am Daniel.” Said the second man. “I’m Esther.” She paused for a moment then asked, “Forgive me, but where did you come from? I didn’t see or hear you until you were right in front of me.” Michael answered with a smile, “We travel around quite a bit. We’ve learned how to travel quickly and quietly, out of necessity, on occasion.” Esther nodded her head in understanding. Daniel spoke, “Forgive us for asking, but why are you out here alone? Or are you alone?” Esther bowed her head for a moment then answered in a halting, slow voice. ”I haven’t been out here alone for very long. My husband and I moved out here shortly after we were married. We built everything ourselves. We planted lots of vegetables and herbs. We had some chickens and a few goats. We were making it work. Then, about three years ago my husband died. A freak accident on the way home from town.” Esther paused, recalling the last three years. A sad, frightened but determined look crossed her face. “Since then so many strange things have happened. The chickens all died, in one night. The goats kept getting out of the pen and eventually they all wandered off. I looked for them for days, but never could find any sign of them. The next year, a herd of cattle stampeded through the fields. No one could be found who owned, or admitted to owning, the cattle. Last year, it was an antelope herd, grazing through the fields, eating up almost everything. And now, well, you saw, the fields have been burned out.” Here, she paused, a lone tear ran down her check. “There is nothing left. There is nothing to eat, over the winter, no seed for next year. I don’t know what to do any more.” A second tear followed the first. She hurriedly wiped the tears from her face. These strangers had seen her cry once, that was enough. Daniel and Michael looked at each other for a brief moment, then Michael said, “What if we stayed around for awhile. Helped you get back on your feet, helped you figure things out?” Esther smiled at them sadly. “I thank you for the offer, but I don’t know what you can do to help me, much less me get back on my feet.” She sighed sadly, “Even if I had any seed, it’s too close to the first frost, and planting is hard work, even if you find something and there was a decent amount of time for the plants to grow.” Daniel smiled at her. “Why not give us a chance? You would be surprised at how resourceful we can be.”