by Candace Arthuria
She slid the metal disk along the bar, propping the screen door open. One by one, she carried the heavy packages from her car to the porch. It had been two and a half weeks since she had last shopped. Two and a half weeks too long. Grocery shopping had never been fun. But he had done it with gladness in his heart, grateful for the food, never complaining about the labor. Widowhood. That wasn’t fun, either.
The pandemic made it worse. She barely left the house. Supermarket, Post Office, pharmacy—that was it. Eventually, the last package was inside, and she set about the task of putting it all away. Not a thought about the hungry, unemployed, or sick. She pressed the power button and horrific news flooded the living room. Every channel echoed the previous channel’s report. No discrepancies. The same devastating numbers. The same people, the same families torn apart. 393,000 dead.
Then, out of nowhere, it flew across the room and perched on his recliner. She nearly jumped out of her skin. How did that filthy bird get into her place of solace? What right to enjoy the comforts of her home? Half shaken, half angry, she opened both doors—the one in the living room, the other on the porch—slid the metal disk again, and waited for the beast to fly the coop. It didn’t. Instead, it fled in the opposite direction, back through the living room, past the kitchen with its shuttered back door, made some taunting gesture with its wings, and flew into the basement.
Afraid of falling down the stairs as he had on that dreadful night, she held tightly to the banister and inched her way down. But in spite of three open doors, the creature refused to exit. She sat in the living room and waited. And waited. And when she was sure it was gone, she changed her clothes and got ready for bed.
The sun was inviting, beckoning towards the hope of a new day. She shopped among her spoils and made a selection—without a thought about those who had no breakfast, table, or means of acquiring either. She recited her obligatory grace with no understanding of the emptiness of her prayer.
Morning Bible Study was better. She really did want to be a Christian in her heart. But every time she tuned into the news, it brought her right back to hell. Four hundred thousand dead. Would it ever end? Suddenly, another heart-stopping scare, as the disgusting fowl emerged from underneath the dining room table. It was still here! Her pent up tribulations opened the floodgates. With hands clasped over her face, she broke down and sobbed.
But a few minutes later, her curiosity peaked. Why wasn’t that filthy creature flitting about the room? Then it hit her. The poor little thing could no longer fly. She knelt to stare into its eyes. The eyes stared back—hungry, thirsty, tired and weak—begging for compassion. She stroked its head, washed her hands, and went in search of bread and water. As it pecked at the food with its sharp little beak and sipped water from the bowl, she could swear she saw gratitude in its piteous surrender.
She carried the box to the car and GPSed the only vet that wasn’t boarded and locked down. Her mission was to hear the creature sing. It would be incontrovertible evidence. His eye is on the sparrow, indeed.
“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not,
neither do they reap, nor gather into barns;
yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.”
Candace Arthuria began her career in Corporate Communications and currently writes short fiction and essays. Her work is multicultural, intergenerational, and expands across a broad range of genres. She continues to build on her diverse collection entitled “Very Short Stories for Very Busy People.” Candace has published with the International Women’s Writing Guild, the Teaneck Public Library, Agape Review, Calliope, and Friday Flash Fiction. For editorial services, you may reach her at williams07666[at]gmail[dot]com
2 thoughts on “The Least of These”
This is what the World needs more compassion towards one another and gratitude.
I read your story as I listened to the birds chirping outside my window. Thank you, Candace, for a beautiful and timely reminder: God never stops caring for us, and we are to care for the least.