KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 8: August 2017
Haibun: 272 words


by Rich Youmans

She was never sure why she let the room to him. Maybe because he resembled a biblical figure, with his black-threaded beard tumbling down like smoke, his watery blue eyes set in deep sockets. She called him Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. Every morning he came down and had the same thing, oatmeal with hot milk, then left the house and didn’t come back until supper. He paid her in small bills the first Friday of every month, and she had no idea where he got the money. Once, returning a library book, she saw him in the reference section, paging through newspapers, his moist eyes open wide, almost startled. Another time, when she entered the fabric store on Market, she saw him at the corner bus stop, talking to a well-dressed man; by the time she came out, they were both gone. In the evenings, after he finished his supper, he left again for a few hours and always came back smelling of something stale and unidentifiable. Sometimes he reeked of whiskey, and on those nights she helped him up the steps, onto his bed. That last night, when he stumbled on the steps and knocked out a tooth, she left a quarter under his pillow. To her it was just a joke. But the next morning, when he didn’t come down for breakfast, she went to his room. She found him standing by the window, his eyes fixed on the coin in his palm, as if it were a remnant of some lost civilization, or a hole into a brighter world.

wishing well
in its depths
something like a star


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