“This Our Daily Bread”

There’s a veneer of antiquity over the small mining town that makes me doubt it runs on our time, if it runs on time at all. The buildings, the surfaces and the very air have the faded quality of an old manuscript unearthed in a dusty archive. This sepia-toned ambience is thickest in the mess room, where the old men gather every dawn like clockwork. This has been their practice for close to 40 years now since they were swarthy young miners rising before dawn for breakfast. Those days are long over, but I can see it wouldn’t be prudent to suggest as much. While the men appear at ease at first glance, there is a tautness to their bearing, a rapt anticipation for some signal unbeknownst to me.

Then the old church bells peal their haunting notes to the morning, a sure sign that the day has begun. The men look up from their bowls of noodles or the papers, wearing identical looks of reverence. Cheong, a man well in the grip of dementia, rises and bellows in Cantonese, “Let’s go, boys. Time for the mines!” Two of his compatriots stand up and place their hands on his shoulders. At their touch, the light that burned bright in his eyes extinguishes when he remembers. They lovingly guide him back to his seat, handling him not with the condescension you would a confused invalid, but with the respect due to a man experiencing a brush with the divine.

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Featured Fiction New Fiction Fiction Craft Essays/Articles (all) The Story Behind the Story
Sort by

The Daily Comics: an Essay in Frames

 Monday i. When I see my son drawing,
2019-02-06 12:52:33
newberry

18

“What Is Your Daily Word Count?”

Many fiction writing experts advise writers to set a daily writing goal, usually 1,000 words per day. There are
2015-05-25 06:10:36
cblake

18

“A Jack Daniels kind of Bullet”

It would have taken me a million years to kiss all her freckles. They were littered across her skin, poured on her
2019-05-13 09:22:11
katiepearce

8

“Marital Counseling”

“We’re out of sync. I need more than talk to prove that you love me,” said the wife. The degree of brain activ
2019-04-17 09:07:18
raburton

8

“Writing and the Unconscious: A Personal Exploration of Process and Content”

If dreams are the royal road to the unconscious mind as proposed by Freud, then what are the stories that we write?
2018-12-28 19:34:37
stephanieh

8

“A Time for Fantasy”

When I was ten, my bedtime stories were Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The prose was far beyond
2018-12-24 10:59:26
abbyale21

8

“Heavy Bucket Heart”

His presence was like an oar displacing water: never quite coming back the same way when he did come back, finally,
2018-11-28 09:23:41
whyfie

8

The Story Behind the Story: “What We Don’t Say Out Loud”

Back in 2011, I attended a seminar being taught by Amy Hempel and while I’d read her short fiction, I had not
2018-11-02 10:19:54
jkimbrell

8

“Creatives Wanted”

The first time Alice encountered Muriel’s online presence, she stood out as the most interesting-looking person in a
2018-10-24 09:44:37
thesnowhale

8

“The Secret Musicians Know That Can Help Writers”

I am grateful that I came to writing after years spent as a practicing musician, where I learned perspectives that
2018-10-10 19:18:30
nlmcmne

8

About Sharon Wong

Sharon writes about everything from shipping invoices to troll museums when she's not working on a story. She earned her MFA in Fiction Writing from Columbia and her nonfiction has been published in Tin House Magazine and Untapped Cities. Photo credits: Ash Li Tan