Project 105 story #1: 1991
Illustration and story were mailed to Dianne P. in Houston, Texas in March 2017. Here is what Dianne P. has to say about her experience receiving the art: "When I opened the envelope I noticed the hand crafted envelope. That was gorgeous art in of itself. I thought the packaging was very thoughtful, cleaver and timeless. My first impression of the art itself, a water-color I believe, was stunning. I had to read a the story a few times and still seems like I didn't really get all the details, but I think that may be the point of a short story. When you look at the artwork it gives the story more clarity, depth or meaning."
That September, Leah's younger sister fell in love with a foreigner, a thin little man who spent most of the fall and all the following winter shivering under a blanket. Her parents re-fused to have him over so Leah made a habit of leaving a half hour early every Sunday dinner to make the bus trip across town to her sister's apartment. Before heading out, she'd ask for leftovers, for her lunches, she'd say, though her mother wasn't fooled:
-"Don't let that dirty old man touch any of this," she would whisper, packing the contain-ers in Leah's purse.
But the foreigner was indifferent to their mother's stews, her cabbage rolls and apple pies, her rum cakes with cream, her mock pheasant and her raisin buns. Neither Leah nor her sister could convince him to try her famous beef tongue in tomato sauce. The most he would ever accept was a piece of her bread, fragrant and still warm, to feed the birds at the small park between the rows of apartment towers. He spent most of his time there, looking up at the sky, taking notes, thinking.
Leah's sister said he had been a famous ornithologist back in his country and was work-ing on a scientific paper about the migratory patterns of some species of black birds whose name was at the tip of her tongue, if only she could remember, with all that she had to do. He could not be bothered with earning money. He whistled in his sleep sometimes and had a way with the pigeons on their window sill. She made do with what she could earn as a temporary and was happy, mostly.
Leah would listen and the end, she would pull out the orange container with the flower pattern that had always been her sister's favorite. In it was dessert. "Let's split this," she would offer. "Half and half, you and me, before he comes back."