Cooked Rook

The embers were almost dead. The pot and the stew and the husband and wife were still warm. The farmhouse was otherwise frigid.

“Maybe we should have sold and followed my brother,” the wife said.

“Best not to think about it,” her husband said.

She blew on the slop. She sucked if off the spoon. She swallowed.

“We’re out of wood,” she said.

“I’ll go begging for wood tomorrow,” her husband said.

“It’s shameful that we have to beg,” she said.

“It’s a blessing,” he reminded her. “My father was bedridden for years. He didn’t even have the faculties to be able to beg. Otherwise, he might have begged for his medicine and lived.”

“Begging is a blessing. Amen,” she said.

“Amen,” he said.

He blew on the slop. He sucked his off his spoon. He winced. He choked. He gagged.

“Is it foul?” she asked.

“At least it’s warm,” he said. “Praise the Lord for that.”

“Praise the Lord,” she repeated.

“But what is it?” he asked.

“Rook,” she said. “Stewed rook.”

“What’s rook?” he asked.

“Best not to think about it,” she said.

“Regardless, it’s a blessing. Rook’s a blessing. Anything is a blessing. You, especially, are a blessing to me,” he told his wife. “How could I withstand all this alone?”

“And you are a blessing to me too,” she said. “For there is strength in unity.”

“Amen,” he said.

“Amen,” she repeated.

She prepared another spoonful of cooked rook. She brought it to her mouth.

“Do you imagine there’s anything better than cooked rook?” she asked.

“Best not to think about it,” he said. “Best to be grateful for the blessing.”

“Chicken might be better,” she said. “Or a rabbit.”

“I can go begging for a chicken or rabbit tomorrow,” he said. “Along with the wood.”

“Yes,” she said.

He reminded them again, “Begging’s a blessing. My poor father couldn’t even beg.”

“Amen,” she said.

“Amen,” he said.

She swallowed more cooked rook.

“Hardship builds character,” she said.

“Of course,” her husband said.

“So hardship’s a blessing,” she said.

“But what about prosperity? Isn’t prosperity a blessing?”

“I think either one is a blessing,” she said. “Don’t you agree?”

“Of course,” he said. “Amen to the blessings of hardship and prosperity.”

“Amen,” she said.

“Praise the Lord,” he said.

“You are a wonderful man,” she said. “And the second greatest blessing to my life. Second, of course, only to God.”

“You are the same for me,” he said.

“Glory to God,” they praised together.

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