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The Face In The Jar

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Eleanor Rigby does pick up the rice in the church where a wedding has been. Even trampled on, rice is still food and food should not be left in the dirt. Her mother taught her that.

Not that there are many weddings nowadays. Not with the plague alarm still in effect. (Maybe all who could have revoked it have already died?)

She lives in a dream. A dream of a life past. A dream of a love past.

She keeps the mandatory plague mask -- the face, as they call it -- in a jar by the door. She only puts it on when she stands at the window to wait for those who never come back. To wait for her heart to stop hurting. To wait for her heart to stop beating.

Somedays she watches Father McKenzie writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear. No one comes near - Eleanor almost, almost went over to listen to that sermon several times but she never did. She never dared to hear if those words would break even the shadow of hope painted across her windows.

When he sits down in the night to darn his old socks in the weak light of the dying bulb, Eleanor does the same. It is almost like they were working together. For each other.

Almost as if they belonged together.

Father McKenzie doesn't wear the face either. Eleanor suspects that many people don't, not anymore. All the lonely people, those spared by the plague. They are not afraid anymore.

She did go over to the church on a Sunday. It was her birthday, but she didn't remember anymore. She did so without the face and when Father McKenzie saw her he took off his, too. She listened to the sermon and her silent tears fell onto her hands in her lap. Then, after the ceremony was finished, she closed her eyes and died.

Father McKenzie buried her in one of the two deep graves already prepared, then climbed into the other and waited. After a while he climbed out and went back to make some rice for himself, wiping the dirt from his hands as he walked away. No one was saved.