BROOMCORN • by S. L. Bickley

Once there was an old woman renowned for her ability as a healer. A young man traveled many miles to seek from her a cure for the blindness in his right eye; he came by bus, for he could not see well enough to drive.

The woman sat him in a chair, knelt next to him, and was silent for a moment. Then she reached over and touched his eye, and instantly his vision was restored.

“How much should I pay you?” he asked.


“I would feel badly if I didn’t reward you in some way. May I take you out to dinner?”

“All right,” said the old woman, “but on one condition: if any question occurs to you, you must ask me.”

While they were eating, the young man suddenly asked: “What gives you your power?”

“I sweep my house three times a day,” said the woman. She paused. “Sometimes four.”

He raised an eyebrow. “How does that give you the ability to heal?”

“When my floors are clean, I never hesitate to kneel on them.”

Sara Bickley lives, writes, and attends college in Dayton, Ohio.

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Every Day Fiction

  • Gerard Demayne

    Ohhh, I think the Christianists would accuse her of witchcraft not doing God’s work.

    Did like that one. It’s a thinker.

  • Walt Giersbach

    Forgive me, but I don’t understand–and really, I’m not that dense about religion or punchlines. Is it important that the first line is “Once there was an old woman,” or is this an easy way to shortcut to indicate we’re in for a latterday fable? And if it’s a fable or fairytale, is it instructive that kneeling brings healing?

  • Avis Hickman-Gibb

    I think the old gal was giving nothing away!

    Liked this – it made me think about whether we have a right to know about people – just ‘cos we want to.

  • Oonah V Joslin

    Presumably as she knelt by him she prayed and it feeds into cleanliness being next to godliness. His healing was just as much about asking form whence came her power so that he would know it was from god and not her. The Parable of the old woman…nice.

  • Avis Hickman-Gibb

    May be she didn’t pray – she may just have the ability to heal. Doesn’t mean you have to get JC’s dad involved!

    This could also be the parable of “Non of your damn business! You’re healed aren’t you? Don’t question the how.”

    I thought the amibiguity her response prompts was lovely.

  • rumjhum

    I enjoyed this story. It’s like an Aesop’s fable.

  • Tootsie McCallahan

    This one does make you think.

  • Errol Nimbly

    Kaboom! Forget thinking. This one made me feel.

  • The deceptive simplicity and ambiguity of this piece gives rise to both thinking and feeling, and presumably much of what the reader gets out of it depends on what the reader reads into it.

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  • I, for one, found the prose too simplistic, as though a child had written it, though that just may be a matter of personal preference, and I thought it was overly didactic. If the moral imperative to pray is even necessary, it could have been presented in a more subtle fashion, I feel.