PARABLE OF THE SOWER
By Octavia E. Butler
We all shared corn bread made with a little honey and the hard-boiled eggs we bought and cooked yesterday. We baked the corn bread in the coals of last night’s fire sothat we could get away early this morning. The woman and the girl ate as though the plain, cold food were the best they had ever tasted, as though they couldn’t believesomeone had given it to them. They crouched over it as though they were afraid we mightsnatch it back.“We’ve got to go,” I said at last. “The sun’s getting hotter.”The woman looked at me, her strange, sharp face hungry again, but now not hungryfor food.“Let us go with you,” she said, her words tumbling over one another. “We’ll work.We’ll get wood, make fire, clean dishes, anything. Take us with you.”Bankole looked at me. “I assume you saw that coming.”I nodded. The woman was looking from one of us to the other.“Anything,” she whispered—or whimpered. Her eyes were dry and starved, but tearsstreamed from the little girl’s eyes.“Give us a moment to decide,” I said. I meant,
Go away so my friends can yell at mein
but the woman didn’t seem to understand. She didn’t move.“Wait over there,” I said, pointing toward the trees nearest to the road. “Let us talk.Then we’ll tell you.”She didn’t want to do it. She hesitated, then stood up, pulled her even more reluctantdaughter up, and trudged off to the trees I had indicated.“Oh God,” Zahra muttered. “We’re going to take them, aren’t we?”“That’s what we have to decide,” I said.“What, we feed her, and then we get to tell her to go away and finish starving?”Zahra made a noise of disgust.