Walter B. hurled a plum at his congregants, looked unsure,
and began his sermon.“I stand before you today because I am
secretly . . .” He paused, sat down on the pulpit, and
unwrapped a second plum. His congregants flinched. Walter
B. took a bite. Beatrice sat in the second row. She drew a
pond on her lunchbag. Beside the pond she drew a nurse, and
beside the nurse, on the wet ground, he drew a plum. And
leaning over the plum she drew Walter B. “I stand before you
today,” resumed Walter B., “because I am secretly . . .”
considered drawing a shed, but would there be ramifications?
Perhaps too many. With each bite Walter B. seemed closer to
the pit. Nevertheless Beatrice felt brave. She drew the shed,
and as she drew her small dark mouth opened a slice. “Like
a plum,” whispered one congregant to another. The conger-
gants flinched. Capturing a scene was beginning to feel more
difficult than Beatrice had imagined. In order for Walter B.
to look like a real Walter B., she would need to draw action.
Should Walter B. move closer to the shed? Was the plum dis-
tracting? “Because I am secretly . . .” resumed Walter B. He
rocked back and forth. He coughed. He took another bite.
The congregants were beginning to drift off to sleep. How
could he put this, he wondered. In order for Walter B. to look
like a real Walter B. he would need a purpose. Maybe the nurse
is lost. Maybe there is something about the nurse Walter B.
likes. Something to do with the way she is eerily staring into
the pond. And where is Beatrice, wondered Beatrice. She is
in the shed. There would be ramifications. In order for Walter
B. to look like a real Walter B. he would need to approach the
nurse and speak to her until one thing led to another. “I stand
before you today . . .,” resumed Walter B., but how could he go on? How could he go on without hurting Beatrice? Poor plum-
less Beatrice with no one to talk to but the chickens in the shed.
But there were no chickens. Which was why, when the sermon
was over, and the congregants gathered around to study the drawing
they agreed unanimously that the scene was not believable.
—Sabrina Orah Mark