The winter evening drew on, enveloping all, in a shroud of mist and darkness. The clay stove where wood fires burned with the occasional crackle and pop, was where they all huddled together, the dying embers burning orange, reflecting on their faces as they tried to get closer to the heat, tempted to touch the ash laden coal, still molten hot at the core.
Tearing at unleavened bread, dipping it into bowls of hot piping stew, the warmth of the food seeped into their bellies and there rose a silence more blessed than joyous laughter.
The orphan waited patiently for his share. Every other benevolent family in the village took turns through the week to feed him.
Wolfing down his bread, he wiped his bowl clean, sponging up every drop of stew. Muttering thanks, he walked away into the cold winter night.
While the village slumbered on under layers of quilts that barely warded off the cold, he sat hunched over his books.
The lone street lamp, his only companion, blazed on, in the darkness of the night.
Thank you, Maria, for the beautiful photograph!
Bless you Priceless Joy at Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers for hosting such a wonderful challenge!