I gave the beggar a dollar for his sorrows and my friend and neighbor David Yip gave him all the cash that he had.

And David said, ‘Look! I think the sky is lower!  Well, look at it!’

And yes, a pretty mist, much like confetti descended, so that the day felt so friendly, even profitable. Although my gloves had become shabbier from icy water and dirt because I’d dropped them.

They were solidly on my hands when I found the Campho-Phenique that I needed at the Drug Loft.

The gloves are peach leather – quilted, with fur cuffs – and they have a lining that can become rather too effective.

The cashier was blushing or was that a saintly radiance?

I fear I lack deep feelings, have flighty ideas, and am often irritable over trifles.

The beggar was still there when my neighbor and I exited the shop and he said, again, ‘Change today, Miss?’

He was an ornate figure in a knitted cap – fastened by a long, wrinkly ribbon under his chin and I thought, No, no more. How much mercy is necessary?

And then my gloves unaccountably tumbled again.

The beggar returned one of them and my pal Dave knelt to retrieve the other.

At home, I stowed these along with my coat and then I went crazy in the hall mirror, as I sometimes do, over the glow from the heirloom I wear around my neck.

This rope of freshwater pearls was a gift from my husband when our son – now he is a man – was born.

Of course, I had dominion over our baby and I recently tended to my son’s new son, my infant grandchild, and was maintaining my grasp of him, and then I tripped, and there might have been an extreme penalty to pay for this.

But the baby made it through the crash well, has satin-slick legs for me to clutch at, and chubby arms that I can fit into my nice vise-grip.

This is an apt outcome for the story of the blest woman and the mendicant – for the story about a woman better known as ‘Pearlneck’.


‘Day of Awe’ is taken from The Collected Stories of Diane Williams, published by Soho Press on 2 October 2018, with an introduction by Ben Marcus.

Image © Alison Yuhas

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