by Sarah Holland
Deep in the woods, there is a small hemlock nightclub with one stool, and a surly bartender with a piece of burlap to wipe down the bar's only glass; he knows better than to ask "What's ailin' ya, Joe?" Tonight the stool is occupied by a man with a forked beard and a twig-infested vest, nursing a concoction of goat's milk and juniper berries. The wooden window slats are closed so that he need not be troubled by his own reflection in the night-glass. Two dozen other hermits are standing outside, spaced along the hillside at respectful distances, their breaths clouding the air; but they'll have to wait. Only one customer is allowed in at a time. Hermits do prefer solitude.
Sarah Holland lives in Maine. People who read her fiction often go on to lead very normal lives.