by Francine Witte
And you were eight. You would sit long hours next to the neighbor boy from down the street. Earlier that day, you played gin rummy to see who would undress first. Your mother never knew.
Under the stars, in college, smell of woodsmoke and pine, you would sit on the porch. Your roommate in your tiny room with your freshman crush. And you, pretending you didn’t know.
Under the stars, at some inexact age, the wind flittering boys at you and away. Somehow you learn that your eight-year-old boyfriend was killed in a fight. Knifed by a jealous lover. You hold up your hand. You try to stop the wind.
Instead of the stars, this one night, the rain. The sky gauzed over with fog. Your husband looks at you, reminds you of the night you met. How he showed you the constellations. His smile an arrangement of stars.
Under the stars, and answering the phone. Your college roommate from forever ago. She’s in town, she says, in town. You think of her eyes near your husband. You tell her it’s not a good time.
Under the stars, years later. This and this happened. And more. The roommate. Your husband. Endlessly sorry. Nothing the same after that. Even the sky isn’t what you thought. Constellations moving all over the place. And the moon always shrinking away. You remember when life was a game of gin rummy. You look at the sky. You wait for a star to fall down.
Francine Witte’s latest publications are a full-length poetry collection, Theory of Flesh from Kelsay Books, and the Blue Light Press First Prize Winner Dressed All Wrong for This. Her flash fiction has appeared in numerous journals and has been anthologized in the most recent New Micro (W.W. Norton), and her novella-in-flash, The Way of the Wind, has just been published by Ad Hoc Fiction. She lives in New York City.