Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hundreds of Tiny Lights: Fiction by Anne Earney

Hundreds of Tiny Lights: Fiction by Anne Earney

1. The sun goes down.

I stand on the marble patio with Mark, Sara and Sam, everyone’s back to the west, except mine. My wine glass refracts pinks and yellows as the sun dips. It begins to seem possible to relax. I catch Mark’s eye, hoping the pink on my cheeks seems to reflect the sunset, rather than my guilt.

2. It is difficult to read faces by candlelight.

I only have to watch what I say, not what I think. My visage is especially responsive to my psyche. When I am annoyed that I have yet to learn this basic element of control, it shows. Yes, even that shows.

3. The temperature drops.

Sara and Sam wrap their arms around each other. Mark makes a joke about cave people and warmth that doesn’t bear repeating. I watch him laugh at Sara and wish I could, too. Mark is the ex-husband of a mutual friend, and my best friend. He is also a banker. Sara is a close friend from childhood. Sam is a contractor. I am an architect. We have done well, from the looks of things, but I cannot quite look at Mark as I should, as a friend. Only a friend.

4. Things come to an end.

When my glass empties, I decline more. As I walk down Sara and Sam’s steps, my path illuminated by hundreds of tiny lights nearly hidden under groundcover, I wonder if I hadn’t always suspected it would end this way, that it would be my fault, and my failure would be a combination of what I had done, and what I couldn’t do.

5. This turns out to be true.

Anne Earney lives in St. Louis, Missouri and works in a grocery store, putting the MFA she earned from the University of Missouri-St. Louis to good use. Her fiction has been published in places such as Opium Magazine, Hamilton Stone Review, Night Train, Versal and Big Ugly Review.