Beth Sherman / Fiction 5.2 / Fall, 2017

BETH SHERMAN

 

from RSR Featured Art © by Artist Allen Forrest

LESS

They sit on the porch and watch fireflies blink. Sometimes she will nurse a glass of wine. He might have a book, which remains in his lap, unread. The occasional car trundles by. They do not speak. Not because there is nothing to say but because all the words have already been spilled and to start over, they would have to pick them off the grass and swallow them whole.

The fireflies give off a light like burnt honey. Up close, they are uglier than any creature has a right to be. When she was young, she trapped some in a jar, held them under the covers. Anxious flashlights. By morning, they were dead. She buried them beside the maple tree, holding a brief ceremony with Pooh and Chatty Cathy. This is what happens to stolen light.

A kiss. A promise. A contract to love until it unwinds from the spool. Do you take . . . Thou shalt. Thou shalt not. Children born, children leaving on school buses, in trains, with friends and strangers, driving away from home for good. They sit like two old people cast in bronze. The sun trips over its own rays, sliding behind the tallest maple. She drinks the last of the Cabernet, thinks about throwing the glass on the lawn. A shattering. Like rusty bells slicing the silence. Fireflies spark and wink, glow and fade.

 

Above Left: from RSR Featured Art © by Artist Allen Forrest

Beth Sherman received an MFA in creative writing from Queens College, where she teaches in the English department. Her fiction has been published in The Portland Review, KYSO, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Sandy River Review, Blue Lyra Review, Panoplyzine, Sun Star Literary Magazine, Peacock Journal, 3Elements Review, the Rappahannock Review, Gloom CupboardThe Delmarva Review, Sou’wester, Sinkhole, Compose Journal, Ponder Review and Marathon Literary Review. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has written five mystery novels.

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