I go with Gary from Housewares up into the hills after work. There’s a comet coming, the news says, and Gary’s promised to show me the stars.
We share a six pack and a spread of dips, chips and cheeses—Gouda and soft Camembert—waiting for the sky to dim, the lights of the city to turn on.
Even though my breasts take up little space, Gary tells me I have a celestial body.
When I fantasized about this moment it was always with Mark from Electronics, him fawning over me like a satellite dish, tuning me to reach deep space. I suspected I wasn’t really satellite material. The closest I’d ever come to making contact with alien lifeforms was selling negligees in Nightwear or with a church boy down the hill honking for Jesus.
Gary repositions his telescope, starts searching for habitable planets or some other signs of life, but the sky seems static. He fingers the constellations while I chew the edge of my thumb nail.
“Sometimes it takes a while,” Gary says, focusing in on the hooded moon.
I stare upwards, squint, settle into the warmth from the beer. I imagine Mark from Electronics dressed as an astronaut, exploring uncharted territory, taking giant leaps for mankind, and I fall upwards into zero gravity. All at once, the stars flare supernova.
Gary floats back into my orbit, smile as bright as a serving platter, and wipes his chin.
I have so much respect for Meg Pokrass’s work; she’s a master of compression, absurdity, emotional depth and reach. She may not know it, but Meg also teaches me to be brave every time I read one of her stories. Like many women, I was raised with this idea that sex isn’t something women should talk about, let alone write about or enjoy. Culturally, it still carries some vestiges of taboo and shame, but Meg’s out there slinging her pen with wild abandon, consistently writing about sex with a shocking forthrightness that I can’t help but admire. My story takes inspiration from Meg’s brilliant work “When the Fat Lady Sings” in Cleaver Magazine, “Mining” with Aimee Parkison in Monkeybicycle and “Here We Are on Planet Earth” in Brilliant Flash Fiction.
Sara Hills is a Pushcart-nominated writer from the Sonoran Desert. Her stories have been featured or are forthcoming at SmokeLong Quarterly, Cheap Pop, X-R-A-Y Literary, Cease Cows, Fractured Lit, and others. She’s had work included in the BIFFY50, commended in the Bath Flash Fiction Award, and shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. Her debut flash collection is forthcoming in 2021 with Ad Hoc Fiction. Sara lives with her family and an enormous fluff dog in Warwickshire, England. She tweets from @sarahillswrites.