Place: Francine Witte

Mandy Wants to Touch the Horizon

“It’s there. I can see it,” she says.

She is all floaty wings and bathing cap as she stands on the shore line. The salty lip of the surf at her feet.

Right nearby, Harry looks happy. Sprawled out on the stripey lounge chair, magazine open on his lap.

“It doesn’t exist,” he reminds her. The cubes in his iced tea clinking as they melt. They have had this discussion before. Maybe not about the horizon. Maybe it was more about the perfect marriage. He continues thumbing through his magazine, 50 Most Beautiful issue.

“There’s a sailboat sitting right on it,” she insists. “And look how the sea meets the sky.”

“The horizon is just an illusion,” Harry says. He is fixed now on a moviestarmillionairemogul. “You think you can touch it, but it only moves farther away.”

“Like happiness,” she says. She remembers the dead anniversaries. The broiled chickens drowning in the pan.

Harry is almost listening. Lost now on page 24, Miss Montana. Something about the mermaid swirl of her hair, the faraway look in her eyes.

A group of children pat wet sand into a plastic pail. Their giggles sailing into the air like missed opportunities.

Mandy puts her toe in the ocean. She slathers on a coat of sunscreen and inhales as hard as she can. If she leaves now, she can reach the horizon by sundown. Before darkness takes over and blends it all into one thing.

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Francine Witte is the author of four poetry chapbook, one full-length collection, and the forthcoming, Theory of Flesh from Kelsay Books. Her flash fiction has appeared in numerous journals, anthologized in the most recent New Micro (W.W. Norton) and her novella-in-flash, The Way of the Wind is forthcoming from Ad Hoc Fiction, as well as a full-length collection of flash fiction, Dressed All Wrong for This which is forthcoming from Blue Light Press. She lives in New York City, USA.

Steven John – Senior Fiction & Features Editor