Eight Stars of Gold on Blue

His letter arrived on the 23rd of January sandwiched between the gas bill and an exclusive one-time offer to travel into space. She spied from the window as the postman took a stack of mail from his bag and placed it in her postbox. Then she stayed, breathing disappearing clouds against the pane, her knees digging into the couch cushions until the visible exhaust from his little mail truck coughed up the road.

Sitting at the bridge table, she slowly considered each piece of mail with more interest than it deserved. "Oh, I could have already won a million dollars," she nodded, as if she could have already won a million dollars. And so on through the stack of customary bills and circulars. When his letter reached her fingertips, she held the envelope like she was weighing it and then brought it to her nose. What did it smell like? Cold paper. Nothing really.

They had met at a wedding where he was an usher who had gently led her by the elbow to her seat behind the bride's immediate family. What person outside of a Brontė novel gently leads another by the elbow? During the reception, ebrious and desirous, they slow-danced and clinked glasses and laughed until she touched his elbow, fondled it really, and joked at its apparent strength.

Shortly after their affaire de coeur she wrote to him admitting, yes, she had enjoyed his touch, and that having him inside of her was like holding a mountain in her palm. And finally, their sort of union was not meant to last. Truly.

It seems she had discovered, after discovering his Cantonese love-speak and kisses up and down her spine, strong-elbow man lived in Alaska, where the official state sport is dog mushing. And she did not want to have to make any decisions about Alaska. Twenty-four hours of daylight or twenty-four hours of night. No, no, no. Maybe Wyoming or Montana, but not Alaska. Most people forget Hawaii is one of the fifty states, but not her, she forgets Alaska.

She tossed his letter into the fireplace without breaking the seal and watched it darken, curl, and flip. Her mind was made up, see. And that's the thing you must believe. Even about Alaska, that's really all there is to it.

About the author:

L. Suzanne Stockman tutors young scribes and writes big and small from a desk in Seattle. She has contributed to Cranky, Nylon, Monkeybicycle.net, Spin, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency, among others. Her headphones are plugged in right now.