by Hazel Mankin
Her face glistened in the red sundown-light that angled through the kitchen window. Not as a cut-glass tumbler might, but more like a half-melted candle, the way the rays curved across her cheekbones in hazy highlights. She raised the mug to her lips, closing her eyes to drink. When she lowered her tea, condensation had formed a drop of water on the end of her nose. The sun seeped into its edges, dyeing it the same red as the candles that cluttered the tables and the mantle. Even unlit, they still breathed their thick, saccharine scent through the room. She curled a curious smile in my direction, eyes narrowed.
“What are you thinking about?” she asked, swiping the droplet from her nose.
I turned to stare out the window. “I was just thinking,” I mumbled, “that it must take the entire ocean to extinguish the sunset.” I turned quickly to see if she thought my words were foolish. She smiled at me before rising from her chair.
“Well, that’s a shame,” she laughed quietly, plucking a small cardboard box from the edge of the mantle. “Because, unless I’m mistaken, we’re a good hundred miles inland.” And she struck a match.