Flare up

by Heather Sager

I go to the desert. I am a painter and I paint broad strokes heating under sun. I paint until my canvas burns up. I return to the city. I realize my canvas is a painting of white.


I go to the desert. I roam up and down foothills, sand and sediment. I find the moon rocks and the deep craters of bad land that time has forgotten. I find a car, left on the desert floor. Only one door remains on its rusty frame. I bring out my easel and paint. The car turns purple with the falling of night. The little desert foothills turn purple. Still I paint. Two weeks later the painting is finished.


I return to the city. I see faces of people and scream. My scream is silent. I want to show them the car but I cannot. I hang it in my room. 


I remember I have a boyfriend. I go to the gallery where he exhibits his work. There everyone is talking about my boyfriend, how great he is. No one even notices me. And that only makes sense because the purple of the dusk follows me, the purple of the car and the silence and I walk into the gallery like the sands of the desert creep. 


I go to a party but my boyfriend forgets me. All the successful people talk. I decide to look for my boyfriend. Is he smoking somewhere, out back?  


The crowd gets too much. I am lonely. What I have inside, I don’t know how to share. Don’t know if it’s worth sharing. If I. Men and women voice loud things. I go outside and stand by the pool. I find the purple of night and a memory of a loved friend flares up, her face flashing orange over the horizon like a sun rising back up, and I laugh.

Heather Sager is an author of short fiction and poetry. Her stories appear in New World Writing, The Cabinet of Heed, Sweet Tree Review, Little Patuxent Review, and other magazines. She has contributed poetry to Mantis, Alba: A Journal of Short Poetry, Nightingale & Sparrow, and Umbrella Factory Magazine, among others. Heather grew up in rural Minnesota and lives in Illinois.

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February 2020

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