Tiny Fires

          “They look like tiny fires,” she said at the sky. We laid on our backs on the grass that cool July night, gazing at stars and trying to remember constellations. She said constellations were impossible because the stars were just fire.
          “No,” I said. “They look like diamonds."
          I started to hum “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” She insisted.
          “They are all tiny fires.”
          I didn’t know what she meant.

          When she woke me in the middle of the night and said there were monsters in our closets, I thought that she was joking.
          I went back to bed and she sat up screaming—a lullaby for me to dream to.
          I liked to listen to her silence as if I was reading the thoughts in her head.
          “You don’t hear me,” she said.
          I thought I heard it all, reading the lines on her forehead deep with thought. If I wasn’t hearing her, then I didn’t know what I was hearing. I heard something.

          When she told me she lost herself I tried my best to find her. Searching under covers, behind couches, around corners, down stairwells.
          “Not there, not there,” she said.
          But I had to ignore her. I had to be the noble knight that found her.

          I told her that I needed her and she told me not to need. I lay flat under her derision as if being drugged to sleep. She kissed my eyelids closed and it was like I couldn’t feel anything.

          When she disappeared completely I didn’t see it happen. I could only feel the absence of a presence like she had mined a cavern in my belly and left me with the coal.

Stephanie Weber is a comedian and playwright in Chicago. Most recently her play Maria Garcia Is Having Your Baby was the runner-up for the Nuestra Voces award. She was a member of the award winning troupe Warm Milk and currently runs the blog Misunderstood Connections. Her work has been featured in Trop.