“The Cake, The Smoke, The Moon” was selected for the 2020 Best Small Fictions anthology.
It is Fourth of July and the pop pop smoking the air, and the gray foggy fingers stretch way up into the humid night and dig down into the water. We sit there on the beach. We are lined up like questions. Where does smoke go when it dies?
One of us says we are children, and we don’t need to know. Another of us decides it is time for cake.
We eat the cake and a third one says, we have to wait an hour now. She is the one who will follow the trail of the smoke fingers into the water. The water, that even an hour from now, will be lit up only by the moon.
The rest of us will wait safely on the beach, cake crumbs on the blanket. We will watch the water open its mouth and swallow. The one walking into the water, the one looking for the smoke, will never find it, and we can only watch as she never pops her head up like a firework dud. The lifeguards run their useless legs into the water. Even the moon knows it’s too late.
Francine Witte is the author of four poetry chapbooks and two flash fiction chapbooks. Her full-length poetry collection, Café Crazy, was published by (Kelsay Books.) Her play, Love is a Bad Neighborhood, was produced in NYC this past December. She is a former English teacher. She lives in NYC.