Top Hat
Alice Landis

Flash Fiction Winner

H er thrifty nature savored the jingle of coins in her purse, a sound now precious amid the world's unrest. His frivolity had preferred empty pockets, countering her concern with "We've only one chance." In his spirit, she strolled to the cinema sporting her best suit and tilting her hat jauntily. But standing in front of the marquee, the stars' names in block letters, she turned away. She never told him how his lithe frame and broad smile reminded her of Astaire. Turning onto a street rarely traveled, where the street lamps radiated halos of light, his words came to her, matching the measure of her step. A shadow flashed by her feet, accompanied by the merest whiff of cologne sufficient to loose the tide of memories. Michael, she breathed, and quickened her step. Searching frantically, her heart leaping into her mouth, she discerned his dance in the edge of light on darkness. He lead her through the night without sense of time or place, until she found herself in her dressing room, where she had begun the night. He had laughed at her as she arranged that closet as she ordered her life, with no shelf, no stack, no part higher than another. "Just one more chance," he breathed in her ear, and with a wail she created a maelstrom of sweaters and skirts, suits and belts. While his memory flamed the fury in her heart and his breath froze the tears on her cheeks, she finally said goodbye.

First published: November 2000