Your family’s blood and the air in my cabin when you tell me they picked you a husband—a gentleman (the euphemism for those with veins of ice and hearts of steel). I ask how you will complete the something old-new-borrowed quartet, and you show me the star sapphire, cold and hard, pinned above your angry heart. An engagement gift, you say. What about the topaz I bought you in Albuquerque? Do you still have it? You say nothing.


Your dress on the day, and the invitation I didn’t receive because my skin is five shades darker than the required shade of lily. I stand in the last row, far from the line of organza-bowed pews, collar up, hat down, and I watch him slip the platinum on your finger—a miniature collar of your own. When the organist plays Mendelssohn, you exit without seeing me. I am a ghost.


Your hair coiled in a boa around your neck and my eyes from lack of sleep. The blooming bruise on your cheek where he hit you—not for the first time, not for the last. Blue and red make purple, I think, and we watch the ball of sun make a new day—a last day—before I wrap the coil tighter, tighter, tighter. You are wearing the topaz, and it is less like a noose than the sapphire and you are free of him. Men will come for me now; they will lead me to another noose, and if God is great and good I will see you, dressed in heaven’s snowy robes.

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Christina Dalcher is a linguist, novelist, and flash fiction addict from the Land of Styron and Barbecue. She waves the tricolor in a slightly different order of hues. Find her work in Zetetic, Pidgeonholes, and Five2One Magazine. Or find Christina waxing colorful at


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  1. James Hannon
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