I’m sharing some flash fiction with you today. This story is just under 500 words. Enjoy:
I hate these three-moon parties. The forced laughter, its stabbing awkwardness rising like painful rocks from the subtle surf of Tantalon Island. Someone always telling the same stale joke about how our planet’s three moons must be female because three men could never stand together for so long. Cortenya’s parties prove that old adage is not true. We stand on the beach in trios: two men and a woman, or two women and a man, and sometimes three men.
However we stand, each group sows suspicion of what goes on in that group over there. What are they saying about us?
I know what everyone is thinking. They’re disappointed because I didn’t bring my Jamboran wine. The thing is, I never promised to make it every time. It takes months to ferment properly. Nobody here understands the secret art of making a wine whose pure purpose is celebration, neither forgetfulness, nor repose, nor social lubricant, but the pure joy of living. One has to believe in such joy to make such wine, and a planet crowded with 43 people makes that difficult. All of them show up at every party, and one person is always left standing alone in the shadows between the torches, because we only stand in threes.
Why do people become so excessive about propriety when all three moons are full?
Our hostess, Cortenya, usually volunteers to stand alone because she likes to observe, to feel important. Sometimes I invite her to make a fourth in our group. “No,” she says. “You look so perfect standing there. A poised balance of triangular femininity and round masculinity, and nobody knowing what to say.”
Cortenya always knows what to say: “It’s time for the wine,” or, “Dalyn has outdone himself with tonight’s music, played on the bones of an elephant’s wing.” She has such excellent taste.
“She must have had the sandstone mountains moved here, just for tonight’s pleasure,” I say.
“That’s ridiculous,” you say. “They were here in the day of my mother’s mother.”
You and Salebon stare at me, a man and woman as balanced as Jamboran wine, ready to celebrate each other. I realize my mistake: I have tried to make Cortenya look full of the foolishness of the rich. Instead, I have only shown the weakness of our threesome, reminded everyone that I am not one of you.
When I try to join Cortenya, creating two pairs, she knows this is all wrong for a party, and moves away. She certainly does know how to balance a group, even when everyone is standing on a beach uneven with waves. So I walk to the nearest mountain and begin to climb. Alone.
I don’t mind. I’m always looking for an excuse to leave early.
Now everyone is watching, laying bets on whether I’ll fall from the summit like Stelan did last week, splattering himself all over the boring guests.
I don’t care what Cortenya says. That Stelan really knew how to party.