Guiding Light
Susan Stiles

My hometown is entombed in ice and the streetlamps are tall finials of snow. I am looking for the journalist, the one who is writing the story, but all I see are people—people, carrying suitcases. The car slips backward, then centers itself. I enter a room filled with typewriters. My muscles ache. The clock tells me that I should be at the airport, but there are so many stairs to climb. My sister arrives, looking calm. She helps me sift through the boxes and rectangular files. No one looks up. The air disappears, returns. From a distance, my hair still looks dark—dark and black. The man with the rawhide face edges closer. The stew must be cooked in three batches, he says. He tears off bits of the story. As he leaves, he produces an infant child from the stucco wall. Midnight cold sets in. Hourglasses stiffen; dirt in the pavement chokes. This is why the flames are such a surprise when I turn the corner.

Susan Stiles lives in the Washington, D.C., area and works in product development for social enterprise initiatives.  She's currently drafting a collection of short stories (very) loosely based on her travels.  Her poetry has appeared in The Dalhousie Review, Innisfree, Red River Review, and Gingko Tree Review.