Stained Glass Masquerade, by Charles Henke

Fuchsia Sunrise? Look like pink to me. These ain’t real colors. What kinda place you got here, Shimmer? Why you even pretendin to sell this shit?

It’s just oil paint, Kevin. Stop sniffing it. When did you get out?

Few weeks back. So, you mix this yourself? People come around for Fuchsia Sunrise now?

Yeah.

Huh. Probably half them buyin your other pink while they here, though, yeah? You got some candy for me, Shimmer?

No. I’m in the middle of something.

Listen now, this little blonde girl said you gave her some yesterday.

Lindsey?

Well I guess, but I don’t know her name. Anyway I seen her dancin at McGavin’s, all slow like she don’t even hear the music. She just starin out at nothin, but I seen her fingertips all stained pink and I knew. She come down off the stage and I ask her straight up, where you get that candy, girl?

You shouldn’t talk to her.

She don’t talk much anyway. She just say Shimmer’s Palette, and when she drop your name my teeth start achin and I knew where I was goin next.

Well thanks for stopping by. I really can’t be bothered right now, though.

It ain’t gonna be like that now, is it? You the candy girl. What you got for me, doll?

Nothing.

Come on, I know you lyin. That girl pay you for it?

Everyone pays, Kev.

Right. I only wonder cause she’s a tight little thing. She say you and her got some kind of deal. She say she fucks you for it.

I doubt she said that.

Well not exactly like that, but she was all frazzed, you know. More like what she didn’t say. You know how good your candy is. Come on, what you got for me, babe?

I’m busy.

No you ain’t. Why you cuttin that glass up? You gonna hurt yourself on them edges, doll.

I’m trying to make something. To catch the sun.

Right. How you mean to do that?

Not literally. You hang it in a window. Can you please come back later?

Nah, I ain’t got nowhere to be until later.

Well I’m busy.

What you doin, for real?

It’s called art. Stained glass.

I guess if you say so.

You wouldn’t understand.

I can relate to pretty things, you know. Like that girl. Like your candy.

Yeah. Hey, don’t touch that. They’re not soldered down yet.

Say, that looks like a bird now I see it from this way.

It’s a cloud.

Oh. Well clouds can be anything, right?

If you say so.

Right. So listen, I really need some candy, doll. I been inside too long. That girl—

Lindsey.

Yeah, that girl, she made me see what I been missin.

You shouldn’t have talked to her. She’s not real when she’s dancing.

That ain’t true. Pretty thing like that, she real enough for me.

She has a name.

I don’t mean nothin by it.

Why do you keep talking about her then?

Never mind. She just a pretty thing. Your candy did that, make her dance so pretty. She’s like art.

Lindsey’s not art, Kevin.

Maybe you the one don’t know what’s real and what’s art, then.

Why are you here? Do you want some for yourself, or do you think you can buy her with it?

No, Shimmer. I come for the same reason as everyone. You’re the candy girl.

Not anymore. Not for you.

Come on, girl. For old time’s sake.

Move out of the way, Kevin. If I don’t finish this today, tomorrow won’t be right.

What’s that supposed to mean? The world gonna stop spinnin or what?

Something like that.

So what if it does? Live for now, doll.

I’ve done that for too long. I can’t—

Honey, don’t cry now. Tell me what’s wrong.

I have to catch the sun, that’s all. Today, before it goes down.

And what happens if you don’t? You ain’t makin any sense.

I need to make it right. There’s nothing real anymore.

People don’t want nothin real.

That’s not true. Lindsey does, but she forgets how it feels to have the sun in her hair. Last week she had an audition uptown. Ballet.

Yeah, so?

So she wouldn’t have been dancing last night if she made it, not if she was real. You made it out once. God dammit, Kevin, why did you come looking for me?

Bein inside ain’t makin it out.

Close enough.

Anyway, I seen her dancin that stage and I remembered how it felt not to feel.

Yesterday she told me she was going to throw herself into the sun because she can’t feel anymore. Is that what you want too?

I don’t want to die if that’s what you mean, but I don’t see much sense in livin neither.

You know what? Fine. I gave her a few pieces, so she could go on long enough for me to make things right. Here, you can have some too.

I ain’t askin for a handout.

Then help me catch the sun. That’s your price.

Girl, that ain’t a fair price.

Everyone pays.

You don’t know how bad it is. I been waitin three years. I can’t afford to catch the sun, now I know how much it costs.

But that’s all you need.

Shimmer, I come here for some candy. I’m here, and the sun’s goin down.

I know. Just tell me why. Why do you want to go back to what you were?

Cause right now I’m real, but it’s better to be like a cloud, just driftin, not carin what happens next. Tomorrow don’t care how I get there. The sun gonna come up either way.

Not if we catch it first.

There ain’t no fuchsia sunrise, Shimmer.

But it’s real! Why can’t you see?

All I see is pink, doll. Thanks for the candy.


Charles Henke is father, grandfather, and keeper of cats from Iowa. He is an aspiring novelist and short story writer of speculative and weird fiction.


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