At a small diner I go to with my girlfriend; we’re often waited on by a woman slowly pushing her way into the second half of her twenties. She wears blue jeans, white sneakers, and a black polo shirt with the name of the restaurant stitched in pink above her heart. She keeps her dark hair cut short, and is boyishly reserved.

One night we see her again at a bar on Main Street. Standing in the middle of a group of friends, she has transformed. The black polo is replaced by a pink dress with straps over her strong shoulders. Her hair is pulled back with a girlish, hanging strand, and she is wearing makeup. Her eyes are bright with excitement. It is the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, and everyone has come back to our small town to visit family and friends.

She smiles expectantly out at the room, and looks like someone swept up by a wonderful and unexpected event. She leans in to talk to her friends then turns back out to the crowd, not searching quite, but looking, hoping to be seen. It is the smallness of hope that makes me falter as we come in, the night brilliant and dark through the fogged windows. The sky comes down low and full, as if collecting wishes—bright flashes in the expanse, before life folds back into days at the diner.

Matthew Zanoni Müller was born in Bochum, Germany and grew up in Eugene, Oregon and Upstate New York. He received his MFA from Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers and he teaches at his local Community College. His work has appeared in various magazines and journals. To learn more about his writing, please visit: http://www.matthewzanonimuller.com.

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