The Masters Review Blog

Dec 12

New Voices: “Out, Brief Candle” by Hannah Rose Roberts

In our final New Voices publication of the year, we are proud to present “Out, Brief Candle” by Hannah Rose Roberts, the winner of the 2022 Flash Fiction Contest, selected by guest judge Kim Chinquee! To introduce the piece, Chinquee writes, “‘Out Brief Candle’ unfolds with longing and with sensory details (mostly smell) revolving around memories, tangibles, a candle. The prose is lovely, the voice is original. And the piece surprises!” Read on below.


Luis had been obsessed with the concept of “kintsugi”: broken pieces of pottery being fused back together with gold. The brokenness elevates the art, he’d said, it’s a metaphor.

Scent is the strongest tie to memory, they say. It had made the decision easy for Marlow. At least the initial decision. From there she had been overwhelmed, standing at the counter in a near-trance, fiddling with the tassels on the zipper of her purse, trying to decide what to put him in. This whole industry was so strange, nearly as strange as the idea that Luis would never be coming back for his work shirts or his Xbox or the spinach and avocado remnants in the blender that she had left soaking ever since she found it on the counter that morning. Just wait until he gets home, she’d thought, and she’d tear him a new one for not cleaning up after breakfast. But he never came home. And he still wouldn’t—not until she picked a candle. The skinny employee behind the counter, with a light-pink shag haircut, rolled sleeves and a permanent shrug, twiddled gloved hands as Marlow blinked and deliberated.

The glass display cases reminded her of the bakeries they had visited in the weeks leading up to the accident. She had almost bought a wedding cake. Had she bought one? Was that another thing she had to call and cancel? She would check later. She forced her mind back to the candle samples in front of her.

So many of these seemed so macho, so tacky, as unoriginal as the sympathy card Luis’ work had sent her. (But what new thing was there to say about grief, except that it was hers now?) A candle shaped like a football. Team Name Here. For people whose sport had consumed them in life, why not literally subsume them in it? One like a fish. Luis had hated fishing, hated fish. She had learned that after he had politely eaten an entire plate of salmon the first time she cooked for him. She had been horrified. Yet not as horrified as she was to be deciding, now, which candle should hold the remnants of his being.

To continue reading “Out, Brief Candle” click here.

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