Light My Fire

December 16, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about “spreading the light.” You can use it to honor or memorialize a loved one.

This is the latest prompt from Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch.

As  a child I did wonder why they stuck the best holiday in the darkest months. Damp, often cold, always wet, ice on the insides of the windows when we woke. Yes we had presents, Dad was around more, games were played, rellies turned up in droves and we ate to a gaseous standstill. We even had the time to build our model railway and run it pretty much constantly for days on end around the dinning room. No one enlightened me why we couldn’t do this on the beach in summer.

But I didn’t mind because I really like the dark. Well, no that’s not exactly it. I like knowing the dark is ‘just there’ while I’m in the light: like now I’m writing with a small desk light and my laptop and the pitch dark afternoon around me; like being under the bedclothes, cotton sheets and wool blankets, reading by torch light; like being in front of the fire toasting crumpets in the dark; or being round a camp fire with the world of my imagination clawing at the dark wall a few feet away. I get the same frisson from knowing I’m safe and warm but only just as the rattling windows hold back a storm and I’m in bed and all but one of the lights are out; or in the dark when at the coast and I hear the nearby crunch of the unseen, majestic, malevolent seas while the moon reveals only an endless sand.

It’s in those moments when a little light is just enough of a catalyst; when I can imagine worlds beyond my rational self. When the boundaries are not clear cut but tantalisingly close. When I teeter on the edge between illusions shattered and nightmares confirmed, not sure which I want to become my reality.

In those pools of enlightenment are the germs of plot ideas given enough by which to grow. This is a nurturing place for any author, where the stark white reality and the dark recesses of the unreal can meet and create a controllable fiction.

But of course the characters are at our mercy. Not for them the easy access to a light switch, the fully charged phone, the friendly copper. No, the likes of Mary, my much put upon flash fiction heroine could do with a sympathetic writer in residence. She got me.

Making Light

‘You remember what you gave me last year?’ Mary adjusted her paper hat.
‘Dad’s diaries. Did you read them all?’ Rupert, her half-brother squashed a belch. ‘They were pretty mundane.’
‘He revealed more than he intended. Mostly daily minutiae but then he’d agonise about mum, or me. Knowing the background now you can see what he was thinking.’
‘But he hid the important things. What happened to our sister.’
‘It’s darkest before dawn.’
Rupert smiled. ‘So you still want to find her?’
‘We have to. It’s the only way to lighten the load I’ve been carrying this year.’

If you want to catch up with Mary, click here

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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10 Responses to Light My Fire

  1. Pingback: Microfiction: Christmas light | Jane Dougherty Writes

  2. Norah says:

    Ha! Love it, Geoff. I was a bit anxious about what you were going to do to Mary this time, hinting that she needed a sympathetic writer in residence, but then saying that she got you. But you are the sympathetic writer in residence! Well done.
    I like the way you describe being in the light with the darkness, and fiction, lurking not far away. Interesting that you describe the darkness of these holiday days. As for me, I have only known the opposite. All we can do down here is dream of a white Christmas, and scamper for the air conditioned shopping malls!
    Happy new year! Keep spreading your light.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Annecdotist says:

    Beautifully put, Geoff, I too love that cosy feeling of being in the light with darkness around. I suppose it’s a sanitised version of the wilderness for us cosseted townies. And so glad you’ve managed to give Mary a little lightness at last.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. roweeee says:

    Geoff, loved your post even if my experience of the Christmas holidays is the exact opposite…memories of nursing severe sunburn and burning one’s backside jumping into a hot car in the days before air-conditioning. Oh yes, that was a Holden too, by the way.
    I really loved this paragraph: It’s in those moments when a little light is just enough of a catalyst; when I can imagine worlds beyond my rational self. When the boundaries are not clear cut but tantalisingly close. When I teeter on the edge between illusions shattered and nightmares confirmed, not sure which I want to become my reality.
    It was beautifully and sensitively written. I’m not really a writer of fiction, although non-fiction ends up going on it’s own flights of fancy and at least for me, has fictional elements. After all, I doubt if we stuck to the pure facts, you’d have much of a story. It would get tedious, bogged down in detail.
    I enjoyed reading your post over at Solveig’s. It was a great story, which I read in my usual manner as fact.
    Mister takes off for Jamboree on the 2nd. I reckon he’s going to combust while he’s out there. It sounds like almost too much fun packed into 12 days. It’s early nights for him before he leaves and a very early wake-up on the day. They’re meeting at 5.00 for a 6.00AM departure. Geoff is doing that run…thank goodness!
    Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you and the family a Happy New Year!
    xx Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks Row
      So glad you enjoyed it. The child in me was easily confused so I never understood there could be a different Christmas experience. Glad to see its all systems go for your brood. And here’s to an end excellent 2016


  5. Charli Mills says:

    With the tree and window lights up, it is a comforting feeling to sit at the edge of darkness. I like how you take this thought into writing and where a writer decides if reality will go either direction. Yes, Mary has you as a writer and you’ve put her through a heckuva year but you give her light along the way. Ah, lighten her load, good twist on the prompt and hopeful for Mary.


  6. Pingback: Let Your Light Shine « Carrot Ranch Communications

  7. rogershipp says:

    So many mysteries for the afterlife/


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