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.
‘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