Candle

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium


A short story I wrote several years ago and edited just recently. It's a bit darker than some of my other writings. A child kneels on the beach of a tropical island, watching his last hope for
survival fly away into the sunset.

Submitted: April 28, 2018

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Submitted: April 28, 2018

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Darkness fell as the child gazed intently at the last hope for rescue as it drifted over the horizon. The plane proceeded obstinately away as it spewed out false streams of cloud from its massive turbines, blissfully unaware of the pleading child on the shore. Moisture dampened his eyes, sparkling in the evening sun. His throat was sore from yelling at the plane, which turned a deaf ear upon the pitiful creature kneeling in the fine, hot sand. The large, once blindingly bright flashlight, which had treated the child kindly up until that crucial moment, lay nearby where it had been tossed in anger, its light becoming dimmer as the batteries finally gave up their losing battle to survive. The child squinted as the plane, now a tiny dot in the orange sky, crossed into the blinding glare of the hot, merciless sun. And then it was gone.

He remained in the still for several minutes after the plane had merged with the distant sunset. Staring at the empty sky, the child felt more abandoned than ever. A sob grew in his small chest and forced its way out. Then he wept. So close. So very close to rescue.

Several minutes passed before he managed to stanch the flow of tears and stand up. Other than the occasional sob, the tears had stopped. There were no tears left to spill. 

Turning around, away from the never-ending sea, away from the home once known, the home forgotten, the child saw the makeshift shelter. Amongst the twisted, gnarled blades that had once allowed flight lay a cockpit with a dangerously beat up exterior. A torn tarp that the child had hung over the entrance swayed slightly in the breeze. He longed to see a real door that led into a real home. He longed for a real life. 

Pushing aside the tarp, the child entered the innards of the inert metal beast. The interior was shrouded in shadow, now that the sun had begun to drop below the horizon. The inoperative refrigerator in the corner was just barely visible, and the contents—an ever-decreasing supply of water, candy bars and crackers—even less so. The child suddenly dreaded the night, for the flashlight could no longer offer the comfort of light like it had in the past.

“Mommy,” he whimpered. “The airplane passed on. It's gone now.” As expected, the child was answered by a disappointed silence. “Please, Mommy, don't be mad. It’s not my fault, the flashlight died." His voice broke throughout the explanation. Mommy, shrouded in darkness, remained silent. “I’m sure another airplane will come. Or a boat.” He tried desperately to convince Mommy that everything would be all right, but was still greeted with silence. The child, heartbroken because of Mommy’s disapproval, found a fresh reserve of tears and began to weep once more. “I’m sorry, Mommy,” he said, leaping forward to hug her. He cried into Mommy’s dress as the strange smell that she had acquired over the past few weeks wafted throughout the cockpit. 

Just hugging Mommy made him feel better. Mommy simply had an air of comfort about her, and no matter what happened she could always cheer him up again. It was as if a candle had been lit, and all the bad things in life had fled from the blessed flame. Suddenly, the child felt that they would get back home, that they would get rescued. “I love you, Mommy,” he murmured into her dress. Releasing Mommy, the child looked into her eyes. Mommy’s sunken, dull eyes, once so loving and affectionate, stared out of her pale, expressionless face, seeing things beyond the realm of the child’s understanding. “Good night, Mommy,” he said, wiping away tears. The child, with light and tender care, closed Mommy’s eyes, guiding the eyelids over the glazed, sightless orbs. He then proceeded to snuggle up next to Mommy, pulling a blanket over the two of them. They both slept soundly through the night, awaiting the bright and promising tomorrow when they would finally be rescued.


© Copyright 2018 J. R. Merrick. All rights reserved.

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