As he fired into life the little nightlight looked up to the two candles standing tall on either side of him. He instinctively knew that they were his parents.

His father – broad, angular, strong. A steady flame, softly illuminating all around him, revealing his calm, proud nature. A gentle giant, thought the young nightlight, immediately admiring him.

His mother – tall, sleek, elegant. Her own flame, more susceptible to the capricious whims of the breeze, casting flickering shadows on the walls, reflecting a more sensitive and excitable character.

The nightlight suddenly felt a strong surge of love for these two fiery guardians and his flame burnt just that little bit brighter for it.

As all children, deep down he also knew that one day he would grow up to be like his parents, but who would he more closely resemble? Would he be big, strong and robust as his father was? With his four right angled shoulders imposing themselves on the glow around. Or would he be tall and slim and unpredictably fiery like his mum? Provoking energetic shadows to dance on the nearby surfaces. Either way he would be happy, he decided. He was proud of them both and he hoped that they were proud of him.

Then in a moment things changed and it was the tear that did it. He had been gazing up at his parents for what seemed like a lifetime (in fact it was his lifetime) when he saw a solitary waxen tear slowly roll down his mother’s side. His mother was sad! But why? Life had seemed so calm and positive until that moment but now a first doubt invaded his existence.

He looked across to his dad for assurance but did not find it. His father seemed to have lost strength between those square shoulders, as if he was starting to fade, no, more like melt, away. It was not a concept that the little nightlight could deal with. The only two beings in his life had suddenly both shown their vulnerability and the young candle’s first fears began to grow.

He looked back to his mum to see her shedding more tears that slid slowly down her body and settled at her foot. She, like his father, seemed to be losing the qualities that he had admired just a short while earlier. He was sure that she was less tall and elegant than when he had first looked up to her.

Slowly but inexorably, the happiness of his newborn existence was overwhelmed by the sombre realities of a candle’s life, and he now knew that his first dream, to be like his parents, would be fulfilled in the most desperate of situations. He would not grow up to be like them. Rather they would grow ever weaker and smaller, maintaining less and less of those admirable attributes that he had seen in them on flaming into life, until they joined him in his lowly insignificance.

Now he knew why his mother wept.


~ by yearzerowriters on November 9, 2009.

7 Responses to “Candles”

  1. Hans Christian, wait up! What a lovely story! And a good case in point it’s not the number of words, it’s what they tell you and how.

    Thank you Simon.

  2. have you ever tried a fairytale?

    The language you use here would be perfect for that kind of story. I don’t know what the name of the style is…third person fairytale?…but i know it’s really hard to pull off. Especially the dialogue.

    One thing, is the nightlight just a light or is it attached to a smaller candle? Could be a stupid question, but i’ll take the risk.

    and one more thing…do you write into the F365 mailbox sometimes?


  3. Excellent tale, candles with their play of flame, wick & wax are a very redolent image. A delightful representation of the changing stature of child & parents as the one grows while the others wizen and shrink with age. Top stuff.


  4. As usual, sweet, deep and stays in the mind long after the words have left the screen.

    Well done.

  5. Thanks Heikki, Oli, Marc and Anne. Much appreciated comments.
    Oli: nightlights – for me those little candles that come in a tin foil cup. Should I call them tealights? Is that a more well known term?
    And yes! I do occasionally write into F365! Do you?

  6. Simon, lfc, Madrid. I thought it might be you.

    I don’t write in, but i read the mailbox sometimes. Great site, good sense of humour. I sent them the Gupter magazines once and got no reply, but still i sit at their lap. Bastards.

    You’re not Connor Byrne too, are you?


  7. so nicely done that it makes me think about what my two little guys think–if there is any recognition of abstract thinking in 1-3yr olds.

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