Night Lights

By David Sarachman

 

“Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.”

                                      -Desiderius Erasmus

 

 

Her name (the name she goes by now) is Miranda; and, if you passed her on the street you probably wouldn’t notice her (not many do). If the word “Nondescript” had a face, it would be hers.

Later though, near the end of your day, when you’re alone,  when it’s quiet; you would remember a feeling of warmth–like a campfire or fireplace. A heat that would twine itself around you as she had passed by, when you closed your eyes you would see her eyes, burning like twin embers in the dark looking back at you.

You want to stay in this moment forever, but then the phone rings, you get a text—life has once again found away of intruding.. So, maybe you shake your head, and then laugh at yourself with your silly imagination! The image of those eyes, and the memory of that warmth melts away like snow in the spring. You forget the day when you passed that woman on the street and in mere hours your life is colder… more “normal” once again.

 

Sometimes though, someone, a person (maybe even you), for no reason, and yet, perhaps, because of every reason—someone like you decides to follow her as she walks. Something about this plain, nondescript woman stirs something deep within them, something that urges them to follow.

If that person is indeed you, you’d be able to see that she walked without any urgency to to her step,  because wherever it was that she was going she would get there in her own time.

If you keep watching, following, you might see her as she ripples her way through the pulsing crowds of people as they go about on their way to work, or maybe home–or, just somewhere, or nowhere.

Occasionally you’d see a flicker of movement, and then you might notice her hands, long fingered, tanned and lithe, kissed with a dozen little burns, that from here look like roses.

With these hands, she dances, and as she moves she begins to choose people. People unaware that they have become partners to a melody they cannot hear.

She moves unnoticed—like a feather in the wind, circling them as they make their way in their world. At the end of her dance she reaches out, and she touches them, it’s the lightest of touches for the briefest of moments; a dream has more weight.

If your eyes are very quick, you’d see these chosen ones smile, their eyes are now a little less dim,  their smiles come more easier, their steps a little bit lighter—their lives a little brighter.

 

She walks this route every morning, making sure to come in contact with six people this way every day on her way, but, sometimes she manages as many as ten (but never less than four). She has no “type” except, maybe, that the people she chooses all seem to be carrying a weight that only she can see, for she is familiar with chains—but she has never explained herself and no one has ever asked.

You continue to follow her (unsure now if you could stop, even if you wanted to) as she makes her way to the front doors of the Olympus Lighting Company, founded in 1930 by Charles Morgan. Mr. Morgan doesn’t own the company anymore (nor, in fact, is he alive), but his name remains, painted on the bottom of the sign.

Just beyond these front doors, like a shrine to some discarded god, there is painting of the man mounted on the wall. Torn, dusty and faded (much like Charles at the end of his life), the painting hangs like a tattered sail, seeming to flutter in the gasping and flickering light of the three incandescent bulbs that have been burning since the day the building first opened.

The painting remains, because like the late Mr. Charles Morgan, it’s presence has been forgotten.

 

Miranda makes her way through that hall, but, sometimes, depending on the day (or her mood), she stops, and spends some time with the painting.

You cannot see what she is doing, but, if, by some trick, you could see her face during these moments, you’d that she was smiling— it’s a sad wistful thing filled with knowing and broken promises. Miranda knew Charles when he was a young man all those many years ago. She had a different name then, and a different face—she has had hundreds of both.

 

She leaves the painting behind her and makes her way through a series of doors. Some of these doors are adorned with  signs (all different), and all of them are covered in a red paint that is now peeling and faded. On some of the doors there is the worn space of where a sign used to hang.

 

Long ago, the Olympus Lighting Company made hundreds of different kinds of lights made by hundreds of different people. Lights that shone like stars and chased away the dark. If you were alive thirty years ago, the chances are good that you lived your life under an Olympus light.

Make your Day from out of Night with Bright and Glowing OLYMPUS LIGHTS!

But not any more—these days the only things being made here are night lights and there is only one person making them.

13315715_1016112631757133_7730460563980408542_nThese night lights made here aren’t funny, or cute. They’re not shaped like talking cowboy toys or singing snow sorceress’s. Miranda makes only one kind of night light, and it’s a gaudy, blue thing with a horrid little smile. It’s a little bit terrifying, but Miranda thinks they’re beautiful.

 

To be honest, they’re not even a very bright light (at least to mortal eyes), and they probably wouldn’t sell very well (not that they’ve ever been for sale), but they are the last product of the Olympus Lighting Company and their intent was never meant to be bright—they were made to keep the monsters away.

 

Miranda is now standing at her place on the assembly line (as she has times beyond counting before), in front of her, arranged in a semicircle, is a row of parts—plastic, glass and hundreds of  tiny bits of metal arrayed before her. This is where she makes them—there is no one else.

 

Silently she begins to assemble the parts of things into a whole thing; there is a rhythm to her movements, as if she were playing a harp or conducting a symphony.

There are parts enough to make only a dozen this time. Perhaps tomorrow there will be enough parts for more— perhaps less. She never knows until she arrives and even then it’s not certain. She doesn’t know who delivers the parts, only that they will be there when she arrives, or they will not be; she has never questioned this.

The parts begin to dwindle, and a row of new night lights begins to grow.

 

Each light is small, blue and mis-shapeningly ugly (maybe they’re a clown? Or beast? She has never thought too hard on it). As conventional lighting go, they are rather sad looking, since (as previously stated)—they don’t give off much light.

If you’re a monster though (or have the heart of one), that light will burn you out of the memory of the world…forever.

 

She looks at the assembled row now, her eyes reddened, and fatigue flashing across her face. She looks at twelve lights she has made today; twelve tiny beacons— grotesque little lanterns. Not much to look at when they’re off, but chain them to the power of Zeus and they will keep you safe from the dark.

She begins, carefully and gently to pack them into a single box. She won’t have to ship them—for that is not her burden.

Somehow though, they will be collected, and these lights will find their way to those that need them most. Tonight, somewhere in this world (or another) twelve children will wake up to a muted flickering glow from an ugly little blue faced light plugged into their wall. They won’t know how they it got there, but in the end it won’t matter because within the glow the monsters cannot find them, and, for the first time in forever they will sleep without fear.

Miranda doesn’t know what time it is when she leaves the factory but it’s already dark. The street lights have already begun to flicker to life but Miranda knows they are a false light, and they do nothing to keep the monsters away. She chuckles (or maybe coughs) as she begins her long walk home.

 

She has spent a lifetime making these lights— thousands of lifetimes. From the very first one, with a light stolen from the gods of Olympus (and was punished for it!) to today. She’ll keep on making these night lights with that stolen fire for as long as she can, for as long as the fire lasts.

Her lights are the only thing that keep the monsters away.

 

She (once he) stole fire from the gods back when the Earth was a dark place and gave it to those fledgling creatures called humanity to keep the monsters away. The gods punished her for it— but she escaped that mountain AND that accursed eagle. She escaped, and ran, and hid.

 

She walks home, and as she does she remembers her first home (and her first face), in Greece, and she remembers her first name—Prometheus,  she chuckles, maybe next life she’ll be a man again…but perhaps not.

She doesn’t know if the gods have stopped hunting for her but, after all this time she no longer cares. She changes her names and her face every mortal lifetime more out of habit or boredom than of fear .

Maybe the gods HAVE stopped looking, maybe they’re dead (they’ve been so quiet)? The monsters aren’t dead though (there are always more monsters)—so she keeps making her lights.

As long as Prometheus has fire she will continue to make the lights.7e79c112d75d769f62f6ca9efbada084

Because, if she didn’t…the monsters would have found you.

Because you remember that night light…

This is why you followed…