Flash Fiction


The darkness was thick around her. In her small cocoon of candlelight, she sat on the cold hard floor, eyes lost in thought staring blindly at the candle. The wax oozed and pooled in the palm of her hand singeing her skin and yet, she didn’t blink, didn’t stir; it was the pain inside of her she felt, not the puny sting of hot wax in the sensitive skin of her fingers.

Her mind was in such turmoil, she couldn’t tell where the pain started and she ended. It was all entwined, pain enmeshed in her awareness, in a big ball of barbed wire, scraping and pulling at the edges of her sanity.

In her state of numbness (madness?) she looked at the melting candle and saw meanings, symbols for everything she was feeling, all that had somehow become her life. The darkness that surrounded her in itself held an ominous meaning, akin to the darkness in her heart at that moment, the bitterness that soured her thoughts, the desperation that caused her frightening thoughts and desires.

Where had everything gone wrong? She had been happy, really happy. From the depths of her aching heart she dug up memories of the happy child she had once been, loved and protected, full of dreams and hopes; memories of her as a young woman still innocent enough to believe that love healed all, that with the right attitude anything could be achieved, that happiness was a choice. Where had that woman go? Why hadn’t she taken her with her?

The pool of melted wax in her hand reminded her too much of all her own crushed dreams, her obliterated hopes; a giant blob of shapeless, useless matter lingering around and crusting over as it settled into its new shape. She felt a sob climbing up from deep within her.

`The candle was shriveling to a stub, an insignificant nothing much like her. She had wanted to be someone; not a star, not rich. Someone who made a difference in the world, however small. Someone respected and acknowledged. Yet, here she was much like the candle, small and inconsequential. Nothing she touched seemed to have left a mark of any significance. Her marriage had been a failure. Her career a disaster. Her children had grown up to be exactly the opposite of what she had hoped and strived for.

Memories took her back to high school, the least happy time in her childhood. There, she had been either bullied or invisible.  Sometimes both at the same time. She had thought – hoped- her adult years would be different. But the bullying never really stopped, it just changed its form. As an professional adult she was bullied by her boss and her colleagues. As a wife and a mother she was bullied and ignored by her spouse and her kids. Then bullied by those who are quick to dish out judgement. Even her friends bullied her one way or another. Nobody respected a doormat and that’s exactly what she had become. Her need to please and keep the peace was more often than not misconstrued as a weakness. Her friends thought her to be week and pliant and, in spite of often taking advantage of those characteristics themselves, dismissed her as a push-over.

The silence brought on for the lack of electricity was oppressive. As oppressive as her sense of isolation and loneliness. No-one really understood. No-one really cared.

Amidst it all, she was starting to believe it; she was beginning to think that she was indeed a weakling, a characterless human form that served no purpose, an extraneous existence. The candle in her hands wavered and danced. She longed to snuff it out, to snuff all of it out. To allow the darkness to take over everything, to take over her for good. End of story.

The lights flickered into existence again at that moment, inundating the space around her with brightness and color, snapping her off her dark reverie. The sob stuck somewhere in her chest was swallowed. She blinked, allowing her eyes to adjust to the sudden brightness and then she snuffed the flame out. Only the candle. This time.

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