Cracked Light

Andrea bought an antique lamp with rich green glass and brass fittings. It was covered in hairline cracks, but not bad for five bucks, and she had the perfect place to put it.

It was the fourth garage sale she’d visited that morning. It seemed that everyone was giving up, splitting up, selling up, or moving up. Maybe the people buying the stuff would soon be following them. She knew how hard it was to make your life work in this crazy modern world. With so many pressures, cracks were sure to show. The question was how to fix them – if that was possible – otherwise – as was generally the case – how to ignore them, until everything fell apart.

Andrea was very happy with her lamp, but the bargain price began to bother her. Surely it was worth more than that? I guess it didn’t fit someone’s new home, she thought. Or maybe it didn’t fit into someone’s new home – if their place was a microloft. A once proud ornament was now excess baggage.

The lamp looked perfect on the dark polished dresser, adjacent to the end of her bed. The green glass wasn’t too flashy, and the brass cast a tingle across the wood. It would be lovely to look at in the mornings, she thought.

“I don’t like it,” said her boyfriend Brian. He came by twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Today was Saturday.

“Why not?” said Andrea, surprised. She hadn’t wanted his opinion.

“It’s not the lamp itself,” he said, looking at it squarely. “It just shouldn’t be there. It doesn’t feel right.”

“Don’t start your feng shui, honey. Don’t you know that I’ve got inner feng shui? It’s called a sense of style, and I say that lamp is a doll.”

“I’m not disagreeing. It’s a handsome lamp. My grandmother had a similar one with red glass. But I don’t like it there.”

“Well where should I put it?” said Andrea.

“Downstairs somewhere. It’s not an upstairs lamp.”

“You didn’t like the mirror there either, honey.” She had removed it last week from above the dresser. “You said it was distracting. So I got a lamp. Now you don’t like that…”

“I’m sorry. Just leave it there.”

After making love, she couldn’t sleep. Why didn’t he like the mirror there? He had liked it there before. He said it was fun to catch glimpses of themselves loving; like soft porn; steamy, not kinky. But then suddenly he didn’t like it. And the lamp; she had imagined sleeping together in its ancient glow; it could have been exotic. But he hated it.

She went to the bathroom and on the way back, stopped by the lamp. She switched it on, and stood nearby. The glass was glowing, but also reflecting. The light was brighter at the cracks – almost golden – and beneath the glass, subdued. Andrea left the lamp on and went back to bed. Brian could switch it off.

She had fragments of dreams; numerous snatches; maybe connected.

Andrea saw herself with Brian, the first time they’d stepped out together. She had noticed him shelving books at the library, and had suddenly become the world’s greatest borrower of sci-fi books. After a week of stamping dates, he’d asked her out on one. She had worn a green, raw silk dress with golden shoes, which had taken his breath away. But then she imagined herself many years later, definitely fatter, maybe bitter, and possibly warty; lumpy, Size 20, and childless. It could happen to anyone.

Andrea saw Brian like he was at the library, with that nerdy smile that brightened his eyes, and then his whole face; almost a living emoticon. He liked time to himself, and said they shouldn’t rush things; she guessed that was ok for now. But then she imagined him in the future as a grumpy loner, always on his computer, looking at God knows what, rather than praising and cherishing her. Mostly ignoring her. It could become a horrible relationship.

She saw everyone she knew together – all laughing, jumping, shaking their shoulders, dancing at her parent’s Christmas party. They were celebrating their shared humanity, and eternal brother-and-sisterhood. But she saw herself lost among this hapless crowd, jostled and crushed. Falling faint, and being trampled underfoot.

She had to stop thinking like this – cracking her own cherished memories. She wondered if she would ever find wholeness.

She finally reached for a brighter light. She saw herself serene like she was after yoga. Sitting on a mountaintop, cross-legged, watching the sun rising. A hundred seagulls circling, sun glinting off their feathers, making thick golden. The sun flashed before her, for her. It was the star at the centre of the solar system, the brightest object visible in the sky, earths’ primary source of energy, sending endless streams of charged life outward. Complete and eternal. In comparison, this lamp was old and cracked; faded; looking backward.

Brian was right. It had to go. When he awoke, Andrea had moved the antique lamp downstairs. “Good morning, honey,” she said. “Will you help me move the bed?”

“Huh? Where to?”

“It’s facing the wall. I know it’s a squeeze, but let’s make it face the window. I want to see the sun.”

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