A brief sketch written in 2015 when the lights went out in my apartment and we had to light candles. Written at the kitchen table, under the mood it seeks to evoke; I finished the story as soon as the lights came back on.
Rainfall and Candlelight
I'm writing this letter by candlelight. Outside, it rains with such soft insistence that one feels like it will never cease, as though the pattering of rain has usurped silence, and it reminds me of other things that felt like they would never end. Like another rainy night, also candlelit and laced with lightning, a night without time because the power was out and with it the clock on the microwave, and you and I passed that brief eternity huddled close to a semicircle of candles that smelled of cinnamon. Like us, they were alive, breathing, trembling; like them, we gave off warmth and light. Your eyes shone whenever you looked at me, and our bare thighs met under the table, each warm to the other's touch. Sometimes we spoke but always in whispers, as if our voices were afraid to venture too far, clinging to our tongues like flames to a wick. You told me about your former lover, the one who stuttered, and how you loved and missed that stutter and how your heart leaped when I tripped over my words. I shared my recurring dream about a lake in a forest that I'd often search for but seldom find, a lake I secretly expected to stumble across in waking life. You asked me if I remembered the first time we met, but we both recounted different incidents, and neither of us could figure out which of the two had happened first. I recited Dylan Thomas for you: "Rage, rage against the dying of the light," as the candles fluttered under the force of my breath.
And we discussed so much more, and it makes me ashamed -- terribly ashamed -- that I can't remember every last word, that I've forgotten so many details from that night, that I can remember our quiet laughter but can't recall what prompted it. But even if our words are lost to me, I remember our silences. Everything else was superfluous in the face of that silence, which held more mirth than our laughter, more eloquence than our poetry. Silence can contain so much: the smell of your hair, the crook of my neck, our braided fingers, yearnings so modest they want only to be acknowledged. This was all we needed: the silence and the certainty of each other's presence as we watched the gentle flames bore dimples into the wax.
The power has come back on, and with it the hum of the fridge and the churning of the washing machine, and now the spell is broken -- not only the spell of endless nights and endless rain, but of believing you might read this.
You. I keep saying you. To someone who never even existed. To someone whose tender memories I fabricated under the spell of rainfall and candlelight.