Inspiration struck to do a bit of creative writing, and allegories are a favorite, so voila…Light: An Allegory. Some elements are borrowed from real things, but it’s mostly fictional. I’m experimenting a bit with formatting and playing with some literary devices, so I think it came out almost poetic-ish. Please do enjoy. (:
The door was open, so I let myself in. The storm brewing outside urged me onward, the wind closing the door behind me. My footsteps echoed on the floorboards, announcing my presence, but the rest of world remained quiet, save the persistent patter of raindrops against the windowpane. A cold cup of coffee and an open journal greeted me, as though the inhabitant of the house had just stepped out for a minute, but had been gone far longer than he had intended.
The fingerprints on the walls told me that this place was well-visited. Though I wanted to believe that it had been pleasant company, the grime and dust insisted otherwise.
I wandered farther in, and where I had expected emptiness, I found chaotic fullness. Keepsakes were plastered across the chilly walls like memories on the walls of a man’s mind. There were ordinary things, of course… ticket stubs, bottle caps, wrinkled love letters, pressed leaves, faded photos, with some more unusual pieces interspersed—hospital bracelets, a dented road sign, empty pens, a single bullet casing. The room exuded the formality of an art gallery, but still carried the solemnness of a memorial, as though it were more than just a mosaic of a bittersweet past. Something deep within the room seemed to ache, resonating from the floorboards to the ceiling, as if the house itself were longing to be made into a home. Though the place was still dim and cold, somewhere within the brokenness, there was beauty.
The damp made me shiver as I tiptoed into the kitchen. My only company there was a few dishes in the sink, a wilted maple sapling in a pot on the windowsill, and a stack of papers at the kitchen table. A woodstove in the corner that may have once given life to the whole house looked as if it hadn’t been used in years. Scuffmarks on the tile recorded what must have been dance steps from some evening long forgotten. I smiled as I traced the steps across the floor, closing my eyes to let my imagination fill the silence with an orchestra, kept in time by the rhythm of my own heartbeat. A clap of thunder quite literally shook me from my daydream and knocked me off balance; I worked to steady my breathing before I let my feet carry me through the house once more.
In the bedroom, a combination of neat bookshelves and tousled sheets suggested a sort of carefree, yet structured lifestyle that had once existed there. What struck me as odd, though, was one wall made of stone that contrasted rather starkly with the quiet plaster that composed the remainder of the house. I ran my hand over the rough rock, trying to envision the circumstances under which such a wall would have been built. Some of the stones were engraved—initials, illegible phrases, long thoughtful scrawlings—but nearly all of them had been scratched out or worn away by time. My fingers found an inconsistency in the mortar between the stones. I scraped at it carefully, letting my hands work their way through old dust. It wasn’t long before my fingers found something peculiar—the tiniest hint of a warm draft. I dug farther, ignoring the numbness of my chilled fingers, seeking the source of the warmth. An inch or so into the depths of the mortar, I found the pinhole from that it must have radiated from. Squinting into the tiny cavern I had dug, I swore I saw light pouring through the pinhole. I traced my work through the mortar around the stone…a nearly invisible crack snaked up and around it, splitting off into a dozen directions before it disappeared beyond the ceiling and out of sight.
Raindrops were no longer beating out as quick of a tempo as they had before, and I knew that I had to find my way home before dusk, so I made my way back to the front door. As I stepped out into the newly-washed world, I vowed that this would not be the last time I visited the lonely house with the pinhole in the stone wall.
I returned late the next week and knocked softly on the door, even though it was already open like it had been the last time. It was just as cold and dreary inside as it was outside. Despite the chill, I set straight to work on picking through the mortar. It was slow-going, but I knew that this was undoubtedly the beginning of something.
I kept coming back the house for weeks afterward, each time knocking, each time finding the door open, and each time working my way through the mortar a grain of sand at a time. The pinhole grew, bit by bit, til there was finally a tiny beam of light trickling into the room.
One afternoon, I knocked, and there was an answer. A tall man dressed in a gray collared shirt and dark jeans stepped out into the misty late winter air. I stammered a hello and tried to introduce myself.
You must be the one letting the light in, he said quietly.
I nodded and let the silence settle into the corners of the fog that enveloped us. This house has been dark for a while, hasn’t it? I finally asked. The man let out a long breath and sat on the porch steps. I followed suit.
It has, he said.
Do you miss it? I managed to ask.
What it was before—you know, before the wall… I trailed off.
It’s difficult to remember life then, he sighed, It’s been some time since I’ve seen real light.
Do you ever think about letting it in again? I said slowly.
I don’t think you understand, he said curtly, standing up and reaching for the doorknob.
Wait, I said. Against my better judgment, I put my hand on his shoulder. He tensed.
Sorry, I murmured, dropping my hand and staring at my feet.
It wasn’t always this way… That wall you’ve been working at—I built it myself. I mixed the mortar and engraved stones and watched it grow. I knew what I was doing…I knew I’d be blocking the light. But the wall—it longed to be built. I didn’t notice the light was even gone, at first—it just sort of faded away, grew distant. Life is still beautiful you know, just…different, he said, apparently searching for the right word. I had forgotten the light was even there altogether, til you started letting it in once more. He reached for the doorknob again.
You can’t expect me to believe that’s all there is to your story.
Miss, he said, wheeling around, you have no idea. He stared at me for a moment with dark eyes whose piercing gaze somehow felt familiar. I left the door open on purpose, you know. It was an invitation—I wanted company. I needed someone to bring life to this place. But to let in light…that’s a different matter entirely.
You still haven’t answered my question.
The one about your story, I prompted.
He closed his eyes and grimaced.
I’m sorry—I didn’t realize the memories were so painful, I quickly apologized.
No. Not painful, just…bittersweet.
Look, I should probably go—
No—stay a moment.
I feel like I already know too much about you, I said.
Surely you do—my home, the wall of memories, the stones blocking out the light…
Don’t you want to let the rest of it in? I interrupted.
His gaze dropped to his feet this time. He bit his lip and awkwardly shifted his weight from one foot to the other. An eternity passed before he spoke again.
No—no, I can’t. Not now. You’ve done enough, he finally said, putting emphasis on each word. I turned to leave again.
You can still return as often as you like, he offered.
No, if I come back, I promise you I’ll just want to let more light in, I said, my voice cracking. He nodded in understanding.
My eyes stung as I ran down the street, feet tapping out the rhythm of the rain.
I stopped once to catch my breath and saw the man still on his porch, staring at the clouds as they parted.