I’m holding too many candles. The largest has been melting, steadily, for some two years and seven months. It is perhaps still the largest because, in the autumn that’s just passed, it flickered again. Orange, like a warning. I returned from autumn philosophical. I was confident that the flame, if not entirely extinguished, was at least under control. And yet.
The second largest has a year on the first. It is tamer, perhaps because my fingertips have not danced around it for three years now. Three years and six months. Yes, there is some overlap between this candle and the largest, and believe me, timing is not all they had in common. The trouble with the second largest candle is this: it is elusive. There were silent times when I feared it had been snuffed out altogether. I now know that this isn’t the case. I feel a mixture of warmth and frustration when I think of that wavering little fire.
The third candle, oh! Now this is a candle you can believe in, hold your open palms to its hearth-like glow and find in it a home. Unfortunately, this candle, quiet and constant, is light without heat. Warmth, yes, but no to passion. No dancing tongues here, although it does offer comfort.
The final candle, is admittedly, much smaller than the rest – and less dangerous for it. It’s a hopeful sort of thing, at least in appearance. As you get closer to it though, it’s all shadow and smoke – in the way that shadow magnifies an object and smoke mars your vision. It is still a small, sweet thing, but its dripping, dripping, and the wax is coagulating on my dressing table like hot white scars.
Four flames, and none of them really mine. Just light I’ve borrowed for a time. What’s to be done? Four is too many for anyone to hold. It’s time, no doubt, to set them down, to puff out my cheeks and exhale. Hard to do so, though, when such an action leaves you dark in the hallway. The good thing about hallways, I suppose, is that they generally lead somewhere.