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A Glint of Tender Light


By Frances Leah BrownPublished 10 months ago Updated 9 months ago 4 min read
A Glint of Tender Light
Photo by the blowup on Unsplash

The outside world was unknown to her, but she could see a glimpse of it through the window in his room. She would wait until mealtime, when she knew he'd be away, and slip silently along the old stone hallway of the abandoned bunker until she stood with her face pressed against the filthy, thick glass, straining to see the colors.

Once she'd seen movement on the outside. What could it have been? Her heart had quickened as she imagined the animals pictures drawn on the walls coming to life. What had survived? She wanted it to be a cat, because she liked the sound of them the best. She'd wrapped her arms around her thin frame, wanting to shout the news that there was a living thing outside! What would happen if she did? She'd shivered as she stood silently and imagined the running feet and the exclamations as people took a look out the window themselves, and then he would return and the people would scatter for him, pointing silently at the window. He would look out, then stand with a face suddenly soft with hope and surprise. His eyes would find her with a look of admiration as he'd say, "We need to investigate." The people would wait while a small group in protective gear made their way out of the tunnel to the outside world, and then the small group would return, their helmets and breathing masks off, their shouts of joy rebounding around the walls; "It's safe to go out! It's time!"

Today there was very little light outside except for the sharp flashes of lightning that made her step back. A brief impulse made her want to wipe at the window with her sleeve, but she tucked her hands inside her sleeves instead and put her arms behind her back, waiting. She knew that she needed to go get in line for food now or she'd be missed, but she lingered until another flash, followed by a boom of thunder, sent her scurrying away.

The meal was the same tasteless mixture of root vegetables and recycled water that had been their single daily meal since she could remember. She sat and ate, then went to the small closet to urinate over the capturing bucket. "Every drop will be filtered and sanitized and reused. There will be punishment for wasting this resource." He had said once when she was very small. There were a lot of rules to remember. There were rules stating that no one could tell stories of the food from times before, but she'd once heard an old dying woman telling her friend that she knew there would be fruit and cakes and tea where she was going. Then she and her friend had leaned close to one another and remembered the colors and textures and tastes they'd known: red, soft berries that were sweet and juicy, bright green mint leaves, apples that crunched with each bite, cakes...they went on a long time about cakes, making small sounds of want as they said words like 'chocolate' and 'vanilla', and she had listened, tucked unseen in the corner of the room, trying her best to imagine what it all meant. One day at mealtime, she'd witnessed a man throw his small bowl to the ground with a wretched scream, and watched him run toward the tunnel, unprotected, saying he'd rather die than be stuck like this for the rest of his life. They'd tackled him and taken him somewhere in the bunker where she wasn't allowed.

There were five other children with whom she learned to read and write and do numbers. Their teacher would sing at the end of the lesson, and those songs ran through her mind for hours afterward, though the words were nonsense to her. What was a twinkling star? Her teacher could never explain it. There was one song that made her long for something, though she wasn't sure what. The tune was sweet and sad and her teacher's eyes would sometimes fill with tears when they sang it. She wished she knew how someone could be sunshine to someone else, and had asked her teacher, once. Her teacher had swallowed and stayed silent, then answered, "You are all my sunshine because you're bright and shiny and you make me feel warm inside, like the sun."

The next day at mealtime she was back in his room, but today she ran to the window to touch the glass, not caring about the rules, because a shaft of sunlight had somehow made it's way through the dirt and glass and was making a bright spot on the floor. She took in a deep breath as she drew her hand from the window and saw a dim golden light on her own skin. Her eyes widened with wonder as she whispered the song, "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey. You'll never know dear, how much I love you, please don't take my sunshine away."


About the Creator

Frances Leah Brown

I am a singer, a story teller on stage and in print, and a lover of family and nature.

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