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The Vigil

Fire has no substance, and yet it has shape, making it almost ethereal in nature. Fire is pure energy, which can never be destroyed, only transformed.

By Marie SinadjanPublished 9 months ago 4 min read
The Vigil
Photo by Rebecca Peterson-Hall on Unsplash

The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window. It was already half-gone, wax clustered around its base like stalagmites in a limestone cave.

In front of the flame sat a girl, and she was utterly entranced by the dancing lights. She talked and whispered to the candle as if they were long-lost friends, her hands curled closely around the fire to keep it from going out. If the heat scorched her palms, she somehow didn't feel it, for there was no pain on her face, only contentment.

The following day, a group of hikers found her in the exact same position, still in a silent vigil over the candle that somehow continued to burn. But she no longer breathed, and her palms were white and charred.

Most frightening of all, however, were her eyes. She faced the window with nothing more than gaping holes in her face, her eyeballs seemingly having melted away and leaving tear-like stains on her cheek.

“We shouldn't be here." Sharon was already halfway out the front door by the time the words left her mouth, her knuckles white from clutching the straps of her backpack too tightly.

Beth, who'd knelt by the girl's side to check on her pulse, shook her head. “And just leave her behind?” Among their number, she'd been the only one who dared to get within touching distance of the mutilated child, and the only one who didn't seem to be in any hurry to leave. If anything, she looked like she wanted to wrap the little one up in a blanket and carry her home, perhaps even nurse her back to life.

“B-Beth, come on.” Hannah rocked on her heels anxiously, her eyes darting around the cabin like she was expecting something to jump out of the shadows at any moment. “Sharon's right. We have to get out of here.” The usual shrill in her voice had turned up to ten, grating on their ears.

But Beth wasn't listening, her gaze already drawn to the exquisite flame. “What were you looking at?” she wondered out loud, positioning herself behind the girl while keeping the candle in her line of sight. She squinted, then turned her head about, watchful for any change in her view, but all she saw was the candle in the window, the persistent little flame, and the peace of the forest behind them.

Then Sharon stormed back in angrily and blew the candle out with one puff of breath. In an instant the cabin was plunged into total darkness, leaving only the dim early morning light from the outside.

“Sharon!” Hannah gasped, bringing her hands up to her mouth. She backed up quickly then, crashing into the wall behind her and knocking down an old painting in the process. The frame's glass shattered, sending her and two other girls shrieking and stumbling back out into the woods.

“We have to go,” she insisted, turning to grab and pull Beth up by the forearm, and she had to exert herself as Beth didn't seem to want to move. “You can call 911 when we get back on the road!”


Beth never called 911. None of them did. By the time they were out of the woods, they'd forgotten about the cabin and its mysterious inhabitant, recounting only the parts of their hiking trip that took place before their little detour. Even Beth, who'd been so concerned about the girl back then, spared no thought of her once they'd escaped the shadows of the woods. All she felt was a strange sense of calm and contentment, as one usually felt after taking a much-needed vacation.

No word about the incident, or any variation of it, ever made it out. Not in newspapers, not on TV, not even on TikTok. There was nothing about a corpse in an abandoned forest cabin, or even of a missing girl.

But the evening she was back home, Beth lit a candle and set it down in her bedroom window. Then she sat in front of it and cupped her hands around the flame, just like the girl in the woods did.

“Look at you,” she whispered, tears streaming down her cheeks. In her irises, the flame flickered playfully, dancing and pulsing in a kaleidoscope of colors. She could stare at it all night. “So beautiful.”



About the Creator

Marie Sinadjan

Filipino author, singer-songwriter and theatre actress. Loves writing fantasy short stories, composing songs for books, and reading SFF and YA. Also writes romance, horror and scifi. Married and based in the UK.

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  • Madoka Mori9 months ago

    c r e e p y

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