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Candle Lit

A Short Fiction for the FB "Valenhog" Challenge. The Brief: Write a Story that combines Groundhog Day and Valentines

By Caroline JanePublished about a month ago • Updated about a month ago • 3 min read
Top Story - January 2024
Candle Lit
Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash

Candlelight is elegantly flattering. The delicate dance of a solitary flame rising upwards, outwards... inwards. It is a honey that can reach into any darkness, sweetening it, softening it, enlivening it, warming the macabre and cold callouses left by life.

I look at my hands. My ivory skin is like tracing paper, parched yet alive with a scribble of shadows from another time. Such exquisite fingers. Long and slender, their regal shadows stretching into the honied light like phantoms mingling at dusk. How I used to cherish these hands, shielding them from every element, fearing liver spots from the sun or ruddiness from the cold. What I would give to see such weathering now.

Ha! As if I have anything left to give, and yet I recall I once had so much! People would pay me to turn up at parties, to wear their clothes, to be seen with me, endorsed by me. I was everywhere; I was on the tip of everyone's tongue, making them salivate for more. Now, nobody sees me apart from Marco. Not that he... Oh, Marco. My beautiful Marco, with eyes so deep and dark that glisten and sparkle even in the faintest glimmer of light. Eyes that would look at me with an unquenchable thirst and weep in disbelief as we danced together in the rhythm cast by the flutters of our candlelight at Valentine's. Where are you, Marco? I miss you.

I remain unsure of what happened. There was so much, then so little, and then nothing. It was as though all that was hedonistic and thrilling: the parties, the events, the celebrity life, and the endless opportunity for sex... it all seemed to fizzle away in the wake of its bomb. Yet, I seem to recall I wanted this. I do not feel like a victim. This great house that reaches out around me, with all its echelons of gothic splendour, to be cocooned within these walls away from the madding crowds, protected by the love of a man who would do anything for me. That was my ultimate dream; that was my reality, wasn't it?

The candlelight dances with the glow of an angel against the vaulted ceiling. Each brick, carved by hand, stoic in receipt of its fluttering kisses. There is such strength in these walls; they remain straight and certain, stalwarts of purpose. These walls have earned my respect over the years. I wish I could be as certain and stoic as them.

I am not even certain how long I have been here, and as for kisses, well, I don't get them anymore. They only now exist in my memory, in the dusty pockets I shake out from time to time to watch the motes of their melancholy float in the makeshift light of my mind's eye. I grow weary of watching them; there is a conspiracy in how they move that drains me.

Sometimes, I think this candlelight could be the last light left in my life, and I have no idea how many wicks remain. I have never wanted to know when the darkness will completely consume me. Surprises are so few, and as fear and excitement are so closely knit, I shall cherish what may well be my last one.

I used to live in hope. I would bathe in it, be saturated by it; it would spring eternal within me. But it faded, as hope does under inspection. A small part of me regrets donating so much of my candlelight to it, but hope is an addictive drug, and I was drunk on its foolishness. Oh, to be that fool again! To hear footsteps above and feel my heart race in flurries of anticipation, to believe that all the repression swirling inside me was about to be released. To hear the creak of an old, heavy gothic door grinding open and the tread of boots coming down the stone stairs. Step. Step. Step. I would race about to the tune of it, readying myself, draping silks across my pearlescent skin, and positioning myself by the candle like a jewel amidst a salute of shadows. Marco was coming, and he would bring gifts just like he had that first night we spent together as Valentines. My mind would swirl in the glorious romance of anticipation, every molecule of my whole tantalised by the expectation. What gift would he bring this time? A small child, a young buck, a nubile virgin?

Oh, how I long to hear those footsteps again and dance in the candlelight with my Valentine.


About the Creator

Caroline Jane

Warm-blooded vertebrate, domesticated with a preference for the wild. Howls at the moon and forages on the dark side of it. Laughs like a hyena. Fuelled by good times and fairy dust. Writes obsessively with no holes barred.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  1. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  2. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  3. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

  4. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

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Comments (21)

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  • Sian N. Clutton15 days ago

    Wow! This was such a good read. Each line is almost poetic. I hope you won the challenge!

  • Poppy 25 days ago

    This is incredible! The poetic language is just magnificent.

  • JBaz29 days ago

    See and this is why I cant write a story for this challenge. I can't compete with this. Congratulations

  • LC Minnitiabout a month ago

    Dark and eerie! Well done.

  • Vicki Lawana Trusselli about a month ago

    Beautiful story

  • I completely missed this, excellent work

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Caroline Cravenabout a month ago

    Love this and thought your first para was so good.

  • Tiffany Gordon about a month ago

    Another brilliant piece of writing my dear!

  • L.C. Schäferabout a month ago

    I'm on the floor. I was utterly taken with "stoic in receipt of its fluttering kisses" but it just kept getting better, and then the end was a sucker punch. If this one doesn't get T.S., we will know the system be fuct.

  • Rene Petersabout a month ago

    I love this take on it!

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Whoaaa, this certainly wasn't what I was expecting at all. It was both so unsettling and creepy! Loved your take on this challenge!

  • Mother Combsabout a month ago

    Great imagery enjoyed the story

  • Cathy holmesabout a month ago

    Once again, your descriptive writing is off the charts. Love the surprise ending. Considering the prompt, I swear I thought the narrator was a groundhog. Lol

  • Stephanie Hoogstadabout a month ago

    Fantastic, chilling, and sad, all at the same time. You have woven a beautiful narrative, and that candle image is truly haunting. Very well done.

  • Lana V Lynxabout a month ago

    I'm not a big fan of horror, but I'm always thrilled to find a horror story written well by someone else. This was a great piece of writing!

  • Hannah Mooreabout a month ago

    How we feed those demons.

  • Celia in Underlandabout a month ago

    This is so sad and a bit chilling! Brilliantly done -the cndle imagary is beautiful x

  • Rachel Deemingabout a month ago

    So, I love the atmosphere of this but are they being kept there? And fed? Vampire overtones, I'm getting. I've not read the challenge but I am curious. Loved it, by the way.

  • Shirley Belkabout a month ago

    I so agree with Invisible. I saw the flame and the shadows they left. I felt deep sadness for the one longing for Marco.

  • The Invisible Writerabout a month ago

    This was perfect. Your descriptions, the way you set scenes is a work of art

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