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Context and Instructions: Recently, I created seven people, whom I have described in the People list below. Each person shared three of their favorite memories with me. Then we worked together to discover within that memory a source of light whose existence allowed the memory to be the way it is. All of the entries in the Lights They Love list are the responses from the people I interviewed, translated into present tense. Each entry in the Lights They Love list also has three subsections. This is because I took the lights from each of the three memories. The memories are not listed in any particular order. One person’s favorite memory may be attached to the first light on the list, or their favorite memory might be attached to the last light on the list. The people are also not in any particular order. The first person on the People list may have the last set of memories in the Lights They Love list. Your goal is to match each person to the lights they love.
_____ The old woman stands in her kitchen with frazzled grey hair, heart-eye sunglasses, and a blunt. She takes another hit and tucks the blunt behind her ear, rubbing the junk off her hands and onto the satin bathrobe. She pours another glass of champagne for herself and glances at the second cup on the bar: untouched vodka in her husband’s favorite glass. She sighs, corks the bottle, and returns it to the butler’s fridge. Turning around, she takes in the giant, empty house – its 20-foot roof soaring above her head, interrupting her view of the sky. She hates that house. Hates all this damn wealth… But she can’t leave.
The Lights They Love
—A blinding white medical light haunts a ghostly hospital and frames an occupied bed.
—Three mirrors – one is cracked, one is nearly shattered, and one is just a frame.
—A double-layered, five-colored, glow-stick choker.
_____The child is excited to read more about Greek monsters and hide beneath his stars-and-rocket-ship blanket. He always enjoys the night. Whatever monster he helps Percy Jackson kill will be easier to kill in his dreams. He looks at his wall. Enjoys the contrasting red, orange, blue, purple, yellow, and green. The colors gave his mom a headache. He wasn’t going to change them. Not ever.
—Two dim desk lamps light a book from every angle.
—An old-wood-table bonfire; the tinder is mahogany and oak and spruce.
—A paintless, dusty window frame. A window kept clean to frame the morning sun.
_____ The woman finishes her chalk sunset and sits back against the brick building. Her legs pulse from the upright effort, though she can’t take too long to rest. There is so much more to do. She has pictures for every sidewalk square, and though she has a friend helping, the work will take the majority of the night. She grins. She wouldn’t make it home tonight; she rarely did. Her third floor apartment is just a place to store her clothes. An officer will shake her awake in the morning and arrest her on a minor loitering charge that will be dropped in 20 minutes. The woman wonders how the janitor is doing.
—The lake’s surface reflects the moon. The half moon, setting beneath the waves, looks whole.
—A giant, red, neon light tints a white-walled room; a pair of hands make a shadow-bird against the back wall.
—A vibrant, green-bottomed lava lamp with a white lava bubble.
_____The corpse rests in the mahogany coffin, name carved into the top. The body is lifelike; the morticians do their jobs well. The family hasn’t seen their loved one yet. He died suddenly but not violently. Most of his family live out of state. A few members came down early and are helping the widow through the mourning process. They cry in the second pew. The friends give the family privacy. If the widow is to give the memorial speech tomorrow, they need to cry now.
—Thirty memorial candles on a table cloth that reaches the floor.
—A giant, flat screen TV that fills the wall.
—A rusting spotlight growing dusty in an attic.
_____The man boards his Shanghai plane, bound for Cambodia. He’d soaked up Shanghai from skin to marrow. He’d learned to speak the language well enough to speak it in love. His lover waves at him, a slow tear rolling down her face – she always knew he would leave, yet he is a captivating man: his wild hair and silly grin…his piercing green eyes. His many lovers loved that look; it was one of the reasons he kept it. He loved that they loved that look. He loved all thirty-something of them – one in every country he visited. But just as he loved them, he left them. He finds no satisfaction in what he has.
—The light above their lover’s bed; their haloed lover.
—New Year’s Day fireworks from a third-story rooftop.
—Grandma’s “dancing fairy” Christmas light atop a pine tree.
_____The imaginary friends I have are actually an imaginary family. The father and mother allow me to hang with their kids. My friend and I constantly prank his sister. Our jokes are harmless. Inevitably, his sister goes to their mother. The mother gets her husband to confront us, and he grins as he tells us to stop. We never leave her alone, though sometimes we join her at the dollhouse or the tea table in order to repent. We don’t mind. Eventually, just as the pranks become tradition, so does our repentant tea.
—A late night/early morning campfire covered in burning marshmallow.
—The light of God for the second time.
—A flickering, unreachable hall bulb that never goes out.
_____The doctor stumbles out of the casino with nothing but the clothes on his back and a flip phone. He tries to check the time but sees nothing on his wrist. He liked that watch. He wasn’t sure whom to call. He doesn’t have a house anymore. He doesn’t have friends. He hasn’t talked to his college buddies in three years. His wife left six months ago. She took the dog. He could always call his parents, but a man never likes to do that.
—A brilliant, amber ballroom chandelier enveloping the roof.
—A reflective fish-scale dress swimming with the light and shadow.
—Vibrant black skin.
Daniel Crasnow is a multi-genre writer and scholar who graduated from Stetson University in 2020. While there, he held a Sullivan Scholarship in creative writing. He is gay and Jewish. His work is published in, or forthcoming from New Voices Magazine, The Gateway Review, Literary North, and more. When he was young he created a sword and fought a demon in his dreams. He hasn’t had nightmares since.