The flick of a switch

Imagine: there is a room in your house which you love. It was the first room you decorated when you moved in: you painted its walls, laid its carpet, chose pictures to hang on its walls, every detail done with love and care. The light in this room shines brightly – a natural, beautiful glow which illuminates every detail you’ve so carefully selected and makes the room feel like home. You love the light it gives and it never once occurs to you that it will stop shining. You are so sure it will keep shining, take it for granted almost, that you do not even know where the switch is. You never imagined you’d need it.
And then one day, the light goes out. Your room and all the precious details within it, are dimmed. Although you hunt in every room, behind every door, inside every cupboard, even rip up the floorboards and tear down the ceilings, you can’t find the switch. The people who love you, who want the room to be brightly lit again, search too, tearing at wallpaper and plasterboard in the hope that somehow, in the half-light, you have missed it, but the switch remains elusive. You know, with absolute certainty, that it was there, and that perhaps someone with less desperation for the light to come back, or less fear of the darkness, would be able to find it. But you can’t.
The room is not in total darkness, far from it. There are windows, sunlight comes in from outside, others’ lights pass by and shine in briefly, illuminating the shadows. You find other switches which turn on other lights around the house, there is much that is bright. But the light which used to shine brightest stays dimmed. The room which used to brighten every other room remains in shadows.
Occasionally, as if there is some kind of power surge beneath the floorboards, the light flickers into full life – a rare, random moment of illumination when you can see the room, just as it was before, just as you remember. But it’s momentary: although you twist the bulb and fiddle with the wires and cup your hands around it as if you could hold in the light, it fades. The moment of illumination is precious, a beautiful view, but it makes the darkness which follows darker. Like being shown a magnificent view from your prison window, knowing that it will then be bolted shut, that you will never walk beneath the skies you have glimpsed. A magic trick you love to watch but want desperately to be able to explain so that you may perform it yourself. Why can’t YOU make the light stay on.
You can’t help but be angry at the switch for being so well hidden, or with whoever hid it, or at yourself for failing to find it. You can’t help but be frustrated that something as easy as flicking a switch can be so hard. Sometimes, you think that perhaps the half-light is fine, perhaps it would be best if you could just adjust your eyes to the dimmed room, accept the shadows, and call off the search. But you can’t. You can’t help but keep searching for the switch because you know that one day someone will find it and turn it on. You imagine the moment when you see the light shine again over and over in your mind. You hope that by the time the switch is flicked, the rest of the house will not have crumbled or faded, that all those who have joined your search party will still be there to see it shining. You pray that when the room is illuminated once more it will look just as you remembered, the colours just as bright, the details just as sharp.
You know that when it comes back on you will drink in that light, dance in that room, know that you’re home, and take not a second of it for granted ever, ever again. Imagine.

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2 Responses to The flick of a switch

  1. Vincent says:

    Brilliant! Love it! x

  2. Karen says:

    Hopefully the many torches people pick up for you in the search will do the trick x

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