Write…Edit…Publish: Ribbons and Candles – December 2018 #WEPFF

Welcome to the Write…Edit…Publish blog hop. This December edition has a very interesting theme. I’m eager to see what participants do with the prompt: Ribbons and Candles. 

Perfect for the festival/festive season. Perfect also for flashes not themed around festivities or holidays. All prompts here work year-round and are pan-global. Genre, themes, settings, mood, no bar. Only the word count counts. And you could ignore that too and come in with a photo-essay or art, minimal words required.

A party. A power-cut. Gift-giving. Hair braids. Ribbons of roads, rivers, paper, love, hope. Candles in the room. Candles in the church. Candles in the wind. And any combo thereof. It could go in a thousand different directions, choose yours and step outside the square!

For more info and to read more wonderful entries, pop over to the WEP blog         

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Ribbons and Candles

The candle.

The simple odourless candle.

The simple, odourless, bluish-white, paraffin wax candle with a short wick. It stands upright in the chipped enamel bowl on the makeshift shelf. A lopsided mirror hangs above the shelf, the myriad cracks like tiny thread veins on an old woman’s legs. A thick blue ribbon with a medal at the end sprawls close by.

The medal.

The symbolic bronze medal.

The bronze medal attached to a blue ribbon. It represents the hopes and dreams of a mother; a family; an entire community.

Two items. So different, yet the perfect combination.

Cherished childhood memories include many nights spent by the warm light of a simple candle as it slants across the open school book. But now a single memory of a fateful letter dominates, as the candle casts a sharp glow across the official document to illuminate new opportunities that will change his life, forever.

The medal signifies a ‘champion-in-the-making’ as printed in the local gazette. The word zings in his ear, persistent, like a lone buzzing insect. The lengthy article praises ‘the youngster who will change the nation with his sports prowess.’ His heart lurches at the task ahead. Can he do it?

Champion-in-the-making is a word that brings joy and sorrow. It hints at a new path with exciting discoveries. But a new path means a new life, away from home, away from the support of people he knows and loves. It is a major sacrifice.

Sacrifice is not a new concept. His medal collection forms a straight line, silent sentinels on duty, telling stories of sacrifice, of success. They hang from ribbons tied onto old bent and rusted screws. The screws jut from the wooden plank attached to a portion of the corrugated iron wall in the corner of the shack.

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The candles.

The luxurious red candles.

The luxurious red, Spanish candles. The fragrant candles with their long wicks which never seem to grow shorter. These candles lead a flickering dance as they cast circles of light and warmth around the spacious hot tub in the hotel en-suite.

In this alien world, a $99 decorative candle is matter-of-fact. How can a single candle equal a full month’s pay check for a domestic worker? It doesn’t make sense.

In his world a candle is a precious commodity, the much-needed light by which children do their homework; the difference between light and darkness; the difference between life and death. His mind drifts to the informal settlement back home and neighbours caught in a blaze after the candle fell over and the shack became a death trap.

It is a familiar story. One that never grows old.

He sighs, forces his mind back to the here and now.

Tomorrow is the start of a new sports meeting on the seasonal tour. This means another foreign city. Another luxurious room. Another luxurious candle.

Tomorrow is also a new day. He will run another race.

Hopefully, win a gold medal.

Then buy his mother a house. One made of bricks. One with electricity.

No more paraffin wax candles.

But maybe, just maybe he will buy a $99 red Spanish candle. It will stand on top of a triangular glass shelf he envisages in the corner of the lounge, to complement the red cushions scattered on the plush Italian sofa below. Above the shelf, a modern oval mirror with wrought iron trimmings will complete the corner feature.

The Spanish candle will have a special purpose. Its fragrance will suffuse the room, obliterating memories of an odourless candle which wreaks death and destruction.

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The finish line beckons. A mental switch activates, unleashing a kaleidoscope of memories in his mind’s eye, like scenes from a movie, the camera rolling on…

Frame one: the ten-year-old gazes with pride at his brand new pair of running shoes.

Frame two: echoes of a hundred voices vie for prime position in the chambers of his mind; a cacophony of taunts, cheers, praises…

Frame three: “It’s yours son,” his mother’s voice comes back loud and clear, “but how badly do you want it?”

It is a jaw-dropping victory.


A photo finish.

The athletic world has never witnessed anything like   it.                                                                      

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WORDS – 700

I hope you enjoyed my take on the prompt!
Happy Holidays!


  1. Elephants Child on December 14, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    Both candles burn. Both offer light. And the scentless candle reaks of necessity, of privation, of pain. And the red luxury candle of privilege and exclusion.
    And intriguing take.
    Thank you.

  2. Jemi Fraser on December 14, 2018 at 7:15 pm

    Nice! The discrepancies between the ‘have not’ and ‘have’ images are vivid and unsettling. And oh so real. Our world needs to do a better job of levelling those realities.

  3. Denise Covey on December 14, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    Hi Michelle!
    Wow! To me, this story nails so many elements – the cadence created through repetition (The candle…The medal…), the evolution of the main character’s inner and outer goals – the poignancy of the haves/have-nots. It all combined to make a story where I relished every word right through to the heroic ending,

    Thanks for creating such a powerful, evocative story to add to the many posted to the WEP prompt for December.

    Merry Christmas!


  4. C. Lee McKenzie on December 15, 2018 at 1:35 am

    You stepped up your game here, Michelle and created a poetic and enticing story that ends with a huzzah for the kid and his mother, too. “…how badly do you want it?” Words to send him to victory.

  5. L.G. Keltner on December 15, 2018 at 5:50 am

    I love how candles told so much story here. It’s amazing how a young man with very little once studied by candlelight, and he went on to be able to have such an expensive candle that most will never be able to have such a luxury. The imagery and symbolism here is spot on and very well done. Excellent story!

  6. Olga Godim on December 15, 2018 at 5:52 am

    An interesting juxtaposition: two candles – two different lives. Neither one better than the other. Both have their beautiful and their ugly sides. And it is told in such an unusual, poetic format. Wow!

  7. Nilanjana Bose on December 15, 2018 at 8:13 am

    I loved the two different candles and the two sides of the story symbolised through them. Absolutely nailed the prompt here. Poetic and perfect. Brilliant job!

  8. Natalie Aguirre on December 15, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    Loved how you used the ribbon theme and candle to create a riveting world and the goals of the main character are so compelling. It really made me want to learn more about this world of those who have and those who don’t.

  9. Pat Hatt on December 15, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    His inner candle sure burns bright. Liked the use of two sides as the different candles burn.

  10. Toi Thomas on December 15, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    Nicely done and so well written; it’s almost poetic. I like how the candles represent two different worlds, one of lack and one of privilege. I like the reality portrayed in this narrative, the depiction of hope that the boy, his mother, even their whole community have at the thought of him being a winner. I love the words of the mother at the end. Reminds me of my own mother.

  11. Lynn on December 15, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    I love what you did with this story. It drew me in and didn’t want to let go even at the end. I wanted more.

  12. Pat Garcia on December 16, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    As I read your story, I thought about the two different lives as expressed in the type of candle each was using. One, from living in poverty and the other person with a candle that shows his abundance. The linking of the ribbons, probably tattered in the house of poverty in comparison with the candles and medallions hanging from the house of abundance. Many people have ventured into some art of sports to become rich, and yet, many have lost the riches or abundance. Your story got me to thinking. Very well done. I enjoyed thinking about the analogies.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

  13. Bernadette on December 16, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    Yay! He won.

    I hope that he can now buy whatever he wants 🙂

  14. Susan Swiderski on December 17, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    Wow, Michelle, you really nailed it! (Gold medal!) Tying the starkly contrasted existences of poverty and wealth together with the common elements of candles and ribbons was a brilliant idea. And you maintained an almost lyrical rhythm throughout. Ya done good!

  15. Kalpana on December 17, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    The two different candles and the ribbon are intrinsic to the story and I found that fascinating. Superb the way you showed how different candles, and lives can be depending on how much money you have, but that wasn’t the main story. I loved that it ended with the mother’s encouragement – how badly do you want it.
    Wishing you all the best for the holiday season and have a fabulous New Year.

  16. Yolanda Renee on December 19, 2018 at 1:40 am

    You’ve captured the heart of so many success stories, more than just for the gold medalist, but for all who strive to overcome and make a difference. Beautiful!

  17. Stephen Tremp on December 19, 2018 at 2:31 am

    Hi Michelle, Hello, I’m stopping by to say hello and happy holidays to you and yours!

  18. Tyrean Martinson on December 19, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    Wow! Every entry I read just gets better and better, and I’ve saved yours for near the end. Your tight writing, the repetition that emphasizes the imagery and emotion, just drew me in and kept me enthralled, wanting to cheer him over the finish line. I hope his win means all the things he hopes it does, that his sacrifice is not in vain.

  19. Christopher Scott on December 20, 2018 at 8:57 pm

    An intriguing take on the prompt that showcases how wealth influences what a candle represents. Yet they share one thing, the candle represents hope. Well done.

  20. Elephants Child on December 21, 2018 at 5:28 am

    CONGRATULATIONS on your WEP win.

  21. Kalpana on December 21, 2018 at 8:08 am

    Congratulations on your WEP win. Your story was fabulous and the win well deserved.
    Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year.

  22. Roland R Clarke on December 23, 2018 at 9:40 pm

    Great imagery and polarities from a life that feels bitter and yet hopeful. The use of a ribbon with a medal at the end – another use of the ‘ribbons’ in the theme – is cleverly developed. Enjoyable and thoughtful piece.

    [I hesitated but used a ribbon on a military ribbon.]

  23. Rebecca M. Douglass on December 26, 2018 at 5:25 am

    Beautiful and evocative story, well deserving of the win. I do have some questions about the period setting, as some things feel like they are from a more modern era than the general feel of the piece.

    It is amazing, all the different ways people handled the ribbon and candle idea!

    (And yes, I’m still trying to get all these read. I added a lot of travel to the usual holiday chaos, and I’m still working on it!)

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