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 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 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 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!