by Robin Allen
The lights blink out after a great flash of lightning. She fumbles her way to the fireplace mantle to fetch the matches. Several old photographs are toppled by her blind hands until she at last locates the long matchbox.
She carefully feels her way to the entry hall table to light candles. Her husband will be home soon, and these should provide enough light to get him comfortably inside.
The first match is struck, the first candle lit. She is caught by her reflection in the mirror hanging above the table. The image enchants her. Her face is warm, almost dewy, in the soft glow. Her eyes, rich pools of blue, brim with depth and romance. She smooths her fine, dark hair back into place. Her lips, slightly parted, are full and inviting. She admires her beauty.
The second match is struck, the second candle lit. She studies her reflection again, numerous years have suddenly passed. Her skin is rather sallow and wrinkled with tiny spots from all those summers in the sun. Her blue eyes are faded, the color so faint to express only weariness. Her hair, pulled back, is more salt than pepper, with each gray glimmering in the candlelight. Her lips are thinned and deeply creviced, too many cigarettes. She despises her age.
She considers the two images and the stormy night.
“Who knows how long the electricity will be out?”
The second flame is quickly extinguished.