Friday, November 03, 2023

The Random Light


The Random Light

Step out of your comfort zone, before it steps out of you…”

story by Marie Lamb


I have sat in the same seat on the subway, give or take, for the past three years. I sit with my shopping bag held defensively in front of me and watch the crowd pass in and out of the automatic doors. I listen to the familiar voice of the driver and count the stops until home. I know what every stop looks like, through the wet and the dry, with people in their coats and Christmas decorations, tourists and schoolchildren and elderly people and guide dogs alike trying to stay cool in the baking heat of summer. So, this last week, I knew that the random light I was seeing on Drake Street was not normal. I would have seen it before. And I could not remember, in any of the times having passed that stop, having seen it before.

It wasn’t really random. But, it shouldn’t be there. As far as I could ever tell that wall was solid brick. Beyond it was probably machinery or compacted dirt - definitely nothing of notice. The first few times I mostly ignored it. But, it wasn’t really very easy to ignore. It reached out with fingers across the subway station even at speed, and yanked at my awareness. Now, this light had my full attention. I could almost hear it, almost feel it, almost taste it. It was like remembering tea - herbal and citrus. Even though I denied it, there was something there calling to me. Tonight, I had been looking for it ever since I got onto the train. I had been telling myself it wasn’t really there. Deep down, there was a hope within me that it actually was.


My shopping bag shook and rattled. It was vibrating as if something with tiny feet was running back and forth at the bottom of it. I was just about to open it up and take a look with my cell phone camera when a lady with a red jacket brushed by me. As I looked up the random light was shining through the windows with such intensity it took my breath away. The urge to go see it was so strong that, even though this was not my stop, when the driver called ‘Drake Street’ I found myself rising with the small crowd, bag in hand, edging towards the doors. I thought hard about calling Alec and telling him I would be delayed, but I was just too absorbed. My eyes were on the light.

I stepped down from the car onto the platform and looked around. The few passengers that had exited with me were already on their way, down the side trail, up the stairs, waiting for another train. I felt silly, and more than a bit worried about breaking my routine. What would Alec say, when I finally arrived home? Would he not even wait that long, but call me a few minutes after six, worried to death? But even as I thought these thoughts, the amber pink light seemed to glow more intensely. I could see it stretching out golden tendrils like I have only ever seen before in fairy tale books. I was encountering magic. It had to be. And I could not even gather up a third of me to run away from it.

My feet were moving without my head telling them to. I stood in front of the wall and stared hard at the glowing light. I dropped my shopping bag to the ground. It rocked and swayed before coming to a balance. My jacket and hat were discarded next, untidily onto the ground. There was no common sense to this. My very shoes started to be too binding, but the ground was fading away and it no longer mattered. I tried to lean my hand upon the wall but it seemed to melt into it like warm frosting. I had one shoe on and one off. I should be mortified, worried about who was watching, but I couldn’t even turn my head to look around.

I leaned in further and began to taste the joy radiating off the threshold. The glow was intense and surrounded me like peach ice cream on the hottest beach vacation with caramel sauce and brandy. The air had grown hushed and close, like cotton around my ears. I held my breath and did not feel the need to breathe again. The brick surface turned to warm sand under my fingers and then broke away in a crystalline surface, thin like brittle wax, melting around me and pulling me through the soft silk of summer.

There was a cascading of feathers and soft grasses that came down around my face. The golden light was everywhere and piercing my very skin to share in its glowing. I swam through honeyed sound and silken waves like a child’s timeworn blanket on a safe warm bed. I remember the light turning from gold to white, and the air solidified around me like a grid. The warmth melted away to rest only within myself, pooling down into my center like a warm glut of rich and satisfying soup. I felt myself slowly released from the pull to rest upon the ground, clear and open and relaxed. I did not even have the energy to pull my head up on my shoulders. I lay there, listening to the sifting of the sands and the crackling of the air.

It took a moment for my vision to focus. I was looking at a pair of shoes. My own shoes, on legs wearing my hose, and a hand carrying my bag. I looked all the way up to a mass of brown curls that were conveniently looking the other direction. I wondered if I was imagining myself in two places at once? The other me turned and reached for me. Things were happening so quickly. I tried to twist and turn limbs that were not responding, and ended up only turning in circles three times over. I could not fathom how she picked me up with one hand and dropped me, small and fuzzy, into the white shopping bag.

She opened the bag and stared at me for a long moment. I froze completely still, a tiny yowl caught in my throat. My whiskers were twitching, and I wanted to scratch her with a vengeance. Her eyes were too green, but they began to equalize, less catlike and more like I remembered my own human eyes. As she closed the bag and began to walk in a rhythmic swaying, I heard my phone snap open. She said ‘Yes Alec, don’t worry. I just got off at the wrong stop. No, I don’t know how, it was all in a rush. I even lost a shoe! I’ll be home soon, love, there’s a little someone you should meet…. I think you’ll be the best of friends.”

No comments: