The Light on the Wall

November 21, 2008
By Claire Martin, Colorado Springs, CO

Her thin little delicate fingers trailed along the path of light, switching
direction whenever it pleased her, without paying attention to where she was
going or where she was coming from. It was entrancing, seeing nothing but
that faint blue light reflecting on her skin. The paths curved, twisted and
crisscrossed each other, making a perfect maze. The dark around her was calm
and serene. It was quiet and soothing. She felt as though she could sit
there for hours...

"Noelle?" came a voice in the distance. "Noelle?" it kept on repeating,
slightly frustrated and worried, getting closer and closer. Suddenly, as the
door slammed open, it was all gone. The blue light as well as the comforting
darkness disappeared. The voice came from a tall shadow in the doorway, with
her hands on her hips. She looked up at the silhouette and blinked.
A hand shot out and pulled her to her feet, while the voice said, "Noelle!
Why are you in the closet, honey? I've been looking all over for you!" She
was yanked outside and the door slammed shut behind her.
"I was watching the light, mommy," she responded feebly. "It was pretty."
"Sweetheart, you can watch the light everywhere in the house! Come on, lunch
is served."
It was true. Every wall was mazed with the blue light. But there were some
things that grownups could not understand, something was magic in the
darkness of the closet. And six year old Noelle did not bother explaining it
to her mother. The woman led her by the hand through the household, with
long strides that the girl had a hard time keeping up with, until they
reached the dining room. The plates were already placed on the rectangular
wood table. Noelle obediently sat down at her place as her mother sat
opposite her. She looked down at her plate, they were eating what looked
like orange mashed potatoes. She closed her eyes as her mother said grace,
grabbed her spoon and shoved a mouthful of the mashed potatoes into her

She almost immediately spit it back out. Something was terribly wrong with
it, something she had never noticed in it before.
"Mommy," she looked at her plate in disgust, "What did you do to the food?
It's not like this normally."
Her mother stopped chewing and looked across the table with a worried look.
“Nothing’s wrong with the food, honey. Are you sure you weren‘t just imagining things?”
Noelle took another small bite, and quickly pushed her plate away.
“It’s horrible.” she made a face.
"Come here, darling." Noelle obeyed. When she arrived in front of her
mother, she opened her mouth and looked inside. "We have to take you to the
hospital. Now. Hurry, grab your sweater."
Questions swirled in Noelle's head, but she could tell her mother was too
busy at the moment to answer any of them. Again, she was led by the hand
through a door at the other end of their house. This was a shortcut to the
hospital, her mother used it all the time since she worked there. The
corridor was long and white, so white it hurt her eyes. At the end of it was
the hospital, with its high ceiling and the lady at the greeting desk who
was painting her nails. Noelle stared up in awe. She had never been here
before. It was somewhat intimidating for a little girl. As she was looking
around, she noticed her mother had disappeared. A whip of panic shot through
her. She felt instantly lost. Her heart beat got faster and her hands began
to shake. What was she to do? The lady at the greeting desk paid no
attention to her, blowing on her nails to dry them off. Just as Noelle had
scraped up enough courage to talk to her, her mother reappeared. The six
year old sighed with relief.
"Come here, honey." her mother called, "Your operation is ready."
Noelle ran over to the woman, frowning up at her in curiosity.
"What operation, mommy?"
"It's hard to explain, dear. You see, when a person is born, all their
internal organs are immediately covered with a special protective skin. But
this skin is damaged by the air and your tongue is the only organ that is
exposed to so much air. The protective skin on your tongue cracked and we
have to replace it. Don't worry, everyone goes through this a few times in
their lives."
Noelle paused, taking in all the information.
"Mommy? What is the skin protecting my tongue from?"
"Taste. Taste is what made your meal seem horrible."
"Oh." she looked back down at her feet.
They arrived in front of a door numbered 49th. Inside was a chair in which
Noelle sat in. It reclined so that she saw nothing but the white ceiling far
above. She could hear the comforting voice of her mother next to her,
telling her everything would be fine. But Noelle wasn't worried. She trusted
her mother. As long as she was here, she wouldn't be worried. Then
everything went black.

Her thin little delicate fingers trailed along the path of light, switching
direction whenever it pleased her, without paying attention to where she was
going or where she was coming from. It was entrancing, seeing nothing but
that faint blue light reflecting on her skin. The paths curved, twisted and
crisscrossed each other, making a perfect maze. The dark around her was calm
and serene. It was quiet and soothing. She felt as though she could sit
there for hours...

The door slammed open.
"You're in the closet again?" her mother's voice sounded exasperated. "We
need to get out. Let's go some place, ok?"
Noelle nodded sleepily. She felt as though she had just been awoken from a
deep sleep. She got up and stepped out of the closet.
"Where are we going, mommy?"
"I thought you might enjoy seeing the higher level."
Noelle nodded, her eyes turning bright. She had heard wonderful things about
the higher level. She had heard that the sky was farther away, that it
changed all the time, that sometimes there was this large yellow ball in the
center of it that gave off heat and light and that sometimes there where big
gray puffs of smoke that roared and flashed and cried. It sounded all so
strange to her, all too magnificent to be true. But scary nonetheless. What
we do not know is always strange.
"What about the lower level, mommy? Will I see that sometime?"
"Sometime, yes. When you're older."
Noelle frowned. She felt big enough. And with her mother by her side, she
could do anything. Or almost anything. Before she knew it, the front door to
her house was being opened and she was walking through it, still hung to
her mother's hand. The sky was brown, as it always was in the middle of the
day, just like the walls all around the middle level. You could hardly tell
where the sky started and where the wall ended. Noelle wondered how it could
possibly be blue on the higher level. They wandered through the deserted
streets that she knew by heart. The ground beneath them lit up as they
walked, lighting their path, that same maze of blue lights like the ones on
the wall in the closet, but these ones were faster, keeping up with her
mother's long strides, and it didn't have the magical calm like the ones in
the closet. It was strange how all the lights were different, even if they
were built the same way. Then they were in front of the mysterious door.
Noelle had seen it many times, but never knew where it had led to. And now
she figured it out. Her mother stood in front of the security scanner next
to the door and waited for the approval to open it. It did. As the door was
sliding open, her mother's caller beeped. She cursed. Work was calling her. She
squatted down to Noelle's eye level.
"Honey, I gotta go. Stay right here, don’t move. I‘ll be back soon." And she was gone.
The little girl watched the mysterious door, and the small square room that it led to. It began to slide back into place, but she slipped inside before it could shut her out.
The door closed Noelle into the dark loneliness.
And she noticed the lights on the wall. They had the same glow as the ones
in the closet. She looked around and found three buttons. The top one, she
knew, would take her to the higher level. But for some reason, her instinct made her reach for the bottom button. It lit up as her finger hit it. And she felt the small room moving down. Fear struck her. She had disobeyed her mother and she was going towards the unknown. And yet behind that fear was a vivid curiosity that overpowered the rest of her feelings. The door slid open onto a long corridor with black walls and no lights on them. Her hand automatically touched them, searching for those lights but she felt nothing. It was very dark until she stepped out of the elevator. Immediately, lights along the floor came on, but the lights
were strange, they were orange and yellow and sometimes red and they didn't
shimmer and slither and labyrinth their way like the lights in the middle
level. She cautiously stepped forward, her shoes making a terrible gravelly
noise on the ground. She froze in mid-step when she heard a faint, rocky
voice. It sounded dry.
"Grace, is that you?"
Noelle didn't answer, waited and started to walk again. Her eyes were wide.
"Grace?" the voice called out again.
She arrived at a dark hole in the wall with bars across it. Someone was
sitting on the floor, leaning up against a side wall. The person had no
hair, something Noelle had never seen, and she stared at this person, not
saying a word.
"You're not Grace." the person said, a worried expression coming across his face.
The little girl shook her head.
"My name is Noelle." the words had come out before she could stop herself.
"Good day, miss Noelle. My name is Steve."
She nodded in answer to his 'good day', a question tingling at her mind but
not wanting to be rude for asking it. He looked older than her mother, with
lines dug into his cheeks and under his eyes.
"Excuse me for asking, Steve, but... what are you?"
Steve chuckled, a nervous edge in his voice.
"You are a bit young to know about my kind yet, aren't you?" He paused, but
Noelle didn't react. "I'm a man, or a male, if you prefer."
Noelle frowned. She had heard the term somewhere before, maybe in a
fairytale book or something like that, but it sounded alien to her.
"What are you doing here, Steve?" her curiosity had taken a hold of her
"Doing my job, like all other males. There aren't many of us left, and we
all live here, on the lower level."
"But why are you locked up?"
Steven frowned at the question, and scrutinized her carefully. He answered hesitantly, almost in a whisper:
"Because… because of power, females want power."
Noelle didn't understand his answer but didn't pester him further. She just
stared into his dark tired eyes and couldn't think of anything to say. It
didn't seem right to her that this person should be locked up here simply
because he had a certain job or was of a certain race. Noelle's friend,
Helen, had peach skin, different from her own that was a light chocolate
color, but yet she was still treated like everyone else in the middle level
as well as those in the higher level. Why was it that the lower level was
too different to be treated that way? Her ears perked up when she heard a
distant noise and fear gripped her. She wasn't supposed to be there. Maybe
her mother had come looking for her.
"I'm sorry, Steve," she said politely, "I have to go."
"Goodbye, miss Noelle." the rocky voice answered.
The girl turned around and ran as fast as she could down the tunnel, the
light at her feet spraying orange, red and yellow on the walls. She reached
the elevator and pressed the button impatiently. The security scanner
beeped, content, and the door slid open. She rushed inside and jammed her
finger into the middle button. Too slow, too slow, she thought to herself.
It seemed an eternity before the door slid open again. She recognized the
familiar neighborhood and also, to her horror, the familiar shadow of her
mother in the doorway.
"Noelle!" her mother was surprised. "What are you doing? I thought I told you to wait for me!"
She couldn't admit the truth, she knew, even though questions about the lower level and Steve were begging to burst from her lips. She had never lied to her mother before, and she didn't like doing it.
"I was watching the lights, mommy." Which was a half truth. The lights were
the same in the elevator as in the closet.
Her mother couldn't understand. She never would. She couldn't know how the
lights were entrancing and mesmerizing and how it twisted your mind into a
dream world of your own, how the discoveries you made, if you went too far, and Noelle wondered if she had gone too far, could trouble you for the rest of your life.

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This article has 6 comments.

Maris13 BRONZE said...
on Jul. 27 2009 at 11:47 pm
Maris13 BRONZE, Minooka, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 3 comments
Wowzers. That was definately strage-but don't get me wrong! I absolutely LOVE strange!!!!! Very cool idea. Never would have though of it in a million years. Check out my stuff! :]

penny12 BRONZE said...
on Jul. 17 2009 at 3:08 am
penny12 BRONZE, Minooka, Illinois
4 articles 0 photos 6 comments
I really liked your story. It was definatly differant but i liked it. I am intrigued to read more. You should deffinantly become a writer. I think you have a huge imagination.

on Jun. 14 2009 at 5:13 am
RandomRheanna BRONZE, ., New York
1 article 0 photos 1 comment
Hummm. That was written in a very intriguing way. I read it twice and I still do not comprehend it completely. I like it very much. Really amazing.

sarahsue said...
on Apr. 15 2009 at 2:27 am
Very, very interesting!!

At first, this story caught my attention because I'm from colorado springs too. But, as I read it, I was intrigued to read more, to understand.

Very well written. I like the innocence of the lead character, and how you realize the more you read the story that her world isn't normal.

I do agree with Denae, though, on the ending. So many questions are left unanswered! Espacially the lights. What do the lights represent?

Other than this, very good story. If the Twilight Zone was still on the air, I could see this being an episode. :]

on Apr. 10 2009 at 4:01 pm
Denae Worcester BRONZE, Castle Rock, Colorado
1 article 0 photos 31 comments

I like how you eased into the different world and slowly revealed that it wasn't all normal. Neat idea about the taste and males....

What was with the lights, though? I didn't quite get that.

So, you have a rounded (though underdeveloped) main character and world, but there was no sense of conclusion at the end. Sure there was a closing statment, but I wasn't sure what this piece accomplished except maybe introducing the world you'd made.

on Dec. 6 2008 at 1:57 pm
Very good et tres prometteur.


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