Night This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

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The lights go out – another power outage. “Grab the candles,” Mom says, and I do. My younger brother and I raid every room to collect the tall candles and votives spaced around the house. I hurry from shelf to shelf gathering wax sticks in my arms and place them in the living room, a few candles in each corner except for a small red votive. That one I keep. It is the one I will take to the coffee table to use to read. I slide my book, Things Fall Apart, beside the candle holder, determined to finish the last three chapters, but lacking conviction. So the book remains closed. A sigh escapes my brother’s lips.

“This is boring,” he says. A drop of wax falls on my book.

“I know,” I say, but really, I am enjoying the stillness. I like to watch the candle burn and feel that life is simple. I like to look out the window into an immediate darkness unspoiled by harsh light. I cherish these silent moments when I feel as if I can live the way they lived, the people of the past – the Egyptians, the Pilgrims, the Greeks – anyone who ever lived to see the black color I’m seeing, anyone who lived to see a yellow flame and depended on it. I feel at one with a secret, primeval age. I’m convinced that night, in this unhampered state, is the closest a person can get to experiencing the past.

So, what was night really like for them? Night, as we know it now, is a mellow, tender thing compared to the impenetrable darkness that cloaked Earth’s first people. Even its beauty seemed unparalleled.

What did a farmer’s family do at night? Of course, the darkness must have brought them together, forced them into each other’s company as it has done to us tonight – fostered camaraderie in a time of fear and uncertainty. A fire probably blazed in a central room where the family gathered to talk and relax. Night was a time when men and women were liberated from work and socialized. They had no computers or TVs, and had to make do with books, religion, and conversation. At their bedside, they prayed to God, and felt a sense of security that they were out of the darkness and harm’s reach.

Nevertheless, to venture outside was sometimes necessary, and the threat of robbers, wolves, even the ethereal, was tangible. What emotions did these people feel? Did they witness a deep azure cloud creep across heaven? Catch a glimpse of the devil’s minions? What would it have been like to feel the night, heavy and damp against my back? Would it have taken me, smothered me with its clammy hands, isolated me? Or would those have been frightful dreams, and dreams only? Perhaps the night was grand, maybe a mixture of both beauty and peril.

I imagine a young girl, stepping outside her home and into a desert for some air. A cool, earthy smell would greet her. There’s a sky speckled with millions of stars – far more than a person could see today – and there’s the moon. It’s the largest object in the sky, the midnight sun that illuminates the world, the traveler’s torch. It inspires stories of uncertainty, stories of power. I imagine this girl marveling at the moon and stars. She’s entranced by this sight as divine as sparkling diamonds, and if she wanders too far, she needn’t worry, for the stars will lead her back home.

Bzzz! The lights return. Everyone cheers and abandons the room, happy that their period of solitude is over, everyone except me. I pull my candle closer, and stare into the night. The glory is gone; it has been dimmed by street lamps, electric signs, TVs, and all other manner of artificial light. But in those moments, when every light in every house was snuffed, people may have had a taste of the old world. They may finally have touched upon the fear, the admiration, and the reverence that our predecessors felt for the night.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the April 2008 Teen Ink Nonfiction Contest.






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This article has 14 comments. Post your own now!

otherpoet said...
Mar. 12, 2012 at 8:30 pm
I really enjoyed the imagery and storytelling that went into this piece. You capture a single moment and fill it with all of your thoughts. Great job!
 
Mango15 said...
May 21, 2011 at 6:28 am
Thank you so much for all the compliments! I randomly decided to go back and take a look at this after three years haha. I feel inspired to write again! =)
 
awsumberry said...
Sept. 9, 2010 at 12:07 am
Wow! Your an amazing writer! All the detail really paints a picture for me.
 
fiftiesgal467 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 5, 2010 at 8:47 pm
Whoa! Your descriptions are so powerful and so perfect. I especially loved the part where you wrote that the glory was dimmed by the artificial lights. Really nice work!! Good job!
 
Mspi18 said...
Apr. 8, 2010 at 10:26 am
this is truley amazing.  Your a great writer, and i love how much you went into detail describing the night sky and how it felt. This is a beautiful piece. Keep writing!
 
farah This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 19, 2009 at 6:40 am
haha wow the discriptions are really good. you should come live in my country the lights go out atleast twice everday! :p
 
Wazlyk said...
Nov. 28, 2009 at 4:06 pm
I just love the way you described you thoughts and the surroundings around you. Your descriptions really caught my attention. I am going to write a feedback on your article. I hope that you will be able to see on the sight.
If you want to see some of works look me up.
 
penguin35 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 14, 2009 at 3:25 pm
Wow, I love this! I'm glad it got published in the magazine! You used great personification and similes. I love the night, too, so this piece really interested me. Keep up the good work!
 
Isabel96 said...
May 31, 2009 at 8:26 pm
I have always loved the darkness and simplicity of night and this incredible article portays that perfectly.
 
Amanda G. said...
May 24, 2009 at 7:03 pm
My heart has plummeted into this work :).
 
Nicole T. said...
May 23, 2009 at 5:03 am
Brilliant piece of work. It really makes you think and divert for a moment from the "artificial" world you describe so aptly in this essay. Keep it up!
 
lily-gray-day said...
Mar. 7, 2009 at 5:11 am
all i can say is wow
 
alice t. said...
Jan. 14, 2009 at 2:10 am
this was amazing

the imagery was astounding

"traveler’s torch"-love that phrase:)
 
ezsmilesannemarie said...
Dec. 23, 2008 at 6:40 pm
Wow, this is really beautiful! :) I love it. It was very well written! Nice job. :)
 
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