Requiem for a candle

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How many things in life are left unexplored, left for the dust to settle on, like the candle I never got around to light?

It was a Santa Claus Candle given to me in the festive season. A stout, comical figure, it stood, beaming with hubris, in its shiny wax coat. Yes, maybe it conveyed little in ways of benevolence and dignity, qualities you'd normally associate with Father Christmas, but it was a novelty nonetheless. Or perhaps a distraction that occupied my mind, for maybe one day.

"Do you want to light it?" The sensible suggestion of a mother.

"Light it?" As if the very thought of lighting a candle was incredulous. Unpleasant scenes played in my mind. Red wax streaming down the Santa's rosy cheeks, making him a character from a horror movie. Or perhaps his head would melt away, leaving behind a decapitated corpse recognized only by its pot belly.

"Can't bear to light it" I shook my head. After a few perfunctory signs of affection, I placed Santa on my top shelf, where it stood, undisturbed for several years.

January, Sydney. The heat wave of a century arrived as an unwelcome visitor, and my hideout was the air-coned room of my parents.

"Don't leave anything in your room that can't stand the heat."

I looked around, and added to my pile of necessities valuables such as an alarm clock, my handmade vase, and my CD collection.

The Santa Claus stood on its shelf, undisturbed.

Returning to my room after the heat became tolerable, I examined the aftermath. Window sills too hot to touch, a thermometer with the mercury at 45 degrees, and, on the top shelf, a melted mess of white and red.

It was the candle I never got around to lighting, thinking it would appreciate a few stolen years. It died without performing its duty, leaving behind a dream unfulfilled. Rather like a soldier who escaped the battle fields only to die miserably of typhus.

Rest in Peace, Santa Claus. You taught me, if only too late, that opportunity knocks but once.





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