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Lights in the Dark

by on October 31, 2020

One flashlight flash meant danger, two flashes meant it was safe; but she saw three flashes that night from beyond the bog. “Three flashes?” Amelia said in exasperation. “What am I supposed to do with that?”

“I’m sure I don’t know,” Azalea said. She was the cooler of the sisters, almost to a fault, and besides, it wasn’t her affair. “I wasn’t in charge of the signals.”

“Maybe his flashlight’s gone wrong?” Beth piped in. Beth was the youngest, and found the whole thing very exciting. “He could’ve meant to signal two and sent three by mistake!”

“I thought you said it was a brand new flashlight,” Azalea pointed out. “You bought it yourself, didn’t you? That was part of the plan. Of course I thought it was ill-mannered to make you buy the flashlight yourself in the first place, but-“

“He didn’t make me,” Amelia said miserably,” “I did it myself. Thought it was more romantic that way. And it was new. Well, what do I do now?”

She considered sneaking out to meet him as they had planned. It could just work. Her father was in his study, reading as usual. Mother was in the kitchens arguing with the cook about the next day’s dinner. It was supposed to be a big to-do, not that Amelia planned to be around for it. In between the kitchens and the study, the main hall leading to the front door was dark and quiet. If she could get down the stairs and to the hall, she’d be home free.

“You should go!” Beth urged.

“I wouldn’t,” Azalea said.

“Wait!” Amelia exclaimed. Outside the window, in the distance, a light flashed. Everyone froze in breathless anticipation, even Azalea. Then a second flash. A long pause followed. No further flashes came.

“So is that five flashes or…” Azalea said.

“That’s two,” Amelia said decidedly. “Beth was right, the first time was a mistake. I’m going.” She swept up her traveling cloak and bag and started for the door.

“Oh, best of luck!” Beth said, intercepting her and giving her a sisterly hug. “Happy eloping!”

“I’ll try to calm Father for you,” Azalea said. “Shouldn’t be too bad. He’ll get over it.”

With that, Amelia was away. She went cautiously at first, down the steps and through the dark hall. Mother’s voice rose on her right; she was going on about a trifle or some such thing that she particularly wanted for tomorrow. On her left, light spilled out under the study door.

Amelia tugged the front door open and slipped outside. She elected not to close it entirely behind her, lest it bang and alert everyone to her escape. She gently pulled it to, as much as she dared, and then, catching up her things, she sprinted away from the house, towards the distant light.

Photo by Ján Jakub Naništa on Unsplash


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  1. Christine permalink

    I love this as the beginning to a longer piece! Is it possible you’ve got a new serial in mind? 🙂 The dialogue between the sisters felt very natural and believable. I’m having a little trouble placing the time period – it feels almost Victorian, except for a few modern touches like the flashlight. That doesn’t necessarily detract from the story, it just makes me wonder what to expect.

    • I hadn’t thought of a new serial before, but now that you mention it…. 🙂

      • Christine permalink

        *hahaha* You’re incorrigible…

  2. The conflicting dialogue between the sisters was a nice way to add tension and suspense. You must have sisters? 🙂 I got a little lost about the setting at the beginning, whether they were indoors or outdoors.

  3. I just loved the interplay among the sisters. Azalea’s cool tone was especially nice to keep it all grounded. I would love to see more from this little world.

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