The rasp of the match on paper is something I’ve learned with years of practice: angling my wrist and holding the match just so.
It takes a moment – the candle is new, the wick hasn’t yet been broken in – before the flame catches. It’s tiny at first, quickly heightening as it traverses the length of the wick and the first drops of wax spill down the candle in a fine river. As I step away, the flame dances with my movement, no doubt caused by the tiniest flutter of air motion.
The room, painted pale cream, is gold now. I look different: my face is pink and gold, my hair glittering dark amber threads when I look at it from the right angle. Everything else is unrecognizable, shadows thrown where there aren’t usually any and every colour present woven with amber and gold and bronze. There’s a surprising amount of light with which I can see to move, can see to pick something up and the flame flutters as I move around, picking things up and organizing.
Tidying up by candlelight mightn’t be the most sensible thing to do, but it certainly makes a dull task more interesting.
The gold paints you too, paints you a halo. You are bright where I am moody – even the softening effects of a thin flame cannot soften my features into brightness. All it does is mute the moodiness.
I feel as though I am watching myself and you, the effect of dulled lightning and natural short-sightedness. It’s as though we are suspended in time, moving slowly and never speaking. I cannot tell if this is real, or if this is not –
but the ribbon of smoke in the air after extinguishing the flame makes a pretty convincing case.