TUESDAY: Porch Light


Copyright is held by the author.

AS MUCH as Adam tried, he could no longer abstain his awareness of it. He sat in his armchair looking towards the television, not watching it, but gazing at it. For he couldn’t concentrate on anything, nor indulge himself in anything — the pictures merely splashed against the walls as sounds ricocheted off them.

No matter how much he tried he could not lose himself. Something was wrenching at his attention that he could not ignore. He had tried closing the curtains, tried to block it out, but it was no use. It still penetrated the darkness like a dull ache, throbbing like a low electrical hum in the night.

It never used to bother him. He would sit with the curtains open and almost bathe in its comforting glow, at times being soothed by the sound of the swinging chair creaking back and forth, either as a result of the wind, or the respiration of a moment that had only just passed. Now the creaking reminded him of something out of Edgar Allen Poe — swinging pendulum with a very sharp blade.

Yet it wasn’t the swinging pendulum, or the sharpness of the blade that bothered him, it was the dull thud of the light that ached his thoughts.

“Are you all right?” asked his wife, causing him to avert his eyes from the television.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” he replied sincerely, since to him he’d been trying to convince himself he was fine.

“Are you sure?” she asked as confirmation.

“Yes Emilia.”

He smiled at her, then at himself, as he pictured the clarification administered upon his countenance.

Though Emilia had not seen it that way. She only saw the side of his face that remained constantly in the shade, like the dark side of the moon, with the other side illuminated by the porch light that shone from Ted’s yard.

Adam hadn’t realized how emaciated he had begun to look. Emilia had watched him grow old right before her eyes as she stood looking at him. His face had subsided into his head, as if he’d gradually sunk into himself. And Adam had been sinking into himself for some time. He’d spent so much time drinking away his short-term memories that all that remained was long term reminiscences that echoed through him, as if from a former existence.

It was as if from a former existence that he used to bathe in the warm glow of the porch light, enjoying the ambiance that settled across the room while he sat watching television. It was as if from a former existence that he had not a care in the world as he drank them all away. For, after all, it was him that liked to say, “You have to not care about life to really live it.”

Now that Adam cared about life, he couldn’t live it. The porch light from Ted’s yard continued to thud against the side of his face, giving him a sallow complexion, until it intensified to the point he could no longer tolerate it.

“Where are you going?” asked Emilia, as if she were asking herself.

“I’m going to get some air,” replied Adam, not wanting to disclose his aggravation as he made his way absently out of the room.

Adam strode towards Ted’s house, overflowing with rage. He threw aside the gate, which boomeranged back from its hinges and slammed into the catch as he bounded up the steps, and with the most effortless punch smashed the bulb with his fist. No sooner had he disposed of the offending light, the lounge light retaliated, followed by the hall light, before the door was torn open by Ted.

“What the hell’s going on? Adam is that you? What the hell are you doing?”

“That damn light, I can’t concentrate,” Adam replied holding his fists to his head.

Ted noticed blood dripping from his right fist. It ran down his cheek like a trailing tear.

“I can’t concentrate,” he repeated, shaking his head between his fists.

“Why didn’t you say something?” asked Ted, raising his hands and letting them fall again.

“Why didn’t you?” Adam snapped back.

Ted sighed and looked down at the shards on the porch.

“I heard about the diagnosis Adam. I’m really sorry.”

“All these years you let it go on?”

“We all tried to tell you Adam. But how could anyone have told you when you didn’t want to listen to anybody else?”

Adam looked back towards the floor. The light pulsated in his gaze.

“There’s nothing wrong in making mistakes if it helps you to understand how to make them right, but it’s another to think you’re right in making mistakes. I wished someone would have told me what I wanted so I would have known what to do with myself. I never knew what to do with myself. Every time I managed to lay off it, every time I’d get a sense of myself, someone would knock it out of me. It seemed that everybody else had their life sorted, that they got along just fine. Where was my life? Wasn’t I entitled to one? Did someone steal it from me? Was it confiscated for past sins?

“It was confiscated for present sins, don’t you think?”

Adam remained silent for a while. The sound of the creaking chair swinging back and forth hypnotised him, as it had done many times before. Adam sat himself on it and allowed himself to be swayed while looking down at the floorboards.

“I’m afraid people will attend my funeral out of politeness, not respect.”

“Now come on Adam, you know that’s not true. It seems to me the only person that hates you is yourself.”

Adam looked up at him as he leant against the post placing a cigarette between his lips.

“I thought you were quitting?”

“I am,” replied Ted with a reassuring smile, “this is the only way I can quit, by putting one in my mouth.”

 “I wish I’d have quit. I wish someone could have stopped me from getting this far.”

The sound of a stridulating cricket made the most elemental music Adam had ever heard, accompanied by a distant breeze that stirred amongst the trees.

Adam listened intently, admiring it as he would if he were a child again.

“Why do you always have to leave the goddamn porch light on all night?” he asked, absolving the silence.

“I don’t know,” replied Ted, his upper lip contemplating over his lower, “I guess I never really thought about it. I didn’t think it bothered you?”

“It didn’t,” replied Adam as he stared deep into the darkness.


Image of Anthony Ward

Anthony Ward derives most of his inspiration from listening to classical music and jazz, since it is often the mood which invokes him. He has recently been published in, Jerry Jazz Musician, CommuterLit, Literary Yard, Shot Glass Journal, and Highland Park Poetry, amongst others.

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