THE LIGHT EATER
It began with the Christmas tree lights. They were candy-bright, mouth-size. She wanted to feel the lightness of them on her tongue, the spark on her taste buds. Without him life was so dark, and all the holiday debris only made it worse. She promised herself she wouldn’t bite down.
The bulb was sweet and sharp, and it slid down her throat with a feeling of relief; an itch finally scratched. She came to with a shock. At the realisation of what she’d done, she tangled the lights back into their box and pushed them onto the highest shelf. The next day she pulled down the box and ate the rest. The power cable was slippery as licorice.
She got hungrier as the days passed. A lightbulb blew; she went to change it but ended up sucking on it like a lollipop. She enjoyed its gobstoppery taste, and had soon eaten the rest of the bulbs in the house. Lamps mushroomed up from every flat surface — and there’s no good in a darkened light. Each day she visited the hardware shop and walked home with bags full to clinking. Her eyes were always full of light; with each blink she caught gold on her eyelashes.
One night she opened her mouth to yawn, and saw that her path was lit. Up she jumped, pyjama-ed and barefoot, and followed the light across streets and playgrounds, fields and forests, all the way to the edge of the land.
She paused on the rocks, between the trees at her back and the black of the sea. This is where he left, and this is where she could find him again. She stretched her body to the sky in readiness, then opened her mouth to outshine the stars.
She spat out the bulbs — one, two; nineteen, twenty — in a runway from trees to shore. She spread herself out on the sand. A perfect starfish, a fallen body. An X, so he could find his way back.
'The Light Eater' was published in Popshot's 9th issue, The Imagination Issue, which has now sold out. To ensure that you never miss a future issue of the print magazine, subscribe from just £10 a year.