My Universe is a Lightbulb in Which I Dream of You

Written by Sonora for the game Snap Shot, Writing Prompt #14


Sometimes you can boil your whole life down into one moment. One stupid moment where you made the wrong choice–one moment, like a lit lightbulb in a sea of darkness. You think back and you say “That one.” Because what else could it be?

Do you regret it? You took a long time, standing there on the pier with the wind whipping your gorgeous hair into a cloud of sunset-gold. You kept pushing it out of your face and wrapping that white kimono dressing gown-thing back around your exposed skin. The striped blue and white bikini trying to peek through in the wind.

I saw him get down on one knee in the boat. That boat–the one you told me you hated, but it was ‘more expensive than anything you owned’–a real rich boy’s birthday gift and he had the nerve to propose from it?

Eighteen. You were eighteen and the world was yours–the fire in your sea-green eyes dancing as you read me your poetry and debated the philosophy of religion. You insisted we were meaningless–our behaviour set out by genetic code and the environment–helpless at the mercy of our biology. But just your existence and the way your eyes laughed at me… I knew. I knew there had to be something–some meaning to you and me and the stars above us. I couldn’t believe it was random.

But now you were here, on the pier–completely caught off guard and at his mercy when he asked you to marry him.

You said yes.

You said yes and there were two kids before you were twenty-two. Single mum at twenty-five, working late hours at Tesco, trying to make ends meet. Your relationship status on Facebook says “it’s complicated.” But how complicated can it really be when you’re dating an abusive drug addict?

But maybe it’s not your moment. Maybe it’s mine. My lightbulb memory–flickering at me whenever I shut my eyes. I didn’t save you–I wasn’t there to comfort you. I did the math after you got pregnant and all I wanted to do was yell at you: “Did it feel good to lie to me? Was the sex nice–splayed across your A-level homework? Was that why you got a B in English Lit? Is that why you said yes?”

Or maybe my moment is when I didn’t answer your call, two years later–sitting in a maths lecture at Oxford. I surgically removed myself from your life–tried to suture my mind back together around the hole that was you. But maybe my moment was before all that when I thought he was just a short fling. I kept my mouth closed because I valued your independence. And I was scared of the truth. I guess I was still hoping you would remember the time we got drunk and you told me you loved me.

Do you? Do you ever think of me now–wish it had been different? Or is it just me who was in love with a dream of us.

Maybe it isn’t one moment. Maybe it’s a thousand and one moments–maybe it’s a lifetime of bad choices that leaves me alone, still dreaming of the laughter in your eyes.