An almost burnt-down lit candle on a candle ho...
An almost burnt-down lit candle on a candle holder. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The wide-bladed, dully green St. Augustine grass was smooth and comparatively cool against the soles of her feet, a welcome respite from the sun-baked asphalt. She was wandering the neighborhood today, with no particular destination in mind, and had just crossed over from the sidewalks of her block to the field that made up most of the community park around the corner. The playground was deserted. There were unavoidably large outcroppings of clover here, the interspersed white flowers tickling her, but she was careful not to step on the dandelions. She didn’t want to crush any future wishes.


The worn and rusted canary-yellow rowboats were left resting on their sagging overhead racks that day, the afternoon’s much-anticipated outing to the mysterious island in the middle of the lake done in by the unexpected downpour. They were supposed to be on their way to the arts and crafts pavilion with the others to finish their lanyards, but had instead surreptitiously ducked underneath one of the overturned boats, the warm summer rain cascading around them. She wrapped her arm around her wet shoulders and quickly pulled her in, her cream soda Lip Smackers gloss sweet against her tongue.


They circled around her pentacle—green for earth, yellow for air, red for fire, and blue for water. Tiny little candles in in blue and gold starry holders. She focused on the flames, the four flickering yellow points. Fire breaking open the darkness of the room. She breathed deeply, trying to pull the energy of the elements into herself with each breath inward. The wax slowly dripped down the candle’s edges, leaving little marks on her altar. She knew these weren’t just candles. She knew something cosmic was coming into her as they burned, some deep, unknowable forces of the universe.


She hugged her 35mm Pentax to her chest. She knew everyone had moved on to digital as of years ago, but she was stubborn and wanted to stay safely in the confines of her darkroom, so film it was. Carnivals had always seemed strange and eerie to her, something wicked lurking behind the cotton candy stands, the festively-lit rides. That disjunction of appearance and reality was what she found so interesting about them. But none had compared to the pier in Brighton, the English Channel lapping against the wood, the menacing dusk sky, rainbow sticks of Brighton Rock everywhere.