The Lost Light

Alaa Atoui

I just got home from my excruciatingly boring retail job, and I smelled the food my mom was cooking.
I went to my room to relax and rest before doing some homework, and as I was falling towards my bed, I heard my mom yell, “come here.” I bounce back up and see what my mom wants me to do. I walk into the kitchen and see that she’s a little tired. She told me, “The light bulb down in the basement needs to be changed because it was burnt.” Of course, I will do it, but I am tired. I got to the stairs leading down and the smell of mildew and unventilated air hit my face. The lightbulb is placed right above the stairs, and it was a hassle to reach. I get on my tippy toes and as I am reaching for the light bulb, I lose my footing and fall right on the step, and the pain reverberates through my body.
I just sit on the step in discomfort, staring up at the bulb. Getting used to the smell, feeling the rough wood of the stairs, and staring at this light bulb. I was stuck in deep thought.
I was thinking about the light bulb that I am about to change. The light bulb has been there for as long as I can remember. I remember the hot days and getting chilled treats with you. I remember running away in joy and laughing until I couldn’t breathe.
I would not know how a new bulb would look in its place. It was always faulty and would flash for a split second and stay off, for the most part. That split second of light never showed me the true potential of the light bulb. This light bulb at one point was fully functional until one day something happened, and it was never the same again.
I wonder just how this light bulb was. The light it emitted could have been a bright light that lit every dark corner of people’s lives. A light that could have found the positive at a funeral. It could have been a soft and dim light that, even though not powerful in strength, calmed the people around it and softened hearts. A light that could calm down the man with the anger of ten bulls. What about a loud light that startled people and was full of energy, or maybe a dangerous light that always wanted to push its limits? It could have been a fun light that always brightened the mood.
While looking at this light bulb, I imagine it still flashing every once in a while. I realize that imagination can only take you so far and you can’t truly understand something when you have not experienced it. This light bulb is now a cast of what it once was and when it used to flash, that was a glimpse of its former self.
Now, as I am thinking of this light bulb, it reminds me of someone. Someone who is close to me in this world. Someone who has always been there for as long as I can remember. Someone who has always helped me or was supposed to help me. Someone who occasionally will behave out of character. A character you want more of. Throughout my life, I have experienced these outbursts of behavior. It makes me want who you were before the light bulb went out.

Alaa Atoui is nineteen years old and lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

"Light bulb" by plastAnka is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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A magazine for teen writers—by teen writers. Under the Madness brings together student editors from across New Hampshire under the mentorship of the state poet laureate to focus on the experiences of teens from around the world. Whether you live in Berlin, NH, or Berlin, Germany—whether you wake up every day in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North or South America—we’re interested in reading you!