Flash Fiction, Short Stories, Stories

Flickering Light

Ivan sat on a wooden stool, his back curved, shivering under a wooly blanket. He stared at his reflection in the small metal box, on the desk in front of him. A microphone mimicked his posture, bending towards him. Next to it, a lightbulb waited in the shade of the room. On the other side of the box, a set of holes marked some rudimentary speakers, with a chunky red button under them saying ‘Listen’.  

A light knock made its way to Ivan’s desk, from the back of the room. Ivan half turned, his plump nose poking between the blanket rolls. 

‘Come in,’ he said in a muffled voice.

A little angel flapped in, his head hidden behind a stack of blankets. He dropped them on the floor with a joyful sigh. He resembled a child of about ten, yet was about as high as a footstool. 

‘Another cold day, sir, thought you could use a blanket. I made them myself!’ 

Feathers floated around the angel from dropping the blankets. He smiled a toothy smile. Ivan fully turned to watch the angel jumping around to catch the feathers. He let go of his own blanked and revealed a quiet grin.

‘No prayers today,’ Ivan finally said with a tint of sadness. ‘I don’t know why I volunteered for prayer duty again.’

‘Don’t be discouraged, it may take years for people to discover you.’

The angel stuffed his wings with the feathers in his hands. Ivan chuckled under his breath, then rose to get another blanket from the pile. His back bore the shape of a question mark as he shuffled towards the angel.

‘You know, you are always welcome to join us upstairs! It’s Moses’ turn to host the storytelling night. I hear he’s bringing his old staff, those two never really parted ways.’ 

‘Thank you Paulo, I’ll stay a bit longer, the reception is better on this cloud.’

  ‘As you wish, may it be blessed.’

Paulo picked up the rest of the blankets, smiled with all his might, then flapped clumsily out of the room. The door closed, while a chiming sound accompanied it. 

Ivan turned to his metal box, his expression between hope and sorrow. He stared at the lightbulb. Its deadness reminded him of his spiritual struggles on Earth. Ivan closed his eyes, remembering the grace that would fill him after such times. He prayed and waited. He wrapped the second blanket around his feeble body and sneezed from the fluff. 

Just before dozing off, his ears pricked at a buzzing sound. Ivan opened his eyes to see a slight flicker of light, pulsing against the bulb’s glass. His back straightened with anticipation. He pressed the button and listened. 

White noise, followed by dispersed words resounded through the speakers. 

‘Ivan….flight…mountain…help!’

The lightbulb flickered a few more times, then stopped. 

Ivan jumped out of his seat and ran out of the room. Outside, hundreds of other clouds with little wooden huts such as his, floated around a cumulonimbus. The latter shone bright with multicoloured lights and emanated a sweet fragrance in the crisp stratospheric air. Little angels were flying in and out of the cloud, delivering various items like scrolls, blankets and soup. 

‘Quick, someone is flying into a mountain, he needs help!’ Ivan shouted towards a group of angels. 

A brownian motion of cherubs fluttered and flapped into the grand cloud to deliver the message. Ivan returned to his desk. The lightbulb was now on, the flickering had disappeared.

Ivan listened.

‘St Ivan, please help my son fly his kite today. It’s our first outing in the mountains and he’s very excited. I told him he can ask you for help, but he’s still waiting for the wind to pick up. I’m not sure if his prayer got to you, so I’m sending mine just in case.’

Ivan smiled with all his heart. Someone had remembered he’s the saint of kites. 

*Thank you Timothy, for editing the piece.

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