Amid filth and desperation, she found a tiny lamp. It gleamed in grime and shone of dirt, but she thought it beautiful. The dangerous fantasy of hope flickered between her fingers as she grasped it.
In the squalor of her home she used her best rags and spit to clean it. It had to be perfect. It had to shine for others as it shone for her. Not ready, tho. Not ready yet. She couldn't shine unless her lamp did. Blisters, bursting.
Lord knew everyone saw her ugly. But through this lamp. She could be beautiful.
It wasn't that her outsides caused others pain, even smeared with grease and mud. Her nose ran straight, her eyes were dewy lashed windows to her thoughts. And oh, those thoughts! Like weighted irons round her ankles in a stormy sea.
She cowered before the waves and would have run fast from the storms, but still - the ankle weights. Sinking, sinking, sinking into surf and sand that was only puddle deep. It was the thoughts that forced aversion of eyes, subtle/not-subtle sighs, a quickening of feet.
But now she had this lamp - light to drive away stray shadows and evaporate the storms.
When the lamp sparkled clean she placed it centered in her only window. The precious oils burned bright, but it was worth it to be the only clear light. "ooh" and "aah". "How brilliant!" "It's spectacular!" Her soul shone bright with words, tho none of them were directly meant for her.
Standing deep in shadows so as not to hinder others' use of light, she smiled. This must be happiness.
Trouble crept in on quiet steps - softer than a whisper on a breeze. The money for the oil was expensive. But that was fine, she didn't need much food anyway. Then the words began to twist and warp. "How does she . . ?" " . . . not fair. . "
She could feel the cloud of bitter form around her, even with the brittle smiles to her face. She must work harder! Try harder, do more - anything to keep the lamplight glowing.
The day they threw the rocks she thought she'd die. But why?! She reached out to them! She shared her light! They must have seen! She thought the light had burned away her shadows, but no, no, no! The shadows were still there!
"It's my fault. I didn't do enough. I'm not enough. Not even my beautiful lamp could hide my ugly." Shattered shard of lamp made bitter balm, but the smears of all the oil hid her tears. The last embers burned small and cold beside the numbness of her mind . . .
Foreign breath felt wrong in the sunny, dirty air. She was alone, no one wanted her. "Umm, hello?" voice rasping - high pitched, curious, unsure. "I heard what happened. And I just wanted to say . . . it's beautiful." She knew her lamp WAS beautiful. But it was gone now. Like her happiness. Her work, her work! So, what - the lamp would never shine again. "I like it better, you know, like this. I like to see the effort you made. You're really strong."
"Do you see the way the sun sparks down on the pieces here . . . and here?" What did it matter what the sun did now, all that remained was broken pieces.
"I just thought . . . your work is so much clearer now, in all the sun." Her work, her work! So, what - the lamp would never shine again. "I like it better, you know, like this. I like to see the effort you made. You're really strong."
She looked up. Maybe she was wrong.