Electric Candle

In spite of her father's snug work, Cora still felt the breeze that wasn't her mother's hugs and kisses penetrating the thick comforter. He kissed each bathed cheek—one from him, one “from” her mother; they both knew, but never brought up—and left. Tomorrow they would have a talk about mommy. “True talk,” daddy had said.

The creaky hallway steps she had once thought belonged to a ghost disappeared into her parent’s bedroom.

Or's it just daddy's bedroom now?

She didn't know.

Her parents'—her father's?—bed squealed, then silenced.

She hated to ruin her father's careful work, but she needed to know.

Kicking away the comforter, Cora, aware of where the creaks hid among her floor, tiptoed toward the mirror sitting atop the drawer. After minutes of careful study, she saw that her father had lied to her again, in the cemetery: she saw not a single trace of her mother within her features.

“True talk,” daddy had said.


Navigating the creak-mines strewn about the floor, Cora returned to bed, turned on her side, and stared at the nightlight her mother had installed. In the shape of a candle, its flame perpetually ablaze, albeit with the help of electricity, the small beacon of comfort had defended Cora from an assortment of bumps in the night. No longer fearing those bumps, she reached for the nightlight, but stopped.

A new fear.

A fear of her own making:

If I turn off the nightlight, how will mommy know where I am?



Alfredo Salvatore Arcilesi

Artisan baker by trade, Alfredo Salvatore Arcilesi has been published in over 80 literary journals worldwide. Winner of the Scribes Valley Short Story Writing Contest, he was a Pushcart Prize nominee, and twice nominated for Sundress Publications' Best of the Net. In addition to several short pieces, he is currently working on his debut novel. Alfredo recommends The Toronto Public Library Foundation.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, June 8, 2023 - 20:44