A red night memory

 

The candles were burning out. It wouldn’t be long now until the connection with Earth was lost completely.

The prince smiled sadly at the sky; they had been preparing for this event for years, and it had gone so fast.

In the great plaza, where all the population had gathered to look at the Terran eclipse, almost all the lights were gone, and people, before leaving, were getting in line to pay their respects to the prince. He listened to them, thanked them for their time and wished them that the wishes they sent out with the candle flame would come true.

When the light of the sun started crippling on the horizon, only two candles were still resisting their inevitable destiny. An elderly woman was holding on to hers, protecting it from blowing out with her hands. She was sitting in a religious silence, probably even holding her breath, wishing the light would stay, even a second longer. A few steps from the woman, two children, a boy and a girl, were sitting on the ground, looking up at the other candle that was still lit, on the altar at the center of the plaza.

The prince walked to the children and sat beside them.

You are the last ones here,” he told them. Then, looking at the woman, he asked, “Are you together?”

Yes,” the boy confirmed. “She’s our grandma. Mama said she’s always the last to go when the candle festival is over. But we love the candle light, so we stayed with her.

Is this your first festival?” the prince asked.

Both children nodded their heads.

Prince,” the girl asked, “why does grandma never want to let the candle go? Does she have such a long wish to make?

The prince smiled and gently patted the girl’s head. “I’m sure she has already made her wish. Maybe she’s talking to someone instead.”

What do you mean?” the boy asked.

An old legend says that during the Terran eclipse, if you truly want it, you can see someone you love that’s there now.”

There? You mean on Earth?”

Yes.”

Does it mean grandma has someone she loves on Earth?” the girl whispered, careful not to let her grandmother hear her.

It may be; it’s just a legend, after all. But even if you want to know, promise me you will not ask her. You know we are not supposed to talk with Earthlings, even when they visit us unconsciously through their dreams, let alone feel love for them.”

I agree,” the boy said. “My teacher at school says we are just extras in a film they are going to forget in the morning anyway.”

The prince remained still for a moment, and then just nodded. His eyes focused on the candle on the altar. In front of it, a young man’s figure appeared.

Finally, the man said, quickly looking all around him, searching for someone, stopping as soon as his eyes met the prince’s.

I’m sorry,” the prince said to him, without talking out loud. “Time’s almost up.”

The man walked up to him and knelt right in front of him. His hands gently touched the prince’s face.

It’s okay. It ain’t easy to be everyone’s beloved prince.

The prince just smiled, a sad smile to hide everything else he felt within.

Before you go, kiss me.”

The man smiled back at him.

Yes, your highness.

As they kissed, the sunlight changed the color of the sky, and a rush of cold wind put an end to the red night.

The prince slowly opened his eyes. Beside him, the children were looking at the sunlight in awe.

Your highness. I hope my grandchildren didn’t bother you too much,” said the old woman, now standing behind them.

The prince stood to greet his last guest. Not at all. Did you make your wish?”

Oh, yes,” she laughed, then whispered with an all-knowing look on her face, And did you get it? A memory that will not disappear.”

So she really was like him, the prince thought.

Yes,” he said. “You know, he could remember a lot more before. He always came looking for me. Recently…”

I know, I know,” the woman said. “The older they get, the less they remember. They get trapped in their daily life so much that they are haunted by it even when they sleep. But they will never forget this. That’s why we have to wait and believe we’ll meet them here. We’ll light another candle, another time.

The prince said goodbye to the woman and the children, and looked at the Earth in the sky.

Another candle, another time.

Meanwhile, I’ll see you in your dreams.

The end

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