Inner Lights

A short story based on the image shown
from a prompt from Writers Unite! – April 2020

04.20 - image

Inner Lights
A short story by Lynn Miclea

 

Jackie stared at her father. She hated him when he got like this.

He glared at her. “You’re stupid,” he shouted, his face contorted with rage. “What the hell are you gonna do with dancing? You can’t make a living with that. That is a terrible idea! You never do anything right — that’s why you’re such a failure. Look at what you want to do with your life! Do you ever listen to anything I tell you? You’re a horrible daughter, and you’ll never amount to anything. Look at yourself!” Spittle flew from his lips as he raged at her. “Why can’t you do something smart for once?”

Without saying a word, Jackie turned, ran up the stairs, and rushed to her room. She collapsed on her bed, tears running down her face. Pain and anger built inside her until she doubled over, clutching her belly. She couldn’t live like this anymore.

She used to yell back at him when he got like that, but she quickly realized that only made it worse. Over the years, she had learned to keep her mouth shut. But it was too much. She hated him and she hated living there. And she hated herself too.

Maybe there really was something wrong with her. Maybe her father was right. Maybe she would never be smart enough or make the right choices or do anything well. And now that her boyfriend had left her the previous week for another girl — a prettier one — her world crashed in on her.

Her dad screaming at her was more than she could deal with, and it pushed her over the edge. She couldn’t handle any of this. She would never be good enough. And it was time she realized it. Her sobs made her choke and cough, and she gasped for air, holding onto the edge of her bed.

She stood up and shuffled to the mirror over her dresser, looking at her image. She hated how she looked. Her eyes were red and puffy, and she looked miserable. Ugly. All she could see were her many flaws — everything she hated about herself.

After coughing a few more times, she turned away from the mirror and choked back another sob. She had to get out of there. Life wasn’t even worth living anymore.

Jackie grabbed her purse and a sweatshirt, and paused at her bedroom door, listening. No sound reached her — it was silent in the house. Where was her father? Slowly opening the door a crack, she peered out. Empty. She hoped she wouldn’t run into him.

She gently closed her bedroom door behind her, quietly ran down the stairs, and ran out the front door. Blindly, she raced down the street, down another, and out of the neighborhood, heading toward the woods. Maybe she could find some peace there. Or maybe she would just end it all.

Stomping down the dirt path, she was oblivious to the trees and dense, green foliage surrounding her, as anger, humiliation, and depression fought inside her. What could she do? Where could she go? She hated herself and her life. It was too much for her.

Kicking at the dirt and rocks as she walked, a heavy sense of despair overtook her. Holding the purse and sweatshirt close to her, she took shallow breaths and swallowed hard. Something had to change. She didn’t even want to be alive anymore.

Another half mile down the path, she suddenly stopped. What was that? The entrance to a dark cave in a small hillock stared back at her. She didn’t remember ever seeing that before. It seemed to beckon to her, and she felt herself drawn to it. Maybe that was the answer — a dark cave to oblivion. At least for now.

After a brief pause, she trudged toward the cave entrance. Goosebumps rose on her arms. What was in there? Was it safe? It didn’t even matter anymore.

She hesitated a few moments, and then took a few steps forward. She knew she was giving up. She no longer cared what happened, and she slowly entered the cave.

The intense darkness closed in on her, almost suffocating her. Slightly dizzy, she felt her way along one rocky wall, and as her eyes adjusted, she began to see the dirt floor and large rocks forming the walls of the cave. She walked farther in, and the light dimmed. The cold dampness of the cave enveloped her and she shivered.

Tired and spent, her eyes burning, she sat down on the cold dirt floor near the wall and sighed. No longer caring about anything, she took a deep breath and let it out slowly. If her life ended here, that was fine with her. Shivering again, she rubbed her arms and then put on her sweatshirt.

Exhaustion overtook her, and she lay down on the cave floor, placing her purse under her head as a pillow. Feeling dizzy, she didn’t care if she ever woke up. She started drifting off and finally dozed.

An hour later, Jackie suddenly jerked awake and abruptly sat up. Terror gripped her — where was she? She remembered a strange dream about tiny points of light that spoke to her. She shook her head to clear it and rubbed her eyes. She peered into the darkness, trying to see.

As she looked around, something seemed to move by her. What was that? A small flash of light zipped by. A firefly? No — there were more of them. Just like the ones in her dream! At least four or five points of light now surrounded her, swirling and pulsing. What were those?

Whispers filled the cave and her skin prickled. A voice echoed somewhere, bouncing off the walls of the cave.

We are here to help you, a voice echoed.

She looked around, seeing nothing other than the points of light. “Who are you?” she asked, her voice hoarse.

We can help you, the voice stated.

She leaned against the wall, clutching her purse and holding it tightly, not sure what was happening.

We see you struggling. We can offer you one wish to help you.

“One wish? I’m not sure I understand.”

We will grant you one wish — whatever you wish for, any one thing, you will have.

Was this for real? Just in case it was, she thought for a few moments. What should she ask for? What could help her? She briefly thought about asking for money, pretty clothes, a better body, nicer hair, or even a pizza. Maybe a different father.

But after mulling it over, she shook her head, dismissing those ideas. Those were all things she hoped would make her life better, but she quickly realized they wouldn’t. All of those were on the outside, and she was still miserable on the inside. What would make her happy? What should she ask for?

After thinking it over a few more minutes, she licked her dry lips. “Okay, I’ve decided,” she finally whispered to the air.

What is your wish?

A small smile played on her lips. “I wish to be happy.”

The lights swirled and flew around her and then hovered in front of her. The whispering voice spoke one word: Done.

She looked around. “But I don’t feel any different.”

Look in a mirror, the voice said.

Feeling confused, she opened her purse and took out a small mirror. This was absurd. She held up the mirror in the dim light. At first it was hard to see, but then the image seemed to lighten, and her face became visible.

It was her own face, but it somehow looked and seemed different. Instead of seeing her flaws and everything she hated, she now saw something else reflected back to her.

As she stared at her image, she saw someone warm and loving looking back at her. Was that her? She peered at her image more intently.

Something was shifting, and she seemed to see inside herself at a deeper level. A sense of her inner self, an inner beauty. She saw her gentleness, her compassion, her kindness. She saw how she cared about others. She saw her sensitivity which helped her be a sweeter and kinder person. She saw the loving way she treated others. She saw her gracefulness and fluidity as she danced. She saw an inner beauty that was mesmerizing and overwhelming. And as she gazed at her image, a rush of warmth flooded over her.

Why was she seeing this? What happened? She wasn’t sure. But something inside had definitely shifted. It was still her, but a part of her had opened. A part she had not really seen before.

She knew it no longer mattered what her father did or said. Whatever he did reflected on him, not her. Somehow she now felt free. She would follow her own heart and what she loved. She knew what was important to her. Dancing brought her joy, and that’s what she would pursue. And she would not let anything stand in her way.

And another boyfriend? She would find someone who loved her exactly as she was. She would not accept anything less. A powerful wave of intense warmth moved through her, and she felt a sense of inner strength and determination. And something new — a growing feeling of self-love.

She felt her lips curve up into a smile. She looked around to thank the points of light, but they were no longer visible. Where did they go? Were they ever really there?

She wasn’t sure. But she knew one thing. For the first time in a very long time, she was happy.

 

 

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Copyright © 2020 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.

 

Please visit my website here for information on all my published books. Thank you!

And visit my author page on Amazon here to see and order any of my books. Thank you!

Please see more incredible stories related to this image here from other very talented writers at the Writers Unite! blog.

 

About Lynn Miclea

LYNN MICLEA is a writer, author, editor, musician, Reiki master practitioner, and dog lover. After retiring, Lynn further pursued her passion for writing, and she is now a successful author with many books published and more on the way. She has published many books in the genres of thrillers, suspense, science fiction, paranormal, mystery, romance, grammar tips, memoirs, self-help guided imagery, and children’s stories (fun animal stories about kindness, believing in yourself, helping others, and being more than you ever thought possible). She hopes that through her writing she can help empower others, stimulate people’s imagination, and open new worlds as she entertains with powerful and heartfelt stories. Originally from New York, Lynn currently lives in southern California with her loving and supportive husband. Please visit her website at www.lynnmiclea.com.
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16 Responses to Inner Lights

  1. paulashablo says:

    Wow! I love this story! Very powerful. This is one to share, for sure!

  2. Pingback: Inner Lights — dancing leaves – Penz-o-Paula

  3. paulashablo says:

    Reblogged this on Penz-o-Paula and commented:
    Lynn Miclea has some insights into true happiness. Read and enjoy her latest!

  4. Kent Merritt says:

    That is a great story, Lynn.

    Your endless well of creativity never ceases to amaze me. Way to go!

    Kentavo

    Sent: Sunday, April 19, 2020 at 1:51 PM

  5. Gwen M. Plano says:

    Wonderful story, Lynn. 🙂

  6. Donna Wells says:

    Great story of empowerment! We all need that.

    Donna Cox Wells, Esq.

    • Lynn Miclea says:

      Yes – absolutely, we all need that. And I hope children get this while they are young and grow up feeling empowered and loving who they are. Thank you so much for your kind words. ❤

  7. I love this Lynn. Wonderful story for any age girl!!

    • Lynn Miclea says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words – and I totally agree. This is so important for girls to grow up with and learn to love who they are. Thank you so much – your comment means a lot to me! 🙂 ❤

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