Roman Candle


Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

The weather was squally, her feet squelching in the puddles she had long given up trying to avoid. Hair matted across her forehead, she trudged onwards, the rain-bleached misery of the late afternoon pervading her thoughts so her eyes remained trained on the shimmering vomit-speckled concrete lain out before her.

Turning a corner, past the boarded-up pub and the blinking lights of the fish and chip sign, Morag paused at the traffic lights, just long enough and close enough to the road to be drenched in water slick with rainbows of oil in every shade of grey as a car sped past in a hurry to get on, to get out, to get anywhere other than here.

Cursing under her breath at the disappearing vehicle, she stomped wetly across the road and glanced askance at the sky, and as she did, she stopped dead in her tracks, pedestrians behind her tutting and swearing as they swerved her fragile frame in an effort to hurry onwards, out of the rain. She stopped and stared. A figure, rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the pavement, blazed its way across the building in front of her. What yesterday had been a ramshackle apology for architecture: a monochrome block peppered with windows like broken teeth in an insincere smile, was now the backdrop for an angel in flight.

Arms stretched above her head, Morag mirrored the dancing girl, oblivious to the rivulets of water running from her elbow to her neck; blind to the knowing nods and nudges of passers-by,  heads briefly lifted from their cloud-hunched huddles. She was deaf too to the snarl of traffic, to the shouts and whistles of local folk being as local folk are. Transfixed, she swayed, drunk on the image in front of her, craning her neck to absorb its ethereal power.

On tiptoes then, she twirled amongst the discarded cigarettes which littered her path, pirouetted over puddles and spun like sugar all the way home.

Her mother, thumping down plates on the table swallowed her customary barked reminder about shoes off at the doorway as she watched Morag float into the house, eyes lit by a fire that would never go out. A fire that would spark and smoulder within until she, too, spread her wings and blazed like a roman candle across the walls of a town just like this one, on a day just as dreary and wet and weathered as this, lifting her arms and her eyes and her heart to the heavens above.

© Abi Hennig 2019

Written based on a prompt from


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