The candle

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She kept the candle lit, so luck would find her, that’s what her grandmother had taught her since she was a little girl. “Light a candle,” grandma said, “so your heart is also filled with light!”

Wouldn’t you know it, that candle brought her many things over the years, not just luck alone: hope through difficulty, comfort in sorrow, joy in celebration. It warmed her hands when she was cold and radiated haloes around beauty, so she could see it with her heart. Grandma was right, the best way to see beauty is with one’s heart.

“What are you doing with that candle again? Have you finished your chores?” her father admonished her, just so he would have something to say, and he looked for errands to give her, because he didn’t understand the purpose of the wick burning day in, day out, so wasteful, really! “Women,” he mumbled to himself, “you can’t look for sense where the good Lord didn’t put any!” and went out on the porch, a bottle in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

She kept the candle in the window, and waited for luck to come. On rainy days she lit the candle at both ends, just to be sure, even though luck has no trouble finding you when it rains, you don’t have to worry about it, it will find you ’cause it’s yours, that’s what grandma said.

“What do you do with luck when it finds you?” the younger sister said, her large eyes wide open to reflect the gentle glow like two little porcelain saucers painted with delphiniums and chicory. She was always there, the little one, to watch the candle being lit, never tiring of its soft glimmer or grandma’s stories.

When it rained the little sister stared for hours at the hazy halo that formed around the flame, and her heart was filled with wonder, because she could see air.

“Nobody sees air, silly!” the older brother said, but then came closer to bear witness to the humid diffuse glow.

“Do you think that’s what luck is like? Like air? And that’s why we can’t see it?” the little sister asked. All three siblings gaped at the mystery of fire, trying to make out the elusive luck around it by looking at it through their eyelashes.

“There is no such thing as luck!” the older brother said, already wise. “There is no luck but the one you make! Silly people believe in luck!” he furrowed his brow.

“I take it you haven’t found yours yet!” grandma said, giggling softly under her breath, with the sweet voice of a lass.

“She found hers, alright!” grandpa joined her in laughter. Old people could be so light hearted sometimes. The older brother wondered how they did that, life seemed hard enough already, he couldn’t imagine! What does luck have to do with chopping wood and carrying water in a bucket? He glanced at grandma and grandpa, who where smiling at each other, acknowledging only they knew what, not weary of old age or young people’s curiosity. The older brother started pondering whether maybe there was luck in that candle after all, and then, as if she had heard his thoughts, grandma turned towards him, suddenly.

“Are you going to listen to me now, boy?” she looked him straight in the eye and made him lower his gaze.

“What do you do with luck, grandma?” the little sister repeated her unanswered question.

“First,” grandma said, “you need to recognize it, otherwise it will shadow you for a lifetime and you’ll never touch it. “That’s what the candle is for,” grandma said, “to find your luck and make you see it with your heart. Once it comes, grab it with both hands, and hold on to it tight, ’cause it will try to run from you, like a young critter, but you keep holding on to it and you’ll tame it, and after that it will sit in your lap, purring like a kitten,” grandma said.

That’s why the girl kept the candle lit and waited for her luck to come. One shouldn’t take luck lightly, she always thought. If luck ever found her, she knew what she wanted to do with it. She would always keep her blessings close to her heart, because luck follows good cheer like a little pup. This way she would always have it with her at every step, and weave it into love, the health of her family, the work of her hands, her children’s fortune, their children’s future, her home. It would keep her safe and grant her long life and teach her joy.

“Why are you filling their heads with this nonsense!” mother said. “You want your luck to find you? Work your fingers to the bone!” mother said, turning around, her hands always full. “Idle,” she scorned, “just like her father; all the good luck did him!” mother wiped her brow with the hem of her apron, dejected. “Are you going to start dinner or you’re waiting for us all to serve you?”

In the evening, peeling potatoes by candle light and dropping them one by one in the bowl in her lap, she waited faithfully for luck to come, and it did. Nobody noticed it at first, but she knew, she knew the second she laid eyes on it that it was luck itself, and it was hers, and it was never going to leave her, just like grandma said.

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