The Lamp

The Lamp

A Story by Shannon
"

Strange...

"
I set my book down with a sigh; sleep is calling. Touch the lamp beside me twice to take it from dim to off, wrap myself in my blankets and fall into a deep, sound sleep.

I wake up to the sounds of Soft Cell singing to me of tainted love. Lean over and touch my lamp. Nothing. I try to tap it a few more times and still nothing. I slowly get out of bed, attempting to use the dim light filtering through the curtains to find my way to the light switch on the wall. I proceed to get ready for work in the blinding light of the overhead fixture.

I go through my daily routine: breakfast, work, supper, followed by some time at a Sudoku puzzle, then bed. I touch the lamp again. Nothing. I tap the lamp. Slowly. Quickly. Use my thumb and finger to kind of pinch the lamp. Nothing. So I resign myself to reading in the harsh overhead lighting.

The following morning, Joan Jett wakes me up. I don’t give a damn about my bad reputation either, Joan! In my sleepy state, I reach out for my bedside lamp and am rewarded with nice, soft light. Relieved it seems to be working again, I go about my day and think no more on it.
*
This lamp is driving me crazy: sometimes it works, sometimes it refuses! I love the lamp; it was such a find. It is made of some sort of cast iron. It is both ornate and simple, with smooth curving lines. I refer to it as art deco, but, in reality, I have no idea when or where it was made.

The switch broke sometime before I found it at a garage sale. Since the wiring ran through the whole base and appeared to be impossible to change, I simply added the necessary components to make it a touch lamp, using a three-way bulb made it dimmable. A new shade in light charcoal color compliments it nicely, I think. I take it apart and adjust the added wiring. It works again for several days.
*
This time Aerosmith wakes me up with a clever little tune about a man in drag, I think. And the stupid lamp once again will not respond to my touch. I feel a sharp pain in my big toe as it connects with the leg of my dresser, a mere few inches short of the wall light switch. That’s it, time to try more serious rewiring!

I get all new components and spend an hour on a Saturday afternoon replacing what I can. I still cannot replace the faulty switch, but- success!- it is working when I touch it.
*
I have given up! Bought a new lamp. Nothing like the old one. Sleek and modern - all shiny silver metal and glass, angles, no curves. Being brand new, it works perfectly. Adds something different to the bedside table. Hmm, sometimes a change is nice. Maybe I should look at new curtains, as well, get some darker ones. I fall asleep happy with my choice.
*
Wake up to Bryan Adams strumming a guitar and singing nostalgically about a long ago summer. Reach out to turn on my lamp and stare in confusion. It is summer now, so the light that filters into the bedroom is much brighter.

I can clearly see the new lamp on my bedside table has been replaced by the faulty one I added to the trash last night. Anger and confusion well up. I shove the lamp, sending it crashing to the floor. I get out of bed, I am going to throw it away for good!

As I walk by the mirror that hangs by the closet, I stop, cold. There is an image of me, putting on my lipstick, like I do every morning. Except my hair is shorter. And the lamp is glowing softly on the other side of the lamp.

Enraged now, I go to the mirror, check the back, examine the glass, try to pull if from the wall with no avail. Who could be playing such ridiculous pranks! As I look around the room, I notice everything is fuzzy and indistinct. The only two things in focus are the hated lamp and the taunting mirror. I must be dreaming.

That’s it…must be. But then I have a terrible thought. Hoping, praying, pleading this is really a prank or a nightmare, I peer back into the glass, banging as hard as I dare.
*
I finish putting on my lipstick in the mirror and run my hand through my sleek new haircut.

A thud startles me, seeming to come from behind the mirror. A shadow seems to be cast on it, as well. I will need to see if the old glass in the antique mirror needs to be replaced, sometimes they crack or darken with age. I touch my favorite lamp to turn it off, then leave for work.

© 2017 Shannon



Author's Note

Shannon
This one is not yet a finished product.
First, I think it needs more show, less tell. Which parts would you like to see expanded (if any)?
The end is open to interpretation. Did itake any sense to you?
All constructive feedback welcome.

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Reviews

I can't see much that needs to be changed here, from my inexpert point of view. I agree that the balance of show and tell is a bit on the telling side, but that works in this story.

The concept is a trip. I enjoyed the open ending. I like that you leave it to us to interpret things.

I really really like the pop songs and the narrator talking back to them. I know these songs, but I wonder if all your audience will. But it is so perfect the way it is, maybe just leave it alone.

This makes me think of Ray Bradbury.

Posted 3 Months Ago


Shannon

3 Months Ago

I always welcome your point of view and appreciate your thoughts.

I songs are meant .. read more
SweetNutmeg

3 Months Ago

Haha, I was thinking maybe the songs should be left alone as Easter eggs for us oldies.
I don't think expansion is necessary at all. I also think that the small nods to the wake-up songs is sufficient. I'll leave grammar and such to those better qualified...but I like the vagueness that lets the reader ponder what's up with the lamp and the mirror. Good job.

Posted 3 Months Ago


Shannon

3 Months Ago

Thank you for the read and review. I appreciate your thoughts. Did the end take you somewhere?
Carol Cashes

3 Months Ago

Yeah, wishing I had that mirror....haven't been to my stylist in months! Seriously, upon reconsider.. read more
This is a different kind of magic lamp, it seems. That darned switch! The fix-it guy in me wants to tear into it. Oh, but then it wouldn't be this much fun. You're channeling a bit of Rod Serling here, and hope you continue the tale. (I just know there's some juicy-creepy story behind this lamp)

Posted 3 Months Ago


Shannon

3 Months Ago

Good point. A lamp indeed. Thank you for reading.
Love the last three paragraphs.
Play with it for awhile.


Posted 3 Months Ago


Shannon

3 Months Ago

Thank you for the read and review.

I have been...
I really enjoyed this! Great use of details & for me, it felt like a good balance between show & tell. Here are a few ideas of how you could do less tell & more show, tho . . .

1. Instead of saying: "I tap the lamp" . . . you could just use sound words like "tap" or to show you're trying a different touch, you could use imaginative ways to show that thru sound words (onomotopeia or however that's spelled).

2. Love the different tunes you're speaking of, but instead of making it a conversation ABOUT the song, you could start each of these paragraphs with some of the lyrics & also use motion or other dynamic imagery to show us that you're dancing or toe-tapping to such-and-such an artist.

All in all, I can feel the frustration, surprise, etc., all the various responses to the different lamp situations, these feelings come across strong thru your telling, without describing the feeling itself.

Posted 3 Months Ago


Shannon

3 Months Ago

Thank you barleygirl. Really appreciate your thoughts, as always. Good ideas and feedback. You are a.. read more
Hi Shannon,

I like this a lot and think it has wonderful potential as you finish it. Like other comments here, I perceive it as a parallel world. I agree with you about balancing show and tell, but with this piece, I think it's OK to be heavy on "telling". One thing I am trying to work on in my work is to keep a nice flow going and I think you did that quite well. Especially in the sentence [I go through my daily routine: breakfast, work, supper, followed by some time at a Sudoku puzzle, then bed.] Nicely done!

Posted 3 Months Ago


Shannon

3 Months Ago

Thank you for your thoughts. I appreciate your perspective on both the content and the writing.
Wow...this is really good. Over reading the whole story I was expecting somethin supernatural, something like in a horror film, but what I got was strange.

Through it all it was building up to something but in the end it made me think that this wasn't the end at all. To be honest as well is that the end I just can't wrap my head around it.

So when you lok in the mirror while throwing out the lamp you only see the lamp because everything else is fuzzy...then you bang on the mirror? I feel like I'm missing something hard but like I can't.

I also noticed the theme of "replacing old things" so is that symbolism or am I over examining it? Anyway I loved this story.

Posted 3 Months Ago


Shannon

3 Months Ago

Thank you for the read. I liked hearing your thoughts, it helps me understand how it's read.
Ah yes, this sounds familiar. I think I saw a draft. Good to see you're putting it out there for public scrutiny. I think this story has a lot of potential. It' s very mysterious and a little bit spooky. I like it :) thanks for sharing.

Posted 3 Months Ago


Shannon

3 Months Ago

You totally did see it. I've added a bit since and am hoping that more eyes will help me.
Very perplexing ending. I took it as some sort of parallel world, or a past/future looking glass type of thing. I think the confusion comes mostly from this story not yet being finished. This twist, whatever it may be, certainly has my interest piqued.

The style of narration felt very fitting, seeing as much of it is told from the perspective of someone waking up and a somewhat dreamlike state of mind.

Posted 3 Months Ago


Shannon

3 Months Ago

Thank you for your thoughts Clifford.. I had intended the ending to be vague and what one makes of i.. read more
hey Shannon, i really enjoyed this. i'll list some of my thoughts and interpretations about this, and hopefully they might help :) sorry, if i just rambled a lot too!

the use of present tense really gave this story a dreamlike atmosphere, so i thought that was a good choice.

i personally really like lamps, especially touch lamps even though i'll probably never buy one again because they always break for me too. that being said, i found many of issues regarding the lamp relatable!

i've read too much about symbolism (and dream symbolism, haha!) and so i almost immediately began viewing the lamp as a metaphor for our perspective (or how we see things), because without its light we can't see anything at all. in the context of this story, it seems like the narrator - internally, because this whole story is happening in their own room - has outgrown their old ways and although attached to them still must discover new ways (specifically, new light sources; specifically a new lamp). i found it interesting how the narrator tried to manage the situation by fixing the lamp, using unwanted overhead lighting, and using outside seasonal light. i thought you crafted that all pretty well.

the mirror, i thought, was symbolic too, as if the narrator was looking back at memories of oneself and trying to reconcile their own internal change from then to now. i also thought the music references were nostalgic in a similar way. overall, i thought there was a theme of "then but now."

my interpretation of the ending is that the narrator is living on both sides of the mirror; two worlds; and this again makes me think that the conflict of the narrator is reconciling some internal change about living the way things used to be and with having to change things because - i don't know - life just changes. i also read somewhere that when people go through such changes, they often just want to sleep through them (rather than personally deal with all the issues of change) and then just wake up when everything is good again, which sorta seems like it might be a desire of the narrator.

something i found confusing was the asterisks between some paragraphs and not others. is it to represent the simultaneous worlds of the narrator on each side of the mirror?

i also found a general, unspecified confusion throughout the story. i don't know how to describe it other than that. but i really like it because it adds to confusion that the narrator is experiencing; if anything, i think that's what you did best in this story!

okay, i've said enough, haha. these were just my personal interpretations but i hope this helps!! thank you for sharing this.

Posted 3 Months Ago


Shannon

3 Months Ago

Thank you for all your thoughts MG. I appreciate the feedback and effort you put into it. It will de.. read more
MondaineGarcon

3 Months Ago

you're welcome :)

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Added on June 25, 2017
Last Updated on June 25, 2017

Author

Shannon
Shannon

Canada



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