Moths to a flame.

Moths to a flame.

A Story by Danny Metcalfe

Clarence was still on the wine. He was becoming more and more drunk and by the time he had finished his meal his charm had turned sour.  
‘’I must tell you about my mother one day.’’ He said slurring his words.  
We left the restaurant around 11:30 pm. Clarence lingered and stumbled as he walked. I lingered but I did not stumble.  
Moths hovered under streetlamps. The false flame. The light that bears no salvation. Clarence leaned against a streetlamp and looked up at the moths, which like cattle were unaware of their fate.  
‘’Are you a gambling man?’’ Clarence asked me.  
‘’ Depends on the wager.’’ I said.  
‘’Well, I wager you £500 I can climb this lamp-post and catch one of these moths?’’  
‘’I don’t have £500 to wager.’’  
‘’The twilight sun is what moths dream of, its lively eyes always on the lookout for the hottest star. I shall be that shining star.’’  Clarence told me.
Regardless of my answer he stepped up to the challenge.
He was eyeing up the moths with a childish pout. He felt sure that he would catch his prey. He was the hunter. He looked serious. Serious like the loathing of a black hole. He leapt onto the lamppost like a leopard... dragging his arms and legs up the long pipe in discomfort. The harder he tried the more he slid down in despair.  
‘’It would seem my star has dimmed.’’ he said
Clarence laughed.  
A cat jumps out from behind a bin. Knocking the bin over. Its golden fur luminous in the moonlight. Its eyes like magic, its tender spells stirred and rejoiced. It stood silent for a moment…Conjured our spirits and then ran off into the star-filled night.  
‘’Wonderful creatures, cats. ’’ Clarence said
‘’ Yes, they are.’’  
Clarence sat down on the curb.  
He looked up at me.  
‘’Climb the lamp-post and catch a moth and I will give you £500.’’  
‘’You heard. Climb the lamp-post and catch a moth and I will give you £500’’  
I did hear.  But pondered his seriousness. I looked into his eyes and thought what the hell.  
I rolled up my sleeves, took a run up and jumped like a monkey onto the lamppost. My arms were strong and my legs stronger. I saw the light that shone like a plastic sun and the moths none the wiser of their fruitless ordeal. I climbed to the top and tried to grab one of the moths…I missed. There were five moths fluttering about. So, I had a one in five chance. I took another swipe. Missed again. I paused for a few moments and watched their movements. I noticed one of the moths flew towards the light and stopped for a few seconds close enough for me catch it. When the time was right, I stretched out my arm and caught the creature! I did not harm it. I held it gently like a flower.  
‘’I did it! I caught one!’’ I shouted down to Clarence.
I released the moth from my hand and slowly climbed down.  
Clarence stood up. His eyes vacant like a dead bird.  
‘’Well, you owe me £500.’’ I said
‘’ I don’t have it.’’  
‘’I’m not as rich as I look.’’  
I half knew it was too good to be true.  
He went on.  
‘’It was just a bit of fun.’’  
He begins to laugh. I stared at him in half bewilderment, half anger, clenching my fist debating whether to knock him out or not.  

My eyes projected out my frenzied feelings. They bulged out of my chest like a bump in the road. Clarence's leer locked with mine and I felt the impenetrable gaze, too often ignored and caught my breath. His eyes then turned lame and his faced turned lucid. It was obvious he could not handle the far reaching eye that sees past the secrets of our vision. 
His drunk eyes blurring the sober air. 

He then began to cry and wept cold tears.  
‘’What’s the matter? I ask
He sniffled and rubbed his nose with his hand.  
‘’I cannot not say.’’  
‘’I cannot articulate it.’’  
It is that which we cannot articulate that shows us the truth. So, I knew it was something that transcended the body. I did not make a fuss as to what it was. His eyes were red with virtue and I did not want to pry.  
He stood like a wounded animal. His facial expression that of a petal-less flower.  
Above, the moths were still in love with the sun that never rises or sets.  
Clarence’s face was looking extremely pale. As if he was going to be sick.  
‘’Are you feeling OK’’ I ask  
He nodded his head.  
Then suddenly he collapses. Falling to the floor like a tree.  
He was out cold. I checked if he was breathing and then checked his pulse. His was still alive. I rang for an ambulance. I stayed with him until the ambulance arrived.  
I noticed one of the moths bumping into the light of the streetlamp. It did this three or four times before hovering for a few moments as if it had realised something…Then it flew off. It had seen through the illusion.  
Clarence regained some consciousness.  
I slapped his cheek a little.  
He mumbled something that I could not fully make out.  
Then the ambulance arrived and took Clarence away.  
I was left with the early morning sun beginning to rise. The light was warm and glowing. Leaving the moths confused.

© 2020 Danny Metcalfe

My Review

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I slapped his cheek a little. nice line

Posted 2 Weeks Ago

The characters are both very vivid and interesting.I can already see the complexities of their personalities in the writing.
I would, however, be careful about tense consistency (he stood... he collapses), using too many simple sentences instead of complex and overuse of the word eyes, Clarence and ambulance.
Your writing is very deep and impactful but in some lines you have over explained where you don’t need to.
Overall, I think it’s a wonderful piece, I hope my feedback helps and I’d love to see what happens next.

Posted 2 Months Ago

A well conveyed story with excellent use of language. You held my interest all the way through. That is quite something, because I am a poetry freak and rarely read anything at the cafe other than poetry. Welcome here Danny.


Posted 2 Months Ago

"It is that which we cannot articulate that shows us the truth. "- Wow. "He stood like a wounded animal. His facial expression that of a petal-less flower."- Can't decide if this part or the former line is my favorite. A truly thought-provoking piece. I remember the day I saw through the illusion. Really stellar piece.

Posted 2 Months Ago

It's a great story with some great points, but having a consistent tone is important! Parts of me feels as if everyone knows a Clarence in the beginning with the seemingly goofiness, but the transition from maybe the playfulness to him breaking through could be cleaner, less rolling emotions, maybe more calculated? Just a thought, but great!

Posted 2 Months Ago

This story was a bit confusing for me, though that might not be true for others. The story itself was fine but the way that you told kept switching from a relaxed and normal tone to a deeper, poetic one. There wasn't anything wrong, it was just weird. Sorry if this was rude, because I didn't intend for it to be. Despite the strangeness, I liked the story. Good Job!

Posted 2 Months Ago

Danny Metcalfe

2 Months Ago

No not at all! I really appreciate your feedback.

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6 Reviews
Added on December 15, 2020
Last Updated on December 17, 2020


Danny Metcalfe
Danny Metcalfe

United Kingdom

I am a writer, poet and playwright. I am interested in sharing works that I am unsure about and getting feedback on said works. My favorite writers are: Arthur Rimbaud, William S Burroughs, Claric.. more..


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