I was lying on the sofa this morning staring at the fireplace and thinking about what to write about next. My eyes traveled up its rock face to a big black smear high up on the cathedral ceiling. Suddenly I had inspiration…
Several years back, it was a windy stormy night. My son, Jon, was back from college and we were hanging out by a roaring fire. It was a seemingly mellow night with just a hint of possibility. Suddenly, the lights went out. We sat stunned for a moment and then went to gather the usual provisions: flashlights, candles, cell phones, etc. Soon we all gathered in the family room again. We were pretty secure and, in some ways, enjoying being thrust back to the basics of being powerless and in the dark for several hours before bedtime.
Jon got up and lit two oil lamps on the fireplace mantel. We never really used these. They were mostly for decoration. It was kind of fun to test them out, and in a flash they were lit and casting eerie shadows on the ceiling.
Jon disappeared and returned with a book. It was a copy of Edgar Allen Poe’s stories. By flashlight and firelight, he flipped through the pages until he came to a favorite piece. He began to read “The Raven” aloud. The minutes passed quickly as we enjoyed delicious shivers amidst the shadowed evening.
Eventually, we called it a night and snuggled in our beds awaiting morning daylight. Overnight the power had been restored, and all was safe and sound. But later in the day, I glanced at the fireplace and, again, my eyes traveled up to the ceiling. A big black mess of soot streaked the ceiling.
Rich tried to clean it but the smudge only got worse. Oh well, I thought. Each nick, scratch and mark on the wall tells a story and holds a memory. For me this was a good story. Maybe, in my heart, as good as Mr. Poe’s or even better.