Short Stories

The Light of Lantern Waste

If you’re one of the ones who grew up loving Narnia, then there is always a small part of you looking for the light in Lantern Waste, peeking into coat-filled wardrobes, and studying paintings of old ships. And there’s always that odd feeling of being slightly displaced, for you touched another world, let it sink it’s claws into you- and now you’re never truly home.

Loneliness makes tracks through our souls like feet on virgin snow, hollowed and soft and shadowed… 

She had wondered into the woods at night even though she knew it was a bad idea. But the full moon was shining and the snow was the color of blue bird wings and the cold of the night was kinder then the hot stench of his breath. She pulled on the gloves her grandmother had given her, red roses picked out on soft lambskin, and boots too tall for snow to tumble into, and while he was in the kitchen she left. Just slipped out the back door, closing it ever so softly behind her, and crossed the snow covered yard to where the fence was rotted and collapsing.

The night was velvet edged; all star shine and shadow-promise, and the only sound in the Minnesota winter was her own passage. She wandered over the pastures he had cajoled her to kiss him in, climbed another fence and cut through the yard that once was her best friends. Into a forest where the sun had not reached and the snow still clung to branches in sparkling nodes. She was looking for something she couldn’t name, something that she wasn’t even sure existed, she was looking for a part of herself.

It had been lost somewhere in the past, through long shut doors and shuttered windows and a phone that never rang but for the seven PM telemarketer calls. Loneliness makes tracks through our souls like feet on virgin snow, hollowed and soft and shadowed.

She didn’t feel the cold, though her breath uncurled languid and thick, each exhale the escape of a long drag of modern life; bills and sweat and dishes and pain, the press of rough hands, the weight of years, the worried edges of her eyes.

A faint light hung in the distance, a golden glow she could see beyond the bare limbs of pale trees. No sound still, only her breath and step as she passed bone skinned birch and the dark paths of icy streams till she found herself at the edge of a small clearing, a single lamppost at it’s heart.

She froze in it’s light, paralyzed by remembered magic, of a lost little girl who took faith in the unknown, who became a warrior and a ruler.

A daughter of Eve. A girl. A human. Lucy.

Distilled down to herself in those woods, she stood in the light and did not move. For in that moment, she had left the Minnesota woods behind, left a damp house and a man who didn’t know how to love her. Left behind the slow fear of existing with no purpose, the creeping doubt of someone who feels as though they were drowning in their own life. She closed her eyes and saw herself on the back of lion gods, in glimmering palaces by the sea. She watched dragon’s shed their skin, met daughters of fallen stars, danced in the night with waking trees.

She didn’t want to leave, for when she did she knew it would be at an end. There would be no more Narnia, there would be no more magic. But for now, as she stood in the glow of this mysterious lamppost, the world was large and unknown; slumbering and waiting for her return.

When she got back home it was after midnight, and he was asleep on the couch, the TV still on. She let it run while she wrote the letter and packed her things, not too much, her books and clothes and things to keep her clean. She called the hotel from her car and when she looked up he was watching her from the porch. Handsome and tall and just as scared, too scared to notice his fear was destroying them. They stared at one another through the shadows and she hoped someday he would remember who they had been.

She pulled out of the driveway and did not look back.


Inspired by Neil Gaiman’s lamppost and what it would be like to wonder the woods and find it, having no idea it was there to begin with. The women in the story isn’t necessarily Lucy from the stories, but she’s Lucy as far as we all are, in the sense of hope clashing with reality, and the dreams we’re forced to shuffle aside in the struggle to survive.

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