A story for the Writer's Cramp prompt of August (heh) 20th, 2019
|“I remember candles in the garden that August. It had been an unusually chilly summer; the temperature rarely rising above the mid-seventies, even during the hottest parts of the hottest days. My mother, saint that she was, refused to let this hinder her: She was out every night, burning another of those awful, acrid candles by the patch where Jonathon had been laid. That godforsaken patch of podzol which never did grass-over as it should have. It chose instead to look like it had been freshly overturned the night before, even months after the burial.
On the first Thursday of every month, my dear, deluded mother would go to the butcher’s shop and purchase the scraps which her -the butcher’s, not my mother’s- profession so readily produced. She would then come home, dumping all manner of display-case rejects into the massive black pot kept in the basement for this purpose alone. In a twisted mockery of the process used to procure whales’ oil, she would slave over this pot for days at a time, until eventually, the procedure would produce a suitable, -if just barely- candle wax. This she would pour into the same tall, slim candle molds which she had used since -as far as Jonathon or I were concerned- time immemorial. By week’s end, those awful candles would be awaiting release from their aluminum cocoons, which she would grant eagerly, breaking a month’s worth of candles free of their metallic wombs.
Jonathon, somehow, had loved the scent of our mother’s homemade candles. He had been able to somehow ignore the acrid, choking scent that poured forth from them, even when any other candle would’ve produced a bright, pure flame. It was this fact that my mother took solace -dare I say, wallowed- in.
Her candle-making efforts were redoubled, and she became obsessed with making everything reek of the damned things’ abhorrent, scent. By the month after Jonathon’s untimely end, the saccharine, noxious smoke of the burning wax permeated every inch of the house, and even my dear mother stunk of the stuff.
Many of the townsfolk publicly congratulated my poor mother for being able to cope with Jonathon’s loss so well. As you know, this success was entirely false, and I suspect they knew it as well as I had from even the first.
Her fetishization of those wretched memorials to Jonathon reached a peak on that fateful August night. May God damn whatever devils caused her insanity that night! In her madness and denial, she had overfilled the house with those vile candles. As she wandered the mansion’s now-cluttered hallways, leaving a trail of lit candles in her wake, she failed to notice the smoke, which was markedly more prevalent than any night prior: She had set a candle just too close to the wall, and the heat of the fire -while ineffective if it were alone- was granted ability by its comrades, and the wall soon burst into flame. The devil take her mind for setting her path as it was, for by the time she took notice of the active fire in the house, she was far from a doorway, and even the closest window was too far for her aging and smoke-weakened body to reach.
So yes, my good sir, I do remember the candles in the garden that August. I remember them also in that the many months before that fateful time came to pass.
However, let us not dwell on the macabre and melancholic events of days past, but push forward on to lesser demons and greater joys. Come now, tell me of your engagement…”