Into the Light

Submitted for Contest #76 in response to: Write a story told exclusively through dialogue.... view prompt

15 comments

Jan 15, 2021

Speculative

Hello?

Hello.

Where am I?

Hard to say. Where would you like to be?

I'm not sure.

I see. Then we are at a standstill.

Who are you?

Who would you like me to be?

I don't understand you. Why must you be so cryptic?

Why must you ask so many questions?

Forgive me. I'm lost.

Yes. I suspect many who come here are.

But where is here?

That is entirely up to you.

Truly?

Yes. Just take a step.

It's dark. I'm afraid.

I know. It will be alright.

How do you know? 

I just do. 

I don’t think I’m ready. 

I understand. It’s okay. There is time enough. 

Perhaps I will stand here a while. 

Very well. 

What is that sound? It frightens me. 

That is the sound of silence. 

It hurts. 

You will get used to it. 

I can't imagine that I will. 

You will. 


I wasn’t always here. 

No. 

Where was I before? 

I’m not sure. 

Can I go back? 

That depends entirely on what you do next. Perhaps. 

I think I would like to. 


Are you still there? 

Yes. 

There were others. Before. 

Yes. I think that you are right. 

Who am I? 

You are you. 

Please. Your answers are meaningless. Impossible to grasp. 

Perhaps you don’t need to grasp them quite yet. 

There you go again. If you’re so all-knowing, help me. 

I know, I’m terrible. But I can't help you. I can only listen. 

Fine. Is it this dark everywhere? 

Why don’t you find out? 

I am...afraid. That everything will slip away. 

I think you have to try anyway. 

Do you think I can be that brave?

I do. 

I am taking a step. 

Good. 

Where are you? 

I am here. 

Will you stay with me? 

For as long as you need me. 

That will have to be enough. 


There is something. I can feel it. But I cannot touch it. 

It is the sound of your own footsteps. And mine. 

I like it. But why must it be so dark? I wish to see you. 

Even if there was light you could not see me. 

Oh. 

But there is! I can see something. 

It’s not light exactly. 

But there is a face. 

Indeed. 

He is looking at me. Who is he? 

That depends. 


His smile is worn, crinkled. But he looks happy. 

Do you know him?

I think, perhaps, I did. But when?

I suppose you knew him Before. 

Yes, yes. You may be right, friend. 

But how? Why does he not speak to me? 

His eyes look right at me, and his lips move. 

But all I hear is the sound of my voice in my head. 

But you are quiet. Do my musings bore you?

Not at all. I'm merely thinking. 


Perhaps... but no, it is foolish. 

What?

Maybe this man was me. A long time ago. 

Ah! What makes you say that?

I feel as though his bare shoulders are my own, brittle and sagging. I can feel the skin around his eyes crinkle when he smiles. And there is something else.

What is that? 

Something deeper. I… I have seen the things this man has seen. Walked in his worn-out shoes. 

Tell me. 


Thin rays of yellow sun rising each morning above the horizon, turning the wheat fields to gold. 

A woman with a bitter face. 

A man with tired eyes. 

A spotted farm dog with a limp. 

A bed made of straw. 

A boy who skinned his knee. 

An aspen tree with scarlet leaves. 

Plowing endless rows of black soil. 

Sweat. 

Blazing sun. 

A boy who is no longer a boy. 

A woman with rosy cheeks who lets her white-blonde hair cascade down her back, and who does not care what people think of her. 


Keep going. 


A silver ring. Church bells. 

A house in the town. 

Paintings of thunderstorms and the bronze clock on the mantel.  

A swollen belly. 

A baby’s cries. 

 A little girl with red hair, and brown eyes that are full of laughter. My daughter. 

Good. Tell me more. 

An ebony cat who came with a storm. 

A cramped office with a cloudy window. 

A broken promise. A ring returned. 

A woman with blonde hair who gave her heart to another. 

Tears. 


I’m sorry. 

I am too. 

What else?


A headstrong girl. A graduation cap set atop a nest of fiery hair. 

A man with sweaty hands and a nervous smile who asks for my blessing. 

The hurt of letting go. 

A white dress. 

The silver ring. 

A kiss. 

An absence. 

A visit. 

Her dancing brown eyes. 

Then. 

Slowing down. 

Brittle bones. 

Thin glasses. 

Peace. 

Empty house. 

Clock ticking. 


One day. 

A stab of pain in my chest.

Fading. 

Bright lights. 

Blurred shapes. 

White coats. 

Crisp sheets. 

Dull pain.

A thin white hand on a withered one. 

Voices like birds in the air. 


Then.

Darkness. 

And your voice. 


I see. 


I remember. 

Yes

I had a life. A family. Many homes. 

Yes. 

I had love, and peace, and sorrow, and fear. 

Yes, yes. You had all these things. 

But did it matter? Did my time matter at all? Perhaps, friend, my feet left no mark on the earth I walked. Maybe my words touched no hearts. 

Perhaps not.  

Say it isn’t so. Please. 

These people that you spoke of. Your child, your wife, your mother, your father. 

Yes?

They made you, and you made them. Your stories tangle. 

They loved me. 

They did. 

But was it enough? All I see is darkness. I came so far. I was a boy. A man. A husband. A father. And yet I'm here in this place of mirrors and memories. 

True. 

Is this it? Is this where I shall remain? Wandering the sooty blackness listening to echos? 

If that is what you want. 

No. Why must you be so cruel? I do not want to stay here. Please. 

Do you remember what I told you?

You have told me a great many things. 

What happens next is up to you. 

So I need not stay here?

Not if you choose.

What is beyond?

I do not know. 

I'm still afraid. 

Yes. You were afraid before, remember? But I am still here. And where might you be had you not taken that step into the darkness?

Will you come with me?

You must go alone. But I will always be there. Perhaps you will not know it, but I will be. 

I am ready then. 

Good. 

Look! There is light! 

Oh, friend, there is color and life once again! Do you see how the sun touches the treetops? How the people dance in its warm rays? 

Hello? 

I know you must be there still, even as I join hands with these happy people. 

Thank you. 




You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

15 comments

Thom Brodkin
19:45 Apr 19, 2021

This was wonderful but I disagree with your assessment it was sad. I found it beautiful, even in the beginning when he and we weren't sure what was happening. It was still strangely peaceful and hopeful. I chose this prompt back that week to challenge myself because I struggle with dialogue but I cheated, I didn't make it totally dialogue. You did and did it perfectly. I love your stories. I love your writing. Great job. Great suggestion.

Reply

Willow Byrd
19:49 Apr 19, 2021

Oh, thank you so much, Thom. I truly think that you're right about it not being sad. I really appreciate you reading it. I'm hoping to come out with a new story this week, as I'm on school vacation and might finally have the time!

Reply

Thom Brodkin
20:00 Apr 19, 2021

I can't wait and until then I'll be sneaking over to read some of the old ones I haven't had a chance to read yet. 😊

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Aaron Caicedo
00:34 Jan 18, 2021

I thought this was incredibly profound! A man contemplating with either himself, or an angel of sorts, as he crosses into the beyond. An interesting take on what happens after death, and beautifully written. Well done!

Reply

Willow Byrd
00:39 Jan 18, 2021

Oh, I'm so glad it was understood. Thank you so much!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Amany Sayed
21:08 Jan 17, 2021

Here as you asked! So....wow. I really enjoyed this piece. People took this prompt in so many beautiful directions. It's poetic almost. I suppose my only critique is that the character's voice shifted halfway. At the start, I thought it was a teenage girl, but when the identity of the person was revealed, I had to shift my mind, and the voice also changed. I can't really explain how I see characters in my head, but that's just my two cents. Maybe try and work on really learning your character's voice before writing, so it doesn't change. If ...

Reply

Willow Byrd
21:47 Jan 17, 2021

Thanks so much, Amany! Glad you liked it, and I think you're right about character voice. Yeah, I kinda left where he was up for interpretation because I know people have different ideas or where someone might go after death, and who the voice guiding him might have been, but he has passed away for sure. Thanks again for reading!

Reply

Amany Sayed
23:30 Jan 17, 2021

No problem!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Neha N.
15:13 Jan 16, 2021

Hey, Helen. I read this earlier and couldn't comment then, but, now, I've finally got the chance. Anyways, onto the story. It is, as you said, quite philosophical and one with profound meanings and various interpretations. The way I've construed it, it seems to be that the man is comatose. He has lived a long life, one he values and cherishes much, but is unsure if the feelings are reciprocated, or if everything was worth it. In the end, though, he accepts it and he's ready to move on towards 'the light' (i.e something after death) as many...

Reply

Willow Byrd
15:22 Jan 16, 2021

Hi Neha, thanks so much for your feedback, I really, really appreciate the people who take the time to write a detailed comment. I wrote this story with the idea that the man has passed on, but I really tried to leave it up to interpretation. :) I hear you with the dialogue, I'll work on that after I publish this comment. Thanks again!

Reply

Neha N.
15:26 Jan 16, 2021

Of course! Ah, well that idea really has been employed well in the story, and open endings do tend to work well with readers. :)

Reply

Willow Byrd
15:35 Jan 16, 2021

:)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Willow Byrd
19:22 Jan 15, 2021

So this was one of my more philosophical pieces. I know what it means for me, but I tried to leave it open to interpretation. Please be honest and let me know what you think!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Dan Willmot
02:19 Jan 21, 2021

This piece was just wow! I know this has already been mentioned in previous comments, but it really is very poetic. It's so open to interpretation in the most beautiful way. You really feel like your put into the character's shoes. Not to mention the lack of straight answers and short strings of thought creates this immense sense of emptiness reflecting the character's feelings and surroundings. If I were to be extremely nit-picky. I find that your dialogue could have flowed better in places. I'm not sure if this was intentional, but I occa...

Reply

Willow Byrd
13:20 Jan 21, 2021

Oh thank you so much! I agree I used things like 'I do not' rather than 'I don't' to add something to the story but perhaps this was a bad idea. I think I'm definitely going to edit some of that stuff. Thanks again!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply