The Lantern
Gigi St John | 27 March 2017

Coughing and spluttering, I stumbled aimlessly in the darkness. I dragged a drenched hand thyough my damp hair, the sand sticking to my skin like the sap on a sciadopitys tree. All I could taste was the salt water that had filled my lungs, trying with all its might to suffocate me, drown me, kill me. It felt as if the ocean's only ambition was to destroy and destruct anything that ever meant anything to me, and as far as I was aware, it had succeeded in its mission. My vision was shrouded by the lack of light all around me; instead, I could only see deep pools of black, pools darker than the pupils of any animal known to man. I longed for an animal to appear out of the pools surrounding me; any form of company would have been welcome at this time. I had never felt so alone...

 

 

My only guide was the white sphere that hung above me in the jet black sky. She supplied enough light to pick out a pathway between the heaps of debris that seemed to stretch out to infinity. Sadly, even the moon was not strong enough to stop me from plunging into the black hole below me, a portal which had come out of nowhere and dragged me down into yet more and more darkness. I hit the bottom with a heavy thud, and every bone in my body seemed to shake with an almighty force, a force almost more powerful than that of the wave which had wiped out my home only hours before. I shook my head, partly due to shock, but also to try and erase the image of my home in pieces, my life ripped apart in a matter of seconds, everything and everyone who I love swept away like the tide that rolls in and out without a care in the world. I wiped the mud off my face with the back of my hand and rubbed at my eyes with the hope that maybe, just maybe, I would be able to see some light in amongst the gloom which enveloped me. But there was no light to be seen, no hope to be found.

 

 

I used all my remaining strength to pull myself up from the ground. I felt around for the wall of this void I had tumbled into, holding my hands out in front of me like a deranged zombie, straining my eyes to the extent that I worried they may pop out of their sockets. I eventually came to a damp barricade which I knew I must climb in order to ever see daylight again. With this thought in mind, I pressed my way up the wall until I could feel the steep slope begin to plateau. I gripped hold of the edge and heaved myself up onto the land above me. As I did so, I felt a sharp sting as glass from a shattered window pierced my hand. I screamed out in pain, the blood streaming from my hand like the Shinano river.

 

"Hello?" came a voice from above. I looked up to see a man staring down into the hole, and in his hand he held a lantern. The light hugged my eyes like a long lost friend, embracing me with the warmth and love of a thousand families. The lantern smiled at me, glowing and radiant in amongst the twilight. Somehow, I just knew that it was going to be okay, that I was going to survive, that I was going to live.

 

- Gigi St John

James Routledge 2016