Microfiction #writephoto: Lanternlight

For Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt. No matter what kind of photo Sue chooses, the story always seems to come out sinister. I’m beginning to wonder if there’s something I ought to be worrying about.


Moths beat against the clear panes, and the light that streamed into the garden through the coloured glass was a rainbow of hues. Such beauty, like gemstones, and so warm. In the bitter depths of winter, the coloured light was a memory of the heat of the sun, so bright and cheerful it drew the cold and the lonely from miles around. While moths fluttered against the glass, children crept out of the bushes and held out their hands to catch the light. They stood in their thin, raggedy clothes and seemed to be able to forget the cold. Their pinched faces lit up and their eyes widened in wonder.

The light shifted. The lantern turned and light fell through another facet bathing the upturned faces in a tender green glow. Spring murmured in the sound of the mothsโ€™ soft wings, and the children smiled. Inside, through the Gothic arch full of crimson fire, a table lamp turned, casting dancing golden flower shapes into the darkness. The children drew closer and pressed hands and noses against the red glass.

In a room at the top of the west wing, a curtain twitched. He looked down at the huddled group and his eyes glittered with pleasure.

It never fails, he thought and prepared to let them in.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

43 thoughts on “Microfiction #writephoto: Lanternlight”

      1. It begins with a T and ends in a p and it’s going to be the next president of the US. There are various copies scattered around the world. We have a female version.

      2. I was talking to someone who said she’d voted for him, thought he’d be good for America. Out of curiosity I asked her why she thought someone with his half-baked sexist, zenophobic ideas could be good for anything, and she said we’d just have to hope he didn’t all those lunatic things he promised. I’m still trying to work out her logic.

      3. I’m a Canadian living in America — dual citizenship. I spent time back in Canada when I was my mother’s caregiver, but these last six -seven years, I’ve been in the US. So your geography isn’t shaky — my citizenship is.

  1. I was drawn to this line: ” bright and cheerful it drew the cold and the lonely from miles around.” Again a piece of writing Jane that drew me in, beautifully crafted I have to say and a little scary as well….excellent piece..

    1. That is an absolutely wonderful compliment! I’m so pleased you see that. I’m writing a whole novel of beautiful nastiness and it’s rubbing off onto everything else. Thanks so much ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. ‘Beautiful nastiness’, that has quite ring to it. Rather reminiscent of the works of Angela Carter. Hope you don’t mind the comparison.

  2. What detailing goes into your prose. I am always drawn in by the minutae that are peppered in your stories and how beautifully they add up to a macro, which at times, as is in this case, macabre.

    1. Thank you, Neel! I’ve got to the stage in my writing where I’m trying to get it to go where I want it rather than let the story tell itself in a random way. We’re told to cut out the verbiage and the description because of modern limited attention spans (!) so it’s a case of learning how to fit in the detail without being heavy handed. Thanks for the encouragement!

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