When the Lights Go Out

When the lights go out, so do I.

It’s no fault of mine. I was born like this. Mother tried to put me to sleep and thought I was gone; then lamps made her look silly in front of summoned police.

I am the undisputed champion of hide-and-seek.

As a scorned child, sleepovers were a bust. Scary stories, too: often interrupted. No sleeping in tents. No movies—screen glow’s too dim. Did you see that? No. What happened? Couldn’t tell you.

It’s gotten worse over the years. When I was a kid I just kept the bathroom door open. It was a small slice of white, but enough for me to sleep as a dim, grey outline. Not even nightlights keep me here, now.

I don’t sleep much.

In college, I learned to carry flashlights. I went through a lot of batteries, but toting them across campus was the only way to get anything done before dawn. Lanterns in the library, fluorescent cafeteria lunches. Made me look green, but allowed me to eat—no flickering in the candles of some damned posh café.

Everyone thinks I’m traumatized, terrified of the dark.

I guess they have a point. I have good reason to be afraid of the dark.

You’re a waste of electricity! screamed my mother, the day she kicked me out. I think she just felt guilty. It’d be fairly easy to save money without saving me.

I’ve never seen a shooting star in my life.

(That one? No, sorry. Not until the moon comes back.)

I’m explaining this so you understand why we couldn’t go to dinner or a movie. When I ask you to keep the lights on, it’s not to make you uncomfortable or ruin the mood. Mood lighting just won’t work. If you dim the lights during sex with me, you’ll find yourself jerking off pretty soon.

Think I’m joking? Try it. It’s your libido, after all.

But if it’s me you want, you’ll leave the switch alone. Let the moths gather. Close your eyes, if you have to. I’ll still be here as long as the lamps are. It’s the only way to keep me turned on.


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