Short Story: The Gloston

My children’s Primary School asked parents to write a 500 word story, and I decided I probably ought to submit something.  Looking around for some quick inspiration I remembered that the day before I had set a fire in our fireplace to ward off the cold from our sub-zero temperatures outside.  And as I pondered, an idea formed…

 

The Gloston

The air was perfectly still. The silence so complete that it could almost be touched. You might think that it is impossible to touch silence, but not for the Gloston. The Gloston could reach out without reaching; touch all within the small room in which it lay without anyone consciously realising.

Cat in front of fire
But now there was little to touch. The family who lived here had departed from the room shortly before, extinguishing the bright balls of glass that gave the light they seemed to crave. Now the only illumination in the room came from the small Gloston itself, along with a handful of its companions; their soft orange glow radiating gently, carrying an ebbing warmth. The only creature it could touch was one with long honey-coloured fur that lay stretched nearby; the dark tips of its ears occasionally twitching as if to shake off imaginary fingers.   The strange being gave the appearance of being in bliss, soaking the warmth that was offered it in comfortable joy; and the Gloston smiled to itself, knowing that even now in the dark hours of the night its gifts were still being gratefully received.

The Gloston itself was just beginning to tire, and it warmly remembered its awakening a few hours before. It distantly remembered lying in cold slumber; a slumber than had lasted an eternity or more. Then… oh, then there had been a tickle. Not a tickle that makes you squirm, or laugh, or seek escape. Rather, it was a gentle tickle that carefully coaxes; that leads you willingly to seek a firmer touch.

As its awareness had grown, the Gloston realised that the tickle was coming from small flames that were dancing here and there; occasionally leaping to share their bright energy with their surroundings. The fiery tendrils were coming from rolled up pieces of paper, from small twigs, and soon from larger pieces of wood. And all the while the small Gloston watched the burning objects consume themselves in happy play. You see, the Gloston must lie in the warmth for longer before it is able to emit its own flames; but when it finally decides to release its inner warmth to the world, its glow is more enduring; its heat able to touch more hands and cheeks than its more combustible neighbours.

And so it was that when the Gloston was fully awake, it welcomed the flames that had skirted it, and made them its own. It remembered exulting in its power to shoot flame high above itself; recalled the wide eyes of the children that watched it, their voices cry, “Mummy, look how high it goes!” Even now such memories made the small Gloston smile to itself.

It no longer had the strength to cause flames to flicker. It knew that its power was now passed; that it would soon return to a slumber from which it would not again awake. But it did not mind. The Gloston was at peace for it had given itself as it should.

 

© Copyright 2015, Jeffrey Collyer

 

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