Asha woke in darkness. She felt cold, hard dirt under her body. She sat up and took in her surroundings. Silver moonlight strained to breach the canopy of leaves above. A gold light in the corner of her vision snapped her head back to center. A lightning bug blinked and bounced in front of her. On. Off.
She stood and stretched her hand toward the enlarged insect. It fluttered above her and shown on the path. Her eyes grew as her naked body shook—dew trickling down her spine. She took a small, stuttering step and, in the slip, her body spilled onto the forest floor. She picked her face up and licked the dirt from her lips. The lightning bug danced and flickered between the trees.
On. It waited. Off.
Asha began to crawl. Her elbows scraped ditches while her knees dug combat trenches. On. Her nipples became raw, her belly rash red as she fought for light. Off. Her toes were bruised and cracking.
The insect’s light taunted her. On.
As her struggle hardened so did her resolve. The salt water that cleansed her face, did nothing for the disgust inside. Off. In every absence of the light she felt a crushing doom. On. In every brilliant flash, she saw spring’s gaze warm the world. Off. When her world went black, she longed for death. On. When her world turned gold, she ached for life.
Asha reached out her hand. She could touch it. She did touch it. Warmth flowed through her veins and into her muscles. She stood as her body glowed. Strength seeped into her bones, into her marrow. Off.
Asha’s body dropped limp as the lightning bug backed away. She stumbled to her knees and breathed in dust and dirt and dead leaves. On. The blinking light promised everything but allowed nothing. Off. Her world was black and empty. On. Her world was light and love.
She crawled among the termites and worms. Off. Snot dripped from her nose. Her own blood smeared on her stomach next to coyote scat. On. She reached her ripped, broken nailed hand out.
Off. Asha’s world went black.
She twisted, a sailor in an impenetrable fog. The lighthouse miles away. Through the trees, she could see the distant glow. On. Her eyes were unfocused, cloudy. Off.
Asha is lost.
RW Franklin lives in Northeast Ohio with her incredibly supportive husband. She has not previously published her writing, but has been very involved in her local writing community and encourages her fellow writers to do the same.