Lamp Light

By Zoe Randolph

October 4, 2021

Lamp Light

I’m not worried about the meat in the freezer or the milk in the fridge. The only concern I have about the sudden soupy darkness is how I can maximize my time spent soaking in it.

On her tip-toes, my mom stretches for her grandmother’s oil lamp, expertly detaching the eggshell-thick top from its squat base. She twiddles a metal dial, easing the braided cotton down to dip its toe in the pond of fuel waiting below. When she lights the wick, its flame shines no brighter than the head of the just-extinguished match. But once the lamp’s top is back in place, light floods into the room like warm cream.

We blink away the residual neon cast of the new millennium and acquaint ourselves with a softer world—one that leaves me room to fill in the blanks. In the glow, my flannel pajama bottoms blossom into full skirts and the pens on my desk sprout soft feathers and sharp nibs. Who would I have been in a time with light like this? I sit up straight to prove the answer is: better.

While my parents wonder at the cause of the outage and how long it might last, I revel in the stillness. I savor the way the half-light gives cover to the make-believe I’m too old for; I dread the moment the bulbs overhead snap back on with the stinging glare of now.


Zoë Randolph is an American writer living in Montréal, Quebec, where she pretends to understand French and enjoy winter. You can keep up with her at


Picture by Joshua Sun courtesy of Unsplash


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