The light master came to town on what seemed just another winter’s day. Snow collected on the village rooftops, pathways paved across the ground by busy shovels. Bodies begrudgingly walked along the street, desperate to be rested inside by the warming fire, rather than perform the chores and jobs that must be done that day. The light master zipped up his jacket to steal against the weather, snowflakes already collecting in his hood, radiating a blue, icy cold upon the skin of his neck and face.
Walking into the store, knocking his boots against the doorway, he stepped into the aisles, searching for the equipment he needed.
“It’s looking to pack in pretty bad.”
The store clerk idly mused, gazing out the window. The light master ignored him, idle small talk was precisely why he chose his job. So dull, so meaningless. Not to be deterred so easily, the store clerk kept talking, as if silence was in itself some form of reply.
“Police have been out around the neighborhood, telling us to stock up on essentials, water and canned food and whatnot, ‘case this storm gets any worse.”
The light master glared up at the clerk with dead eyes for a few seconds before going back to searching for his spare fuses, hoping that this would send a more clear signal to this incessant man.
“They even told me it’d be best not to open up the store today.” Apparently not. “I told him right then and there, I said: ‘Listen son, your paycheck comes from the government, regardless of rain or snow. Me, I got a family to feed, and a business to run, and my only means of income is this store. So hell or high water, I’ll be makin’ sure she stays afloat!”
The light master sighed, people and their relentless opinions, always following him wherever he went. Pointedly, he picked up what he needed, walked over to the desk, slowly, step by step, digging into the wooden floor. Clomp, clomp, clomp.
He looked up into the eyes of the store clerk, dropping the fuses stiltedly onto the counter.
“Boy, I sure do hope the snow doesn’t pack in too bad.” He said, without expression. “Then I can’t install these new fuses into the lighthouse, on account of me being stuck in town, due to the roads being closed. Anyway, sure few boats would crash on the shore if that were the case, real tragedy that would be.”
Flashing his best smile, the light master left his cash on the counter, and walked out the door. It’s true, the last thing he wanted to do was to be stuck in town, but not on account of the safety of others. The truth was, his job was barely necessary anymore. And yet nothing seemed quite as close to hell as being trapped in a small, gossipy, howdy-neighbor town like this one. He had no doubt that the hospitality of the locals would provide him with a warm bed. A warm bed and hot-chocolate, pleasant conversation, warm knitted sweaters and kindly thoughts.
Best to brave the cold instead.
My first free-writing exercise ever, as far as my memory takes me back at least. Apparently the exercise is to typically be given a single word or phrase, but my tutor gave me a whole sentence, “The light master came to town on what seemed just a normal winter’s day.”
What’s nice about this sentence is it already gives us a sense of mystery. What is a light master? Well I chose to slowly reveal the mystery as best I could, while adding my own mystery as to the personality of the light master himself. A fun exercise, and I shall certainly be doing more of these.