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Harry the Light-Bulb.

by laurafraser 

Posted: 22 October 2004
Word Count: 1965
Summary: I don't really know what this is approp. for- the idea of harry came first three years ago in canada and this story came out a month or two ago and would appreaciate it immensely if someone could be so kind as to advise with it in anyway-dustbin or could it have a future somewhere....?

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I have a tale for you. Of a light bulb called Harry who lived on a bridge called Albert. It is a story for the child in every adult, and the adult in every child. It is about a life lived not long ago, an existence that continues to be, as it lives in us all. Who I am will raise a few eyebrows perhaps, as you digest the believability of what I say. Lets just stay calm though, forget any notions you may have that relate to the species that inhabit this planet and listen. Yes my friend, I am existence and I have a story that will make you smile.

Harry was a light bulb who lived over a river called Thames. A river brimming with forgotten secrets and treasures. Spend a moment with her and she will tell you her tale, one thick with fires and plagues, of severed heads on spikes and of bodies found hanging above her, from bridges meant to offer a choice. And I am enamoured by her volatility, her character, like phosphorescence, so evanescent, she is unpredictable and ever changing. You may say that I am in love with her. I exist, surely I do, for that is what I am, but to love something I deem to be separate, oh! what folly. What a narcissistic attitude I have! But I do. I love her waters above all others, though there be many that flow elsewhere, I am blind, ignorant to them.

But love sweeps me away and I am here to tell you of Harry and a moment in his life that was, is, cosmic, infinite, transient and eternal. The characters you know, they have been named before, passed by perhaps, even admired. Albert, the celebrity amongst the bridges of London, of course came with a fleet of devoted admirers, none more ardent than Chelsea, who thought of him bashfully as her beau ideal. There were other names that the bridges had for him, some given in a slightly more caustic manner. Millennium was often found to be referring to him as ‘Albert antiquity.’ Albert though on hearing this had thought it a marvellous compliment and had sent a message with one of the rowers’ boats to express his sincerest thanks. That was the last time Millennium had dabbled in the realm of nicknames. Albert was the Adonis of the bridge world and his lights were coveted as the world’s rarerest diamonds are. His caramel pink arc so perfect and his charm so subtle and unaffected.

However there was a problem in the world of Albert and it was this. That Harry the light bulb suffered from vertigo. And unfortunately for Harry, due to the location of his home, known to all as The Everest, his illness threatened to be long-term. Harry’s vertigo had been acquired as a result of a rather unpleasant event that occurred the moment of his birth. On opening his eyes for the first time, Harry had been unlucky enough to witness the death of his voluptuous older sister, Annabelle, who, slipping from the arthritic hand of a man named Samuel, who had been tiptoeing on the precipice of a precariously placed ladder, plummeted to her death below. Sadly for Harry the locationally challenged light bulb found himself being born from a machine just above the remains of his sister. From that day on, Harry had been too frightened to open his eyes again, his fear of heights extending to all things.

And so Harry had never again opened his eyes, a fact that caused much sorrow to his friends. Delilah a particularly beautiful leaf, who lived on a tree at the corner of the park, would often be found calling to him, begging the little light bulb to open his eyes. And Harry in his shy, unexplored voice would ask her to tell him, to tell him of the things he had never seen. And so the leaf would sing to her friend an aria full of the images that make up life, of a world that Harry could not fathom. Her song told of humans skulking over Albert at an hour when others of their kind lay asleep, in beds in houses they call their homes. These human owls, their pupils’ large, their hair a contrived nest of many hands and ecstatic massages, the follicles entwined and glued together by their Bacchic sweat. And she would let out a little moan of pleasure as the story of her song came to the sublime beauty of the park after creations called clouds had opened their swollen bellies, letting their water spill to the soil beneath. How when the sun slunk away and the sky became black, stars would spit into her eternal cloak, and Albert would shine his diamonds with such fervour and passion that it seemed to all as if the stars had come to rest on his boughs. As if the cosmos existed right there.

Listen to this song. The song of the leaf to the light bulb about what she has seen. Of people in their cars screaming at one another as they beep their horns and swear they are emigrating to a place far away. Did you hear her tell of moments spent watching two lovers in a car, a song from a musical blaring from their open windows, and a man and a woman in another car, a soft top as it’s known, sexy and sleek, naughty and wild and they are side by side the two young lovers who are singing so completely without shyness or any sense of tune, but with joy, with pure, raw joy that makes the others laugh and turn and smile and wish that they could join them. And look Harry, look the leaf would sing, at the humans who call themselves strangers look at them smile at each other; the young lovers with their Cheshire cat smiles and the older ones with the smile that only age can have, the awareness that things pass, but can come alive again. It is these moments, these little things that happen between people, that may only take seconds, but they happen Harry, Delilah would sing, they happen and that is what I want you to see.

Look she breathed, look at the many types of man that surround us. At the vegans and the drug addicts, the married and the divorced, the single and the celibate, the unaware and the wise. The men who act like women from a time no one can remember and the women who have forgotten the strength of their sex. These nymphs and persons, some of high society and those that it is not “correct” to know, these are the things Harry that I wish you to know. And I tell you that the first time you see, something will change in you, all thoughts you have clung onto will reveal their chimerical nature and you shall laugh at all you held dear. Harry oh Harry, my dear beloved Harry open your eyes and breathe in the life that we live.

And Albert grew sad, and gradually some of the light-bulbs grew bored of Harry and thought him pathetic and cowardly and hoped that perhaps he might be replaced by a more heroic light-bulb, that would do justice to the majestic heights of his home. Some even grumbled that they could do his job far better. If they were only given a chance.

And as everything passes so too do leaves and seasons and as the kaleidoscope of the world was preparing itself for new visions and colours, Delilah realised that another journey for her was about to begin as this one in Battersea came to an end. And as the day came for her to depart she beckoned for the wind to come closer, fluttering her leaf edges in the way that she knew reflected her full charms. And the wind smiled for he knew, his appreciation for excitement immense. So whilst the wind blew through the other leaves, these denizens of the air, trembling with excitement and glee, Deliah held on for a moment longer, waiting for her moment to come. And as the wind flirted with the skirt of a girl crossing Albert, Delilah smiled and said please. Like a ballerina she was lifted from her platform, leaping and spinning across her floorless stage, the sky. And all the while Harry was as he always was; his eyes tightly closed, his body an aura of shadow and darkness. But not far Delilah was being carried through the sky by the wind, throbbing with a love and compassion so awesome, that when the wind brushed her by her dear friend’s face so very lightly, such was the colossus of power that she radiated and how like a caress from a gossamer-winged angel, that Harry could not help but open his eyes, so struck was he by the energy around him.

And she laughed! That sweet, loving leaf laughed and soared through the sky, exultant and so very in love with the fact that her friend could see. And all the other light bulbs who saw that Harry had opened his eyes, shinned their little lamps as brightly as they could, determined that Harry’s first evening of sight should be as mesmerising as could be. And to Harry it seemed as if all around him had been drenched in the scent of the gods, radiating with the sumblimity of the nouvelle experience.

And that was Harry’s first time. The first time he opened his eyes. And from that first time he grew a wisdom completely unparalleled in the light bulb world. He became their philosopher, their sage.

Separation he’d say, separation, it’s only reality is in the realm of the mind. It’s leaving that behind that’s the challenge, but once realised, oh the joy, he’d smile, the complete mouth-opening, skin-shattering joy. And then he’d say his favourite word. A simple little word, but when Harry said it, it seemed to reverberate with a humility other far more grandiose words could only ever dream of.


That was his word. Harry’s raindrop of a word and it was simply


And he’d whisper to all the other light bulbs, say it my friends, say it and laugh. For inside us gallop unicorns and fantasies, ecstasies, and magic, inside us bubbles the energy that created us all. So they would say it, softly, wildly, without care, they would speak the little word how it demanded to be said, until they felt savage with abandon. As if they’d exploded from their homes.

And then he did. Harry the light bulb who lived on a bridge called Albert, exploded one night in the rain. He exploded and imploded, the bits you and I would call his body slitting the afternoon sky, sinking through the folds of the watery gown of a river simply known as Thames.

This story does not finish here, it continues, as all do. I see it now immersing itself into this world so full of first times and no last times. I see the other Harry’s and Delilah’s, and then I laugh, feeling a fool for being in love with the idea of a permanence that I perceive to be my love. And then new feelings arise and just as quickly evaporate. Pass away, as I will as you will as we all will.

So I leave this story, the tatters of it’s ends fluttering in the wind, floating away to attach themselves to new stories that are old stories. Stories without ends and with beginnings that no one can remember.

For we don’t have to. Memory is eternal. It is reality that is the fiction.

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Comments by other Members

Fearless at 22:50 on 26 October 2004  Report this post
Interesting story. The start reminds me of Exupery's 'The Little Prince', in its page-setting, scene-setting lilt (wisdom for kids has a very profound impact on adults I find).

Not sure if the idea of 'existence' as mentioned in the first paragraph is perhaps too abstract for younger readers, although personally, I like it. Actually, I think it grooves well with adults (I haven't read it to my niece yet).

I think there is potential for lots of short stories from the same general area/landscape around the bridge, e.g. nearby red phone box, statue, etc.

Not sure if this helps.


laurafraser at 09:24 on 27 October 2004  Report this post
woz thanks for your c0mments-initially was meant for the"child in every adult..."(& vice versa) agrreew ith what you said about existence if i were to make it for children i was considering telling the story from the perspective of another light-bulb or albert himself-but yes feel there is something aboutthe story that can't decide what audience it wants so is a ish mash of sorts...
i had an idea to write a series of childrens books of the same idea writing about 5-7 other bridges and telling a story about each one with their own character etc and then uni called and got distracted from my orginal idea, and yes was going to incorporate landmarks near the bridges into the stories. but when started it all was increadibly cluelessa about the whole submitting to publishers game but do intend to sketch some ideas down
and yes your comments did help-thank-you!

Fearless at 12:15 on 27 October 2004  Report this post

Carry on with it, and see where it takes you. I am quite sure it will lead to lots of new things.



Oops: I meant Laura. Sorry.

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