She ruffled her hair as she sat down on the windowsill, and gazed into the dark sky. The light breeze touched her delicate skin, tinting her cheeks with a soft glow. She closed her eyes and let the beauty of the night become her, wiping away her sorrow and distress.
‘Lily…,’ a voice breathed, and she opened her wet eyes to look at her brother. ‘Darling, is something bothering you?’
James sighed when Lily shook her head and asked him to go away. ‘At least let me brighten this room a little. It’s as dark as the sky outside,’ he said and lit a small candle beside them.
‘James – please – go – away,’ Lily whispered, her pauses choked with tears; ‘I want to be left alone.’
James put his arms around her. ‘Lils, it hurts to see you cry. Please don’t, at least for my sake.’
The girl snuggled her head deeper into James’ chest and shook her head, tears dropping down her cheeks faster than before.
‘Hey! I didn’t ask you to drench my shirt!’
Lily giggled and sobbed at the same time, frustrated with James for joking when he should be comforting her.
James laughed. ‘It’s something to do with school, isn’t it?’ he asked, hoping to catch his sister unawares. He knew he had been successful when Lily nodded.
‘Ha! Caught you! Did you get into trouble with the teachers?’
Lily’s tears glistened in the flickering light of the candle. ‘We have a Christmas Ball this year,’ she sobbed.
‘And is that a reason to shed tears?’ James frowned. ‘Weird.’
Lily smiled despite herself. ‘Richard ditched me for Alison,’ she cried, her agony resurfacing.
James wiped the tears away from the forlorn face of his sister. ‘You’re crying over the guy who looks like a baboon? Your choices amaze me!’
He got up and pulled his sister along. ‘Did you know I was a wonderful dancer during my school days?’
Lily chuckled. James had never been able to dance without sending ripples of laughter through the onlookers.
‘My date couldn’t match my standards, so she ran away,’ he said and laughed along with Lily. He took her to centre of the room, and got down to his knees.
‘May I have the pleasure of taking the lovely young lady before me to a candle-light dance?’
Lily giggled and took his hands. She rested her right arm on James’ shoulder, clasped her left hand in his, and placed her head on his shoulder. They danced slowly to the silent night.
‘Lils,’ he softly whispered to her after a few moments. ‘See that candle over there? Life is just like that. It flickers, but it gives hope. It will end, but it will have glory. It’ll be small, but it’ll brighten. You will weep, but you will smile too,’ he said and twirled her around.
I won’t leave Richard alone if I chance upon him
, he thought as the flames in the candle died away, immersing the room in darkness again.