Our theme for the month of October is “flash nonfiction.” Writers were asked to submit pieces that were 250 words or less.

It was a dark and stormy night in Croatia. Lightning shivered down the sky’s arched back. And a woman labored. 

An electric shock above ten amps can cause a human body to spasm. A lightning bolt produces around 30,000 amps. But the sky didn’t flinch. 

The woman contracted. 

As midnight approached, the midwife declared that the coming child would be a “child of darkness.” 

Through the storm, the mother said, “No, he will be a child of light.” 

I did not hear this story until recently, even though I live near where Nikolai Tesla—champion of alternating current and mother-proclaimed “child of light”—had his laboratory. 

I find myself thinking about the orange bulbs freckling the face of the house neighboring my parents’. My grandparents once lived there, though my grandpa passed before my birth, my grandmother after. 

“Does the basement bedroom still hold the amber scent of pipe smoke?”

“Grandpa George prayed for you,” my mom tells me. And I know it was in that workshop, where he tied fishing lures. 

I believe the prayers have echoed, like the prayer of Jesus, who speaks of labor and light (John 16:21) and claims a future for children (John 17). The prayers have shivered through time like a crack in the ice, collapsing the whole hard linear flat of “reality.” Underneath, humanity and God commune. 

We cannot, I think, “name and claim” for ourselves. But I wonder what the words of a mother, grandfather, or God in labor spark.

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