Eternal Flame 

It is the end of an era. For a few years, I did not dare mention it to anyone – not even my husband – but one day, in 2016 as we were getting into the car, I did.

‘You know when we moved in here?’ I asked.

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘2010.’

‘Exactly,’ I agreed, ‘August 2010. I can still remember it clearly; our first house together. And despite all the places that we have lived in across the years, this one had something that the others did not.’

‘Our first mortgage,’ he agreed.

‘Nope,’ I said, ‘better than that. It had this garage. A garage with an electric door and a shopper’s entrance into the kitchen, so we could go from the house to the car without getting wet or attacked.’

‘But the one thing that I have noticed, which you will have missed [insert passive aggressive subtext:  ‘because I do all the work around the house] is the light in the garage.’

‘Looks pretty ordinary to me,’ he said, ‘it is just a bulb in a light fitting in the ceiling.’

‘Yes it does look ordinary,’ I agreed, ‘but it is not, because what I know and you do not is that in all the years we have lived here: I HAVE NEVER CHANGED THAT BULB!’

‘Why are you shouting?’ he asked.

I was not shouting, as it happens, I was emphasising for dramatic effect, but it was lost on my husband. He is a man who prides himself on being difficult to impress.

I, however, as the only person in the house who apparently knows where the stash of spare light bulbs is, was mightily impressed.

I pretty much use the car every day of the week, which means that light has been switched on almost every day that we have lived in that house. That is 2190 times from August 2010 to August 2016, just based on once a day. As we have a spare fridge in the garage and that fridge contains wine and beer among other things, you can double that figure easily: 4380. The only bulb that gets as much of a workout is the porch light and I have lost count of the number of times I have changed that one.

A while ago, I heard the story of a famous light bulb in America: The Centennial Light Bulb, which has allegedly been burning since 1901. It started life in Livermore Fire Station and has been pretty much on ever since.

For this reason, I began making up excuses to leave the garage light on, because I was worried that the sudden burst of electricity on the cold filaments is what was going to eventually break the bulb. Most bulbs if you think about it pop when you turn them on, it is only occasionally that they wither, fade and die while in active service.

You see, I had an idea that maybe I could start to rival the Centennial and that maybe I would become famous and my garage light bulb could get its own Twitter account. These are the thoughts that keep me awake at night.

But I guess you are going to guess what happened this week, because if you search for a @fifilabgaragebulb on Twitter, you will not find it. At least you may, but it won’t be the account I have set up for my garage bulb, because yesterday, Dear Reader, almost seven years after I first turned it on in my new home’s garage, the unthinkable happened. The was a ‘twink’ sound and I found myself in darkness. The sudden hot rush of power to my tiny fragile light bulb had fried it filaments. It was no more.

‘The light bulb finally died,’ I messaged my husband. He knew that I did not talk about the bulb too much because I had not wanted to jinx it.

‘Oh dear,’ he replied, ‘memorial service?’

Well of course not, just a small eulogy in the form of a blog post.

Bulb: August 2010 – May 2017. A job well done, you brought us light where there was darkness. But don’t stress too much, I have a stack of spare bulbs in the cupboard. [Insert passive aggressive subtext:  ‘because, husband THAT is where the spare bulbs are kept].


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