You’re caught unawares, after so long roaming in the dark, tripping and stumbling, afraid and unsure what to do.
There’s a small light, a snippet, almost imagined, of a melody, and then suddenly there’s a man standing before you.
His hair is long and black, or short and white or long and crimson red and nearly every color and length in between. His eyes are dark but as the light from the candles in his hands, one small and scarlet, the other tall and white, illuminate his face, his eyes glow hazel, like droplets of clear forest pools reflecting the moss inside. The miniature flames color his canvas like skin in a beautiful glow like liquid honey.
He comes closer, his eyes soft, friendly, and there’s a long moment before three others come forward as well, circling you.
One to your right is tall and lanky, scarecrow like, eyes a shimmering hazel green, hair long and brown, short and brown, and lastly long and swept back with blonde. His skin is aglow from his own candle, this one a deep rich gold, but in his eyes there is no anger or disapproval, despite the firm, smile less expression.
The one to your left is shorter and broader then the first two, hair blonde with black fringe, red with black, short black army cut, then finally long and swept lazily over golden eyes that shifted slowly to a pale pine green. His candle is emerald and the ever changing eyes are warm and teasing.
The last is behind you, the large mass of chocolate thickly set curls growing and coming to rest on his shoulders, his eyes dark brown and aglow, smiling and you feel embolden by their gaze. In his hands is a sapphire blue candle, each tiny flickering almost creating a song as it swayed in a nonexistent breeze.
Chin up. It’ll be okay.
You turn back to the crimson haired man, and his smile is small, but comforting. He holds out the tall white candle, and with encouraging gazes from the others, you take it.
Almost instantly, you feel a similar flame be born in your heart, and suddenly the darkness outside the circle of candles doesn’t seem so suffocating.
They take your hand, show you the paths through the dark, how to use your candle to make your own, and out of nowhere, they stop.
A childish question and Crimson’s eyes seem to shimmer as he turns to you, and you stay still as he slowly and gently kisses your forehead, his free hand holding your chin.
As suddenly as they appeared, they all disappear except Crimson, but even he begins to turn away, and for a frantic moment, your heart and candle nearly flicker out. You don’t want to be alone again, not in the dark, with only your candle as guidance.
W-Wait! Please don’t leave!
He pauses, half turning and looking back at you, his hair short and brown, the collar of an olive green coat turned up and he’s eyes soften with a knowing sadness as he hands you another white candle that was like yours.
You’re a Guide now. Use your light to find the others here in the dark…
He raises his candle, barely more than a wick and blood colored wax, to his lips, and with a last, heart breaking bittersweet smile, he exhales and the light that saved you is no more, but you hear his voice on the same nonexistent breeze, this one last time...
Even if you can’t see us…and even if we aren’t with you anymore…
We’ll always be here for you...
Your heart tightens, it hurts, but even as warm tears run down your face, you take a deep breath and begin a new way in the dark. It might take a while, but you’ll find another person like you, afraid and stumbling in the suffocating shadow and you’ll show teach them the way you were taught.
Being a Guide to the Lost is hard…but necessary. And one day…I’ll have to go like they did…but…
Here’s your candle….Are you willing to take it?