By the Light of the Candle

No one could truly understand his despair.  He watched his apartment building burn, burn because of a candle.  No, it wasn’t fair.  So focused was he on his work, and now it was all gone.  Nothing left, but the clothes on his back, and the wound on his hand that would soon be infected and cause the undoing by which he would follow his work.  He wouldn’t fight death anymore then.  For he had already died, in fact, the night of the fire.

Yes, he would let the glory go to someone else, let the discoveries hide in obscurity, in the air, until someone else plucked them and placed them to paper.  All of his work, all of the contributions he was to make to mankind, all of his sacrifices would be for naught, as it would turn out.  Dreams and ambitions that were meant to be, now dead.   So sleepy was he, so distracted by his work, so focused only on his theories, that he became careless of ordinary things, wiping it out with a single mistake.

He had been contemplating those theories, writing them down, and working them out in his head, night and day, for 10 years.  It was all there, in what now burned uncontrollably.  There were no extra copies.  He had been working too hard to ever rewrite them.  Where would he store the copies anyway?  He had no one.  He had no money.  All he had was his work.

And he was almost finished, making progress of late that would have made it all worthwhile.  Never in the 10 years had he felt so alive, so motivated.  So focused was his mind on this one thing that he hardly slept.  He hardly left his apartment.  His sacrifice was total.  He spent his last nickel on the candles that were his undoing.

And when a miscalculation caused him to run out of ink in the middle of the night, with no money, and ideas that called to be placed on paper, lest they be forgotten come morning, he did the only thing he could do.  He cut his hand, and wrote with his own blood.  Then later in the night falling prey to exhaustion, he knocked over his candle and slept though the beginnings of a raging fire.  He was pulled from the apartment by a neighbor, for even the flames did not wake him.  By the time he realized what was happening, his work was destroyed, the building inaccessible, or he would gladly have risked a more immediate death with his work.

People, neighbors of his, died from his foible too.  But he didn’t think about them.  He didn’t care.  He didn’t even care.  He would join them very soon, and he didn’t care about that either.

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