The plastic crinkled loudly as his world shook. It had been 11 months since movement or light had surrounded him; It was that time of year again. Awoken from his slumber he was groggy, but ready to get recharged. It only took a few minutes for the giant to bring him and his best friend to the living room, dropping them in a clump on the soft carpet.
“Philip. Philip! Are you awake,” beckoned Gee to the light just down the string from him.
“I’m getting too old for this.” Philip was the elder of the two; an original member of the strand. Philip had gone through 8 cycles so far and had shared many stories last year with Gee. There was the garland sit-in of ’07, the whiteout for the full year in ’04, and of course last year’s loss of so many on the strand that Philip wasn’t sure he was going to make it. “Yeah kid, I’m here. Barely. I guess it’s that time again.”
“Come on Philip, it’s a great day! I’m so excited!”
“That will fade over time,” retorted Philip. He was speaking literally of course, as he had noticed he was dimmer last year than any previous. He wasn’t sure if it was just age or misuse; nobody else knew. He had lost many friends last year including both of his string mates. Philip arrived just before the end of the season, but his sweet Sylvania had burned out with a loud pop right at the beginning, but since nobody else noticed, she was never removed and properly buried. She was still there, brown and twisted; a constant reminder of the bulb he had loved for so many years. She brought joy to everyone on the strand with her twinkle. The day she arrived, everyone came alive with energy, switching on and off under her spell.
Now that she’s gone, there was no more excitement, no more style. Everyone just lit up and stayed until the giant felt it was time to rest. Philip had never shared his love story with Gee, because it still hurt too much. He felt lonely, even surrounded by so many new bulbs.
“It won’t be long now! I can’t believe you’re not excited Philip. That surge of energy when we first get turned on… it’s magical I tell you.” Gee was giddy and naive, a curse of his youth. “I’m going to burn so bright, just watch!”
“Sure kid, have a great time,” lamented Philip. “Just let me know and I’ll join you.” Philip was looking forward to the surge, but after so many years and so much loss, his motives were only his own.
“I bet I can burn brighter than you can,” said Philip.
“No way! Do you want to bet?”
Philip ignored the taunt. “Just don’t cheat and steal all the juice when the surge hits. I want as much as I can.”
The giant hand was reaching out now, searching for the end point. Not long now. “Are you ready Gee? It’s almost here.”
“Oh I’m ready, you just watch and see. They won’t even know you’re on I’ll be so bright,” Gee exclaimed.
“Ah hah,” said the giant. The hand grabbed the end and dragged the strand over towards the wall. “Here we go Gee. Just remember, don’t steal it all.”
“I won’t. Promise.”
The surge coursed through the strand quickly, first to Gee and then Philip. Gee was so excited he didn’t even hear Philip say solemnly, “Goodbye kid.”
This is part of a 30 day series of 2-3 minute short stories written for the 30 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, 2011. You can view all the stories in the Short Story A Day category.