Monday, November 26, 2012

As Darkness Falls

by Kathleen Bradean

I go to work in the dark; I come home when it's dark. I tell people I don't do sunlight. But what does darkness mean to me? I'm not sure.

After I get home from work, one of us cooks dinner and the household gathers to share the meal. Then we're off to our separate pursuits. Mine is almost always reading or writing. I recently bought a laptop so I wouldn't have to sit in the coldest part of the house while I write. While R plays Call of Duty and C does homework, I'm in the midst of their noise and part of their conversations now. It's distracting but I can write. I still won't tackle sex scenes if anyone else is in the room though. It seems inappropriate. Funny, since I'm writing sex scenes to be read. Consistency apparently isn't one of my hobgoblins. Don't worry, I have plenty others.

But what about the dark? It's cozy. It's the time of day that's mine. I settle into it like a comfortable chair and relax. Nothing out there is as strange or dangerous as what's going on in my head.

I swear there are songs that sound better at night. Anything by Moby or Linkin Park or Led Zeppelin falls into that category for me. Classical music has it's nocturnes, music meant for the night hours, so this isn't a new concept. Given my schedule, it's a good thing I like driving at night, seeing the brakes lights reflect on the pavement, and on the opposite side of the road, the headlights contrasting with the red. Traffic is a great snake slithering through the city.

I often write stories set at night, when the darkness builds a wall around the scene, setting it off from the rest of the world. Characters huddled on their little islands of light, clinging to each other, dealing with the isolation. Dark, I suppose, can be scary, but that's because it frees the imagination. Stories are best told at night. We've always known that, we humans. Maybe it's because stories are, ultimately, illumination.


  1. I feel the same way. I write to be read, but I cannot write sex scenes when someone else is around. It just... feels weird, as I struggle with words and positions and wondering and emotions, to be "on display" so to speak.

    Also, inevitably, my nine year old will walk up behind me, read over my shoulder and say "Mom, what's hermaphrodite mean?"

  2. Lynn - Yes! It's so hard to get into the right headspace when you're feeling furtive. Thankfully, no one around here is much interested in what I'm writing.They're afraid they'll be drafted as readers.

  3. Hi Kathleen!

    I've tried writing at home with my family around me and I just can;t do it. I always have to run off to some other place. Or else i get distracted by stuff. There's something cozy about driving in a car at night, it has its own special intimacy. I think driving at night is where a lot of intimate ocnversations take place. probably a lot of arguments too.


  4. Garce - Maybe it's the fact that you can't easily get away from someone inside a car. But it feels different at night than it does during the day.

    And it's not easy writing around family. I can see why you go somewhere else. Train of thought and being in the flow doesn't seem to occur to them when they want to know where the can opener is.

  5. "Stories are best told at night. We've always known that, we humans. Maybe it's because stories are, ultimately, illumination."

    Wonderful, Kathleen!

    I can pretty much tune out everything around me when I write. I don't need the space, but I need time. I can't write in half-hour snatches.

    Still, sometimes I'll come back to external consciousness after writing a sex scene and feel dizzy and confused - like surfacing after a long, deep dive.


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