James Babbs


Circle of Light

Barlow kept seeing a tiny circle of light, over there, on the wall, up near the ceiling. He figured the light must have been coming through the window in the top of the front door but he didn’t get up and check on it. Barlow just stayed in his recliner, holding a beer in his hand, taking a drink, every now and then, and watching the tiny circle of light. Barlow wasn’t sure what he thought the circle of light was going to do but he kept watching it, anyway.

When he had finished the beer, Barlow leaned forward and stood up. The circle of light was still there. It, still, looked the same to him. Barlow walked over to the circle of light and touched it with the open end of the empty bottle. Then, Barlow put his hand on the circle of light. He thought it would feel warm or something but the circle of light didn’t feel like anything at all.

Barlow had texted Jeannie three or four times in the last half an hour or so but she hadn’t responded. If he didn’t hear from her in another hour Barlow was going to give her a call. Maybe he’d tell her about the circle of light and how she needed to come and see it for herself.

Barlow carried the empty to the kitchen and tossed the bottle into the trash. He got another beer from the fridge before returning to the living room. Barlow walked over to the front door. He looked at the front door and he looked at the circle of light. Then, Barlow waved his hand, the one not holding the bottle, back and forth across the window in the top of the door. He did this several times but the circle of light didn’t change.

Barlow took a drink of beer. He lowered the bottle away from his mouth and put his free hand on the circle of light. He pushed on it as if the circle of light were some kind of a button that controlled an unseen device. When nothing happened, Barlow made a fist and tapped it lightly against the circle. Then, he took his beer and sat back down in the recliner.

Barlow hadn’t turned on the TV. He hadn’t turned on the radio nor started playing any music on the CD player. Barlow just sat there enjoying the silence and drinking his beer. The silence had its own kind of music, thought Barlow and he liked the sound of it.

Barlow finished the beer and went and got another one. He didn’t pay attention to the circle of light on his way back into the living room. Barlow sat down in the recliner again and looked at his phone. Still, nothing from Jeannie. Even when she didn’t want to talk to him, she would, usually, text him back to let him know she was okay.

Barlow took another drink of beer and glanced up at the circle of light. The circle had grown bigger. Barlow looked at the front door. It was getting dark outside and the circle of light had grown bigger. Barlow gave a sort of laugh into the empty room and took another drink from the bottle.

He put his beer down on the small table next to the recliner and stood up. Barlow walked over to the circle of light and put his hand on it. The circle was larger than his hand so Barlow tried to center his hand in the middle of the circle as best as he could. Now, the circle of light felt warm and Barlow pushed his hand against it, applying pressure, before moving his hand back and forth.

The circle of light moved and Barlow moved his hand a little faster. The light grew larger. Something was happening, thought Barlow. Now, he put both of his hands on the light and slowly spread them apart. The circle of light expanded. Barlow kept doing this until the circle of light had become a rectangle and was as tall and as wide as a door.

Barlow pushed against the light with his hands. He was convinced the light really was some kind of a door and he was sure he could open it if he just knew where to touch it. But no matter where he put his hands only the rectangle of light remained. In frustration, Barlow kicked the rectangle and said, Ow, after his toe hit the wall.

Barlow’s phone rang. For a moment he just stood there frozen. The phone rang a second time and Barlow went over and picked it up. It was Jeannie.

–Hey, said Barlow. He was a little out of breath.

–I’m on my way over. What’s wrong?

–What do you mean?

–You sound out of breath. What have you been doing?

Barlow laughed. –It’s the light.

–The what?

–The light. The circle of light. Well, it’s a rectangle now. Some kind of door.

–What? Jeannie sighed. –You’re drunk. God.

–No, listen. Okay. I’ve had a few beers. But there’s a light.

–Oh, shit. I’m on my way.

Jeannie’s phone disconnected and Barlow looked at the screen. He put the phone down and picked up the beer. He drained the rest of the bottle and then threw the empty as hard as he could at the rectangle of light. The bottle didn’t hit the wall but passed through the light and disappeared.

–Fuck, said Barlow.

He went and got a hammer and marched over to the light. Barlow laughed before he gave the hammer a mighty swing. The hammer landed in the middle of the rectangle and made a hole in the drywall.

–Son of a bitch.

Barlow started pounding the hammer all over the wall, all over the rectangle of light. The hammer made holes in the wall. Pieces of drywall crumbled and fell to the floor. The hammer turned white with the dust from the drywall. The dust covered Barlow’s hands and got in his hair. Sweat dripped from his forehead. He wiped it away with the back of his hand and smeared the dust across his face.

The light was fading. Barlow had made an opening in the wall about the size of a door. He could see the two by fours inside the wall. Some of them had pieces of drywall still stuck to them. The front door opened and Jeannie came into the house.

–What the hell? She said.

She looked at Barlow. She saw the hammer in his hand. Jeannie looked at the hole in the wall. Barlow looked at Jeannie. He looked at the wall. He looked at Jeannie, again. Barlow, still, held the hammer in his hand.

–There was a circle of light, he said. Barlow tried to laugh but the sound didn’t come out right.

Jeannie started crying. She put her hands up to her face. Barlow looked at the hammer in his hand. He looked at Jeannie and let the hammer drop to the floor. The hammer made a small burst of sound. Barlow approached Jeannie with his arms opened wide. He knew she would probably start screaming when he touched her but he kept moving toward her, anyway.

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