It was an unusually quiet night. Perhaps the new blanket of snow, the first of the season, had something to do with it... but none of the usual conversation was going on in the kitchen. The tea cups that loved to gossip about the day's events were silent, and even the sink–whose habit it was to complain every night about the dishes left in it–had nothing to say. It was as though everyone was waiting for something to happen. Only what?
It was the candleholder that finally broke the silence. He was speaking to Ms. Wax–a part of the candle he was holding at the moment, and someone with whom he felt very close. He had always looked up to her as a consequence of their positions in life, but there was an edge to his voice that evening.
"Mind if I say something that's been on my mind?"
"That's never stopped you before!" said Ms. Wax, somewhat teasing him. Besides, she was grateful for the conversation. A moment or two went by without a further word from the candleholder.
An unusual tension came over the room.
"I'm all ears," she said, thinking it would help break the ice. Besides, surely her quip would get a laugh. It had always been considered humorous among nonhuman beings to speak of themselves as having human features. Sure enough, a few chuckles came spilling out of the open cupboards above her; but the candleholder wasn't amused.
"I'm quite serious," he said a moment later. "There's something that's been bothering me ever since we were put together this way, and I have to get it off my chest." A few more laughs came from distant corners of the kitchen, but so intent on his conversation was he that the candleholder didn't even hear his own joke. And, for reasons unknown to himself, he fairly whispered what he had to say next.
"I'm jealous of the relationship you have with the flame, how you dance with it through the night so high above me. I have always wanted to know what it feels like to have it touch me the way it touches you." He paused there to consider his condition, so as to be clear. Then he went on:
"The only relationship I have with the warmth and light of the flame is the little bit of it that spills over the edge of your body to reach mine." He paused again–already uncertain whether he should have made this confession. So he waited for her to say something, but nothing came; the seconds that passed felt like an eternity. Surely, he thought to himself, I've made a fool of myself, but just as he was falling into a pool of dark thoughts her next words saved him.
"That's so strange," she said, "that you should tell me this now. You see I feel the same way that you do!"
"What on Earth are you talking about?" blurted out the candleholder, clearly irritated with her comment. "Every night you and Mr. Wick are joined together with the flame in a way I will never know. What can you possibly know of the isolation I endure down here below? I hold you both, and yet... I have no direct relationship with the flame as you do."
"Oh," sighed Ms. Wax aloud, "if only you knew."
"Knew what?!" he retorted, growing even more impatient with her seeming insensitivity to his plight.
"What it's like to be me... ," she said in tones meant to melt his heart. "You wish you could be like me, but you don't know the half of it. Each night I pour myself into Mr. Wick so that the flame can burn true and bright, but it's not me who knows this light as you imagine I do. You see," she went on, measuring her words so that the candleholder might better understand her condition, "it's not me, but it's Mr. Wick that has it best of all. The flame may use me, but it takes him with it as it burns. His is the life; how I wish I was Mr. Wick!"
At that instant a third voice broke into their conversation, and it came from Mr. Wick himself. His words would have seemed rudely spoken under other circumstances, but his tone told them otherwise:
"Neither one of you understand what you're talking about." Their silence bid him to carry on.
"Yes, it's true: the flame dances all around me, consuming me as it does, but still I am not a part of it as you imagine. So you both have it all wrong: far from being at peace with my place in life, though I wouldn't change the way things are, the flame never really allows me to rest. And I think it's important for you to know that its beautiful light is more unknown to me than it is to you."
"What you say can't be true," said Ms. Wax.
"How is that possible?" said the candleholder almost at the same time.
"I doubt you will understand," said Mr. Wick, adding that he intended no insult. "But because of how close I am to it, I am blinded by its light. I can neither see it nor be with it as you imagine." And then, as if to finalize the conversation that, in truth, he felt was no one's business but his own, he said, "So, enough with what you wish you had and don't! I am no different than you. My longing to be one with the flame never stops burning."
Then something happened that had never happened before, at least as far as anyone knew. Such events had only been written about in stories. Yet... there it was: the flame itself began to speak. As it did, a gentle light poured out from it, filling every corner of the kitchen; the whole room pulsated with the rhythm of its carefully chosen words.
"My friends... Please listen to me. Stop your complaining. You know not what you say. We all share the same wish." The flame waited before it spoke further, taking the collective silence in the room as consent for it to continue on.
"Just as the three of you long to draw nearer to me, to this flaming body of mine that you can feel and see, so I long to be one with the Light that grants me my life." Again the flame paused. "Don't you see, my friends? What is true for you is true for me, which is why you are mistaken if you seek to draw nearer to me. I am not the source of myself–any more than a spring branch creates the fruit that grows on a tree. And there's something else you should know as well." The flame spoke in slow and carefully measured tones, indicating it was about to say something important:
"Without each of you–as you are–being and doing as only you can–we wouldn't even be having this conversation, would we? I know it's difficult to grasp, but we are all a part of the very thing we seek."