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Forgotten Fluorescence


min read

Someone is gripping me in their hand, and I’m shunted against others who are like me, but blue-and-yellow, green-and-pink, to my orange-and-blue. We all shimmer together as the sun sets on the showgrounds. Your fingers feel their way to find me and you pluck me out of the sweaty volunteer’s hand. Smiling down at me, you snap me around your warm wrist.

‘Look at me, I say Life is Sweet,’ chirps the friendship bracelet you swapped at the Taylor Swift concert. 

‘I display the time,’ says a leather analogue watch, at a measured pace. ‘Though it seems nobody understands how to read me anymore.’

‘My body is filled with a fluorescent formula that emits a mesmerising, colourful light,’ I inform them, as we all jangle around your wrist while you throw darts.

‘Ah, you’re just a glow stick,’ tuts the wristwatch.

The old watch’s negativity doesn’t touch me, because I’m exalted as you punch the air in celebration. You’ve won a fluffy teddy bear. You wave your arms to the music blasting through outdoor speakers and I look out at the sea of colour around us. All the glowing bracelets combine to compete with the evening’s starlight. 

After a few too many cheap drinks, you giggle and look down at me in awe as your vision goes hazy. When your phone dies on the way home, you jokingly use me as a torch to guide your way along the footpath, and your friends laugh. I laugh along with you. Upon arriving home, you pull off your shoes and shirt, then collapse into bed. I’m your nightlight.

Through the gap in your curtains, I watch the sun come up. Dishevelled in the kitchen, you shut the blinds, blocking out the morning light in order to show me to your little sister.

‘Wow! That’s so cool!’ she shouts, dribbling cereal onto her school dress. You laugh, she grins, and I am loved.

‘Darling, you absolutely reek!’ Mum tells you, reopening the blinds. So you take me off and place me on your bedside table so you can shower. I can hear you singing songs from last night and I love your voice. 

When you come back into the room, you ignore me. You replace your watch on your wrist and consider Life is Sweet, but decide to leave it off today. It seems the possibility of restoring me to my rightful place is not considered.

Days pass and dust builds upon my plastic surface. The friendship bracelet is eventually plucked from my side, but your eyes wash over me like I’m nothing. The teddy bear receives pride of place on your pillow. Why do you love that thing more than me? It has no talents. Moths crawl over me and they deposit excrement on the receipts you pile on top of me. I long for your touch. Maybe your sister will find me? When she secretly sneaks into your room, she’s looking for your chocolate stash, not for me. She finds it and flees. I watch you get ready: adding earrings, a necklace, a brooch, a ring, and… me? No, never me. Why do I keep hoping?

Weeks pass and you decide it’s time you tidied your room. First the floor, then the desk, then the dresser, then yes, YES, the bedside table! Moth carcasses are cleared away. Receipts are crumpled and tossed. Then, at last, you see me. Was that a smile? As you pick me up, do I spy a loving glimmer? You turn off the lights, but it’s been too long and I’ve lost my gleam. You have the gall to shrug.

Into the rubbish bin I am thrown: discarded, unwanted, unloved. You will never think of me again. I’m shunted against broken hair ties, used tissues and bread crusts. I listen as your footsteps recede and hear you humming a blissful tune. Don’t you recall how we danced? Left in the dark and the stench and the silence. If I had tear ducts, I would cry.