It’s not so dark if you turn all the lights off

In the chill of the early winter morning, looking out through the curtains from a bright, warm house, all you see is darkness.  Not just darkness: blackness.  Like a moth, your eye is drawn to the orange pools around the streetlights; there is nothing else to focus on.

Venture outside and the picture changes a little.  Now you see the circle of white light from your torch illuminating three metres of grey tarmac in front of you.  Your breath curls in smoky puffs where the light catches it.  Dark hedges loom on either side of you, but they are insubstantial shadows below tiny faraway stars.

The corner of your eye catches the faintest hint of dawn on the horizon, just a slight fading of the sky.

Turn off the torch.

Now you can see.

Naked winter trees and hedges are charcoal-black against the ashy frosted fields and the inky sky.  In the east the ink fades to palest ice-blue, shading to creamy apple-white and the faintest suspicion of a pink sunrise.  Icy puddles glitter in the starlight.

This is the world the lights had hidden from view; the magic they bleached away.

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