Writing Prompt: The Dark Time

“I really don’t get,” said Reena, as she slathered her hands with lotion, “why dark is always associated with evil, and light is always associated with good. Did you ever think about that, Neeza?”

“Not really,” came Neeza’s reply. She was still powdering her cheeks a deep fuchsia pink. “It’s one of those things you just don’t have to think about, you know. It’s one of those obvious things.”

“Well, I just think it’s kinda… prejudicial?”

Neeza rolled her eyes. “Here we go again.” She dipped her wand into her mascara bottle. It made a slosh-slosh bubble sound. “Not everything is racist, you know.”

“I’m not talking about race, Ms. You Know. You know? You know? That’s the 57th you-know you’ve said in an hour– you know. I’ve been keeping count.”

“Pssh. You’re exaggerating, as usual.”

“So, anyway,” Reena examined herself on the mirror, sticking out her tongue when she found her reflection unsatisfactory, “why do we not question the things that we were taught as kids? Why do we just accept them as-is? Shouldn’t we think about them a bit more? Because there’s a chance some of them might be wrong.”

Neeza shrugged. “It’s too hard–” consciously stopping herself from saying her habitual “you know.” “It’s a waste of time. Why bother? They’re obvious.”

“Only because we never bothered to question them.”

“For example?”

“For example, the obvious thing is that the Earth stands still, and that the Sun and the stars all go around it.”

“Noooo… the obvious thing is that the Sun is in the center of the Solar System. We were taught that in elementary school, remember? Here, help me with these,” said Neeza, handing a pair of earrings to her best friend.

Reena carefully threaded the first earring into her friend’s left earlobe. “It’s in. Would you have known that on your own?”

“What?”

“That the Sun is in the center of the Solar System, and that the planets revolve around it?”

“I guess so.”

“It’s in,” said Reena, motioning that the second earring has been put in.

“Thanks.”

“What if you never went to school? What if your teachers never taught you? About the Solar System?”

Neeza paused for a moment. “Hmm, maybe not.”

“So it’s not an obvious thing. The obvious thing is that the Earth stands still, because we don’t feel it moving, and because we see everything else is moving. The Sun, the stars, everything. We learned about the Solar System only because a few people in the past were smart and brave enough to question what they see.” Reena squinted. “But we almost didn’t know, and those were very dark times.”

“Aha!” Neeza grinned, triumphantly. “So you said it!”

“Said what?”

“Dark times. Why did you call those dark times? Because they were bad?”

“Well–”

“So you automatically associated the dark with the bad. Because it’s obvious. Dark equals bad, and light equals good.”

“Noooo–”

“Don’t fret,” said Neeza, patting Reena on the shoulder in false consolation. “It’s not a big deal, you know.”

“Are you done? We’re gonna be late for work.”

“Yep.” Neeza quickly wiped her mousse-sticky hands on her dress and smiled. “Let’s get going.” She and Reena walked out of the bathroom and switched off the lights behind them. “By the way,” she added, as she slung her bag over her shoulder, “if it makes you feel better, dark chocolate is better than light chocolate. Dark chocolate is healthier, you know.”

“I know.” Then Reena paused. “Or maybe not.”

“Whyyyyyy nooooott?”

“It’s just another thing we have to question.”

“This is a desk job, my dear. We’re not supposed to question too much, you know, or we’ll get into trouble.”

Reena took a deep breath, then made one step to follow Neeza into the fluorescent-lit office. But then, she hesitated, and, before Neeza could stop her, walked into the other direction, into the dark, not really knowing where to go, but feeling freer than she had ever been in her life.

(Inspired by First 50 Words)

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