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Friday Night Feature: The Light

When I was 14, I lived on Long Island Sound in Connecticut and was sitting on the beach late one summer night in 1984 with a friend. At some point, we became aware of a gigantic light (with no sound, only silence and the waves) filling our little bay, as if an incredibly huge spotlight (or gigantic ball of light) was shining on it - I say "became aware" because oddly enough, our awareness of this light - something so extraordinary as to warrant a seriously excited response I should think - elicited in us at first no response or comment, as if we saw this kind of thing everyday, and it was almost in passing that I finally asked my friend if she noticed this huge light shining in front of us. She said she did and we simply continued to sit there and stare at it.

This huge light should have lit up the pier and the rocks on either side of it, but really didn't - it just lit up the water as if the light were somehow localized or focused on the water. I think I recall mentioning this odd "light behavior" to my friend while sitting on the beach and incredibly enough, I think she may have said something like, "It must be the sun" - which was a ridiculous thing to say when it's nighttime, and this out-of-character (in that it was absurd) comment from a girl who was an impressive student, high achiever and is now a doctor.

I don't know if the light was there when we walked onto the beach and sat down (in fact, I don't remember doing that either), and have no memory of seeing the light emerge from the darkness - it was simply "there" by the time we "noticed" it and I thought to ask my friend if she too was seeing it. So after a time - it may have been 5 minutes or an hour or 3 hours (I just don't have any idea of the time), I said that it was odd that no one else was out on the beach looking at this (it was impossible not to see it if you were awake - it was that huge and the houses on the beach were right next to each other, with 10 houses directly facing the bay and the light). I decided to get up and go wake up my brother to show him, as the light was constant and didn't seem to be going anywhere, and it seemed to have been there a long time.

So I walked up the beach, walked up the beach stairs to the top of our seawall and just as I reached the top, the light rose up, traveled to directly over my head, stayed there for a beat and then split into two smaller lights which then shot off in opposite directions. And that was that. It was gone.

I walked back to the beach and my friend still sitting there and attempted to talk with her about it and she turned to me and said "I don't ever want to talk about this again." And she walked home down the beach. And we never mentioned it again. In fact, I never told anyone until about 10 years later. Not because I was worried about what anyone would think, but because it didn't (oddly enough) seem "newsworthy" or "interesting."

The following morning, no one else in our neighborhood mentioned it, either. Perhaps they didn't see it, or like me, didn't find it somehow "newsworthy." Another odd thing is that my friend and I were only 14. Neither of us was allowed out on the beach (or anywhere) alone at midnight (my best guess as to time, as no one was awake in the neighborhood), and my friend's parents were especially strict. Her summer curfew was 9 pm back then. I find it odd that we were even out there at that time, that neither of us were "missed" while we were out, that no one came looking for us, that neither of us got caught or got in trouble for being out of the house so late at night, and that no one else in our crowded little area saw this. From the light, to our reaction, to even our presence there on the beach, the whole thing could not be stranger.

--CJ

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