The light shown on Anya’s fingers. It curled around her palm and danced.
This, she thought, was the sheer pleasure of having magic.
But in the midst of her play, a shadow grew. It was not unexpected; it was the cost of doing magic, for it always begot shadows. But it never ceased to offer discomfort. If she could find a way to practice her craft and leave behind the adjacent darkness, she would. Anya was not fond of the dark, or shadows, or of the sense of unease that grew whenever she let the flickering brightness dance. But, too, there was a feeling of wholeness in her work. How could that be, such fulfillment when darkness lay about her? A constant wonder—the weight of it only born by extinguishing the light for a time until she could bear it again.
Today was such a time. Anya took the light, and threw it at the darkness. The next breath, and it was gone. Elimination brought palpable relief, while at the same time she felt the loss of brightness acutely. These feelings, this tumult of emotions, were not the result of some kind of strange equilibrium. There was no balance to maintain—no theory of opposites that naturally upheld. It was only her work. A mere byproduct of the fact that where she called her light, the darkness followed. And while she mourned its loss each time, there was ready comfort in the knowledge that the light would return again. When she called it. When she was ready. When she could bear it.
On that day she would call forth light and let it dance in glorious display. The shadows would begin to creep, slowly, steadily, and Anya would know that they were there. But the light would hold them at bay. There would be delight, laughter, joy. Until it could not be born and joy would turn to sorrow. Not fear. Never fear. Only sorrow. For she knew how to eviscerate the darkness. But sorrow, that she must let her light wane. For a time. An equal part to the joy that grew when she was once again ready to display dancing beams. And perhaps, the next time, it would last a little longer.
It was nothing more than rhythm. A cycle. She could bear it, because she had born it before. She would do so again. Because the light was worth it. Even in the knowledge of coming darkness.
For that was how it was: to play with the light, one had to endure the shadows.