The White Kaleidoscope 

Leilanie Stewart © 2016


I was fifteen years old when I was first struck with the desire to eat church candles. The notion swept over me as I slaved away at the till in the department store where I worked every Saturday for a paltry £1.50 an hour.

When I say church candles, I’m talking about a very specific breed. The big, thick, creamy, delicious kind that look like squat marzipan tree trunks. I’m not pregnant, nor deranged (at least the last time I psychoanalysed myself). I’ve always craved unusual objects. In fact, now that I think of it, my adventuresome palate has landed me in trouble once or twice in the past. Once, being when I masticated the yummy looking psychedelic balls of wool in the dusty classroom cupboard in my nursery school. Twice, being when I chewed my mum’s favourite pair of red leather stilettos. In hindsight, it’s a bit strange that my pleasant, straight-laced obey-all-the-rules mother had such incriminating shoes hidden in a brown paper bag in the cupboard in the first place.

But we’re straying from the issue. And I do have a point, believe me. What is it about society that preconditions people to think that only certain items may be deemed worthy enough to be slobbered over? Just think how wide the limited range of foodstuffs would become if we only thought them worthy enough to festoon our mouths with? It’s like Neanderthals. How can people possibly have a say about them, when they haven’t met any? You might think I’m being a tad unfair, of course we don’t all have time machines that we can just dive into at any given opportunity. But I don’t believe in the words ‘an educated guess’. What rubbish! How can you claim to understand the wider picture when you don’t gather all the data to make a fair judgement? It’s like saying that you understand white when you don’t even know the primary colours that make it up. Red, yellow and blue for that matter. That one I learned from my beat up old encyclopedia. Learned about Neanderthals in there too. Just before I partially digested the book.

I hope you don’t mind listening, because I don’t mind sitting here and letting the stream of consciousness take over me. Let’s get back to candles. I’ll tell you how this ‘fetish’ of mine started. There used to be a young married couple who lived several doors down from my parents house. They didn’t have any kids, so they bought two cats and fussed over them as though they were children. I remember how I used to love those cats. The feel of their soft fur and delicate bodies was soothing. I loved running my greasy little hands over them.

But I made the sorry mistake of trying to feed some salami to the neighbours’ cats one day and it didn’t go down well. Not my fault, I was only nine. Not old enough to know that they were on a special diet. The man, well, he was too placid anyway and said nothing about the matter. The woman, she got herself into a right old rage, that pug face of hers turned purple as she scolded me. From that day on, I didn’t bother with those cats, nor with the couple.

One day, my friend and I were out making candles in her back garden with a new candle making kit she’d gotten for her birthday, when one of them pesky cats came walking across the back fence. I tell you, an anger swept over me like it never has before and I lobbed a deformed candle through the air at the cat, knocking it off the fence. Well, they say cats have got nine lives, but I’m not so sure. Judging by the racket coming from the other side of the fence where the guard dog lived, I’d say that cat spent all nine in one.

I felt guilty for many years, especially when many a chewed slipper or half eaten tennis ball was hurled over the fence by exasperated guard-dog owners in the proceeding months. The candle lay at the bottom of the garden behind the shed until, consumed with guilt, I snatched it up, wiped it off and ate it whole.

Well, that started the ball rolling. I discovered I have a taste for wax and as a means of appeasing my guilt, I began my crusade of eating candles. The guilt only subsided after I had a nightmare about those cats. I dreamt that the pair of them were wearing tasselled hats, you know, like the ones graduates wear? And they were sat on a window ledge, ordering me to eat candles. And I did. I ate and I ate, ‘til I was sick. The cat’s voices were eerie, haunting. I can still remember, clear as day. The guilt subsided a bit after that. But the craving for candles didn’t. The opposite in fact. It progressed and developed into a love for fancier types by the time I was in my teens.

I guess what I learned is that we shouldn’t pretend to understand everything, nor should we discriminate against something without having all the knowledge to understand it. I’m not sure if that’s possible in only one lifetime. It’s like that white I mentioned before.

If you look closer at that white, if you train your eyes for even a moment, you can see the red in the spectrum. Maybe the red is guilt. Is it possible for guilt to extend back into a past lifetime? Sometimes I wonder, especially since I was born with the desire to ‘swallow’ my guilty passions.

And what of the blue? I say it represents the cyclical wheel of reincarnation. We all carry our foibles into another lifetime. Can you iron out your eccentricities in this life? Hell, I can’t!

Then yellow. I think this is the big one. The higher power overseeing us all. Binding it all together. The omnipotent force that interlocks all things. Or am I talking a bunch of Buddhist balderdash?

You decide for yourself. I won’t impose it upon you; I won’t force it down your throat. But think of the white. Just imagine the kaleidoscope. Like looking through a single lens.

As for me? Well, my story ends with the white alright. My desire to eat candles was quashed by none other than a cat. The poor little critter came across one of my fallen ‘comfort’ candles and started yakking on it. Oh the pain! The ironic misery! Only the trauma brought on by poetic justice could have halted my cravings. Croaked it there and then. And not only the cat.

Carillon Magazine Issue 27.jpg

‘The White Kaleidoscope’ – First published in Carillon Magazine Issue 27, July 2010.

About Leilanie Stewart

Leilanie Stewart is an author and poet from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her writing centres around protagonists who are on a journey of self-discovery and who explore their identity by overcoming adversity. She began writing for publication while working as an English teacher in Japan, a career pathway that has influenced themes in her writing. Her former career as an Archaeologist has also inspired her writing and she has incorporated elements of archaeology and mythology into both her fiction and poetry. In addition to promoting her own work, Leilanie runs Bindweed Magazine, a creative writing ezine, with her writer husband, Joseph Robert. Aside from literary pursuits, Leilanie enjoys spending time with her husband and their lively literary tot, a voracious reader of construction vehicle books. CONNECT WITH ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

36 responses »

  1. Ahmad M Dipu says:

    Thanks for sharing. And congrats to both hubby and you, found it amazingly pleasant reading.

  2. Craig Fishbane says:

    Thank you, Leilanie. I enjoyed it. Good dive into an unlikely psychology. Stay away from cats 🙂

  3. Dan Nippert says:

    Very fun read… thank you Leilanie happy weekend.

  4. Alan Summers says:

    Great story!

    Liked and tweeted. 🙂

    warm regards,


  5. Kevin Kiely says:

    Hello Leilanie,

    Yea I liked the white kaleidscope if not fully comprenheind the title after reading the story; and not sure if the story is meant to be totally comic becuase the allegory of guilt sounds real, while the cat being saved is luckily not presented in feelgood terms. Excuse all my diagnostics! Bon jour!

  6. Shanthi Vijayabhaskar says:

    Thanks, sure would read during weekend when I fine time. Good luck. Why can’t we co author and write a book.

  7. Michael Annis says:

    Thank you, Leilanie.

    Do you also publish your own work in Bindweed?


    P.S. Carillon Magazine??

  8. Robert Fabre says:

    Very interesting (and amusing) story, Leilanie. I’ve written a few stories myself, but I need to revise them and get them ready for publication. In the meantime, I’m sticking to my poetry.

  9. Pedro Du Bois says:

    Grato pela oportunidade da leitura. Abraços e bom final de semana.

  10. Quentin Johnson says:

    Thank you, Leilanie! It was an enjoyable read! I love the phrase “right old rage”!

  11. Hahahahaha!! A taste for wax you say?? LOL! Good heavens! Such a humorous story! You have a delightful way with your words Leilanie! Thank you for this!

  12. Viktor Komarovski says:

    That was a very curious fetish Leilanie but an excellent read!

  13. Reem Rashash-Shaaban says:

    Very interesting! Write on!

  14. Viktor Komarovski says:

    My fetishes are more mainstream!

  15. Viktor Komarovski says:

    Yes I agree. I sometimes explore outside my experience into pure imagining

  16. A. Marshall Ward says:

    Very good work

    If you’d like to collaborate on a story/screenplay or even a book… I spent the day in Los Angeles yesterday and got motivated. The writers block is gone and I have pure gold.

    Call me if you want to talk and I will let you know what I’m thinking and what I have… [number removed]

    May be hard with you across the pond though

    • Thanks A. Marshal-

      I’m very flattered! I’m really glad you enjoyed my story. At the moment though, I’m busy working on the final draft of my second novel (which may turn out to be my debut, since my first is still doing the publisher-rounds).

      But thank you for the offer – very much appreciated.

      Good luck with your book. I always love it when a great idea grabs me & I just go with it. Hope you have much success with it 👍

      Leilanie 🌺

  17. Carlos says:

    I laugh a lot with your story, I even was tempted to try a candle myself. Thank you for sharing.

  18. Munia Khan says:

    Happy New Year to you dear Leilanie. Please forgive me for my very late reply. I have not been around that much and somehow I missed your precious mail. I have just finished reading your amazing story. I love the concluding part so much where you thought the trauma brought on by poetic justice could have halted your cravings..I assume it is a non-fiction. Very wonderfully written.

    Thank you very much for sharing your excellent work and congratulations on being published in Carillon magazine.

    Wishing you a peaceful 2017 filled with all the joy in the world~~

    Love and all my best wishes


    • Happy New Year to you too, Munia!

      Thank you for your lovely feedback. This little piece is actually all fiction, but I’m delighted that it’s written in a way that reads like non-fiction – that must mean it seems realistic!

      Hope all your literary ventures are great for 2017!

      Leilanie 🌺

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