I’ve never liked to be in complete darkness, so when I first saw the Milky Way in 1910, I thought, I could sleep soundly if I was in the middle of all of those stars.
The 1920s were dark until I was allowed to come back into the light of civilised drawing rooms. I’d been ill they said, to explain my gaunt cheeks, and shadows; were love had been, curled under my eyes and refused to go.
I travelled into the future and light spread before me. I watched candlelight replaced by Edison’s electric bulb. Some said electricity was witchcraft and full of dangerous vapours, and I thought if it was, then I was intoxicated. I watched the Industrial Revolution with as much fervour as a nation being set free from beneath a shadow.
I followed it to Chicago, 1933, where crowded in the Hall of Science courtyard, the crowd was so electric that I believed that we could light a star. Arcturus had travelled from 1893, a time traveller like me, and when they pointed their photocells at him, he obliged by producing a great white beam that cut across like sky like hope.
I came to London in 1984. 24 hour laundrettes and cafes. I stood at Piccadilly Circus at midnight. Neon signs and illuminated playhouses fed me like dining at the Ritz every night. All the lights burned in the big cities, where street lamps, scattered by dust and gas molecules made the sky glow and kept darkness at bay 365 days a year.
The BBC national anthem in 1994 was like saying goodbye to a friend, to the light, to people, every night. I felt abandoned. I went further out.
In 2050, people shut lights off because of light pollution, then in 2060, people went all the way out to live in the darkness of space. The lights went out on Earth one by one and I was alone again. I tried floodlight therapy but felt like a fragile sea creature having submarine lights shone on it for the first time.
When Sanderson regulated time travelling, I chose to be anchored in 2009. I found a job as a nurse and took the nightshift. The hospital, lit up in fluorescent lights like an all year round Christmas tree, protected me until each morning arrived as pink and wondrous as a newborn.