Fiction Friday – From a Lighthouse –
A Spoon River Anthology of Houses. All of these Fiction Friday entries can be found at http://fiction-friday.com .
I was very useful in my day.
I have seen myself on postcards and tarot cards, key rings spoons, salad dressing labels, calanders. I’ve been painted.
I don’t have corners after you leave my lower floors.
I had a keeper continuously for the longest time. After a really averge huricane I was shored up and improved. I have survived a lot of storms. I am hard to get to, though not as difficult as I was in the early days.
My spiral and steep starecase went all the way up to the light chamber. Whale oil and loads of cleaning kept me bright.
I was one of the first to have a frenzil lens and one of the last to be modernized and put on auto pilot.
I wouldn’t mind a new keeper, one who slept here, a family, small family, a few kids. But these days everyone is affraid to keep kids in such an unsecured yard. One tumble and a kid would be in the ocean dashed against the rocks.
They opened me to tourism and that in my opinion is more death defying than a few kids playing tag or hide and seek. Those people who pay to walk through and listen to a guide miss tell the history, are very stupid. The park folks had to forbid visits to my upper most reaches when someone nearly fell over the railing.
On the tarot card I am struck by lightening and bashed by giant waves. Two people are falling through the sky with flames and ashes not far behind.
They say my tower represents narrow mindedness. I never thought so, those who needed me were looking for a mark, ever fixed and predictable. You wouldn’t want a liberal lighthouse any more than you would want to center your weather lab in the middle of a mobile home park.
A light keeper’s life was predictable, somewhat isolated but a job well done.
We are identified by how long it takes to sweep out light, the tones of our fog horns and the colors of our outsides. We are all unique.
Sure, no one in the modern age really needs me. They can plug into space with nothing more than a cell phone signal. But I can tell you when the lights go out they will want me back. Any port in a storm they say.
Sure, they’d have to relearn signals and tones. They would have to fall back on some fairly decent math skills, map or chart skills, too. But they’d sure be happy for my predictablily.
My favorite keeper died right on the steps, about two thirds of the way up. He was an old fellow when he went. He spent a lot of years here and was getting on in age.
He was coming up the steps, he’d done it so many time, he’d haul the whale oil up and take the empty down. Anyway, this trip he had forgotten to bring the oil up. He headed back down to get it.
It was a longer trip than usual.
He got the fuel and was trudging up the steps, one, two, three, he paused. Sat down, stood up, walked a few steps more and leaned against the wall. He rested for a good long time and then began again. He could clearly see the top when he simply gave out.
He lay on my steps, cold, limp, finally stiff and the delivery boat fellow found him in here when he didn’t come out for his supplies.
The next person how lived here brought a wife. Couples are not unheard of in the business of lighting. They were quite comfortable with each other. At first.
The woman liked to paint. She would sit for hours with water colors and paper. The man liked to cook. My lower reaches smelled so good a person would hardly be offended by the fishy smell of burning oil.
The woman grew pudgy and soft and the man seemed to thrive. He was slim and where he put all of that food was a downright mystery to me.
One day a letter came and there was a lot of flustering. The woman insisted that she had to go. Someone needed care. The man countered that she was supposed to be caring for him. The woman won and the man kept cooking.
He got along quite well without the woman, even though he kept her painting and sat with them filling me with heavy sighs.
He began to take short trips, during good weather, clear skies and calm winds to town. He was never gone more than a few hours.
He came back with a younger man. They set up house, at first the younger man kept his own room. Later though, I’m going to say, they fell in love. A secret love. So sweet. So much denied when anyone dropped by with goods.
The younger man learned light keeping here. He didn’t paint. They took good care of me. Still, my favorite keeper was the old man who died on my steps.
Time passed and things changed. I am not so sure what went on but one day the men began to pack. The man took his wife’s paintings and floated them out to sea one at a time. He watched the hungry sea take them away and the younger man looked away.
Did I mention I have been closed down. I stood cold and dark and lonely for a time. A long time. The weather didn’t harm me and someone or group desided I was romantic, scenic and quaint.
I hosted photo ops for tourests. Then I was roped off, kids were having parties on the rocks and leaving marks of joy behind.
A year or so back, a small group of people related by mindfulness, started cleaning me. They put in new hardware, paint.. They pretty much replaced and restored me where ever they could.
Then a walkway was put in that lead lines of people up to see me.
A gift shop opened downstairs. Photos, postcards, picture puzzles, key chains, and goofy little spoons filled me and people were paying to see me.
I still have my top most layers closed off in fear of stupid human kind.
I am still not a usefull house. No one looks toward me on stormy nights. I am quite sure my trail would be the first thing to wash away in the event of a storm, but I’d still be here.
Sure, I wish someone would light me up on regular nights, not the season of lights, christmas time, they dress me like a comon tramp with miles of small colored lights wrapped round and round me. That is the only time anyone except sneaky young lovers stay the night.
More than my guiding usefulness I miss the old man who died on my steps. Did I tell you, the guide never even mentions the old man who died here.
No one seems to recall the round woman who painted here or the love between the men.
Come back next week and don’t touch anything sharp. You can read all of the Habakkuk Stories at http://fiction-friday.com