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Up on a hill

It was not the kind of cold one complains about on the walk to school, but the kind that could only be found in places like this. Places where life only existed because God willed it to. There was no obvious reason a place so barren, rocky, chilly, and isolated should sustain the smallest piece of grass, much less humans, yet she sat there, a bowl of warmed beans and a glass of boiled water in her hands. An old man sat across from the seven-year-old in a floral comforter covered in stains, holes, and many signs of age. It was funny, for she had lived with him for nearly two weeks, and she had spoken many words to him, yet she had not the slightest idea of what his name might be. For all she knew, he hadn’t one at all.
“The most special of all is Mexican food. On my birthday we go out to eat some. Mom
tried to make it once, you know, she tried to make enchiladas. But they tasted like Simon’s fish food, which I have tried. Dad likes to put a lot of hot sauce on Mexican food. Oh, and did I tell you Simon's fish food doesn’t really taste good? So, I meant the Enchiladas weren't really the best. That's why we only go out to eat Mexican food now. I gave a piece of Mom’s Enchilada to Simon, because it tasted kinda like the fish food. He liked it, but he peed red for 3 days, and Mom made me clean it out! It was pretty gross, but hey, I wish I could pee red.”

The old man’s eyes were closed. The girl couldn’t tell if he was so bored by her stories that he had fallen asleep, or if he was enjoying them so much he closed his eyes so he could absorb it all. She decided to close her eyes, too, trying to find the reasoning. At first nothing much seemed different from having them open; it was hard to keep them closed at all because there was so much waiting for them when they opened, but after she gave way, images started to appear, memories started coming back. She half wanted to open her eyes again and see the old man sitting there, but she was all for trying new things, especially since she had arrived, and this seemed quite new indeed. An unexpected calm and comfortable feeling came over the girl. It did so as water does when a paper towel is placed upon it. Slowly she absorbed it from her feet to her head, which wasn’t a very far distance at all, until she was thoroughly soaked in it. She then let her mind go where it wished, to little bits and pieces of ideas and stories and memories.They took her way back, to time that seemed unreal. The things she had tried so hard not to think about were coming strong.
It was going out of business, her dad had told her many times. He would have to find a new job, maybe closer to the city, so the drive wouldn’t be so long. This place was nothing special, he had told her that, too. That was why it was going out of business. The factory was just another factory on the road with all the factories, the girl’s favorite road. She didn’t care how special it was, she still wanted to go to see the helicopters. They had real choppers at her dad’s work, but they were nothing special either, old and run down, barley working, another reason the company was going out of business and another reason for her not to come and see it, he had said.
“Please! Please! Please!” she had begged. “Its ganna be my last chance to see your work, dad. It’s ganna be gone in a month. I wanna see Litterby Lights!”
It was really named Liberty Lights. Their logo was the wise, old statue, but almost everywhere it was originally painted it was so faded, all that remained was the torch, glowing a deep yellow.

Her dad gave in, as all dads do when they know the fight they are fighting is one that they cannot win. He was the quiet type, her dad, but the girl easily made up for the two of them. It wasn’t that she didn’t like her mother. It was only lately she had felt a special connection with her father. No matter how much she went on, blathering about everything from fortune cookies to the planets, he never asked her to stop. It appeared to the girl that her father truly, genuinely enjoyed her ranting.

The girl was so excited during the car ride that her normally deathly pale skin was now inflamed with pink. Her normally talkative self became an abnormally talkative self.

“Dad, can you believe it?! I am going to Litterby Lights! The lighthouse bulbs that will set you free.” She said the fake slogan her dad had made up because the company couldn't afford a marketing department. Really all the their extra money had to go to the helicopters. There was no other way to get the light bulbs to the necessary and often remote locations. Once the sound of the girl’s announcer-like voice reached her ears she liked it so much she repeated it, “The lighthouse bulbs that will set you free.” Over and over she said it until her vocal cords hurt and her dad had small amounts of steam puffing out of his ears as he tried to navigate through the traffic. She then shut her mouth for the rest of the ride, not because she was satisfied, by any means, but because she did not want to upset her dad, for she knew he didn’t think taking her to the factory was a good idea in the first place. Plus, her throat felt like it had been vacuumed.

The Isuzu came to a halt in the unpaved lot, kicking up a bit of gravel. Her dad had warned her it might not be as glorious as she imagined it. He didn’t mention the roof was sagging, the workers were frowning, and the place reminded her of the commercials for depression medication. Her mother had had to explain what depression was. The structure before her seemed to match the description. Truthfully, the girl wasn’t discouraged or disappointed at all by the sad sight. After all, all it needed was a little medication. She wobbled toward the factory as she always did, for it is practically impossibly for a personage with the body shape the girl had to do what most consider walking. She was round, like a blueberry, with only the smallest little appendages sticking out, hence the wobbling. Although one might picture her as a rather unattractive girl, she was quite the opposite. Continuing with the blueberry theme, one might say she had the aura of a blueberry about her, one that is rather irresistible. Short top hair, long bangs. Her dad thought it was a bad idea, but after they left the salon they made a mutual agreement it was the way to go. It seemed everyone within eyesight would stop what they were doing and take a good long look at the girl.

“Have fun!” is all her dad could yell after here before she disappeared behind the heavy steal door of the hangar. Of course, he wanted to go with her and watch over her like any good father would, but this wouldn’t do at all. She wouldn’t be very pleased by his presence for she was rather independent. From the time she was little, she enjoyed experiencing things by doing them alone, with little or no help at all. Her first words were even, “By myself.” She used those words a lot, and always took pride in her parents giving in and letting her do it “by myself” Considering all this, her dad would not tamper with the girls day at the factory. And this was the only time the girl would ever get to see the old run down place anyway. Why not let her have a good time?

There was a musty door mat the girl tripped upon as she walked through the door. She did not even notice. A fire typically starts with kindling, but if you had looked into her eyes then you would see they had skipped that kindling stage and the one after that, the large logs. They had gone straight for the trees, a forest fire. Her eyes were ablaze. The choppers were massive, elegant beauties. She pushed her long bangs to the side to get better look. She felt as many people must have felt when the seventh day of the world’s creation was finally over. Relief, amazement, stunned awe. Something she had been waiting for a very long time was in her presence. One must understand, that while many people like chocolate, cars, violence, or sports, this girl loved aviation, and most specifically helicopters. Seeing the helicopters before her, she felt love in a way that she could never feel it for another human, a pet, or even a plant. She felt the love of a million hearts all in one. Every part of her, even her conscience, was telling her to climb aboard. Finally a long awaited experience was now possible; she had to fly in a helicopter.
A strong factor that differentiated this girl from a blueberry was that she was quite intelligent especially for her young age. She realized she could not fly one of the beasts based solely on her knowledge of the picture books her dad had sometimes brought home. Her only hope was to ride one. She must devise a plan like the bad bad guys of Saturday morning cartoons, except this one was not going to be evil in any way. The girl’s brain was atypical in the way that she often thought in metaphors. As she looked upon her situation, one came to her; she could not be the horse, she could not even be the rider, so it seemed she must be the tail, just along for the ride.
A sputter, resembling the sound of a wheezing old man, lasted for a full three minutes, interrupting her mental plan devising. She knew enough about helicopters and had enough general intuition to realize that the pathetic sound was an engine starting, a really old one. Adrenaline had only visited the girl once before, when she gave her neighbor, Dent, his nick-name. That time it had got her in a good bit of trouble; this time, she was sure, it was only helping her, guiding her to do the indisputably right thing. A golden opportunity lay before her, the helicopter beckoned. The girl swore she could hear it calling her name over the sound of the engine. In the way adrenaline works, for good or bad, she didn’t think very much in those few moments. The majority of the happening at that point was action. The girl quickly ran towards the sputtering chopper. There was a door on either side of this vehicle where a pilot and co-pilot may have sat. It was roomy and comfortable, designed for long flight, but that would not work for the girl’s purposes. This was a secret mission, so trying to ride in the cockpit was out of the question. This left the girl with only one option, the cargo space. Still running off excitement, the girl clambered through the open door. In this small compartment there was not much in the way of comfort, for it was made for storing boxes and other cargo. Her round self barely fit next to the odd shaped package laying next to her, but strangely, she felt comfortable. The small space almost had a homey feel to it, no claustrophobic feelings filled her like they would have most people. There was a large window looking out the side, which helped her stay at ease.
The girl’s adventure almost ended right then and there because two dreary looking
workers strolled by, holding hands. She had never seen two men hold hands before, but this small nuance to her daily picture of life was not the main concern running through her short haired head. The main one, obviously, was how to go on with her little adventure without being detected.

Instinctively, she looked for a latch on the cargo department’s door, to shut herself in from the outside world. There was none because by traditional means the hatch of this compartment is closed from the outside, but the little exploit the girl was attempting was far from traditional. She decided she would have to pull the hatch closed hard and fast and then abruptly move her stubby fingers out of the way. She did just that, with the help of adrenaline. The heavy hatch slammed closed and her fingers, fortunately, were all intact.

In a few seconds many things happened. First there were voices, not understandable though, for there was thick sheets of metal separating her from the outside. Then a pilot walked by, and, she assumed, into her helicopter. The blades of her machine could be heard spinning. Quietly at first, then thundering with a powerful sound she had only heard once before, in a movie theater. Then, to the girl’s pure delight the machine began to move upward with her on it! It moved not at all like a plane, of which she had ridden many a time. No, this had more of a hovering sensation. The helicopter rose quickly but shakily, and the girl felt the feeling of her stomach dropping, like when her mother drove quickly over an unexpected speed hump.
With her stomach left far below, the girl tried to take in her surroundings, slowly or as slowly as an overexcited seven-year old can. It was loud for sure; that was the reason the pilots had to wear soundproof headphones, one of the few things she could still remember from the picture books. She wished she had a pair right then, although she felt as if she should not be complaining, because she was doing something most don’t get to do in a lifetime.
The most wondrous part of the whole ordeal, she discovered, was the window. After scrubbing off all the precipitation, finding an area that was relatively scratch free, and brushing her long bangs aside, she had another seventh-day-of the-world’s-creation kind of moment. For some reason the view just couldn’t be compared to that from a plane. A plane is too big and steady to really feel what people have wanted to feel since, well, forever. The feeling of flying. The girl was experiencing this feeling like a baby bird that was just learning, but she was just the tail of a horse, she remembered with a somewhat insignificant frown. Like being the tail on a horse, there were some definite downsides. At that point, however, the ups were prevailing.
The girl made no noise, of course, for fear of being heard by the pilot and being removed from her long anticipated dream. She just sat upon her round tush, Indian style. Her elbows were pressed against her thighs and her hands firmly cradled her head. Her bangs were pushed way back over her short cut hair, and as she sat there she looked like many a statue have; content, forever. She was not planning on moving. The girl wanted to stay there endlessly looking out of the window, feeling the movement of the chopper, being one with it. Well, at least the long hairs growing from directly above its buttocks, her peculiar metaphor reminded her. Even though she didn't want to move, one must do so after nearly an hour of staying in the same position, and a rather complex one at that. She could feel the markings her hands left, warm on her face, and as for her arms, well in fact she couldn’t feel them at all. They had fallen quite asleep. The girl’s dad had told her to shake it off whenever one part or another of her fell asleep. Her dad. Was he looking for her right then? It had been quite some time.
The girl decided they were far enough along on the journey, and she had had more than swell enough of a time, so alerting the pilot of her presence wouldn't be such a bad idea. Anyway, he would be able to contact the headquarters and let her father know that she was in good hands and planning on returning soon. Realizing how it might feel to be a pilot of a helicopter, thinking you are all alone on a plane, and suddenly hearing a kid talking to you from the cargo department, she tried to conjure up a plan that would get the message across, but at the same time keep the aircraft in the air. After much deliberation, she decided on a simple plan.
There was a vent separating the girl from the cockpit. There were small holes, big enough for air to circulate through and, hopefully, sound, but not quite the size required for the human eye to see through, so the girl stuck her ear to this vent to try to get an idea of where the pilot was. What she heard was rather surprising.

“Hey, you are pretty. I think we would make a cute couple.” His voice was high and suggestive, it went up at the end, like the way bratty girls might ask a question. “No, no that would never do,” the pilot mumbled to himself, “ I sound like a gay guy. Not that gay guys are bad or anything, they just aren't historically notorious for asking out beautiful maidens like Wallis.”
With her ear to the vent the girl was completely lost. The language, she could tell, was not exactly the way her and her fellow second graders talked.
“Baaabbbbbbyyyyy,” he continued, this time so low that the last note was barley audible. He sounded like a surfer who thought very highly of himself. He obviously wasn’t because, first of all there is not much of a surf in Portland, and second of all if this guy was oh so cool, he wouldn’t be flying a helicopter for a lighthouse light-bulb company that was dead broke. The girl shook her head to clear her thoughts. Sometimes weird things seemed to drift around in her brain. She pressed her ear back against the vent. She didn’t want to miss a word, “Do you want to take a ride in my Honda?” the pilot put special emphasis on the word, as if he owned a luxury car, which even the girl knew a “Honda” was not.

It was time for the girl to make her move. She couldn’t bear his bewildering ranting much longer. She cleared her throat and said in the same announcer voice she had used in the car ride on her father, “There is a girl in the back seat, do not panic, I am just letting you know I am here. My father works at Litterby Lights. If you can just call him over the radio...” She stopped because she realized the man was too busy with his peculiar skit to notice her voice. So she repeated it again, a bit louder. He didn’t stop for even a split second. She began to panic. The girl screamed, using the entire force of her round self to propel forward a terrible noise. A noise so loud that it would awake even a sloth.

Still the man continued, “ Your hair is pretty, I want to kiss your lips, I like you.” His perplexing babbling wasn’t so important he could not listen to a desperate little girl in the cargo department of his helicopter, was it?

The adrenaline was rushing again, the previously non-existent claustrophobia was exploding within her. The compartment in which the girl was held was meant only to be accessed from outdoors. She was enclosed from four sides with strong steel. In other words, the girl had no way of getting through the piece of metal that separated her from that monster of a pilot, neither did she have a way to open the hatch leading into the open air. Emotions carry a lot of power and there were a lot of those running through-out the girl right then. With the magnitude of force that gave Dent his name, the girl threw a terrible fit, creating quite a ruckus. She screamed the only curse word she knew, ass. As mild a word as it is, it would have made just about anyone jump with the intensity the girl used it.

“We could go to a movie, just me and you? Would you like that?”

Was he deaf? Surely they would not let a deaf man fly a helicopter. Then, just as the girl began to feel nauseous, her picture book came back to her. He was wearing those headphones, the sound proof ones. He couldn’t hear anything she had said, not a thing.

The girl didn’t like crybabies, and she certainly didn’t like crying herself, for she thought it overused, but she sure felt like crying as the hours ticked by. What was planned as adventure had taken her into a dangerous area for a young girl, or anyone at all for that matter. She had left the protection of her parents. She ran her tongue along her teeth, then caught it and bit down hard. It seemed as if it were her fault. She was the one who requested to go to the factory, she was the one who had left her dad’s supervision, and she was the one that crawled aboard an aircraft unauthorized, which would seem like an obvious no-no to most. Stupidity was the word for it. Her dad would be fretting big time. Causing others pain, causing herself pain.
The girl seemed not to know what to do. Woe, fury, and self hatred were all calling to her, but in the end she gave in to none, managing to pull herself away from her troubles temporally. Other things began to occupy her mind, more important things. It was getting cold, quite cold. The cargo department was wind proof, but apparently not airtight. Because it was summer in Portland, the girl was wearing simple, light clothing. She tried to think of what a horse would do with its tail when the hairs got cold. She quickly erased the thought from her mind as the first of the possibilities came up. The only other noun in the whole cargo space was the oddly shaped package, and the only thing that could provide her any warmth was the burlap it was wrapped in. So the girl lay down along the cold steel floor. She pulled some of the burlap off the package and onto herself. Her eyes looked out the window. The sun was setting in the clouds, providing an amazing display of color. The chopper rocked quietly, well, not that quietly. She then did what anyone would do after an experience much like hers: she stayed wide awake.

It had been five hours since they had left and finally they had reached some sort of destination.The girl’s vocal cords already hurt from two events that day. She really didn’t need another excuse to overheat them, but she sure was screaming as the chopper shrank along the purple horizon until even the yellow faded torch couldn’t be seen.

“You ass Pilot! You couldn’t even take the time to land! Come back here. I’ll teach you a lesson or two,” the girl bellowed. The mishmash of movies, books, and her little forbidden word came together as a farewell to the helicopter’s pilot, a man the girl absolutely detested.

There was no adrenaline left for her body to pump. She plopped herself down, in a heap, on what seemed to be snowy sand beneath her. She was just a little girl, alone, in the place between here, heck, and ass.
She lay on the ground in a pathetic collapsed position, with the aura of the blueberry completely gone, replaced by one of defeat, and utter non-believing misery. She didn’t have to pinch herself to know this wasn’t a dream, that this was real. Too much had happened in one day; it was as simple as that.
But, there stood the old man. Yes, a very old man. One, the girl could tell was not aged so much by his years, but something more than that. The girl wasn’t even surprised to see him; it was beginning to seem that almost anything was possible. There was the Pacific, the Atlantic, and many other oceanic bodies of water, and then there was this man’s face. It was like its own ocean all together, with waves, tides, and beaches. The wrinkles of a man who had a story to tell. There were also scars, burns and a few cuts, but below it all were many emotions. Emotions that were quite hard for the girl to read. His nose was a bit scrunched up, stating some sort of confusion which was perfectly reasonable considering he had just watched a young girl come out of the back of a helicopter. Although it had felt like she had been dropped, the reality was more like placed roughly. The chopper touched down, the hatch flew open from beneath the girl, and out plummeted her and the package into a world of snow and rocks. Then it was gone. The girl continued the difficult task of reading the man’s face. There was a kindness there, a relaxation of his posture, the softness of his eyes. But, what the girl saw the most, the overwhelming emotion that would be clear to even a pigeon, was a nervousness. A strong uncomfortableness. His arms dangled down, twitching a bit. His fingers drumming against the side of his thighs. The girl thought she saw another wrinkle form as they both sat there for that short moment, looking at each other. Then the man turned and walked toward the package, the one wrapped in burlap, the one that had been with her in the cargo department. He picked it up off the cold, snowy ground and began to walk away, up a steep rocky hill. He was attempting to act like nothing had ever happened, like he never saw the girl, but the slight shaking from his body and the unnaturalness of his step gave him away.
“My name is Greer,” the girl said with such calm confidence and power that the man stumbled a bit. Greer picked herself up using her palms. It wasn’t as easy as it is for humans with longer limbs, or even monkeys, but she managed. She started hobbling after him on overdrive, using energy she didn’t have , determined to catch him. Crazed, she kept talking, “It was all a big mistake.” The man was continuing up the hill, quicker now. “I only wanted to go for a ride, and now I am stuck here. Where is here? Where are we?” Greer’s voice began to sound scared, it was growing less confident. Yet the man continued on up the hill, his legs shaking quite a bit now. “Please, Please, Please,” she begged not as she had begged her dad to go to the factory that had got her in this whole mess in the first place, but as if she were a desperate little seven year old girl put in some unknown place with some unknown guy who was ignoring her, “If you could just let me use a phone or bring me to the nearest house, please sir, please. It was all a big mistake.” Her voice faded at the end into true depression.
It appeared as if the man’s uncertain brain had finally decided. All at once he turned and beckoned. Greer almost smiled, and ran to catch up to him. When Greer reached him, he stood there silently. Not one word or sound came from his mouth. His legs weren't shaking any more though; they were as still as two oak trees. Greer then moved her head to look at his face. She was expecting a friendly smile, or something along those lines, but, instead, among the waves, his face was frowning with a deep sadness.
Ignoring this, Greer opened her mouth to thank him for waiting, but the old man only placed a finger to his lips and beckoned her again. It was her turn to scrunch up her nose, but really, she didn’t mind the confusion. She was going home.
The two reached the top of the hill together in silence. “I only need to call my dad, or my mom. I know the number its 207...” she started with renewed happiness. The man stopped her by shaking his head solemnly. He pointed somewhere with his whole hand. Greer didn’t want to look, because nothing good comes after a gesture so solemn, but what else was there to do? Before the two of them lay nothing. There was ocean and hundreds of miles of beautiful coast, yet there was nothing; not one house, one road, one vehicle, one human, not even one piece of trash. The whole picture seemed to get a little greyer before her eyes. The place would not attract even the most desperate tourist. The man backed away, his eyes closed. Greer continued to alternate her view between the old man’s face and the forever of nothingness that was, only moments before, her way back home. When he opened his eyes again he turned and started to walk with the package in his hand. He walked slowly this time, giving the girl plenty of time. Ahead of him was a lighthouse, the only sign of civilization as far as the eye could see. It sat high above the water, there to warn away any boat that might come towards the dangerous rocks below. It was old, at least as old as the man. It was only then that Greer made the connection. The package, the long flight, but she didn’t really care that much, for some reason. She was the bath tub with the plug pulled. Too many emotions already had resided in Greer throughout that never-ending day. It was not so much that she was surrendering to her predicament as she was temporarily resigning. It was getting late and she was cold to her bones, a cold that could only be found in places like this. Places where life only existed because God willed it to.
She had lived on canned goods and hot water for three days. Greer did not complain though, for she preferred poor food over dying of cold outside of the lighthouse. There was nothing else. She had looked in the pantry of the small kitchen and found a life’s supply of canned this and that, but not even a crumb of anything else. Even without seeing this pantry, one could tell the man’s diet upon entering the house by the strong smell of it. It was a good thing Greer valued Independence, for the man wasn’t exactly welcoming to her. Yes, he let her sleep on the couch and heated her food twice a day but other than this she was on her own. There was not much exploring to be done. Upstairs was the light room, with the ever rotating light, of whose fault it was she was there at all. The winding staircase came down to the kitchen; a stove, a sink, and the pantry. To the left there was a small bedroom with a twin bed that was neat but quite aged. Finally, there was a small sitting room with a couch and a floral comforter. This was the room where all the meals were eaten and where all free time was spent. It showed the wear of 45, 50 years maybe. There was a shack outside with a bucket in it. Greer first thought it was a study or simply a resting place, but soon learned differently. Her few experiences in there had brought many metaphors to her head, all of which she was sure her parents wouldn’t have appreciated. She had searched the whole place thoroughly for a single purpose, but nowhere on the premises was there a phone, an emergency radio, or even an air horn to be found. No way, not even a hope of returning home. She was optimistic at first, for she thought no one could live with not a single form of communication. After searching for quite a few days, though, it soon became clear that the old man did not want to have any contact with another human being, ever. Greer became deeply saddened those first few days. Almost any thought could connect to her home, her father, or her mother. As she tried to sleep at night, the light would dance around the room, warning off boats that didn’t exist. Every time its rays came to the girls eyes awful yet beautiful flashback would come to her. Simple things, but torturing. The time the family went out for her birthday dinner, the time she found her parents kissing and called them “suckers”, the time her dad tickled her so much that her armpits hurt the next day. All these and more pounded down on her those first few nights. At times, it would have been easy to jump off the bluff into the somewhat less than comforting waters, to let them quietly swallow her. She was most likely presumed dead in Portland, so the effect of that action would be of minimal damage. She knew it was not right for a seven-year-old to be considering suicide, but neither was it right for a seven-year-old to be by her lonesome, in a unknown place, without parents, stuck with an old man. The man. He kept her from jumping. It was clear he was not the social type, that his last wish, for whatever reason, was to come in contact with one of his own. Considering this, he had done something quite remarkable. Just thinking of this deed made Greer want to run and give him a hug, but, of course, she couldn’t. Giving a hermit, this man hiding from society, a hug would be like giving a city boy a cup of pee. Looking off the bluff, she dimpled briefly at her own metaphor. A crash of the waves brought her back to the jump. She had probably caused her parents plenty of pain and sorrow back home. There was no need to burden another’s life with her mistakes. And so because of him, she simply spit over the pinnacle, and strolled back to the lighthouse.
In the sitting room they sat. Only hours before Greer had been contemplating her fate. The man was quietly chewing, and the girl loudly talking. The same routine that had passed all four days.
“Do you know about Jesus? Mom said he came to earth and was pretty much perfect. Dad says it’s all rubbish, and I think I have to go with him because no one’s perfect,” The old man cringed at this, his depleted mustache twitching, as though it provoked an old memory, but at least he was listening. She was glad to have someone to listen. He still hadn’t said a word to her, a few gestures here and there, but no noises. He wasn’t mute, because she had heard him doing some sort of mumbling prayer the night before, so she didn’t quite understand his quietness. Perhaps there was a reason behind it all, something awful and complicated, the kind of thing her parents would tell her some time and she couldn’t even wrap her head around, making her feel small and powerless. Perhaps that was the explanation to why he was so reluctant to take the girl in, something beyond her little patch of comprehending had happened. Perhaps that is why he lived in such a isolated place. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. Whatever the matter truly was, the girl, evidently, was not going to find out.
When she talked, the girl noticed him tune in quite closely; he became focused on her. She had never talked to anyone, even her father, who absorbed her words so well. It seemed to Greer that this may have been because he hadn’t talked to anyone in such a very long time.

“Chocolates are good. They are made from cows and trees. I know that doesn’t sound very good, but it is! Oh boy, it is! No offense to you, but chocolate is much better than beans. They also don’t make you fart.” The old man smiled at this and closed his eyes listening to Greer spout her mind. He looked like a monk sitting like that. His head bent, eyes gently closed. His whole body so thin and frail. Greer didn’t really like closing her eyes anymore. Recently, it had brought back very painful memories. She didn’t want to have to deal with that again. The memories of how she got here, the memories of how she was never going to leave and go back to her parents. She started talking again, quickly, to try to ease her dangerous thoughts. “Thank you,” she started, “ for bringing me in, even though you didn’t want to. If my dad were here, he would thank you, too.” It came out smoothly, like newly paved asphalt that is just begging to be driven on. No cars came, but a motorcycle did. The man opened his eyes. A single tear came softly and then went. Greer wouldn’t have noticed it if he hadn’t lifted a shaky hand to wipe it away. He then smiled, smiled and nodded.

So it went. Greer would talk her head off during the meals, and in this way they became a sort of friends. The conversations were one sided, the man still would not say a word. He still would not open up to her in the way one might expect, but this didn’t seem too important.
Greer slowly made a transition from spending her days searching for a way home to trying to decode the intricate mind and manner of the man. Studying his daily routine, she tried to learn what his voice couldn’t and wouldn’t tell her. He didn’t seem to mind the tagging along, as long as she was quiet. Meals were the time to talk and she did plenty of it, but he seemed to need to be alone internally for the rest of the day. How Greer wanted to know what he thought about all day long, but she sure couldn’t go in his brain and scoop it out. After the frustration came a new transition. Greer figured the best way to understand the old man was to be him. It was while trying to be him that Greer discovered her gift, the one the old man had.
She sat in the light room one day, completely still. Her eyes danced over the ocean, just as his did. The ocean, it provided this fountain of thoughts and ideas. It was why the man was here. There were many places one could seek solitude, but here it wasn’t true solitude, not the kind that drives people crazy. No the water provided the ability for Greer to be at peace with herself. She was truly content sitting there, with not a worry on her mind. Hakuna Matata. Greer remembered Lion King. She always knew it was impossible to have no worries. It was just a silly fantasy that even Disney’s characters couldn’t reach, but now, now she knew different. She let her mind roll with the waves and as she did, she reached a simple yet perfect state. The old man’s hand was stretched out behind him, near to the girl. She reached out with her own and placed it on top of his. He absentmindedly took it in his weathered palm. And there they sat, very young and very old, hand in hand, looking out over the ocean.


When the food was running low and the bright light that shined every night was not quite so bright, Greer suspected the helicopter may return. She contemplated what to do if it did truly arrive one day. Half of a year had passed in conditions that had almost driven her off a cliff. The cold, snowy sand, the emptiness that could be explored for a full day with nothing to show, and an old man who barely uttered a peep. Yet she was satisfied. She felt as if she had skipped all the stages of life most must take to find his or her place in the world and had been dropped right into it, literally. There was no question in her mind what her future held. She was to take the place of the old man, to be his apprentice. She loved the man, truly she did. It seemed nice of God to place her right where she felt she belonged, yet it seemed a little sudden and surely not without losses. The same dreadful craft that had carried her so far from her home was soon to come back. She could go back to her home, to a place no young child should be torn away from, but yet she had been. If the pros and cons were placed on a scale, it would come out almost perfectly balanced. She was presumed dead at home, but surely her parents would welcome her if she returned. But the biggest weight on that scale was leaving the old man. The hearts at home had already been broken. She could do no more damage there, but there was plenty to do at the lighthouse on the cliff. Greer wondered what the man would do without her there. She remembered him on the first day, how sad he looked. She remember the night he had cried when she had thanked him. Mostly though she remembered every other night, the ones where they just sat, she talked, and they had a jolly good time. How could she live with someone who had never spoken to her, yet how could she leave a man that was a mystery, friend, and angel all mixed up together? Greer needn’t have worried about all of this though, for the helicopter never came. Liberty Lights went out of business.


---
This morning, I took the ATV nearly 50 miles North of Oqaatsut, Greenland, population 46. Inspiration is what I need these days. Sometimes the most obscure places like this are where I can really find the power, the ideas, to push my writing off the ground. There is absolutely nothing on that 50 mile stretch, I discovered, just coastline and water. At the end of my exploration I came to this place, up on a hill. It was quite a nice place, atop that hill. There was nothing there, though, just like the rest of the island, but for some reason this strange feeling came over me. I felt as though there had once been something there, something beautiful, a story maybe. Things flashed quickly with different colors, like a late night T.V. show. At first it seemed like a crazy idea produced by my over-imaginative sub-conscious, but it seemed so real, like these images that were forming in my mind told a story, someone's story. I tried to grab onto these images as they tried leaving me as quickly as they had come. A lighthouse, a hermit, a misunderstanding. Something, something. It wasn’t coming easily. And then it came gently, like a train softly braking on the tracks: a girl. Yes, a girl.





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