The Lighthouse

June 2, 2010
By freckles BRONZE, Omaha, Nebraska
freckles BRONZE, Omaha, Nebraska
2 articles 0 photos 2 comments

The light keeper’s daughter had learned to hate the water. Ocean waves were not as romantic as her novels made them out to be. Nothing in that daunting perpetual motion could possibly inspire anyone to be romantic. The waves were white noise in her ears, an irritating beat trapped insider her eardrum, continuously pulsing against the thin membrane. A day didn’t pass without a stabbing headache the reigned any intelligent thought her brain cells might possess. This was an irritating pain that most people would chose to drown with prescription medication, but she remained complacent, hardly irritated anymore by this adapted pain that kept her mind free of the complexities and tragedies that was engulfing the world beyond her.
The world beyond the walls were lost behind words and her enjoyment of a well narrated novel, her eyes immersed in the words, reading until the sun had fallen from the sky and condoned her to a restless sleep, where she thrashed on the floor against the crashing of the waves, hitting the shore evermore.
She lived an uninterrupted, enduring life. Each day was shaped the same, in the way that most people found little satisfaction, but there was nothing more in the world to dream of and in that she found not pleasure or fulfillment but a sustainable existence that kept her heart pumping but allowed her to yearn for nothing more.
The light keeper’s daughter awoke each day with the sun, allowing her father from above on the roof to lasso the fair-haired orb and bring it in through the window. She slept on the window seat beneath three stars each night. The room was in itself sparse for there was little to manage in a lighthouse beyond fleeting hearts and the tower above which guided the traffic of the sea back and forth. Two windows were cut into the oval room, one set with its gaze on the ocean and the other overlooking a dull view of the façade of the building. This strange window provided the girl her only view of the world, a letter box portfolio of a grass field, with tall stalks of wild maze that swayed and turned with the curves of the earth. As a keeper’s daughter, she had never understood the concept of wind. Her books allowed little room to divulge the mystery for the sky’s great rush of air could hardly be explained through her precious words.
Past the grass there was a length of dirt that was entitled to the name of a road, though no traffic had ever passed on it, making it in fact debatable if the road was more than a scratched trail in the earth by wild game and water.
The only furniture in the room was three bookcases which reached the ceiling in height. They were shelved entirely with novels and this was her only knowledge of how the world worked, a simple view that told her little and gave her a warped sense of the humanity. The concept of ogres and princes were foreign for she could not understand how you wrote down a lie, and it was all verified to her. She spent her nights wondering why the story wasn’t her. She never thought to chronicle her own life for nothing ever happened, the wind never changed and the ocean was on a constant and dangerous mission to cause her constant suffering in this dismantled world she lived in.
She read at least three novels a day, occasionally more if there were fewer pages to be accountable for. These novels filled her life and the stories inside them were all that she could remember from her childhood, except for the occasional glimpse of the sound of her father’s footsteps passing along the steps that led up to the top of the lighthouse where her father would perform maintenance on the light.
The Keeper spent all of his days up there, driving a wrench and hammer into the panels of the beacon, only coming down at night when he would have curled up on the Persian rug and fall asleep as the light above the pair circled the pair of them, falling as shadows against he dark stone walls. In the distance the deep bellow of ships sounded, though it was unidentified to the pair. They never learned the reason of their toils, or the accomplishment of sustaining a light house.
Time took her several weeks after his death, to learn his name might have been father from her novels. If she had known the emotion of regret she might have utilized it at this moment and wished she had known the man before he stopped walking down the stairs.
She had come accustomed to the click of heels upon the metal staircase as the sun set. One night he never came and that was all she knew. She watched the light from above dance on the stone walls until she fell asleep alone, in a nightmare of sounds against the chronic of the waves. The next day she read only one novel as her brain slowed the words down and she pondered about the man. She wasn’t sure if he was distinguishable from her novels, perhaps his white beard and tanned leather skin had been just a word she had read sometime.
That night the lamp did not shine or the next night. The world was darker in the tower and the ocean appeared almost louder alone, the deep swell of the water no longer let her sleep as it rushed in and out of her head.
On the third day of his disappearance she ventured to the stairs. She waited until the fourth day to ascend them and on the fifth day she opened the hatch in the ceiling and stepped out into the broad sunlight. The heat attacked her skin, creating beads of water down her neck and forehead. No ceiling existed up here, only an ocean above her head that was a different hue of blue. She circled the world above the hatch. The great lamp which lit the tower was in the center, a huge clear bulb that rose above her head. She touched the smooth glass encasing the bulb, remembering how it used to pulse in the dark. Only silence existed now, a dead thing gone and lost.
From above the tower she could see a small rock out in the middle of the blue waters. A wreck of a freshly torn ship was spread out upon the rock. The water lapped up at the sides of the rock, slowly eating away at the ship that had been failed by the light.
She found the man lying face down against the bulb, his face hidden from view. A wrench was left in his right hand, with a red box of tools next to his empty body that was rusted open. She stopped at the presence of the man. His silence in the world was enormous, bigger then any sound the ocean ever dared to make. She could hear the death of him lying there, against the numb glass.
She touched the man, the way he had once touched her, lightly on the back. He did not respond. The back of his shirt was warm, not like her hand that warmed from the blood within her, but warm like the sun. He had become a part of the burning lamps in the sky. She walked down the spiral stairs and closed the hatch, letting the man escape into the words of her novel, he was but another story.
The book she was reading now, she had read enough to know the entire story, but she was not bored, she became immersed in their lives, thinking little of her own or what she desired, for at this moment she hardly desired anything. Occasionally she desired the company of the old man in the night, and the comfort of the lighthouse lamp, but she accepted these fates, and was soon forgetting them. With forget came much less pain. She accepted the new nights, where she slept paralyzed and awake as the rush of the ocean waves crashing over one another seeped into her brain, drowning the stories she read each day and ruining their happiness. She hated the sounds of the ocean. Each moment it was building louder and louder each second, never stopping until…
A new sound, rudely snatching up the air. A muffled engine sound she would have known if she had ever had the chance to hear an automobile. She set down her book, not even bothering to close. The spine was left facing up with the pages crudely cracked open as the spilled about with the wind.
Her curiosity crossed to the window. Great clouds of dust were arising on the road above the muffled sound, announcing the arrival of this grand beast. She waited her lips pursed against her mouth in a contorted expression of curiosity that she had never come to know before. From the dark dust she saw the outline of a red pick-up truck, with black tires pressing down on the dirt like her feet pressed down on the wooden floor of the tower.
She stood up on the window seat, bracing herself against the stone as she leaned out the window to get a greater glimpse. From the trunk came a discord of sounds, a radio filled with the voices of men, deeper and richer than that of the man, meddled with the wail of the engine, and mingled with the rotation of the tires as they spun in line with each other and there was no rush of the ocean to her backside.
The keeper’s daughter fleeter leaned further out the window, towards the truck. She moved to adjust her body so she could follow the truck with her eyes as the vehicle escaped her view of the road. She did not know now how her life might ever go back to the words on the pages. She dared to be closer to the noise, to be a part of a story. She lost her footing and fell thirty feet.
She had never fallen before and the sheer amount of pain she felt as she impacted with the ground was joy, more delight then the weightless fall had brought her. She took ecstasy as every bone in her body broke and the grass tumbled behind her, dancing in the wind. She felt mourning in the grass she had trampled, but her body could not move and from somewhere in the distance she heard the sound of the truck she had forgotten. The motion of the wheels vibrated against the earth and wriggled in her severed spinal chord as the truck came closer.
Her eyes were blinded by the sun as it stretched overhead, the same miserable sun that had once fed the ocean she hated, guided her from the numbing pain as the red pick-up truck came forward towards her. The radio had been turned off and now all she heard was the sound of the engine, the pistons firing beneath the metal hood. The truck stopped beneath her, the sound waves pressing against her ruined body. She felt the heat radiate off of the truck, engulfing her body as the heat transferred from the truck into her body. She could taste the petroleum as it burned in the air. Her heart burned with the same pain, the delightful indulgence of something new and seemingly wonderful to the wide eyed spectator. The keeper’s daughter found the sensation entirely romantic as she fell in love, utterly in love, with her own suffering.

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