Empty LIghthouse

February 3, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Posted in Writings | 2 Comments

The keeper shuffles along slowly about his appointed rounds, keeping the precise schedule set many years before. It mattered less and less as time had gone by, but he was used to the routine of it, and he wouldn’t let time’s weariness take its toll on his commitment. There were extra tasks today, tasks that made the old keeper’s heart say, but they were part of the job and they needed to be done nonetheless, keeping his precious lighthouse in order.

Slow and steady the keeper ascended the stairs, his thin, frail fingers gripping the railing tight, pulling himself up the spiral staircase. Halfway up he stops for a slight breather and he looks down to the ground below him. He remembers when he first started, how the paint on the walls was brilliant and reflective. Today, the keeper only sees the result of the intervening years however, the bright white has lost its luster and is now a dull, lifeless, pale hue.

The keepers eyes began to glisten as tears well up, but he quickly wipes them with the sleeve of his shirt and continues up the stairs, hoping his task would at least for the moment occupy his mind. It takes the keeper a few more minutes before he reaches the top and sees the main feature of the lighthouse.

The light itself is enclosed in a six-sided glass enclosure, with a rotating base inside which houses the large glowing element that has given light for incoming ships for years. The keeper circles the light and stands before a desk and a low cork board that rests upon it. Here pinned on old and faded paper is the call information for the last two vessels that have passed through these waters. The keeper pulls an envelope from his pocket and extracts a missive from the port down the beach and matches the call information printed to the information on his weathered cork board.

The keeper re-pockets the sheet from the port and then slowly removes the pinned sheets from the cork board, placing them one on top of the other and tears them both into tiny strips and then tears the strips again, keeping the confetti sized pieces in one hand as he again circles the massive beacon in the center of the room. Again he feels a bout of tiredness come over him and he leans near to the light, its radiance warming him.

His eyes are closed as he reaches for the plug at the base of the unit and with some effort, he managed to wiggle free the plug from its receptacle. In an instant the tower darkens, the only light now coming from the last remnants of dusk outside, the sun slipping behind the horizon. The keeper opens his eyes and makes his way forward, popping open a small door and exits out onto the walkway that circles the top of the lighthouse.

The keeper grabs hold of the railing with one hand and lifts the other in front of him, opening it slowly and watching the pieces of confetti blow from his hands into the night air. His eyes follow them as long as they can with his failing eyesight, and before long they are lost to the ether. The tiredness washes over him again, and his free hand joins the occupied one in gripping the railing. He closes his eyes again and after a few moments he feels himself falling.

He can feel the warm breeze on his face. He wants to open his eyes but he is terrified to. He believes there is a certain finality if he opens his eyes and truly sees. So he keeps them closed. Drifting. Falling. Flying. Forever.


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