A Short-short for Thursday Doors Writing Challenge, Lighthouse

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Welcome to my sanctuary.  Lighthouses seem like sanctuaries to me.  Today I’m sharing another response I wrote for the Thursday Doors writing challenge, hosted by Dan Antion.

As upside-down as it seems, writing these (at night after I’m certain that I can’t focus on finishing Dead of Winter”) has helped me move forward with the concluding Journey of that series.  I’ve been whittling at a third response inspired by a door from Dennyho at Thoughts of an E’ville Woman.  However, I’m having trouble scaling down the story in my head into something short.  I think I might finally have the right approach.  That one is yet to come.

Today, my short-short story is different from the spooky one I posted on Wednesday.  This one is also in a different in tone and style from my usual writing. I wasn’t sure if I should even post this one, but how could I resist a lighthouse?

My inspiration was equal parts from Wheat, Salt, Wine and Oil blog’s photo of the North Pier Lighthouse at Lake Michigan, and an old song from James Taylor.  My story is a little… moody, and very short.  I hope you enjoy it.

Flashing on and Fading Away

North Pier Lighthouse Lake Michigan, by Wheat, Salt, Wine and Oil blog
North Pier Lighthouse Lake Michigan, by Wheat, Salt, Wine and Oil blog

With each wave that crashed against the rocks, Calliope wondered if he was well.  Every seabird’s cry sounded like his name.  The salt air held the taste of her tears.  When the fog rolled in, it stifled all her senses, just as his entrance once seemed to force the air from the room.  His presence left her breathless.

Yet he was half a world away, on a ship that sailed the sea.  By that time, it was likely off the coast of Africa.

“He’s just a man… but I wish I were there,” Calliope murmured from her place at the lighthouse window where she watched the sea.

When she met him, he was a survivor of a shipwreck, cast against the rocks below, by the deep and rolling sea.  However, his journey wasn’t finished.  A refugee, he said he wasn’t far enough away yet.  He must keep going.

Calliope hoped he could lose it all — give up that foolish quest, stay and fall for her.  The words he whispered in breathless moments hinted that he might.

“Ah Calliope, couldn’t we shine?” he once murmured against her ear, his breath warm on her neck as he moved her blonde hair.  “Let’s roll all of these golden moments into one.  We’ll shine like the sun for one more summer day.  Then we’ll go up there, to the top of the tower and shine like the lighthouse for one last summer night.”

One last night, his words gave her pause, and she knew he would not stay, though she still denied it to herself.

Pixabay
Pixabay

“My golden girl… you look so lost and lonely.  Don’t make me sad in our last moments.  Give me that smile,” he cajoled.  “Signal every night, and when I see it, I’ll come.  Flashing on quick but short.  Then flashing long and fading away.  I’ll know it’s you.”

“How can you see my light if you’re halfway around the world?” she asked.

She had barely suppressed the derision in her voice, but she needn’t have worried.  He didn’t even notice that she spoke.

Hope surged that he would ask her to follow him.  Looking at his eyes, she knew he wouldn’t.  His mind had already lost all thought of her.

I could follow you… and lose my mind, she wanted to yell and make him listen.

Summer waned.  The seabirds still seemed to call his name.  Calliope stared at the waves and the ships that sailed the sea.  Every night through June, July, and August she climbed the stairs and caused the light to make the signal, just in case he should change his mind and come back.  She had flashed the light on quick but short, and then flashed long and let it fade away.

“But I’m a lonely lighthouse.  Not a ship out in the night.  He came halfway around the world to see this light — and stay away from me,” she said.

Distant view of North Pier Lighthouse Lake Michigan BY WHEAT, SALT, WINE AND OIL BLOG
Image by Wheat, Salt, Wine and Oil blog

As she moved to once again perform that nightly ritual, a hot tear streaked her cheek.  She stopped.  Abruptly, Calliope was disgusted with herself and angry.

“I want to be a world away from here,” she told the waves below.  “This is my last summer night here.”

Bright with resolve, her eyes shone like the lighthouse.

The next evening, Calliope passed the keys to a new lighthouse keeper. 

“I won’t go in the same direction that he did.  I won’t even travel by ship,” she declared to herself.

As she headed toward the train station, behind her the light flashed on, and then faded away into the distance.  She never looked back.

The end.

♦♦♦

Thanks for visiting with me.  Click the link to Dan’s blog to see more doors and more stories.  I hope you’ll stop and leave a friendly comment. Fang and Dilly will be back with more of The Armadillo Files, once I’ve finished Dead of Winter.  Hugs on the wing!

2022 Thursday Doors badge by Teagan R. Geneviene

♦♦♦

Meanwhile, “Dead of Winter: Journey 13, the Harbor” is available

 

Thanks for spending part of your day here. I’m grateful to everyone who is reading this story. If you aren’t already, I hope you’ll be part of the extraordinary, layered world of these Journeys. 

I love to hear from you, so friendly comments are encouraged. Hugs on the wing!

♦♦♦

Dead of Winter — All the Journeys

Universal Purchase LinksDoW 13 Harbor

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Journey 12, Goddesses

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Journey 3, the Fever Field

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Kobo:  Dead of Winter: Journey 3, the Fever Field eBook by Teagan Riordain Geneviene – 1230004609599 | Rakuten Kobo United States

Journey 2, Penllyn

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Journey 1, Forlorn Peak

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Kobo:  Dead of Winter: Journey 1, Forlorn Peak eBook by Teagan Geneviene – 1230004446033 | Rakuten Kobo United States

.

.

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2022 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved. 

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 


62 thoughts on “A Short-short for Thursday Doors Writing Challenge, Lighthouse

        1. You’re so kind. I really appreciate that. I’m muddling through. My therapist had a helpful insight on a recent twist/complication/addition to my “stuff.” I’m caught in an emotional flashback loop (the increase in panic attacks, even while sleeping). I think these stories have been letting me leak-off part of the “stuff.” Overall, I’m keeping my head above water. It’s just taking my focus away from serious writing. Take good care of you. ❤

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  1. Teagan, great writing! You captured the lure of the open sea (lake :D), promises made in the moment and not kept, and the choices of wandering or putting down roots. Glad Calliope was strong enough to understand he wasn’t coming back. And she left by train–(Amtrak still rolls through St. Joseph walking distance from the lighthouse)–that helped define the essence of place. Thanks for choosing this photo, and keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome, Carolyn! I’m happy you enjoyed this. I appreciate the use of your photos. Thanks particularly about the train. I left the location undefined. When I added the train it really did make it feel more complete to me. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s good to see you, Cheryl. Wow, that’s an amazing story. Actually, I think Calliope is fortunate that this one didn’t stick around. But she seems to have figured that out for herself. Enjoy Panama! Hugs on the wing.

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    1. Ms. Frances, you are so kind — thank you. I’m sure Calliope can have many adventures in your imagination. I think the world is now her oyster. I appreciate you spending part of your day here. Hugs on the wing!

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    1. Thanks, Noelle. For some strange reason, lighthouses bring out a melancholy side of me, beautiful symbols of hope though they are. I think Calliope turned her back on a life that would have made her even sadder. Thanks for taking time to read and comment. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much, Priscilla. There was no way I was going to end with Calliope pining her life away, or throwing herself onto the rocks below. I’m just not a romantic. LOL. I appreciate you reading and commenting. Hugs on the wing.

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  2. Love the story and the ending–finally, a woman that did not spend the rest of her life pining for a man who won’t be there. Did you know that assistant lighthouse keepers were often the wives of the lighthouse keepers? Despite being wives, the US government still paid them the same wage as they would a man. Supposedly this was the first instance of men and women earning the same salary for the same job.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pat, that’s fascinating about the lighthouse keepers. No, I didn’t know. Lighthouses intrigue me, but I’ve never actively researched them (just whatever info happens to come along). I’m delighted that you liked this story. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hugs flying by return pixels. I was the librarian at Ft Story at Cape Henry, VA which is home to the first federally funded lighthouse going back to George Washington’s administration. I was also a volunteer at Pt Loma which is home to both the new and old Pt Loma lighthouses. The Old Pt Loma light was part of the first 6 lighthouse appropriation on the West Coast. That is where I learned about female lighthouse keepers being paid the same as male keepers.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a wonderful story. It’s sad but there’s an underlying strength. The ending gives me hope. I love the completeness with which you paint the scene. Of course, you know me, I also like that she left by train.

    Thanks for supporting TDWC and I hope you have a great weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! I enjoyed your clever comment, Michael. I do find lighthouses melancholy, and I don’t know why. They should be and are a symbol of hope, “lighting the way”, keeping travelers safe. Yet I find something sad about them. A wonderful weekend to you too, my friend. Big hugs.

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