It was a tight-knit community so everyone knew one another. Except the man in the lighthouse, who kept to himself…
Time: 10 minutes
The man in the lighthouse was still young. He smiled a lot. But he kept to himself, even on days when the sun shone and the waves stood calm.
We thought he was a bit strange, but we let him be. Except for that one time, with my once best friend. She wanted to see if he lived there, and I was eager to let her believe I would do anything. So we snuck there during the day, hoping he’d be gone. And he was. And his lighthouse was unlocked. We snuck in and saw a little bed, and a chair and a table, and a little pile of clothes. It smelled like the sea and everything was bare.
At night the lighthouse lamp beamed across the water, spinning out into the darkness and shining over our houses, and then back again. All night it spun and spun, and I sat at my window and imagined him in there. In my mind he sat in that circle of windows like I sat here at mine, and he stared out to sea waiting for a boat that would never come. It was very romantic in my mind, but very sad, too. Perhaps he mourned a lost love, or a relative, killed somewhere in those deep, endless waves.
It was the week of the summer festival. I had friends but they were going with other people, and my once best friend now ignored me and whispered behind my back. I walked to the fair and looked out at the lighthouse on the rocky shoreline, and wondered about the man. He’d never been seen at these summer festivals. I was older than before, old enough to regret breaking into his house when he was gone all those years before, and old enough to think that perhaps the man had no friends. So I swerved my course and walked into the cool beach breeze.
The Lighthouse was stark in the sunlight, coated in chipping white paint. It looked practically deserted. I knocked on the door and for a long moment there was only silence. I felt awkward and regretted coming at all, but I’d made it this far. It would be even worse to walk away knowing he’d heard the knock and might watch me give up. So I knocked again.
Finally there was a creak, and the door opened. The man looked out and smiled.