Saturday, April 17, 2021

The Beacon on the Shore by Darren Arthurs

 “This won’t take long” the man said as he stepped onto the short, narrow jetty that led from the choppy waters to the lighthouse. His knees felt stiff as he placed a foot onto the sodden wood, but his blood contained as much salt as the sea and he had a few good years remaining in his joints.

He took a final look back at the small craft and thanked Gordon for bringing him out here at such short notice and wondered if Gordon’s useless son, Henry, had the same desire to spend his days on the water.

The air was cool and damp and the pathway was illuminated by the pale moonlight that made his ascent to the circular building a little easier. Why Joseph, the keeper, had not lit the gas burner meant something was wrong, whether that was the lighthouse or Joseph himself remained to be seen. Either way, it was the man’s responsibility to check.

Gripping the length of thick rope that acted as a handrail that ran parallel to the path, the man looked out to sea, he wondered what ships travelled out there in the darkness, where they had travelled from and what cargo they carried. The world was changing, becoming smaller, new trade routes established, it was a time of much change, but they would still need the warning light from the beacon on the shore.

Upon reaching the small door, the man used his shoulder to gain entrance, shoving the heavy wood backwards and immediately feeling the shift in conditions. The base of the tower was warm and sheltered, circular with a staircase running upwards and around. He placed one foot on the bottom step and hesitated at the sight of a bloodied boot print.

“Joseph?” he called up into the gloom.

© Darren Arthurs

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