To The Lonely Seas And The Sky -- Part 1
The fictional tale of lighthouse keepers in the 1880's, tending a Lake Michigan lighthouse. The characters in this story are completely fictional, while the lighthouse is quite real and still in use. The details of its function, while not necessarily specific to this exact light, are consistent with the general function of lighthouses in this era.Liesl Kappel was young, but her dark grey eyes betrayed wisdom beyond her twenty-eight years. Her mother's inky black hair tangled and teased about her face, hinting at her Spanish ancestry. Her father's straight German nose sampled the aroma of the light sea breeze, and her piercing stare took note of the tumultuous clouds over the endless, restless lake, observing the absence of birds and animals from the sand dunes that surrounded the lighthouse.
“When the animals do not scurry on the rocks and the birds leave the air for the sturdy branches, the storm is on its way.” That’s what her father would have told her, his melodic accent lilting like the rise and fall of a song, making every word enchanted.
High off the ground, perched in the winding, wrought-iron steps of the tower, Liesl sat silently, bearing witness to the growing storm from the watch room. She sighed gently, unconsciously, knowing it would be a long night. Sleep would be minimal and her physical duties demanding: hauling up the kerosene from the basement to the tower, attempting to keep the light burning through the night despite the storm that promised wind that’d slither through slits in the brick tower.
But despite the knowledge of a long night to come, she felt excitement pounding in her chest. Over the swirling gray water, white sails, fat with wind, pushed their cargoes toward far away ports. It was Liesl’s light that prevented those ships and all aboard from meeting their end on the dangerous shoals in front of her station. Her tower stretched toward the sky, a land sentry that cast a furious beam over the deceivingly beautiful waves. Surely, a lake so lovely wouldn’t trespass against the lives of those who sailed it? She knew far better.
Down the beach she glimpsed the roof of the lifesaving station, eclipsed by mounting sand dunes and blustery Beech trees. Her husband, confined to bed, ought to be at the station about now, meeting with the men they knew as neighbors, she thought regretfully. Had it not been for last week's storm, a beast that had pushed two ships into the shoals, she might simply be assisting him tonight as he tended the light.
The storm was rapidly approaching land. It was probably a few hours away, but the dark blue crust of the threatening tempest was wasting no time.
Liesl rose slowly, looked on the sea once again, and descended the steps of the tower. The interior of the tower, lined with old, deteriorating brick, was musty. Light filtered thinly through infrequent portholes that dotted the sides of the 112-foot tower.
Down from the tower in the sky. Down, down, down, she thought.
A few rooms away, she could hear her husband.
Down and back into darkness.
She entered the main house, moved quietly up the narrow staircase, and noiselessly stole a glance into her bedroom. Her husband lay asleep, the stark white bandages on his legs seeming to taunt her with each second she gazed on them. Red had seeped through the edges of the bandage on his left thigh. He sighed and moved occasionally, his facial expression, even in sleep, betraying his discomfort. Liesl looked across the hall into the spare room behind her, then abruptly returned downstairs and glided over the threshold into the front yard.
Outside the house, she found her sister, standing over a boiling pot of water and tending the fire. In the distance beyond the outbuildings, Liesl could see the angry waters, churning and breaking on the sand.
“Ellie, have you gone mad?” She cried over the howling wind as she approached her older sister.
The diminutive figure in question was bent over the boiling cast-iron cauldron, stirring its contents with a long, wooden bat. Ellie’s dark blue eyes lifted, gazing sharply at the voice that interrupted her work.
“I assure you, dear Liesl, I haven’t.” Ellie replied, rising to her full stature, just barely over five feet. Her deep brown hair tangled in the stiff breeze, and her skirt, damp from hem to mid-knee, luffed with each gust.
“Then why would you tempt the weather with a fire and chores? The rain will be here within hours.”
“And your husband will need new bandages before nightfall—nay, before evening is past. Surely you don’t intend to clean the old bandages on the wood stove?” Ellie asked severely, her nose wrinkling at the thought of bandages on the stove where their food cooked.
“There are plenty of bandages in the bedroom drawer. Mama brought them from town this afternoon.” Liesl protested, lest she appear foolish to the high-handed Ellie.
“It won’t hurt to have extra. Besides, I needed something to do.” Ellie said, lifting her nose toward the sky.
Liesl smiled wryly. “Well, whatever you do, certainly don’t admit that you were unaware of Mama’s visit.”
“I wouldn’t have you worry yourself over such nonsense. You know I never admit I’m wrong, most of the time because I’m not.” Ellie retorted, the playful twinkle in her eye softening her harsh expression.
“Come in soon, Ell. The soup Mama brought is getting cold.” Liesl said as she turned toward the house.
“You neglected to mention that Mama brought food!” Ellie called over the wind.
“You neglected to ask!” Liesl replied over her shoulder and scooted in the front door, but not before sending a watchful glance toward the sky as the sun slipped under the clouds and the sand began to whip across the front yard.Last edit by SoldierNurse22 on Nov 17, '13
About SoldierNurse22, BSN, RN, EMT-B
Be gone, writer's block! Be gone!
From 'The Great White North'; Joined Mar '10; Posts: 2,075; Likes: 6,667.