Drowned Near a Lighthouse

Preface: part of a series of other short stories revolving around a port town and a lighthouse.

I raised my squalid hand in an attempt to break free from this world. It fell short a few light years away from the stars that shone across the darkened ocean known as space. Those stars would shine brightly in response, blinking in and out of existence, showing me it’s own lifespan. I let my hand rest, as the ocean near me began its own ebb, crashing onto the island in vehement waves. The sound of night was filled by this ocean, engulfed by its infinite expanses. Soon enough, even my own world would be engulfed by this ocean, swallowed up by its ebb, and allowing me to flow into a state of eternal solitude.

I raised myself from the ground I lay, and looked at the lighthouse to my side. Its light was flickering into the ocean, losing itself in the distance of the darkened ocean. I stared into the light, tracing it with my cursed finger and making an outline of where it would end up in the ocean. I laughed when I lost track of it and laughed even more when I looked up into the operating room for the light. It was empty.

I took a step towards the end of the island where the lighthouse stood, and looked down into the crashing waves. It was my job to keep the ocean safe and find lost mariners, but occasionally my job would be lost to steel and coal. I fought hard for this job, and they fought harder to lose my job.

The waves swept up against the jagged rocks that lay near the island surface, and somewhere in that wave, I saw a hand strutting onto the rocks. I leaned over the side of the island, and grabbed the lantern from my side towards the edge. Once I had confirmed it was a body, I ran back towards my home next to the lighthouse and grabbed a net.

I pulled the body over onto the island. I figured she couldn’t have been anyone older than thirty, and at the same time, her form was nothing more than someone a little over twenty. Her hair was stained blue, like the ocean she came from, and her body was of no particular care nor neglect. She wore a dress that matched her hair. I pressed my face against her chest, and felt her pulse like the ebb and flow of the ocean. I sighed in response, and leaned back up towards the darkened ocean. I wondered where she came from, but that wonder slowly dissipated as the crashing of the waves continued, and as the light of my lighthouse shone another spiel.

The breeze of the ocean swept under my face, reminding me of the woman I had just brought ashore. I was beginning to pick her up when I heard a cough emanate from her mouth. I placed her back down, and saw her wheeze her way back into this world. Her eyes jolted open, two black holes with a galaxy behind her. She didn’t turn her head, nor did she seem fully conscious of her being alive.

“Fancy meeting the undead,” I said, gesturing her attention towards me. She tried to lift her head, but stumbled back onto the ground beneath. I wondered if I should help her up, but the expression on her face seemed to tell me that she was content laying towards the darkened ocean.

“Where am I?” She said with a quiet lull in her voice. It almost sounded like the breeze of the ocean, or even the winds of the darkened ocean that brought about a million lights.

“My lighthouse. You were in the ocean, floating on rocks.” Her expression remained stoic, unchanging unlike the movement of humanity.

She brought one arm over to the darkened ocean, and turned her hand inspecting every crevice of her fingers. I almost did the same.

“I’m sorry, I must have caused you some trouble,” she said as she brought her arm down.

“It’s my job. Unfortunately, there’d be even more trouble if there weren’t cases like you.” She seemed to nod in tacit understanding.

“We should get you inside, it’s cold out.” As I got up, I looked down at her face to see her eyes transfixed on the lights littering the darkened ocean. It seemed as if her body was melding with the ground beneath her, as if she was becoming the island that she had washed ashore on. Then she closed her eyes, and it was like looking at the still of the ocean. Her chest rose and lowered in tandem with her short breaths and her face hadn’t a single trace of muscle.

“I’m okay,” she answered. She opened her eyes, and propped her body up such that she was leaning into her legs.

“I smell of the ocean,” she said. I smiled.

“Do you think I would have died if you didn’t find me?” She looked forward into the ocean, speaking to me from a place far beyond my world.

“Can’t say for sure. Maybe you would have woken up, swam back to where you came from.” She considered my own sarcasm for debate as she sunk herself further into her legs. The back of her neck was exposed, and the lightness of her skin blended with her dress, appearing as if the sand on a beach before the ocean.

“And if I couldn’t swim back?” She asked.

“Well, in that case, you’d be drowned near a lighthouse.” She smiled at that, a devilish smile. She brought her legs up, and propped herself to stand. Her balance was off, and she seemed to sway with the ocean she was facing. She smiled again.

“Thank you, for pulling me. I must be off now.” She turned, looked at the light house, and then began walking into the town through the dirt road. I tried to speak to her, to call her back, to ask for some reason for her appearance. But the words that came out of my mouth began tumbling towards the ground, sinking into the ocean, finding its way somehow into the darkened ocean, drifting on forever with the millions of lights far from my reach.

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