||[May. 22nd, 2007|05:24 am]
The New Bible Project
This story is pretty twisted. I think it was being pissed off at losing a freestyle that was definitely better than this one, then screwing up my anger against the world into a story about a lighthouse. There's no swearing in it or anything, but I'm gonna rate it "PG-13" anyway.|
It was dark on the island, and the flashing light of the island showed the boy’s intense gaze in periodic bursts. The family of the lighthouse keeper were all outside, due to the sea’s calmness and the lighthouse engine room’s all-pervading throb making quiet summer evenings intolerable. The lighthouse keeper’s daughter read in the light of the lantern above the entrance, and the lighthouse keeper himself watched the boy. The moon hung in the sky like a broken yellow tooth, casting a lurid glare over the scene.
The boy was thin, and the scars on his arms perfectly matched the haunted white face. Suddenly, he spoke:
“Da, do you ever pray any more?”
The lighthouse keeper came over to him and looked thoughtfully into the sea. He was thinking whether it was the drowning of Macie’s kittens in the past few weeks that had gotten to him so. He had explained to them both that Macie had gotten pregnant by her brother Eddie, accidentally-like, and so the kittens couldn’t live or else the poor things would be mad.
“Look, son, I explained to you about the kittens – ”
The boy turned to him and spoke sharply, telling him that it wasn’t that, not that at all. There was something repulsive and luminous in the sickly light of the moon that seemed to turn itself within the boy’s features, like a glow-worm on the end of a thread. The lips twisted and the eyes roved slightly, as in grief, but with a greater weight to them. The lighthouse keeper sighed turned away, saying that no, he didn’t pray.
“I do. Do you know what I pray for? The waiting to end – ”
The lighthouse keeper saw that the boy was becoming agitated, and put his fingers to his lips, closing his eyes slowly in a sort of calm wince, which was his signal to wind things down. The boy glanced up, quickly, and accordingly lowered his voice to a thin, throaty hiss.
“The waiting to end. I don’t want to end up another name on the plaque of lighthouse keepers who spent their whole lives waiting for the danger that never came.”
The lighthouse keeper took off his cap and rubbed his grizzled head, to slow his own response. Swarthy and tanned, with crinkles around his eyes and mouth, he had the merest touches of thought within his reach; and they manifested themselves best within gestures. His earthy opinions fell half-formed when he spoke, and it was left for the other to pick up their meanings. Now, he wordlessly attempted to shrug the words off his back, like a man suffering under the weight of an ideal, and instead what came out was:
“The island, lad. Dangerous words.”
“But we’d warn them.”
The boy turned and looked at his father, and the man was shocked to see the roving sweep of light suddenly illuminate a face that was unhinged, and unlike the closed face of a normal person seemed to let emotions swarm over it like ants on a corpse. In that long fraction of a second, the lighthouse keeper saw a mouth gnashing with desire, but the eyes were strange and pleading above the twitching lips.
“Something, Da,” came the voice out of the blackness, as the man recoiled. “Let’s let a ship crash – blame it on the mist, become heroes.”
The lighthouse keeper gave a forced laugh, and said something to the effect that he didn’t want all those sailors down there with the boy’s ma. The desperation in the voice caused it to heave and rend, now soft, now harsh, and the lighthouse keeper looked back at his daughter, ringed in a halo of light, to make sure she heard nothing of this.
“One ship, Da. Please.”
The boy’s face, tinged with the yellow madness of the moon, his voice undulating in a sort of mechanical hum as if he had many voices in him speaking at once, and his eyes like mirrors, electrified the lighthouse keeper with fear. His voice came as a soft mew, almost two decades younger than his years, giving the lighthouse keeper a piercing look of him, as if he could see the disease’s path through the rings spreading from his son’s core.
As the lighthouse keeper walked towards the circle of light beneath the great lighthouse, like a giant finger indicting the heavens, he smiled as his daughter rose to greet him. She went out to meet his arms, this young woman, running frailly as a piglet, with her caste eye seeming to give the lie to the world. Even as she ran, she instinctively knew something was wrong; so she stopped and began to scream, just before he caught her up in his arms.