The Lighthouse and the Pirate

Galveston-lighthouse

A short story by Cynthia Jeub, written before my lighthouse girl story last June. Reprinted with permission.

It thought it was a brick.

The brick was chipped, so it didn’t quite fit in with the other bricks in the shipment. It thought maybe the builder would cast it away for its imperfections.

It was a damaged brick. Worthless, it thought. The builder lifted it from the crate, and the brick felt its hideous chips exposed. It was no good; it would be tossed away from the project.

But the builder took some of the mortar and filled the chipped part of the brick, and placed it neatly in with the rest of the wall.

Then, unbeknownst to the brick, the brick became more than a brick. This was not an instance of the brick being part of a collective, utilitarian for its part of a whole. To say the brick was still a brick would be like saying a blossomed seed was still nothing more than a dead seed. No, the brick grew into more than a brick.

It grew into a lighthouse.

The lighthouse was beautiful for her faults, and all the sailors loved her. She attracted a type of sailor – sailors who were, like that brick the lighthouse once was, chipped and weatherbeaten.

She thought she wasn’t necessary, but she was. One night, the lighthouse decided not to shine brightly to warn the ships, and two crashed against the rocks. The fragments of driftwood still sometimes land ashore on the little island where the lighthouse sits.

Sometimes the lighthouse is lonely, and she wonders why she cannot float atop the waves as her companions do. She misses each visitor. The ships and sailors have only a few friends, but they keep them for a long time. The lighthouse has many friends, but they pass by. The lighthouse is vital to their survival, and they never forget the way the lighthouse helped them.

The lighthouse is too bright and alive to look at directly for too long.

Each sailor has tasks and livelihoods to return to, and stopping to spend time with the lighthouse would delay him from his journey.

The lighthouse must never forget that she is loved. She is not a ship or a sailor, but she is strong through storms, rising as a beacon of hope in rough waters.

Yes, she was once a chipped brick. Yes, the storms still threaten to extinguish her light.

Sometimes, when the lighthouse is lonely, she wonders if there is something wrong with her because the sailors avoid the sharp rocks and shallow waters around her. But the dangerous things she lives among are why the sailors need her. Lighthouses must always be among seafaring hazards. These are what make the lighthouses beautiful and necessary, but some lighthouses think their islands are a personal fault.

Once, a pirate was friends with this lighthouse, and told her not to be ashamed. It was alright to be crazy and to be different. She was a lighthouse, so of course her companions would come and go. The pirate knew this because pirates lose people, too. Together, the pirate and the lighthouse shared many experiences. The lighthouse used her searchlight to find weary, lost travelers, and the pirate helped them learn to tread their own waters.

The pirate understood the lighthouse, and regretted its loneliness. The pirate told the lighthouse not to be ashamed of her need for visitors, and to keep shining her light, inviting travelers.

But the pirate did not belong on land. She, too, left the lighthouse.

The pirate wrote one last story to the lighthouse, and hoped the lighthouse would understand.

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