From a dark history comes a new birth.
|Hey, Teresa! Look at this,” Daniel said thrusting the paper over towards his wife. He waited for her to read. Her thoughtful expression paired with the nibbling of her lower lip, made him press on, “It sounds perfect and we could afford it.”
“But a lighthouse, Danny?” she said giving him a skeptical glance before looking back at the description. “Do you really want to be a lighthouse keeper?”
“It is not as arduous as it once was… besides, look where it is… the headwater of Cyril Cove. That’s close to your family. You’ve told me its beautiful up there,” Daniel added.
“Yes, but I’ve heard stories…” she began a little hesitantly.
“Stories?” Daniel was clearly intrigued. His writer sense was already starting to engage.
Teresa shook her head, unable to hide the smile at Daniel’s enthusiasm. “I’ve heard it’s haunted.”
“Haunted,” Daniel leaned forward clearly interested.
“From what I can remember… a man killed his wife… and threw her into the sea from atop the lighthouse. I don’t think I could live there.”
“Ah, haunted stories. Those are just tales told to scare up the kiddies and keep them from trespassing. Besides, look at the pictures. It is gorgeous.”
“It is beautiful,” Teresa mused looking at the quaint cottage attached to the freshly painted white lighthouse with red trim. It did not look haunted or even remotely scary. “I suppose we could have a look,” she said and laughed when Daniel whooped with glee.
Daniel could feel an energy about the place as soon as he got out of the car. Standing on the land, he could feel an energy calling to him. Looking over at Teresa, he could tell from the look she gave him, that she’d felt it too. He moved around the car and reached for her hand. Together they followed the realtor around listening to his words, as they took the place in.
There was a such feeling of a deep creativeness here. It seemed to call to them. As they walked around the place the feeling grew.
When the realtor had gave them time to think, they had walked around the place again. Beathing in the possibilities.
“I could paint here,” Teresa mused looking out over the surf that surged around the jagged rocks just below where they stood. The ocean breeze played with her hair and she shifted her hand up to sweep the locks from her eyes. She glanced over at Daniel and smiled. “And you could write.”
“I could. I feel the energy. This place is magic.” She nodded.
“So?” he asked knowing her answer, but needing to hear it from her.
“I think this is our place Daniel,” she told him with her quiet strength and he felt his heart bloom as he pulled her in for a hug. Their tender kiss sealed the bargain.
And so began their new adventure….
The first day they moved in was filled with a few odd obstacles. The first being the fact that the key would not unlock the old bolt lock.
“Funny… it worked when the realtor was here with us…” Daniel said as he tried the lock several times to no avail.
The local locksmith, Mr. Culver came out and refitted the door with a new lock.
“This here place has been abandoned fer years,” he old them, “You heard the stories, I figure?’
Eager for stories, Daniel asked him to go on. Mr. Culver seemed only too happy to tell what he knew.
“Well, the last family… must be over 15 or 20 years, I’d say… they met with a sad end. Grisly, really… some say. Fella killed his wife. Claimed she was unfaithful. Tossed her off the ledge up there,” he added pointing up at the outer walkway that surrounded the top of the lighthouse. “Then he jumped in after her. Couldn’t face what he’d done. Couldn’t live without her.” He shook his head sadly as he added, “They never found the bodies.”
Teresa moved closer to Daniel and he wrapped his arm around her. A coldness wrapped itself around them, then just as suddenly, it was gone.
“Locals hired a company to keep the lighthouse running. No one ever comes up here at night. I heard some folks say they hear weird howling at times. Odd stuff.”
Teresa looked a little uneasy as she looked around. She nibbled at her bottom lip as she glanced around. She seemed to be looking for something. Daniel gave her a reassuring rub on her shoulder knowing she was a highly sensitive person. She smiled weakly at him.
Had they made the right decision?
As the evening darkened, Teresa seemed to grow more and more uneasy. Her eyes would catch glimpses of something. Something hazy and faint, but there nonetheless.
“I don’t like this, Daniel. There is something off here. I can tell…” she began, her voice barely a whisper.
"It's just jitters from the move..." Daniel said as he moved to put his arms around her.
"No. It’s more than that," she glanced around uneasily, "I'm feeling... I mean, I know the story…. But hearing it again today….”
"It'll be alright. It's just a local legend, something the townspeople stirred up to make this area more intriguing to tourists and, no doubt, to keep their kids away from the breaking surf. That dangerous drop is enough to make any parent nervous."
Teresa gave him a weak smile, still not convinced she said, "But we aren't tourists, Daniel. This is our home..."
"And we’ll make it our home. You'll see. Once we bring in all our things and make this place our own it will be fine."
Her smile brightened a little, but he could see the apprehension in her eyes. It seemed to ripple through the air between them.
That night the winds picked up, howling with a ferocity of a wild animal caught in a trap. Teresa stayed close to Daniel and they kept working long after the sun had set. By the time they were almost to exhausted to stand, they headed up to bed. Both fell into a fitful sleep.
In the wee hours of the night, Teresa was jerked awake by the sensation of being watched. Her eyes roamed their bedroom searching, then paused as a hazy form appeared in a dark patch by the closet. Her trembling movements woke Daniel.
“Can you see that?” she whispered pointing over by the closet.
Daniel shook his head groggily. “It’s your imagination…”
“Imagination, my foot,” rumbled a low voice.
The voice was not Teresa’s, he was sure of it, but his mind played tricks when he was dead tired. He told himself it was just the wind.
Giving his head a rough shake, Daniel tried to clear the fogginess as he looked back over to the dark patch she had pointed at. He saw nothing. Shaking his head gently this time, he mashed his pillow to make it fluffier, then sank back into the puffed softness.
Teresa snuggled closer to him. Her eyes watching the spot long after the hazy figure disappeared.
The next day was brilliantly calm. The sky stretched blue as far as the eye could see. Only a few clouds dared to disturb the pristine effect.
Teresa, hoping to shake the watchful presence that seemed to follow her around the house, grabbed her paint box, easel and a canvas and headed for a spot high up on the hill behind the lighthouse. There she set to work capturing the beauty around her.
Here the presence did not seem so forbidding or dark. It almost had a friendly quality; as if it enjoyed her creation. As she looked over the landscape before her she could swear she had spotted a woman picking daisies just over the next rise.
Her waved and called ‘hello’, she watched the woman turn and wave back.
“We have neighbours,” she told Daniel when he approached, but when she pointed to the spot where the woman had been, she was gone.
“She was just there…”
“Not to worry. Maybe we’ll meet her later,” he told his wife as he gave her a gentle kiss on the check.
“How is the writing coming?’ she asked watching her husband shrug.
“It’s being stubborn. I can feel something there that wants to be told, but it’s just out of reach… I thought I’d walk for a bit. See if that helps.”
“It’ll come,” she assured him leaning in to give him another kiss before he ambled off down the hill towards the trail that curled around and down to the shoreline a good mile in the distance.
“You’ll be alright while I’m gone?” he asked remembering his wife’s jumpiness that morning around the kitchen.
“I’ll be fine. I think I was just spooked by what I thought I saw last night.”
She watched him go. He was quite a way off when she saw a man join him. She smiled as she watched them walk down over the rough outcrop and over to the field of billowing grasses. Then she went back to her painting.
It was not long before the woman joined her again. She said nothing only watched. Teresa smiled at her and the woman smiled back.
When she was ready for a break she invited the woman back to the house for tea. The woman nodded and followed along. At the house, after putting her stuff away and cleaning up she put the kettle on. The woman moved about the house almost as if she knew the place.
She said nothing, but Teresa did not mind. The woman’s smile was kind.
As she reached up to get the tea, she found a small box hidden behind the cups that she had not seen there before. Pulling it down she found if full of recipes.
“These are wonderful,” she told the woman, “I’ve always wanted to try making bread… and there is one for biscuits as well.”
At her excitement the woman only smiled. When Teresa looked up to show her, the woman was gone.
The chill that had surrounded her all afternoon lifted. Teresa peeled off her sweater and looked at the spot the woman had been standing. The woman’s disappearance was surprising odd, but strangely… Teresa did not feel frightened. Instead she felt warmed by the gift of the recipes. Recipes she was eager to try.
Hours later, when she was puttering with the meal preparations, she looked up to see Daniel enter the kitchen looking perplexed.
“How was the walk? Did you have a good chat with that man…” her voice trailed away when she noticed he stood stock still staring at her wide-eyed.
After a moment, he blew out a breath and whispered “Bloody odd….” He plopped down on the closest chair and began to remove his boots. “I just got over the rise and it got really cold… I was going to turn back and get a jacket….” he paused, then went on, “You know how I’ve said characters can start talking to me…”
“Well, I had this character, a man muttering away at me as I walked. I couldn’t make sense of what he was saying, but it was like he was right there with me….”
“I saw…” her voice trailed away.
Teresa felt a tremor rove over her. To shake the sensation, she turned back to her bread dough and continued to knead it.
“There was no one with me Teresa. I was alone all afternoon,” he said quietly.
She nodded, eyes fixed on her bread making task.
“But you saw…”
“I saw someone walking with you… am I going crazy?” she asked feeling mildly faint.
“No, but there is something odd here…”
“Do you think this place really is haunted?” Teresa asked as she worked at putting the loaf pans into the stove.
“Nah, that’s just bunk,” Daniel told her, but even he was starting to wonder.
That night Teresa fell into an exhausted sleep. Daniel lay awake long after she had dozed off. He mulled over the day trying to make sense of the oddness of it. The chill. The mumbled muttering of a voice.
Was he losing his mind?
After a time, he fell into a fitful sleep only to be awakened in the darkest part of the night. He heard a sound of a chair being scrapped along the floor. Daniel eased out of bed careful not to disturb Teresa. Slipping on his robe and grabbing the fireplace poker, just in case, he descending the stairs to the kitchen as quietly as he could.
The light from the lighthouse pierced the fog that hugged them in tight. Daniel stood staring out at the night, staining to hear the sound that had dragged him from what had finally turned into a sound sleep. All had fallen silent.
He turned on the light in the kitchen after nearly tripping over one of the chairs that had been pulled out from the table.
"Bloody Hell, he whispered as he rubbed his shin.
"You shouldn't swear like that," a voice behind him said and he whirled to see... nothing. He could feel a waft of cold air surround him. It was much like the chill he’d had that afternoon on the walk. A tremor rolled through him. It was a woman's voice; he felt certain.
His heart skipped a beat. He pulled in a shaky breath before muttering, "Sorry."
"S'alright. I shouldna left the chair out like that. Damn nuisance with everything moved around," he heard her say.
Daniel craned his neck out to see where the voice was coming from.
"Hello?' He said into the empty room.
"Damn fool can't see ya Sara," a deeper voice said and Daniel swallowed a scream as his arms bristled with goosebumps.
"I know that Harold, but he can hear us fair enough,"
"Are you the painter then?" Harold asked and Daniel shook his head dumbly before squeaking out, "my wife."
"She's really very talented," Sara said. “I was watching her this afternoon.”
"And you, what do you do?" Harold asked. His voice gruff.
"Write. I'm a writer," Daniel whispered still looking around as he quivered.
"Isn't that nice dear. Such a lovely couple." Sara said.
Daniel dropped down into the chair that he still had not pushed back in. He pulled in a deep calming breath.
"Can't say its all that manly. Looks a might scrawny to me. Not sure if he has what it takes to run this here lighthouse."
"He's young, Harold. You'd be surprised what young men can do,"
The man growled and Daniel could feel his goosebumps getting goosebumps. His mind scrambled to recall the story...
He remembered that Harold was a beefy man. Bulky and full of brawn. He was not a very trusting soul. His wife, Sara was sweet and friendly.... maybe too friendly to some of the locals and old Harold took offense. He claimed she was being unfaithful, thought she denied it. Then one night he had found her with one of the delivery men and he had become angry and violent. The story was that old Harold had thrown her off the top of the lighthouse, then fell off after her. No one really knew for sure what happened, but they weren't heard from again.
"We d-d-don't m-mean you any harm, sir,” Daniel stammered. “My wife and I bought this place in the hopes of following our creative dreams. We want the solitude and the sea air."
"He could write our story, Harold. Set the record straight. Find the killers..."
"The k-k-killers?" Daniel stammered almost swallowing his tongue.
Harold grunted, this time not so roughly.
"All this time we have been held captive here, maybe if he tells our story... we could move on. Find some peace."
A creak on the stair had them all turning to find Teresa standing sleepily in the doorway. She rubbed her eyes blinking slowly at the sight before her.
"Honey, who are you talking too?" Teresa asked trying to muffle a yawn. Her eyes looked into the room and seemed to settle first at the stove and then at the chair across from Daniel. She gave a kind smile.
"Harold and Sara," Daniel whispered not wanting to alarm her, but she only nodded as if that were the thing to do. "Did you offer them coffee?"
Daniel shook his head and she tutted, "Danny, you need to be more social. Would you like anything at all?' she asked the couple.
Neither Sara or Harold said a thing. They only shook their heads.
"Okay then I'll let you talk, good night." She slipped away back up the stairs. Daniel stared after her.
"She's walking in her sleep," Sara whispered.
"She can see us," Harold groused.
"But not hear us," Sara mused.
"The writer and the painter, " Harold said.
"She can see and he can hear. Very interesting." Sara said. "Perhaps you can both help...others hear the creaks... the wind scares them. They remember the stories and run..."
"I don't see how Sara," the man groused.
"To tell the truth. To set the record straight. To show the world that a wrong was made and those people can be found and made to pay for what they did to us."
"It was a long time ago..."
"But the story could still be told... should be told," Daniel heard himself say and as he said it, he felt a rush of excitement at the thought of bringing their story into the light. Putting their demons behind bars and letting them move on from this place.
After a time, Harold said, "alright, but first let him get some sleep. No man is worth his salt if he's too tired to stand, let alone think."
Daniel sat for a few more moments. The voices seemed to evaporate. Silence had returned. Only the wind howled around the edge of the house. He trembled. What an experience that had been. Had he been dreaming?
After fixing some hot milk, he ambled up to bed, not sure what to make of the situation, but too tired to figure it out.
The next morning Teresa was up early fixing them a good breakfast. Daniel wondered if she would even remember the middle of the night moments. She seemed rested for the first time since they had moved in, so he let the matter slide.
She had cooked them up back bacon and eggs. She sliced and toasted the bread she had made the day before.
“I got this recipe for the bread from your friend, the lady you were talking to last night.”
Daniel, who was just about to take another bite, stopped and looked over at her. “My friend?” he asked perplexed.
“The couple that were here last night. She stopped by earlier in the day and showed me a box of recipes. I assumed they were hers. She didn’t say anything, but she seemed okay with sharing them with me.”
When Daniel didn’t say anything, she went on, “Such a nice woman. Lovely and kind.”
“You didn’t think that a little odd?” Daniel asked watching his wife carefully.
She shrugged and shook her head. “Not really. She seemed so kind. I saw her several times yesterday after you went off on your walk. She watched me paint. When she came back to the house with me I offered her tea, but she shook her head. I figured she was mute or something… but she seemed to know the place.”
“Was there anything unusal….”
“She did just disappear on me, but I figured she was just… special in her own way…” Teresa said, then added, “the only odd thing was… that I seemed cold when she was here, but it heated up after she left.”
Daniel let out a shaky breath.
“Are you okay?” she asked noticing her husband had turned pale.
Daniel told her about the couple she had seen the night before. As she listened, she nibbled her bottom lip.
“And you can’t see them?” she asked after he had finished telling her his story. He shook his head. “But you hear them?” Again, he nodded waiting for her response.
Teresa grinned. “Well, I’d say we should be honoured.”
“Honoured?” he asked completely befuddled by her unexpected response.
“I feel accepted. Honoured that they would want to share their story with us. They are really quite a handsome couple. I’d love to paint their portrait.”
“I thought you’d be…. upset,”
“At first, the story scared me, but yesterday when I was up painting… I felt… like I’d met a kindred spirit. Sara, you said her name was,” Daniel nodded. “It suits her. Harold is a big man. A little intimidating… until he smiles at his wife. He has big heart. I can tell.”
Daniel could not help smiling. “You see the good in everyone,” he told her. “So we’ll do this? Tell their story, the real story?”
“Yes,” Teresa agreed, “It’s time.”
The room took on a chill at that moment and Teresa chuckled as she said, “It appears we will have company for dinner.”
Daniel followed his wife’s gaze to the doorway. “I suppose you’re right,” he said as he got up to get them both extra sweaters and his notebook.
Over the next several months, Daniel worked furiously crafting a tale out of the landscape of the past, filling in the details and drawing the darkness into the light. Daniel’s research also uncovered the untimely death of the killers. They had met their fate and died horrible deaths. The wrong had been avenged and that set Harold and Sara at peace.
As the months played out, Teresa found herself sketching and painting a couple that seemed to appear to her, first dark and hazy, but as the story unfolded, she was able to help them let the light find its way in. Her paintings became lighter as well.
Daniel felt the presence of Harold and Sara with them for those many months and when their story was told and a publisher willing to publish, they moved on. But not before sharing some of their wisdom.
“Don’t isolate yourselves too much. Keep a connection to the town. They’ll watch out for you. Had we done that, our lives would not have had such a terrible end. The rumours and stories would not have been made up. The real truth would have come out.”
“Share your talents,” Sara told them, “Both of you have so much to offer and this place could be so much more than just your place.”
Teresa took that advise to heart and with some cajoling, managed to convince Daniel that they could offer retreats to other creatives needing time and a sanctuary to reconnect with their creative side.
Over time, the dark history that had held the Lighthouse prisoner for two decades slipped away. leaving a place were creative energies flourished.
Word Count = 3844.