Addison held Rene’s hand tightly helping her slide down the small boulder to the pebbled ground. Her blue and white sailor's dress fanned out as the wind caught it. Her feet hit the sand and she tipped forward, making her two little pigtails bounce back and forth like ships on the sea as she righted herself.
“Let’s go, Paige,” Addison said, stepping to the ground beside Rene. “The storm’s headed this way.”
I made one last glance at the sea from my higher perch. It’s not that I still couldn’t see the water from the path too. The waves surrounded our peninsula much like Papa’s hand surrounded mine when I was scared. Not that I scared easily. I loved the water. I loved the ships. I even secretly loved the stormes. The only thing I was ever afraid of was the thought of the light going out, in the lighthouse. But Papa was a good light-keeper; he would never let that happen.
“Paige!” Addison called from farther up the path, “Papa’s waiting!”
I leapt from boulder to boulder till I slipped and jumped quickly to the ground, before running after Addison and Rene.
The path twisted around the landscape; the pebbles and rocks making it look like the design on the back of a snake.
Stepping on the darkest stones only, as I always did, I bounded to catch up. The long grasses swayed and bent, reaching out to brush against us. I purposefully crashed into Addison’s arm as I jumped past him.
“I’ll beat you to Isidore!” my eyes turned to the lighthouse, with it’s bright rotating light, and I took off even faster than before. Without looking back I raced along, loose pebbles scattering under me. My bare feet flew over the rough path. Thunder called out in the distance, warning us of the approaching storm. Rounding a bend I glanced behind me, but Addison and Rene were out of sight.
I arrived at the lighthouse out of breath, and raced across the wide circular porch. My curly brown hair had escaped from the two loose braids hanging down on my shoulders. I skipped down the winding porch towards the lighthouse door but stopped suddenly. Lying across the doorway as if he had not a care in the world, was Addison; Rene’s little head on his outstretched arm, her eyes tightly closed.
“How, how’d you do that!?” I panted.
“Do what?” he stretched in mock surprise. Rene’s eyes flew open and she laughed.
I looked back over the path and realized he had taken a short cut.
“Well, good thing I didn’t bet winning on supper dishes or anything!”
Heavy raindrops began to patter onto the porch roof. I stepped over Addison’s leg, pushing the door open with my arm. He scrambled up, swinging Rene up onto his chest. Her twin met us just inside.
“Hi Dean,” I said ruffling his hair. He smiled.
“Hi Addi!” he called, colliding into him.
Addison scooped him up beside Rene and we hurried inside.
“Addison! Paige!” Papa’s voice echoed through the house over the sound of the wind outside. “I need to get to the lighthouse. You two run and get the cows into the barn before the storm really hits.”
Addison pulled on his hat and grabbed at my hand as he hurried out the door behind Papa. He turned right and Addison and I ran left, around behind the house. I glanced up at the huge rotating beam in the lighthouse and quickly squeezed my eyes shut from it’s brightness. Papa wouldn’t let it go out. We would be fine. The ships would be safe. I rushed after Addison.
We raced over the uneven ground past the barn towards the cow field. By the time we reached the animals they were lowing loudly, ready to be lead to shelter.
“We’re just a bit too late, Addi,” I told him as he threw a rope around the head of the lead cow. He nodded; the rain had begun. I raced around behind the group of cattle and began clapping my hands together, “Ha! Yah! Come on, let’s go! Ha!”
They mooed loudly and clustered together in stubborn confusion. Addison jerked on the rope and the cows moved forward. I slapped the last cow on her rump, speeding things up a bit. The rain drenched us in only a few minutes.
We ushered the skittish cattle into the barn and into their stalls, dropping the narrow beams to keep them in place. Addison swung the door back open and the wind slapped our faces, hard. Struggling together, we managed to pull the barn door closed after us and bolt it shut.
I glanced towards the lighthouse through the pounding rain; the beam rotated. Papa wouldn’t let it go out. We would be fine. “Papa will keep the ships safe,” I whispered.
Nearly blinded by the pouring rain, I tumbled over the rough grasses and they swayed angrily, stinging my bare ankles and legs. Still struggling with the rope I’d gotten for Papa from the house, I stumbled, collapsing on the wide porch. I leapt to my feet and throwing all my weight against the door, I managed to get it open.
The wail of a ships foghorn bellowed painfully close -- much too close. I froze. Dropping the rope and spinning around, I dashed off the lighthouse porch into the driving rain. I stumbled backwards trying to see the light.
“PAIGE!” Addison screamed over the wind, “the light! The light is out!”
“No!” I wouldn't believe it. “It can't be out.” I panted. “It can't be. Papa would never let it go out. He wouldn't!” But I had known before Addison told me. The light was out. The whole island felt different, blacker and colder. The rotating light was now dark and the building’s silhouette stood ominus in the storm.
“Paige!” Addison stuck his head back outside. “Get up to the light! NOW! I can’t find Papa!”
I dashed back to the porch.
Grabbing my arm tightly in his strong fingers, Addison looked straight into my eyes, “Paige, pray,” was all he said -- his eyes full of fear.
Heaving the last of the rope over my shoulder, I hurried into the lighthouse and began my race up the dark, spiral stairs. My feet seemed to pound out the message, light is out, ships in danger!
Gasping harder the higher I got, I could barely breathe. Dropping the heavy rope, I rushed on faster. I tripped on the winding staircase and fell to my knees, sobbing, “Papa!” but the only answer was the roaring wind and pounding rain.
I had to find him. I leapt up and scrambled higher through the darkness.
Finally I reached the light’s room at the top of the tower and burst in through the door. All was black until a lightning bolt shot through the sky, illuminating the room.
A window was shattered and glass littered one side of the circular room. Beside the glass lay Papa. Red blood beneath his head. A stout branch, which had apparently been hurled through the window by the angry winds, lay nearby. I rushed to his side. “Papa! Papa!” I shook him hard. He remained motionless. “Papa!” I felt for breath, it was there, but nothing I did would wake him. “What do I do!?”
Addison’s words rang in my mind, “Paige, pray.”
“Oh God, wake Papa! And….keep the ships safe!”
I knew I couldn’t rekindle the light by myself; I needed Addison. Leaping to my feet I took off down the winding staircase.
The bottom room was empty and I burst out the door. My blood ran cold. A ship’s foghorn wailed out over the wind, only a little ways from the land. My heart ached; it was calling to us, wondering why we were unfaithful and where we were! Papa had failed? How could Papa fail?
I could hardly believe that only a few hours ago, the sun was barely risen in the morning sky!
“Addison!” I screamed, spotting him sprinting towards me by the flash of a lightning bolt. “Papa’s unconscious in the top of the lighthouse!”
He didn’t stop, “I’ve got it. He’ll be all right. You run inside and tell Mother.”
Nearly halfway to the house I heard it -- another foghorn. This time from the left. I sank to my knees. The ships were being blown off course and there was no one to help them. No one!
No one...? It echoed in my mind.
I turned my face to the sky, the rain mixing with my tears of “Oh Father in heaven! You alone can help them!” I forced my eyes open….and gasped. Before my very eyes, the sun hacked a hole in the furious clouds, instantly sending a shaft of struggling, bright light down onto the peninsula and the ocean beyond. It lit the danger of the rocks; the ships could see.
“Light from from Your throne.” I stared. “Your power….” I breathed, before I was rendered speechless.
I wrapped my arms around my soaking clothes as the rain still pelted my head. I held my breath and listened. The foghorns echoed, but they were farther; safely away from the rocks.
As I stood shivering, it hit me, no matter how faithful Papa was, and how hard he tried, he still fell short. Like any other man, he couldn’t always be there. The only One who was always totally in complete control, was God. And He was always there, faithfully carrying out a good plan.
My Father had kept the light bright; the ships were safe.
Licking the rain from my lips, I stared at the one beam of yellow glory. Then I cried.