The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

07 March 2017

February short story

Second '12 short stories in 12 months' challenge. The prompt was 'Conversations with my spouse', target 1,200 words.
This is a return to the world of Madeline and her Lighthouse Keeper.

Excerpt of letter from Dorothy Saunders to Madeline Smith
...storms have been fierce this year. They say more ships have been lost this year than in any other. As you can imagine, it is keeping Peter quite busy. (I tell you this in case you’re wondering why you haven’t been hearing from him.) (ARE you hearing from him?) Nevertheless, he stopped by today, for no particular reason at all, or so he’d have me believe. But I could see he wanted to ask after you and was working hard to keep his words between his teeth.
You know your own mind, Madeline, and I love you dearly, but you are more stubborn than an ornery mule when you catch hold of an idea. I truly do hope you know what you’re about, this time.
Kate says to tell ‘Aunt’ Madeline she won Edward’s marbles. (Here I thought he’d lost them long ago.)
Your forever friend,

Part of a letter from Madeline to Mrs. Calember
...I’m sorry to hear the raccoon got at your pies again. Do you think you ought to leave them to cool out on the porch like that? I’ve often been tempted to swipe one myself so I find myself quite in sympathy with your masked bandit!
Thank you for telling me about Peter - I’m glad to know he’s getting his meals regular at Miss Stella’s. Things haven’t changed in town one bit, for I swear every time he sets foot in that restaurant someone is in a hurry to tell me he isn’t wasting away from hunger. I appreciate your wanting to help, but That Man will have to come to his senses in his own time.
Now, fill me in on what’s been happening with the Lady’s Auxiliary. Dot’s last letter was sadly lacking in gory details…

From a letter from Jane Sissons to Madeline
… grumpy as a goat. Jonathan says he’s worse than before you came to town, and I have to say, Maddy, I agree with him. You know it must be plain as day, for my husband doesn’t notice a thing he hasn’t pulled up in a fishing net.
Dorothy and I are keeping an eye on him between us. Last week we overheard him asking Jasper about flower beds and garden seeds. Could have knocked us over with a feather we were so amazed, for if Peter LaRoche knew or cared about the difference between a flower or a weed he’s never showed it before.
We’re all pleased as can be for your sister but couldn’t she hurry the baby along so you can come back to Rose Passage?

From Madeline to Jasper Kittering
I wouldn’t go so far afield as Tolstoy, Jasper. I’m delighted you’re willing to venture away from the Farmer’s Almanac, but you needn’t go all the way to Russia on your first foray into the World of Literature! Rose Passage Library has a respectable selection of the works of Mr Dickens. Ask Mrs Calember to show you where they are; she’ll know how to help you. I think you would enjoy Oliver Twist very much. It is my experience that men of a quiet nature do well with Dickens.

A letter from Jasper Kittering to Madeline
I had to put down on paper my thanks to you, Miss Madeline, for leading me to the fine writing of Mr Charles Dickens. He sure is able to make a terrible and tangled life something we can find humour in. I’ve been reading scraps of it out to the fellows in the store of a quiet morning and they sure are enjoying it. I notice your man hanging around in the back of the gang some mornings but he usually slides out quiet like before I can talk to him. I reckon he’s another quiet one you told about Mr Dickens, for I saw him smile when he overheard me tell Jonathan Sissons how I came to be reading such a book. Mrs Calember is going to help me decide on the next book, soon’s I’m done with poor Oliver Twist, but we truly do miss you behind the desk of our library.
Come to think of it, your Peter was buying a fair lot of lumber and nails. Might be he’s fixing to build that trellis you’ve been talking about, come Spring time.
Your friend,
Jasper L. Kittering

From Mrs. Calember to Madeline
Peter paid his usual visit to the library on Tuesday, and I tucked the book on rose horticulture into the stack he borrowed as you’d asked.  I noticed Great Expectations among the books he returned. I don’t think he meant anything by the Miss Havisham reference though, dear.

Excerpt of letter from Madeline to Dorothy
I meant to patch the elbow of his grey sweater before I left for the train that day, but I was so cross I just didn’t care if he went all over town with his elbows hanging out of his clothes. Is he wearing that new coat from Christmas? It’s been so cold of late. Oh, Dot, why are things never so simple as you imagine they will be when you imagine your grownup self as a child?

Do tell my borrowed niece and nephew that there isn’t as much snow here as at home, but we did get enough to construct a wonderful fort…

From a letter from Madeline to Jane
I marvel and you and Jonathan being married for so long and still civil to one another. Peter is a good man and I know it, but he lived alone in that lighthouse for a long time. I think it cleared any natural ability to share a home right out of him!

Excerpt of reply from Jane
Oh, dearest Madeline, men are never very good at understanding a woman’s heart at the beginning - we have to teach it to them. But my dear, the same can be said of a wife needing to learn her husband’s heart.
I saw Peter in the mercantile yesterday looking at a bolt of yellow cotton (with polka dots, my dear!) I teased him about new shirts made of yellow cotton, and he turned red, poor man, then he mumbled something about curtains and left without buying a thing. You wouldn’t know what that was about, would you? Could it be that he is wanting to pretty up that house for when you return?

Part of a letter from Dorothy to Madeline
I did as you asked, Maddy, and bought the whole bolt of yellow cloth from Jasper. You should have seen Peter’s face as he watched me pull it up the walk in Edward’s little wagon, and then told him it was from you. (I thought you might be having a laugh at me - payback for that time I let you go the whole day with your sweater on inside out.) (I promise you nobody else noticed!) However foolish I felt delivering that heap of fabric, I don’t think a man has ever been so happy to be given yellow polka dots as he was.
Madeline to Dorothy
Bless you, my friend!

Telegram from Peter LaRoche to Madeline
Please come home.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this. Your confidence and ease with the characters in this piece showed. I got a sense they are real people. I would not go so far as to say Dickens was the better choice though.