Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | March 25, 2008

Lighthouses

Portland, Maine. June 25, 2007.

Portland Head Light

“This is the end of the world!”  Leah wrenched out of her mother’s grasp and dashed down the crumbling path to the ocean’s edge.  The lighthouse stood tall and silent, a guard against anything that might rise out of the misty water.

“Leah!” the little girl’s mother laughed as she ran to catch up.  “There are lots more countries across that ocean.  If you had a boat or an airplane, you could keep going for a long time.  you could even go all around the Earth and arrive at this very same spot again!”

Leah nodded like she agreed, but she knew her mother was just making up stories so she wouldn’t be scared.  That was nice of her, but Leah was old enough to see the truth.  The world ended here, and someone had put that tower in to make sure the border stayed calm and quiet.

But something was lurking out in that water.  Something big and spiky and full of teeth.

If towers was what the edge of the world needed, Leah was exactly the right person to get the job done.  She was an expert builder.  Starting with the largest, flattest stones she could carry, she worked on her own lighthouse.

“Leah, while you play here, I’m going to read over on that rock, OK?”

The little girl nodded and smiled, and her mother smiled back.  The day was warm, but the water was too chilly even for wading.  Leah got too close to the incoming waves once, and felt her toes go numb. So she stayed away, building tower after tower along the shore.

“The monster’s name is Frost!”  she said, “and I won’t let Frost bite me again!”

She worked until she ran out of rocks.

There were plenty of little tiny ones, but no more of the big flat ones that were perfect for tower bottoms.

Leah looked and looked and looked.  She even got her toes wet one more time to see if any rocks were hiding in the waves!  She was almost ready to give up, when she saw something.

Tucked behind a patch of wild roses was the most perfectly round and flat and shiny rock ever!

Leah pulled as hard as she could, but the rock wouldn’t move.  She scooped some sand out from underneath, and leaned on the rock with all her weight.  It popped up a tiny bit, so she scooped her arms around it and leaned backwards until she fell down in the sand!

Leah was expecting hordes of tiny crabs and little bugs like she had found under all the other rocks.  She wasn’t scared of stuff like that.  Crabs were nothing like the monsters lurking under the waves.  Instead of crabs, the round patch of sand was full of glitter.  Silvery, sparkling, and soft, the glitter stuck to Leah’s hands when she tried to pick it up.  It was almost like touching tiny bits of paper, but the edges were sharper than paper.

Leah knew what it was as soon as she saw it.

“Star dust!”  she shouted, and flung the glitter over her towers.  Thanks to the magical glitter, each tower grew taller and wider and stronger than the one before, until the lighthouse seemed tiny and useless.

“Watch out Frost!”  Leah cried, and carried her glitter to the edge of the ocean.  The edge of the world.

She waited for the largest wave before she threw the star dust, then she watched the sparkly dust float for just a second, before the waves took it under.

Leah smiled.  The beach was safe, for now.

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