Co-Authored by Alessandra Wallisch
Timothee Roberts occupied an empty home, but a cluttered mind.
The lighthouse stood alone, surrounded only by the sounds of waves crashing against the rocky shore, and the hiss of the tea kettle that warmed Timothee’s body once a day at the precise time that a single beam of light shone through the smallest window at the top of the wall. The tea never seemed to last more than even a sip. He finished it in one gulp, but even the one swallow was enough to put his mind at ease and silence the constant chaos within him. Being alone wasn’t something Timothee had chosen, but it was something he had grown used to.
Many years had passed since his last visit. There was never a knock at the door, or a conversation with a friend to break up the ongoing thoughts inside his head. Only the sound of the kettle to remind him where he was and to give him a momentary break from the nagging voices inside him.
The wind howled, rattling the only picture that remained on the wall, in which a small boy stood, with features much like the ones of the man standing next to him, except smaller and more innocent. The smile on the boy’s face was one of someone who would never have to know what it meant to be alone. Alone in a lighthouse with only his thoughts to keep him company.
Timothee had been alone in the lighthouse for so many years, it was difficult for him to even remember exactly how many. Time seemed to pass only through the light that came and went. It was difficult to remember his life before the lighthouse, it seemed so distant, only the picture reminded him that it wasn’t a far away dream. Everyone from before his life in the lighthouse was by this time far out of reach, no one would want to revisit their memories with him even if they could. His dreams often took him back to the times when he didn’t feel so alone, when his work consumed him so his thoughts never had to.
When Timothee was a much younger man the sea was a kinder and gentler place. The waves brought him tranquility, as well as the inspiration for his research. Timothee had always been drawn to the ocean, so it was only natural that he would go on to study it. He was a scholar with a gifted mind and a calling to explore the areas of the ocean uncorrupted by man’s desire to leave no corner of the world untouched. It was only when his son was born that he discovered that something could hold more importance to him than the ocean. Even his wife, Mathilde, did not allure him in the same ways. He had never experienced a love as vast as the ocean before his son was born. He knew that when the boy was old enough, he would want to introduce him to the wonders of the sea. Once the boy was walking, he began bringing him along on excursions, despite the hesitations of his wife, who had a healthy fear and respect for the ocean. At this point, even his colleagues who once respected him had grown wary that his research might have been based more on his passion rather than facts. But his son, through his inquisitive and innocent eyes, became the only person who still fueled his desires.
As Timothee became more imbedded in his research, the distance between him and his wife grew larger. She continued to warn him that the ocean was no place for a child, but her worries could not compete with the fire within him that could no longer be contained. Timothee did not seem to mind losing the support of his colleagues within his field, as long as he still could see the admiration in his son’s eyes every time he taught him something new about the depths of the sea. Timothee’s research had been deemed too risky and unattainable by his colleagues but he had already dedicated his life to it, and would not be quick to abandon it. His son, as the inquisitive child who looked up to his father was always ready for their next adventure.
Mathilde begged Timothee to abandon his research just as his colleagues did but it occupied his every thought and he did not want to confront the reality of his mind without it. Soon, the only people on his excursions were him and his son, who was not old enough to distinguish adventure from madness. At times, the pair were gone for days, with only the stars to navigate them, and only the sound of the ocean around them. Mathilde grew more and more wary of these expeditions, fearing that they did not have the proper crew to navigate by themselves. She didn’t know how much longer she could wait at home fearing for her young son’s life and she planned to take him to her mother’s house in the countryside in hopes of a more stable life.
One stormy day, when the waters were especially choppy, Timothee believed he was on the brink of a breakthrough and insisted on one last excursion. Despite the weather, Timothee’s son wanted to come along, much to Timothee’s delight. Mathilde was at her breaking point and warned Timothee that this would be the last excursion that she would stand by for. Timothee assured her that this would indeed be his last one because he would find what he needed to conclude his research. Mathilde, exasperated, sighed but didn’t have the energy to stand her ground anymore so she saw them on their way.
That day the water was not forgiving. The storm continued to rage into the night. The visibility was low, and the wind rushed violently around the boat. The fear on Timothee’s son’s face told him that it was time to turn around, but he was so close to the answers he needed that they pushed on. Soon Timothee couldn’t even see one foot in front of him as the rain clouded his vision. He wiped away the rain drops from his spectacles every few seconds. The ocean grew angrier and more agitated, threatening to expel anything still dwelling within. Their boat rocked viciously, causing Timothee to lose his footing, finding himself face down on the deck. He struggled to regain his balance as the boat continued to lurch and toss them about with the rhythm of the waves.
Timothee became drenched in water as every wave grew higher and more powerful. The storm raged on around them and a single flash of lightning illuminated the sky. In this single second of intense brightness, Timothee saw his son swallowed up by the angry waves. Timothee jumped straight into the belly of the beast, desperately trying to drag his son away from it, but the beast was hungry and Timothee was much too weak. He reached for his son’s hand and felt his fingertips graze him but the two were soon separated by the rage of the sea.
Timothee gazed up at the window where the light came in and noticed that the beam started to fill the room. Soon, the tea kettle would whistle and Timothee could stop reliving that day in his mind. The tea would soon soothe his body and quiet his thoughts. Any moment now he expected to hear the piercing whistle of the kettle break up the thoughts raging through his mind.
One minute passed.
The kettle stood still.
His mind became as choppy as the ocean. Thoughts flooded him like the deck of the ship. Soon he would lose his footing. He felt himself slipping.
The angry waves would soon consume him like they had his son.
The tea kettle was silent.
Timothee flung the tea kettle across the room. Next he saw his chair fly across the room, hitting the wall. Only the picture remained, haunting him, staring at him. He tore it from the wall and drove it into the floor so that it could no longer mock him. He was interrupted by something he hadn’t heard in years. A knock at the door. The waters became still. He glanced at the door as a figure appeared in the doorframe. Someone who looked familiar to him, the older version of the child in the photo, but wearing a white lab coat.
“My son?” Timothee asked.
The man approached him and sat next to him on the floor.
“Take a deep breath and stay still Mr. Roberts. This will only take a moment,” he said.
He lifted a syringe and plunged into the side of Timothee’s arm. Timothee felt the storm inside of him subside. He stared up at the ceiling, starting to doze off. Tomorrow the tea kettle would whistle on time. He knew he would awake to another day in the lighthouse.
About the Creator
Self-identified Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) trying to carve out a joyful corner in an increasingly bleak world. I have one daughter, a French Bulldog named Chanel who farts a lot. I'm an Aries.
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