Grasping tightly onto the cold, brass railing that traveled waist-high
along the inside wall, Elizabeth gazed out the windows through heavy
sheets of rain, watching tumultuous ocean waves crash against the rocky
breakwater below. The thunderstorm was particularly violent, remnants
of a hurricane that had worked its way up the East Coast, thrashing
parts of Maine before exiting out to the open sea. Tiny bits of sleet
pitted against the windows and were blown away just as quickly by
gusts of wind.

She loved climbing the tall, spiral staircase to the old Pennington
Point Lighthouse, counting each step as she went, lingering on the
treads that creaked. The only thing she loved more was watching
a storm roll in from the sea from within the solid, hundred-year-old
walls. As a child, she would steal away from her family’s home
and head for the beacon at the first sign of an impending storm,
feeling secure once inside.

Wind rattled the panes, threatening to loosen them from the
casings. Larger sleet pellets knocked on the glass before sliding
down, etching a trail on the wet surface. With the late afternoon
light melting into the grayness of the rain clouds, Elizabeth became
mesmerized by the rhythm of the storm.

Movement at a distance caught her eye. Something dark on the
breakwater. An animal? Squinting to discern, she stepped closer,
swiping the fogged-up glass with her palm and drying it on her pants
leg. Was it a person? Someone drawn to the tempest of the sea?
An unfortunate soul who’d been caught too far out on the oversized,
jagged boulders when the storm arrived? The shape shifted,
appearing to stand more upright. Just as a second figure emerged,
a wave rose up and swatted them both down against the rocks.
Elizabeth pulled away at the sight and her back stiffened. Biting
her lip, she crept closer again. Only one shape remained, flattened
against the breakwater.

Entranced by the storm’s fury, Elizabeth didn’t hear anyone
approaching from behind but felt a hand on her shoulder. . . .

© 2021 Penny Goetjen