The Lighthouse and the Pirate
It all began when I was a child. The dreams. At first, they included the sparkling sea under the full moon. Every now and then, a whale would jump. The stars twinkled. Then, as I grew older, the sea became bold and blustery, waves crashing into each other, and dark shadows flew to and fro, as if spirits were looking for a dry piece of land. Soon, pirate ships became dots on the horizon, and I listened to the blast of cannons as they fired towards one another other.
Then, the day I turned eighteen, magic happened. I glimpsed the most handsome man. He was standing on the bow of the ship, wind blowing through his shoulder-length hair. I was studying him through the high-powered telescope I had received for my birthday several years ago. I gasped and tripped backward, landing on my bed when I saw him looking straight in my direction. He had one of those old-fashioned spy glasses. Did he see me? I crept to the window and peeked my head above the window frame. I saw the ship, but of course I couldn’t see him without using the telescope. After a few seconds of hesitation, I stood up and looked again. He was still staring at me. And then he held up his free hand and gave a slight wave. My telescope was so precise, I saw his dimple and the laugh lines around his eyes. I was smitten.
Let’s go back to the beginning. I am imagining your burrowed eyebrows full of skepticism as you hear my tale. You’re probably thinking I’m a young woman who may be losing her mind. You’re probably thinking I should see a therapist. I have. Then I saw another. They had me talking for hours. One gave me a pen and told me to keep a diary. When I wasn’t cured enough for their satisfaction, they gave me markers and blank pieces of paper. Told me to draw it out. They were a little perplexed when my drawings stayed consistent. They always involved detailed ships from the 17th century, their crew bustling about, and of course, the handsome captain.
The lighthouse in my drawings was the object that gave me the most comfort. I’ve been in that lighthouse every summer since I was ten. My parents loved the sea and the isolation of living in a lighthouse. Every summer, we’d pack up our city home and head to the lighthouse for four months of blissful quiet and solitude. Both mother and I loved to read. And dad wrote. It was a perfect getaway.
In my tenth year, I awoke suddenly and heard the shutters banging against the wall. I was frightened, but I quickly ran to the open window. When I glanced out, I rubbed my eyes and then pinched myself. I felt the pain, so I knew I was awake. There, out in the open sea, were two magnificent ships. I ran over to my nightstand, where I kept my binoculars. Excited now, I peered through them. Pirate ships! My eyes caught the skull and crossbones flags on top of the masts. Of course, I’ve only seen ships of this kind in movies and have only read about pirates in books. I couldn’t see the details on that first night because of my astonishment, but I recall telling my parents all about it the next morning at breakfast. I was an only child and could be described as having a wild imagination, so they encouraged my illusion, probably to keep me busy. For the rest of the summer, and on every full moon, the pirate ships would appear. Over the years, and after setting up the telescope, I’ve witnessed a murder, a pirate forced to walk the plank, drunkenness, and fights among the pirates. And always, the handsome captain.
Soon, I was begging my parents to get to the lighthouse earlier in the year. Since I was homeschooled, they agreed. My father wrote a travel blog and mother was a retired professor, so it was an easy transition.
Every month I’d look forward to the ships appearing. In my eighteenth year, as I’ve already told you, things took a turn. That was my first glimpse of the handsome captain. It seemed that he was studying me. But, how is that possible? Isn’t this my dreamworld? I clutched the robe I was wearing tightly around me and ducked down below the window ledge. I closed my eyes and saw in my mind his stare and recalled his green emerald eyes and the dimple in his cheek. For the rest of that summer, I eagerly set my alarm for midnight on the full moon. Every time I looked out my window to the sea, I found the handsome pirate watching the lighthouse, and, it seemed, specifically my window.
That year, when my parents left for the season, I offered to stay on the promise of beginning online college courses. The lighthouse historian society was delighted to have me stay since I had so much experience in lighthouse maintenance.
Soon, my obsession with the handsome pirate took another turn…we began communicating. I know it sounds crazy. But one night, I saw he was carrying a lantern and it kept flashing. What did it mean? I thought about it for days and it suddenly hit me…Morse code! I printed out a list of codes and studied them and took quizzes I found online. It was akin to doing crossword puzzles or word games, things mother and I have always taken part in, so I was a natural.
For the next several months, we communicated. Tentative messages from him turned into sea tales. And then, love songs. Finally, love letters. He was a natural wordsmith and I adored his sweet, eloquent messages. After six months of communicating, we were soulmates. To prove it to the world, his and mine, we decided on a marriage date, July 10, the anniversary of our first meeting. My mind and body cried out to be close to my true love.
On the night of our marriage, I wore a lacy nightgown, the prettiest one I could find on the mainland. A wedding dress seemed too formal for my pirate. The wind had picked up a little as I climbed down the big rocks to the cliff overlooking the tumultuous sea. It seemed to be celebrating with me. With the full moon shining bright, I saw my pirate rowing a dinghy toward the shore to pick me up. He looked handsome with his newly clean-shaven face, his eyes bright with love. He smiled up at me tenderly as he carefully stood up. He held out a hand as he reached for me. Without hesitation I jumped into his strong and warm arms, eagerly wanting to be with my pirate forever. The sea covered us with love, and together we took our vows.
Now, every full moon, my captain stands tall on the bow with his spyglass against his eye, carefully scanning the horizon for danger. I am proud to be his soulmate, intricately carved and diligent, on the front of our ship, Lucy’s Fancy.
Dreamland? It’s your turn to visit the lighthouse and see for yourself. Don’t sleep through the full moon. Trust me, you’ll be enchanted forever.
See Joanie’s bio and more stories here.