St. Mary’s Retreat

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St. Mary’s Retreat was miles away from the tiny town of Brogan, hidden in the mountains and the forest that surrounded them. No one went up there anymore, there was no need, expect for the brave teenagers who wanted a scare.

I was walking around the old stomping ground, having been away from Brogan for almost ten years. I had grown up here, an orphan kid angry at everything and the memories were painful.

Somehow, my feet took me to St. Mary’s whilst my thoughts went back into the past. A crow startled from a tree, brought me back and I stopped and looked around. Through the thick foliage, I could see a complex of abandoned buildings and a small church.

Smiling, I walked towards them. The buildings looked intact but rotting away. Windows and doors were smashed in. There was graffiti on the walls and remains of furniture about. I toed bits and pieces, turning things over, it was mostly building material. Everything could have been salvaged had been removed and the rest broken by teens.

I found a wooden cross still attached to a paint peeling wall. A sharp memory came back to me. When I was seven, St. Mary’s had recently been vacated by the nuns who had lived here for forty-odd years. They had been using the place as a retreat for old and ill nuns who couldn’t do they duties anymore.

Before then and originally, the area had been a holiday retreat. Which explained why there there was a bar, tennis court and a swimming pool. The nuns had the church built which is why it looked more newer then the other buildings.

I walked outside and found myself at the pool side. It was drained of water, expect for the rain which had gathered at the deep end. There was so much scum on the surface it was hard to tell how deep it was.

A story came into my mind, one of those scary ghost tales that children love to tell. I had forgotten about it but seeing the pool reminded me;

One day, a new nun came to St. Mary’s Retreat. She was young and sad. She was kept in isolation from the others. The head nun claimed ‘the child, had an infectiousness disease.’ but this was far from the truth.

Somehow and unbeknown to the young nun she had become pregnant. A lot of people had tried to find out what had happened but the nun stuck by her words and started claiming like Mary in the bible, an angel had come and told her she was to carry the next Christ. No one believed her and she was cast out to the retreat to have the baby in secret.

The nun give birth to a boy all alone in the middle of the night. She looked at him and realised he was the Antichrist. Wrapping him in a Holy sheet, she took him outside and walked into the swimming pool which then was still full.

In the morning, the nuns found her and the baby dead, floating in the water.

From then on every night at the pool side, the crying of a baby could be heard and the ghost of the nun was seen.

And that’s why the nuns had to leave because the ghosts were haunting them and no blessing or anything else they tried would get the spirits to move on.

Of course, we had all believed it then but now, I wasn’t sure it could have happened. Walking down into the pool itself, I want to edge of the collected water and looked into it. There was a rotten vegetation smell from the dead leaves and other decay. There was a stillness too, that I didn’t like.

I found a large fallen branch and began to poke about in the water. I was bored.

What was I doing here? What was I looking for?

Clearly, a part of me was still looking for answers. I had been abandoned here as a day old baby, left on the doorstep in a box. The nuns had taken me in but a year later, I went into foster care then was adopted by a childless couple in Brogan. They had been good parents whilst I had been a difficult child.

I had come to the the retreat many times as a teenager, I had always known this was where my life had began. Perhaps, then the story of a pregnant nun had been true? Maybe, she hadn’t tried to drown me but had dead some other way and the nuns had always planned to get me adopted anyway?

Was I the Antichrist? How would I know? Frowning, I tried to wonder if I felt any different and if anything in my past could give me an answer to that. But I wasn’t sure, I wasn’t religious, didn’t believe in such things nor did I believe in the supernatural. Surely, if I was evil, I would know about it.

I signed, threw the branch into the water and got out of the swimming pool. Walking back through the buildings and towards the road that brought me here, I knew I’d never find out who had given birth to me and what had happened to them. I turned back, seeing the edge of the swimming pool from a broken window.

But what if that childhood ghost story had been true? All stories had to come from somewhere and what if mine had really began here?

Transition #WritePhoto

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It wasn’t the priest hole in the wall or under the floor the Catholic priest had been expecting. Looking out of the small arched doorway, he could see a neat flagstone path leading to a small hut covered with ivy.

‘The well house,’ one of the maids explained.

‘Oh,’ was all he could reply.

The maid led the way with a quick step and the priest still clutching his bible followed her.

They left the family and other servants in the chapel behind, hurriedly tidying things away. Then everyone scattered as on the other side of the house, the guards and pursuivant entered through the main door and began their search for Catholics.

The maid open the hut’s door and rushed inside. The priest followed, closing the door behind him. He looked around in the gloom and saw the moss clinging to the walls and before him the huge construction of the well. Above ran thick wooden beams and there was a system of pulleys and weights to the left side.

The maid was turning the handle which was causing a long pole to also turn and a thick rope began to twist around the pole as the bucket was drawn up.

‘Where am I to hide? The guards will search in here!’ the priest cried for he could see no where safe.

‘In the well,’ the maid gasped.

‘In there….’ the priest trailed and looked over the edge of the solid wall of the well.

He couldn’t see anything but darkness.

‘They won’t look for you down here,’ the maid added.

The priest looked towards the door, ‘is there no where else in the house?’

‘Not that I know. I was told to bring you here. The bucket is coming up now,’ the maid pointed out.

The priest stood back as the rope came to an end and the bucket full of water appeared.

With some effort, the maid pulled the bucket over and unattached it. Water sloshed on the floor and splashed up her skirts. From the corner, she brought out an empty bucket and attached to to the rope. Then turning to the small window sill, she did something the priest could not see.

‘Here’s a candle,’ the maid said, lighting a thin white candle and handing it to the priest, ‘there’s a ledge down there for you to stand on. When the bucket gets there shout stop and I shall try to do so. Blow the candle out when you can. We shall come and get you when the guards have gone.’

Nodding the priest, helped put the bucket into the well then climbed in. Juggling Bible and candle in one hand, he held the rope with his other then watched the maid lowering him in.

The wet walls of the well rose up above him and the priest watched for any ledges sticking out. The candle flame fluttered and wax droplets burnt his hand. The priest held tightly on, feeling his stomach aching. Then meters down the well, he saw the ledge.

‘Stop! Stop! Stop!’ he screamed upwards.

The bucket jerked and he heard the echoing strains of the maid trying to hold on. The priest scrambled out and found to his shock that the ledge was just enough for him to stand upon. Almost tripping on his robes, he nearly tumbled backwards and the candle fell from his hand.

Hugging the wall, he pressed his face into the cold, wet stone and took a few deep breaths. He shut his eyes and started praying hard as the bucket went down passed him. Further below, he heard it hit the water and then the bucket began to raise up.

The priest stood in the pitch darkness for so long he lost track of the time and his repeated prayers. At one point, he thought he heard voices above and the maid had returned for him but no bucket came down.

God delivery me for this, he thought, bring me peace.

What felt like a long, long time later, the priest heard movement and the creaking of wood. Gently, moving his face from off the wall, the priest looked up but could not see anything for awhile. Then a light, like the Spirit of God, shone down and the priest saw the bucket and a candle inside.

He grabbed the bucket, pulling on the rope to signal he had it. Taking the candle out, the priest climbed inside and tugged on the rope again. The bucket swung then he as lifted up and up till at last he could see the lips of the well.

He reached the top and all put fell out of the bucket as two male servants tried to help him.

The priest rested against wall, sipping wine that someone had pressed into his hand and shaking his head whilst repeatedly saying, ‘never again, never again.’

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/05/23/thursday-photo-prompt-transition-writephoto/ with thanks).

The Walk Home #WeeklyWritingPrompt

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Even though he had to work on Sunday, Nick always went to church afterwards. Sitting on the cold wooden pews, he stared at the alter watching the candles flickering against the stone wall and stained glass arch window above. Nick shut his eyes and prayed, thanking God for his second chance, for removing his sins and his needs now being meet.

Not long ago, Nick was barely surviving his fourth year on the streets. Newly released from jail for robbing shops, houses and cars, he found himself with hardly anything. He couldn’t get a job and when he spent all the money he had, he found himself with no home. There seemed nothing else left for him to do but die in the gutter.

However, death had left him alone and during his first snowy winter on the streets, Nick had often visited churches and other holy places that left doors open. There he had found himself again through religion.

Years later, with the help of a few kind people, Nick had turned over a new leaf and found employment in maintaining the cities’ churches. An old victor had allowed him to live in a tiny vicarage which was very basic but at least it was warm and dry. To Nick it was the best home he had ever had.

Leaving the church, he made his way through the graveyard. It was snowing heavily again and some of the smaller headstones where almost covered. Nick was careful and respectful in his walking, he tried not to disturbed anything. His breath misted in front of his face and snow fell on his worn coat and rubber boots. He didn’t shiver or really feel the freezing air, he was use to the cold now.

Leaving deep footprints, he went through the open gate at the end of the graveyard and along the path to the vicarage. Snow lay thick on the roof of the building and also on the window sills. There was little arched porch at the front and Nick huddled underneath. He shook the snow from his coat and boots then dug in his pockets for the key.

In the quietness, Nick putting the key in the lock and opening the door sounded louder then normal. Heading in, he turned the light on and felt a brush of warmth. Taking his his things off in the hallway, he went into the small living room and looked out. It was dark outside but thanks to the streetlights reflecting off the snow, Nick could make out some of the graveyard and the church.

‘I wouldn’t like to be out there right now,’ Nick mumbled, ‘thanks for my new life.’

 

(Inspired by; https://secretkeeper.net/2019/01/21/weekly-writing-prompt-177/ with thanks).

Open Door #TaleWeaver

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Even now, in the middle of nowhere, in the the heart of darkness and grip of the coming winter, did people still keep the candles burning in the old tiny chapel.

If by chance you came across someone and asked them why, they would reply, ‘to keep the evil spirits away. Pray there to be kept safe before continuing your journey.’

You would go and do that. Enter the tiny white building with lots of light spilling out of the door and single window. Take off your snowflake covered hat and kneel before the baby alter. Pray for safe passage through the Nomad Mountains and ask God to protect you from evil spirits, Amen. Then you leave and make it safely back home.

Or perhaps, that response would amuse you because you don’t believe in such things. You carry on, not going inside the chapel but merely glancing at the light pouring out of the tiny building. You walk into the mountains, where you hear crying and screaming. Darkness rolls over you, consuming you and you never make it home.

Somethings are not worth the risk.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2018/10/11/tale-weaver-192-an-open-door-october-11th/ with thanks).

Ubuntu #atozchallenge

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Ubuntu; the belief that we are defined by our compassion and kindness toward others.

It was a way of life for all who followed that path; helping those who could no longer help themselves.

Modern Love

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I liked the new girl. She was quiet, polite and hardworking, plus she knew how to be a receptionist unlike the last woman! She had been here three months now and we were a good team. Settling into lunch that day which sadly was a working lunch like the many we had to have due to staff shortages, she suddenly switched the conversation.

‘Emma? Can I asked you a personal question?’

‘Sure, Alia,’ I replied. There was nothing I liked better then talking about my life.

‘How did you met your boyfriend?’

I looked at her. She was dressed in her normal long black coat, floor touching black skirt, loose and long black top and a black hijab which covered her head and neck, only showing her dark face. I had often wondered if she was in mourning since she was always dressed in black, but I hadn’t been able to bring myself to ask.

In contrasted, I always dressed in bright colours, favouring; blues, greens, purples and whites. I wore knee or ankle length skirts with leggings or tights, some days I put on trousers. My blouses and tops were sensible enough but some of them did draw focus to my large chest. I’d wear a matching jacket or cardigan as needed. With it being late summer, my skin was lightly tanned. I wore my long med brown hair up or down, depending on how I felt.

I had never seen even a wisp of Alia’s hair so I didn’t know what colour it was. she didn’t wear any makeup either whilst I went through the whole colour plate in time with the seasons and the weather. We both wore glasses- me thin metallic purple frames and her’s thick, round and black old fashioned frames.

I also carted a large and very full handbag around with me, whilst Alia seemed to keep everything in the deep pockets of her coat. Alia had a ring of keys attached to her which constantly made sounds as she moved and reminded me of the housekeeper in The Secret Garden movie.

‘My boyfriend?’ I questioned.

Alia nodded and waited for me to launch into the story. She was use to my length talks now.

‘On a dating website,’ I answered, ‘that’s where I’ve meet all my boyfriends, expect the ones I dated in education. I guess I find it easier, you know? I have a habit of creating bad first impressions with men. Plus, there’s so many different kinds of men you can meet and I’ve found it far better then bars and nightclubs.’

‘Oh,’ Alia responded.

‘Of course, if I could meet a boyfriend naturally I would do. I like the build up of friendship then the slow falling in love and the realisation of it,’ I explained then give a small shrug.

‘So, you’d like it as a fairy tale? Love at first sight?’ she asked.

‘That would make it easier, wouldn’t it? But life doesn’t happen like that.’

I laughed and give a little shake of my head.

The phone rang and our conversation was interrupted by someone making an enquire. After I had dealt with them I turned back to Alia.

‘Why did you want to know anyway?’ I asked her.

She looked a little guilty and there was a slight flush to her cheeks, slowly and almost in a whisper she said, ‘because I would like one.’

Alia pulled her hijab to cover more of her face as if she had told me a dirty secret and now needed to hide away.

I thought over her words for a moment. Sipping my water slowly.

‘And why can’t you?’ I asked.

She didn’t reply and had suddenly found something to do on the computer before her which totally had all of her focus. She ignored me as if I hadn’t spoken.

Casting my mind about, I wondered if Alia came from a family were arrange marriages were traditional. Perhaps, her parents were very strict about her seeing men? I wouldn’t know the truth if I didn’t ask, but I was nervous too and knew it would effect how I saw Alia.

Instead, I asked, ‘you know, online dating is normal now. It’s how most people met. Would you like me to show you how to sign up? I’ll put you on the free site I used. I meet my current and last three boyfriends off there.’

‘But how did you know they were….okay?’ Alia asked.

She looked at me shyly over her shoulder.

‘Well, because I set myself some rules and stuck by them. Plus, once you’ve talked to them online for a bit you get a feel for them. Then you can meet up with just the ones you want too. You have to meet in a really crowd place that you know well. Like in town,’ I added.

Alia waited for me to go on. Her interest peaking and her expression becoming more relaxed.

So, I did, ‘and never go to their houses or a location they suggest that you are not happy with. Art galleries and museums make for good first dates. Or meals out. Whatever you feel comfy with.’

She nodded.

‘So, would you like my helping signing up?’ I asked.

Alia paused then in small voice said, ‘yes, please.’

I smiled broadly and wheeled my desk chair over to her corner. With my help Alia would be fine and I’d make sure she found a suitable boyfriend.

Chapel Keys

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It had been a long day of spreading God’s message, but the two Mormon men were still happy. As they walked down the street, dressed in their fine suits, back to their rented apartment they were tried but still prepared to greet anybody who crossed their path.

A clunking sound and clattering of metal on metal made them pause. They glanced down and saw they had just walked over a rain grid. The tallest one patted his pockets and came to a realisation.

‘The chapel keys! They’ve fallen out of my pocket!’  he declared.

‘Double check,’ the other suggested.

The first did then shook his head and looked down into the gloom of the drain pipe.

‘We’ll have to get them,’ the second replied.

With a nod to each other, they hurried to their apartment were they gathered torches, ropes and buckets. Heading back, they removed the grid, which was heavy and shone their torches down.

A small stream of  dark, dirty water was running by and the keys on their long thin rope could just be seen underneath.

The Mormons quickly set to work. They tied ropes to the handles of the buckets and lowed one down at a time to try and scoop the keys up.

A heavy set man walking his small white dog passed by them.

‘Lost something have ya?’ he asked.

The Mormons nodded and the first one replied, ‘yes.’

‘Good luck,’ the man answered and walked away with his dog.

Setting back to work, they brought up bucket after bucket of sewage water but none contained the keys. Desperately, they tried to think of another plan, but nothing else other than praying came to their tried minds. So, they carried on.

Twenty minutes later, the man came back with his dog.

‘Still at it, huh? What ya lost anyway? Car keys?’ the man questioned.

‘The keys to the chapel!’ the first Mormon replied.

The second was hauling up his bucket and looking deeply grim.

‘Oh….Not good then?’ the man asked. He seemed to be holding in his laughter.

‘Not really…’

‘What’s that?’ the second Mormon cut in as he looked at the scrum in his bucket.

The first peered over and respond, ‘it’s the keys! You got them!’ and he pulled them out.

The keys and rope were covered with something unspeakable but the Mormons were so happy that didn’t seem to bother them at all.

‘Well, goodnight,’ said the man and calling for his dog, he walked down the street, trying to still his laughter.

The Mormons tidied up as best they could then headed back to their apartment. They thanked God doubly in their prayers that night.

(Based on true events)

Petrichor #atozchallenge

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Petrichor; the pleasant smell of the earth after rain. 

Everything smells better after it’s rained. There’s a cleanness in air which my ma said was God washing and cleansing everyone. I use to believe that without a doubt. Now though, I’m not sure. There’s so much I believed in as a child which has faded now I’m adult.

It’s strange how different things are after the rain. You notice the pools and reflections of things more. The sounds of splashing wheels and feet. The dripping of drops off things. I randomly remember a boy once telling me that the rain was actually a leak from Heaven’s showers.

I wondered for ages how that was possible and pictured angels having showers all together. Or God having a bath and all the water overflowing. Maybe that was the real reason behind a flood?

When you’re a child it’s easier to believe in these things. As an adult you are more logic and less imaginative. You know how rain is made and why it falls. The novelty of it has worn off too, like snow. I use to love snow! Now, it’s just a pain.

Even though, I know the truth behind things now, it doesn’t take the pleasure away from them. During the rainfall and afterwards, I open my window to let all the smells and sounds in. I sit on the ledge and take deep breaths till I feel calmer. I try to think of nothing at all, but sometimes like today, my mind wonders.

I look up at the sky, where the dark clouds roam and a few rain drops still linger. Are God and the angels up there right now having a bath and cleansing the poor below?

Horizon #writephoto

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The horizon didn’t look like anything Peaches had imagined it to be. She had thought it was going to bright and colourful, like in the old photos and film reals she had seen, instead though it was a dull blue-grey.

‘Not the promises I was led to believe,’ she muttered.

She lent her too thin body forward and rested her chin on her knees. Her arms were tightly wrapped behind her knees, keeping the long wool skirt in place and stopping the strong breeze from getting in.

Around her all the children and some of the adults from the Church Of The Redeemed Evangelists were splashing in the salty water or playing in the sand or exploring the rocks and caves. Cries of delight but also screams of pain could be heard amongst the babble of voices.

Peaches ignored them all, feeling tried and empty of the hope she had been holding in for so long.

‘What’s wrong with you?’ a sharp female voice asked.

With only moving her eyes, Peaches looked up and realised she wasn’t the one being addressed. Before her was a small woman, wearing the clothes of a Senior Sister; a long black dress which completely covered her body and a black head dress with a grey trim. Next to her was a small girl with blonde hair in a blue wool dress who was crying and rubbing her face.

‘My eyes hurt!’ the girl cried.

‘I knew this trip to the surface world would bring nothing but troubles,’ the Senior Sister spoke loudly, ‘and what have you learnt out here? Nothing. It would have been better to remain in the Temple. Come along, child. We shall wash your face.’

Peaches watched the Senior Sister taking the girl’s hand and leading her away to the little camp set up in a sheltered spot. There were two other Sisters sat there and from their clothes Peaches could tell they were Mothers, the highest of the female order.

‘I don’t want that to be my fate,’ Peaches whispered.

She looked at the horizon again, it still seemed bleak. However, there could only be freedom on the other side.

Peaches cast a long look around then slowly got up. She made as if she was just walking along the rough sand. Finally, though she was out of sight and trying to figure out how she could reach her horizon.

 

 

(Inspired by a prompt from; https://scvincent.com/2017/03/09/thursday-photo-prompt-horizon-writephoto. With thanks).

The Dying Light (Part 4)

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Nathaniel braced himself for going outside. He could hear the wind and the rain knocking against the lighthouse door.

‘We’ll need the lantern again,’ Tom’s voice called from behind him.

Nathaniel glanced over his shoulder as the old station master lit the candle and closed the lantern’s door.

‘I won’t need to take my case. Just a few things,’ Nathaniel announced.

Opening his case on the floor, because there was nowhere else to search through it, Nathaniel dug out a large cross, a bible and a small bottle of Holy Water. Pausing he debated what else to take. He had never done this before, he was not that kind of religious man and he was more use to standing before the congregation and leading them in hymens and prayers.

‘You ready now, Father?’ Tom’s voice spoke out.

Nathaniel nodded and closed his case. Then he followed Tom to the door and they both stepped out into the bad weather. The wind blew hard around them, making sounds like a crying person as it swept around the marsh. Rain hit and blinded them, making the walk down the rock steps difficult. The candle flame in the lantern flickered and Tom had to hold the side with the broken panel close to him to stop the light from going out.

Slowly they arrived at the edge of the low bridge and Nathaniel blinked away the rain in his eyes. He could hardly see though and he thought for a few moments he could hear the very distant sea pounding on the rocky shore. The light from the lighthouse flashed by and for a few seconds, Nathaniel thought it was lightening and the sound he had mistaken for the sea had actually been thunder. Then though he looked up and saw the lighthouse beam turning slowly around.

‘Here is good,’ Nathaniel said trying to be bold.

‘I thought you might want to go more in the middle!’ Tom shouted over the wind, ‘closer to where the boy died.’

‘And where did he-?’ Nathaniel cried then the words were snatched from his mouth by a gust of wind.

‘No one knows for sure, but further out,’ Tom concluded after the wind finished whipping them.

Gritting his teeth, Nathaniel walked on, feeling the bridge under his feet and clutching the cross, bible and bottle to his chest. After a few paces he stopped again.

‘This is good enough! Bring the light here!’ he called out.

Tom moved closer till their shoulders were touching and they could huddle over the bible and lantern together.

‘What was the boy’s name?’ Nathaniel asked.

‘Paul, I believe!’ Tom shouted.

‘Paul? To the spirit of Paul, if you are out here, we do not mean you any harm, we wish to help you. Come towards us,’ Nathaniel began, ‘your sister has been worried about you for so many years, but now it’s time you went towards the light and up into Heaven. Your family is awaiting for you there. You will not have to be lonely or lost ever again.

Nathaniel paused for breath and felt Tom shivering violent beside him. A worrying thought entered Nathaniel’s mind; he did not two deaths in his hands tonight. Swallowing water that tasted salty, he held out the cross and hoped he was doing this right.

‘Paul come towards us now! Let us help you cross over! Go into the light, rise up to the Holy Father and Mother. I release you from this Earth and into their hands. Go now and be at peace!’

Giving the cross a little wave, Nathaniel then tucked it back in the crook of his arm and palmed the bottle of Holy water. Carefully he unscrewed the lid and let a few drops fall out before closing the bottle again. The wind snatched the Holy water drops away and mingled them with the rain. Whatever power they might have had seemed lost but Nathaniel hung on to his faith.

‘I bless this place!’ Nathaniel screamed into the wind, ‘I release all the spirits that have lingered! Go into Heaven! Go and be at peace! Go!’

The wind howled and pushed hard against them as more rain flooding down on them. Tom lost his footing and waved his arms around to try and keep his balance. The lantern light waved and flickered around. Nathaniel grabbed and held on to him, struggling to juggle the things in his hands too.

Somehow, they steadied each other and the light candle survived. Pushing Tom ahead of him, they made their way back to the rock steps. Behind him, Nathaniel swore he could hear people crying but it must have been the wind. Feeling their way up the rocks, like tried and injured sailors, they reached the lighthouse door.

Tom opened the door and they tumbled in, slamming the door shut and fighting the wind as they locked it. Tom set the lantern and himself down on the first step. Nathaniel slumped against the door and they both caught their breaths back.

‘Is it done?’ Tom finally asked.

‘I did my best,’ Nathaniel answered, ‘though with the storm it was hard to tell anything.’

Tom nodded, ‘best go up and tell her.’

Collecting the lantern again, Tom started climbing the stairs.

Nathaniel opened his case and placed the now wet cross, bible and bottle inside. Closing it again, he picked up the worn handle and trailed after Tom upstairs. Water dripped off them and back down the steps. In the quietness of the lighthouse they could both hear the storm now raging outside.

They reached Mrs. Fitz and found her comfortable in bed still.

‘It’s done,’ Nathaniel said coming to her side and sitting down.

The dying woman didn’t reply.

Nathaniel took her hand which she had just slipped back under the blanket. He patted the warm skin and began praying, whispering the words softly with a bowed head.

Tom moved to the other side of the bed, the handle of the lantern tightly clutched in both his hands. The candle flame still glowing behind the glass.

Nathaniel finished his prayer and just as he was about to start another, Mrs Fitz’s fading voice uttered, ‘thank you, Father.’

‘Your welcome. Sleep now,’ Nathaniel whispered back then he took up the Lord’s Prayer.

The storm carried on through the night, seemingly attacking the lighthouse but the building had stood for hundreds of years and was well use to taking on bad weather. As dawn finally broke, grey and watery, the wind quieted down and the rain turned back into a light drizzle.

Nathaniel finished his final prayer and looked up at Mrs Fitz’s face. She was gone.

Tom, having placed the lantern down hours ago when the candle had finally melted and go out, drew up a blanket and lay it over her face.

Nathaniel took in a few deep breaths and moved his stiff body. He stood up slowly, feeling weighed down by numb limbs.

‘Thank you, father,’ Tom whispered, ‘I know she will be fine now.’

‘Of course. She is at peace,’ Nathaniel said.

‘I shall walk you back to the station and signal a train to stop for you,’ Tom spoke out.

‘Thank you,’ Nathaniel replied as he collected his case, ‘might I go to the top of the lighthouse first?’

Tom glanced up then with a single nod turned towards the stairs. They went up and on the fourth floor was another bedroom this time with a double bed and dust growing thickly across everything. They went up again and Tom opened a heavy metal door and stepped out.

Nathaniel followed, feeling cold and wet air sweeping passed him. The huge light of the lighthouse which had now gone out dominated the roof floor. A rusty railing ran around the edge stopping anyone from falling off. Nathaniel went to over and looked out. Far in the distance, he thought he could make out the sea but all around him was the marsh. A stillness had settled over the tall grasses and stagnate water pools now, bring a calmness that seemed heavenly.

Nathaniel took a few deep breaths then thought he heard the sound of playful children laughing somewhere below him in the marshlands.

The End