Monday Sidetrack: 12

(This story begins with Monday Sidetrack: 6. Start there to get caught up and see the photos or go to to read all the previous posts as one long post. Then subscribe to find out what happens next!)

Less than a minute after that turn, I saw the kayak shack and the common tent right next to it. I let out a big breath. I was right where I was supposed to be. 

It looked like any other pavilion-style tent with an opaque roof, no bottom, and mesh sides sitting on top of a clean, wooden platform. Ten tiny lawn chairs that looked like they belonged in a pre-school classroom hugged the inside octagonal structure from the camp stove to the door. There was a long zipper door facing me and I was just in time to see Allison close it behind her like her life depended on keeping the sand flies out. I thought through how I’d follow her example. No one wanted to be the one who let in those flying monsters.

“O.k., Jerome, coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.” Katja had the various canisters of ingredients on the floor near her feet.

“Hot chocolate.”

I reached down to pull up the zipper, one foot already on the platform to catapult me inside when the time came. First an inch at a time, then my hand flew upward and I hurried through like Allison had. There was a second opening to my left. It looked like a pitch-black room, for lack of a better word.

Jerome was sitting to my right, next to Malcolm and across from Allison. None of them seemed to notice that I was there. They looked like they were behind some sort of screen, like I wasn’t quite in the tent with them. When I turned my head to the left, I could see several lights in the dark. I closed the zipper behind me and followed them.

I was in a different place, but it wasn’t quite a room. I’d say it was outer space, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t that simple or straightforward.

There was a floor or ground holding me. I couldn’t see it, but I felt it. I reached out my hands and felt nothing around me. I looked back and the tent door was gone. If I hadn’t had that experience on the ferry, I might have panicked. This time, I looked for ways to get my bearings.

Mist blew across my skin and my eyes wanted to blink more often to stay clear. I wondered if there were roses nearby, bright and fragrant enough to reach me from wherever they were. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t see anything but those lights. They were far from me and each other. The one to my right seemed just a tad brighter, like the most promising of the four possibilities. Eager to make progress and gather more clues about this place, I started toward it. That took me farther away from the other three and dimmer lights around that light became visible. I heard a crunch with every step, similar to the gravel path I had just come from.

“Hello?” It was worth a shot, but no one answered.

The scent of roses intensified with each crunchy step. Every so often, I’d reach out my hands and try to find anything at all. As far as I could tell, I was alone.

After what seemed like almost an hour of walking, I finally got close enough to the light to see that it was actually the top of a lighthouse. I never would have guessed that because its light was still, rather than rotating like the lighthouses I knew. Those dimmer lights were brighter until I reached the base of the lighthouse. Then they turned off all at once and the roses were replaced with the sea. Waves were crashing up the far side of the lighthouse and I was standing on a stone path that lead to a sturdy, red wooden door in the concrete foundation.

I looked back on my path and found that the three original lights were also dark. There was only this one light. I tried to walk back a little just to see if the others would appear again and felt a force akin to gravity pulling me back to the lighthouse. It seemed that I had only one option and I took it.


(This story begins with Monday Sidetrack: 6. Start there to get caught up and see the photos or go to to read all the previous posts as one long post. Then subscribe to find out what happens next!)