Welcome to your Monday Sidetrack! Start by reading the story all the way through. Then, if you need a bit more of a sidetrack from your day, go back and explore the hyperlinks I've found for this bit. That way, you'll get the most out of the whole post. Enjoy!
(This story begins with Monday Sidetrack: 6. Start there to get caught up and see the photos or go to https://www.lavendersidetrack.com/story-catchup to read all the previous posts as one long post. Then subscribe to find out what happens next!)
The generator cut off and I was in almost complete silence.
In the fresh darkness, I let my eyes dilate before I tried to search the beacon for any other clues. I sat down next to it and thought about my next step, my feet still on the ladder while I listened for changes. Without the generator, I could hear the waves crashing against the foundation. Without the moon, I could see a billion new stars I must have ignored until that moment. Maybe they hadn't been visible until then, like the other beacons that appeared when I got close enough to this one.
There was one light, though, somewhere below.
I could see just the faintest glow coming through the entrance hatch. It wasn't really coming through. What I could see was the tiniest little stream of photons from a small light too far away to do anything except betray its existence and remind me where one corner of the entrance was.
I patted the platform around the beacon and found nothing but smooth surfaces and clean edges. The longer I searched, the more quickly I moved, the more desperate I felt. There was no way to know when I might be pulled back to my kayaking trip or to some other place I'd have to figure out. Every step I took and every move I made could lead me away.
There has to be something here!
Then I found the beacon's switch again and turned it on. The generator whirred into action and the beacon did its level best to blind me, but I was ready.
There were cabinets below the windows on the far-side of the lighthouse. I hurried down the ladder toward them.
Each door opened to a collection of maintenance supplies that I had no use for until I found a flashlight with a long strap in the last cabinet, the one closest to the entrance. I grabbed it and ran to and up the ladder. I lunged forward and turned off the beacon.
Again, the interior silence brought in the exterior soundtrack.
I slung the flashlight across my torso and turned it on. As I climbed down the ladder and the flashlight swung back and forth, I focused on every step before I ran back to that entrance and down to the staircase. Without the flashlight, I probably would have broken my neck.
I leaned over the edge and saw that small light below me. Just as I had suspected, it was the lamp next to my grandma's couch. She was sitting there reading a book.
I stood up straight and turned off the flashlight. With my hand on the railing, I took quiet steps toward the woman who would become Viola Orlovsky, mother of four, grandmother of seventeen. I knew her and I didn't know her. When I came on the scene, my grandmother was fifty-five years old. This version of her looked to be younger than I was. I had almost no knowledge what she was like, only who she became.
Halfway back to her, I heard "Hello?"
"Hello? Who's there?" She stood and took a few steps.
"Hello?" I called back and leaned over the railing again. "Hello, I'm Lana. I'll be there in just a second." I continued my pace, but more quickly than my ascent.
"Not a second, trust me. Those stairs are longer than you might think."
"You're right about that." I forced a laugh.
She took a few more steps, coming closer to the foot of the staircase. By the time I reached the bottom, she was close enough to touch.
"Hello, Lana." She put out her hand. "I'm Viola."
"So very nice to meet you."
We shook hands for a little too long. That was all my fault. Her eyes matched the older version I knew and the version I saw in my own mirror. I couldn't help but wonder if she saw any resemblance.
"Would you like a piece of pie? It should be done in a little while."
What? How did she have time to make pie?
"Uh, yes. What kind is it?"
"Raspberry custard. It's my grandmother's recipe. She always makes it for the Fourth of July."
"It sounds delicious," which I already knew was true. "Do you see her often?"
"Oh, yes." Viola turned to walk back to the kitchen where she checked a timer she already knew wasn't ready. "She visits every week." She turned on the oven light and looked in.
"That's wonderful. She must live nearby." I followed her and stopped at the end of the table.
"Of course, she does. They all do. Have a seat," She waved her arm toward the length of the table. "Would you like some tea while we wait? I have Earl Grey and Darjeeling."
"Earl Grey, please." I sat in the closest chair that wasn't at the head of the table. "Are you from this area?"
"What area would that be?" She turned away and began filling a teapot with water.
"Um, the beach, I guess. This beach?"
"All within a stone's throw, but that's enough about me. Who are you?" She walked back to me with a curious expression and set down a silver tray of tea accompaniments - a miniature basket of sugar cubes, identical lemon slices lined up on a tiny silver canoe, a clear glass honey pot and a petite purple pitcher that I assumed held the milk. "The water will be ready in just a minute. So, tell me. Who ARE you? I don't get many unfamiliar visitors."