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!)
"I don't know, but I bet you could figure it out." Ruby stood up. "There has to be a maintenance hatch or something up there."
"I've never left this room," Viola kept her eyes on the tray and then looked up. "Do you want to see if I can leave it before you go leaping into the Tasman Sea?"
"Come up to the beacon with me. That could be a good test."
"Alright," Viola straightened her posture and her skirt.
"Are you going to stay here, Ruby?"
"Yes. I want to see if anything on this floor changes while you're gone," she picked up the lid for the creamer. "Take this with you, something from here, so you can get back here. You have plenty of things from the time and place you're going to."
I put the lid in my pants pocket.
"Wait, I had plenty of things from the last time I did something like this and I ended up somewhere else. Why? What if my clothes aren't enough to get me back to the campsite?"
"I don't know that part. What were your other kayakers doing the last time you went through a portal?"
"They were in transit to the launch site. Maybe if they're still at the campsite, I'll go back there? They're probably asleep by now."
"That could work. The fact that I gave you that lid might cement the time you'll return to."
"Also, they did bring all of my gear with them the last time. Or somehow it made it to where they were, even though I wasn't there to carry it."
"Logic would say that the same thing would happen this time. It's not so important that you go to the campsite again, as long as you can find another portal and get back here. You just need your backpack."
I took a deep breath and looked at the staircase.
"Right, that makes sense," I ran my finger around the lid in my pocket. "Ready, Vi?"
Viola grabbed the flashlight and we walked to the stairs, leaving Ruby on the table.
"After you," I motioned upward toward the beacon.
She hesitated just a bit and then took one step onto the staircase. When nothing happened, she kept going. Five steps up, she looked back at us.
"I'm doing it."
I began the climb. When I reached the fifth step, she joined me.
"How does it feel, Viola?" Ruby shouted from the table, hands up to her mouth to magnify her voice.
"It's wonderful," Viola called back and laughed. "I can't believe I haven't tried this before."
"How often have you been free from the singing routine?"
"It seems like every time one of my family members comes to visit me, I can do whatever I want."
"They might not know about the loops either or else you're part of their loops."
"How do you feel about what you're about to do? Are you ready to jump?"
We were about one flight of stairs from the ladder at that point.
"Part of me can't believe I'm even considering it and another part can't wait to see if it'll work."
When we reached the top of the stairs, Viola gave me the flashlight and I led the way up the ladder to the beacon room. I climbed and tried to remember if any of the windows around the beacon were actually doors.
I did not think about what it would be like to jump.
We continued in silence as I scanned the room with the flashlight. A few seconds later, I saw a latch on one of the windows and walked over to try it. Viola followed me and just when she was within arm's distance of the ladder up to the beacon itself, the beacon turned itself on and she was gone.
"That's an edge of her loop, I guess." I walked back toward the staircase. The lights below me were on and I could hear the faint singing once again.
I turned back to my task, opened the window and looked out. Water splashed up on what I imagined as jagged rocks below me. A flash of terror at the thought of what would happen to me if Great-great-great-grandpa's information was wrong or if Ruby wasn't remembering everything.
What if she forgot a detail? It would take her forever to get to me and Viola would be no help if she was stuck in that loop.
I turned off the beacon again, just in case Viola needed to deliver a message.
It was cold there. The sea swirled outside and there was no sun to warm anything. I knew I needed to make my move before I lost my nerve.
I lifted my right leg up and out of the window. I hung the flashlight so it pointed down at the windowsill and the lighthouse's outside wall. That showed me a thin ledge about three feet down. I brought my left leg up and sat there for a minute. The ledge looked strong enough, maybe even as if it had been built to be walked on.
"If I really believe that this will work, there's probably no need for precision. Just jump." I lowered myself to the ledge. It was wet and my first foot slipped a bit. "Jump away from the building. Into the sea."
I stood on with my back to the lighthouse. My hands held the windowsill until the right second. The waves crashed and the moon hinted at light. They were all I had.
One, two, three...jump!
The wind threw water at me and I was drenched before I fell ten feet.
"Please let this work."
I closed my eyes right before I hit the water.
The next thing I knew, I was running down the trail through the campsite. The sky was solid black except for the stars and a sliver of moon. I passed the communal tent, the kayaks, and a few tents.
I made a sharp turn into my tent and began to pack.