This is the third installment of a novella that was started over two years ago. Sometimes it takes a while for inspiration to strike. For previous installments click here and here.
Martha Lazarus had taken over her family’s tavern when her father died twenty years ago. Her sister Mary had left Warm Shores for university and never came back, settling down on the mainland as a literature professor. That was all she knew of the little girl whose room, secrets, and clothes she’d shared for years. Mary had always dreamed of getting off the island. In some ways, that’s all Mary had ever done her whole life–dreamed. While she and Martha would help her parents out with the tavern, Mary would come up with all kinds of imaginative stories. Her ability to play make-believe seemed limitless, so it was no wonder that the boundaries of their small island wouldn’t be able to hold her.
But Martha had been the practical one. She wanted to go off to school, but had settled down with Joe Lazarus, her high school sweetheart, instead. Joe and Martha had four children together before Joe’s boat capsized on a mail run to the mainland. All of her children except for the youngest, Mary-Ann, were content to remain close to home. But Mary-Ann was a lot like her namesake and Martha could tell that she also found island life too confining. She could tell it would be a matter of time before Mary-Ann left too.
That night as Old John shared his concerns about the lighthouse, she wrestled with her own feelings. The brightly-lit beacon seemed to shed light not just on the island, but on thoughts long-buried beneath years of neglect. It had been easy to dismiss the feelings of regret that she hadn’t left the island or pursued her passions like Mary when leaving meant no hope of return. But that light. The thrill it stirred in her soul when she’d look at it seemed to illuminate the smallness of the life she’d chosen. Had her fear of life outside Warm Shores kept her from pursuing her own dreams? She loved her family and her community, but…no. She shook her head. That kind of thinking was just as seditious as talk of the mayor. Continue reading