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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Owl's Head

Perched on the widow’s walk overlooking Rockland Harbor, Amanda peered into the twilight. Mother Nature was angry. The ocean roiled violently, and the horizon blazed; ignited by the explosion of lightning bolts against its onyx backdrop. Her husband Tad feared heights. He never joined her here high above sea level. She didn't care, she enjoyed the solitude.
Amanda watched Tad scramble below boarding up the lighthouse windows, securing against the wrath of the late autumn nor’easter. Crazy bitch, he thought as he spotted her. Sick and tired of her, Tad just couldn’t deal with her looniness any longer. Assuring him of her sanity, she begged him to believe her, insisting she had the visions ever since she could remember, only they had become more vivid and happened more often. Tad accused her of suffering from delusions and hallucinations. She agreed to see her doctor to prove him wrong; get him off her back. In addition, she enjoyed her time with Dr. Kirkland; he listened to her, validating her concerns.
Stumped after months of extensive tests and numerous physical and psychological exams, Dr. Samuel Kirkland lacked a finding. He needed some sort of prognosis, something to report to Tad so he falsely concluded Amanda suffered from Brief Psychotic Disorder. He explained to Tad the duration of episodes of psychosis normally ranged from one day, up to one month with eventual full return to normal level of functioning. To sum it up, he wanted to help Amanda and lied hoping to buy time to find the underlying cause of her possible precognition. Six months into her episode, Tad complained to her doctor the antipsychotic drugs prescribed had not managed her symptoms. A good actor, for she wasn’t taking any meds at all, she put her foot down refusing to take more medication.
Tad glared up at her and shouted harshly. “I’m boarding up the door next, so if you don’t want to be stuck up there until the storm passes you’d better get down here now.” Amanda descended the spiral staircase of the grand lighthouse. The Owl’s Head Light, one of only a few remaining functioning lighthouses in New England, was located at the entrance to Rockland Harbor in West Penobscot Bay, in Maine. Hired to work on the restoration of Owl’s Head, upon completion Tad landed the job as groundskeeper and maintenance man. The old keeper’s residence now housed the base for the United States Coast Guard, who shouldered the responsibility for the care of the lamp itself. This would be their home until the renovations on the cottage they rented just north of the light were completed.
When they returned to the keeper’s cottage the place was deserted. The entire Coast Guard crew deployed no doubt due to the severity of the storm. Amanda glanced at the photo of the old sea captain and his wife. Taken many years ago the picture made her skin crawl. She had freaked out the first time she laid eyes on it. A dead ringer for the captain’s wife Lydia, Amanda’s ghostly image shocked the crew when they met her.
The couple who had haunted her for years, repeatedly appearing in her mind’s eye now stared back at her from a gilded frame. This photograph was the proof she needed to convince Tad she wasn’t psychotic, but as usual he brushed off her notions as delusional, by product of her illness.
Tad fell asleep in the big chair in front of the television watching an old John Wayne movie. Frustrated, Amanda left him where he sat and went to bed. Moments later Tad found himself glancing up the exterior of the lighthouse. How the hell he got there, he didn’t know. As he tried to make sense of it all, he saw her standing on the widow’s walk.
“Amanda!” he yelled, but she did not respond.
A thin layer of ice coated the stair treads, railing and walls of the only means of getting to the widows walk. He shook his head in disbelief. She loved the view, but how did she get up there? Cautiously, Tad climbed the stairs. When would this insanity end? He was angry. Tired of her shenanigans he toyed with the idea of divorcing her, or maybe she would just disappear. You know, fall off the widow’s walk, never to be seen again. He was tempted; the idea had occurred to him more than once.
He called to her as he reached the platform and she turned toward him. The woman staring at him resembled Amanda but…she had the look of death in her eyes, ashen skin, and salt water dripped from her soaking wet hair down to her feet. Amanda was dead, just as she predicted she would be, by the seaside. How could this be? She claimed her death would take place by the ocean and she was right. He’d misjudged her; she hadn’t lost her mind after all. Not delusional as he thought her to be, Amanda possessed a gift. Her visions were in fact premonitions.
Believing she was dead, an unbearable guilt flooded him. It ripped through him worse than anything he’d ever felt. He covered his face and whimpered. “I’m sorry for not believing in you Amanda. I am so very sorry,” he cried. He took ownership of her death and stepped to the edge of the widow’s walk. He grabbed the railing and hurled himself over the side.
Amanda leaned over the rail and smiled. “The coast is clear,” she announced, watching as the waves tossed Tad’s mangled body like a ragdoll, smashing it against the jagged rocks below. Dr. Kirkland emerged from the shadows. He placed a tender kiss on her lips, pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket, and wiped the make-up off Amanda’s face.
She felt no grief; no tears shed on Tad’s behalf, only relief. She was free.
“You were right, he actually fell for it,” she said beaming.

by Quinn Cullen

1 comment:

  1. This is one of your better flashes. So much story in so few words1 I love it!