After Being Laid Off :: N2W 220407

Inspired by KL Caley’s #WRITEPHOTO Challenge to write a
short story about her April 07, 2022, photo prompt.

lighthouse island

Photo credit: KL Caley

“Oh Papa, what am I going to do?  The lighthouse is still there on its island but my job as its keeper is gone – my perfect job.”

“Here, give us a hug sweetheart. It saddens me too. Your mother, God rest her soul, and I go back to the wickie days before electricity at the lighthouse changed everything. We were so young and had the island to ourselves, keeping the oil lamp wicks trimmed and light bright. We built our lives around that old lighthouse.”

“And I only got three years. I miss it already; the solitude, the quiet even the storms. When I walked on high-surf days, I swear I could feel the waves on the western shore from the eastern side, like a heartbeat of the island.”

“Well, let’s keep moving child. We’re going to want lunch soon.

“I’ve known for years that today was coming. Lighthouses around the globe are automating and retiring their staff. Very few are manned anymore. Even with your experience, you could travel the globe and not find another keeper job. We’re as obsolete as buggy whips, but come along, I have a surprise for you. Take a final look, say goodbye and be thankful for the time you worked there. 

“Tomorrow it won’t be your employment. It will just be a lighthouse on a small island with some great memories where you did a great job while it was needed. Tomorrow it will just be a pretty part of the view from your living room.”

“Wait. . . What?  Papa, our apartment above Mattery’s Bakery– we can’t see the island from there.”

“No, you can’t live there. Your old room is too small for a woman your age. You hate being in town, people everywhere, constant traffic noise. You need quiet and solitude with the ability to go out to see people at church or shopping or dance club — whatever, but then being able to return to a quiet place without neighbors to disturb you. You need your books, a view of the ocean, a small garden, maybe some goats or chickens and time to think about what you want to do next. Maybe there’s an author or editor beneath your wind breaker.  You need time to ask and answer such questions.”

“What are you talking about?  That’s all true but . . .”

“Will you just keep up please. Remember — lunchtime? Come along and stop stopping.”

“Fine. I’m coming, but I don’t understand how . . .”

“Your uncle Frank.”

“Uncle Frank? What’s …? He died over a year ago. What does he have to do with where I’ll live?”

“He left his affairs in a mess and I’ve been working with a lawyer to settle things out.  It was just he and I as brothers and he never married or had kids so his cabin south of town passed down to me. As of two weeks ago, I own it, but I like my life above the bakery. My friends are there. I’m comfortable.

“Ah, here we are. Look, from here you can see his cabin across the field.  We didn’t go there often when you were growing up, but this path is an easy walk from the cabin to town. Further inland, Mill Road goes right past his driveway.  Oh look, your old Toyota is already there, parked right in front. Before I picked you up at the boat dock, I stopped by and left lunch for us.

“I’ve done a basic clean-up, but it needs a lot of attention.  My offer is: you can move in, live rent-free for taking care of our family cabin and figure out your next career in peace and quiet. Do we have a deal?”

“Oh Papa – yes. Yes! I barely recall ever being there, but this sounds perfect.”

“Good. You also might want to find someone to spend the rest of your life with. I’m not going to be around forever and I’m not above sending around attractive service contractors to paint or fix plumbing to expose you to actual living men. 

“There’s also a small shop behind . . . . Why are you looking at me like that?”

GW bio card 4

28 thoughts on “After Being Laid Off :: N2W 220407

  1. So very sweet!! I just Love it so much. It flows so nicely and I absolutely love the story. It’s so descriptive, I can picture the quiet cabin that needs a little work! ❤️ Great job Gary! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Diana.
      Thanks for the kind feedback. I realized back in high school, a creative writing elective course I believe, that whole stories could be told through the words of characters. I still recall the assignment and thinking something like, “Is that even possible?” and then discovering that yes, it was not only possible but it was fun to write and really drew in a reader. Sometimes the tried and true omniscient narrator voice only gets in the way and takes more words to say much less.
      Talk about a game changer – right?
      Thanks for giving this story a read.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Gary! I loved it. Now I want to know what happens to both of them! Another great job and a great “hook” to get us interested if this should turn into a longer story!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Deb. Great to hear from you and its been too long. A visit from you always makes for a better day. Thanks for giving this story a read.

      Hey did you see my title, “An Up & Coming Designer”? I was thinking about all the clever women in my life when I wrote it and I could see a much young Deb doing something like this. My wife, daughter and new DIL all could have pulled this off.


    2. And I do wander back through some of my short stories to think about doing a longer version or next chapter. A while back several readers Orestes me for a longer version of a comex story so I created it. I’d love yo have you take a look at yhus one too


  3. Great Story I really enjoyed reading the conversation… I got the feeling dad was a tad overbearing but as I read on I could see he wanted his daughter happy and also his own life without her moving in …☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Willow. Yea I get that. Many of us will always be a dad, wired to protect our kids even at the cost of being annoying. Thanks again for engaging the story with me.


    1. Hi KL,
      I somehow managed to secure your attention twice today. So cool! Feels like I’m on a roll. This prompt also took me a few days to get my head around but a bit of background reading triggered the idea and viola – it suddenly worked.
      Thanks again for making all this possible.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aww I am playing catch up a bit. The wordpress kindle app doesn’t always allow comments for some reason so I’ve revisited any I didn’t comment on. 🙂 KL ❤

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi and thanks Maria. I may do one as you’re not the first person to nudge me about it. I thought the image of an upset and very quiet young woman being pulled along to her next steps as a disappointed adult by her father was pretty rich and wanted to see if I could make it feel real. KL Caley, who runs that challenge each week has now told us where that lighthouse is, so maybe some research will shake something loose.
      I’m so glad you liked it and stopped by to let me know.


    2. Maria – I hope you also check out the second story and let me know(as a teacher who might need to tell students about it, if you ever see this phenomenon in Sweden. I first noticed it in Colorado Springs and thought it was pretty cool.


  4. Lighthouses and cabins, love it. The dad’s comment, “I’m not going to be around forever and I’m not above sending around attractive service contractors to paint or fix plumbing to expose you to actual living men. ” Made me snort. Thanks for sharing Gary.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kirstin –
      This was a fun story to create. Not a lot happening unless you crawl into the characters heads, then there’s plenty to think about.
      Glad you came along for the ride.


  5. This is nice. Choosing the cabin would be a good opportunity for the lighthouse keeper to write about her time living in a lighthouse. She’s got the ideal environment for writing distraction-free…or maybe an attractive contractor throws that all out the window :-P.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nicely done Julie. You started my day with a laugh. When our oldest son got married, mom and I noticed an immediate change in how he approached life. We joked often about how “The Girl” changes everything. It’s good to know that there are also times when “The Boy” changes everything too.
      I’ve had a few requests for a second chapter of this story – perhaps now I know which direction I would follow..

      Thanks for the kind feedback and for starting my day right.


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