We drove our boat slowly along the murmuring shore and my brother pressed his cool hand into mine and held me one warm evening until finally… we swayed above the cold, green swells where our father drowned many years ago. We lay down then in her dark hull and lifted our soft ears to the noise of the winter sea and her feckless waves. The sudden appearance of a lost thrush beating made us climb up to watch it bank furiously over the black eddies and disappear and I noticed then our rocky shore was on fire.
The husky smell of smoke came into our nostrils with a gruffness blowing cinder and thrust the gorgeous smell of mothers’ jonquils into our heaving chests. With a clear knowing that my youth lacked on that deadening night my brother said to me, “She’s done it all now.” I didn’t fully understand what was happening but I saw well enough, and born into that low twilight came our sacred homes’ destruction. Our lighthouse which seemingly stood forever, the lighthouse that our father built with his own sturdy hands was falling, and my heart was falling with it. I spent many summers in her, watching the water below me whirl around the rocks surrounding her majesty.
White, empty, tall; she was dying in this torturous fire in a graceful madness that only Mother could understand. Gray smoke made the black night full and in it rose a single pity and a shame; for myself and our flower farm which burned before the year of its’ greatest blossoming. The hard work we’d accomplished was being destroyed. Every part of my heart was struggling to speak, to say the right word, to say what I was feeling and to say that what I was seeing was destroying me. And a gateway of pain opened up as I bargained for something that didn’t belong to me. Begging. Begging for it to stop. I dropped to my knees as my tears sprinkled the sea and lost themselves in the dim waves and heavy foam of the ocean. The tower tumbled into the sea and was washed away forever.
“Julian!” I screamed aloud to him. “Julian! Our house! It’s on fire!”
But he knew. How ridiculous I felt to scream the obvious. A burst of savage tears screamed from my eyes and my heart beat riotously. I clambered over my wooden seat and onto the prow of our slip to watch our lighthouse burn down before me.
“Julian! Row the boat!” I screamed. “Row the boat!” I shouted again as if he hadn’t heard me.
I wanted to get home quickly but my brother didn’t move. His impassiveness heightened my sense of fear. I bounced madly and shrieked wildly until our boat was rocking. Out came my gasping sobs.
“Julian,” I pleaded “go! go! go!”
In dismay I turned and looked at him. I felt irrecoverably lost. He pressed the crown of his index finger to the tip of his golden lips. There came a soft grin from above his gentle chin.
“Sit Marshall” he said to me. “Sit and listen. It’ll all be okay.”
Somewhere along my developing young life my brother had placed in me a deep, wonderful, inveterate trust for him. I believed him because he was strong and capable and because he’d never lied to me before. I believed in him.
One of his big hands fell upon my little shoulder and I felt some of the heady feeling lift from me and as he half way pulled me and I half way moved in order to sit nearer to him. I’d been stupefied with fear but it soon died and I was filled with something other than a sense of peace. I felt a subtle thrilling and I understood clearly the thing being uncovered in my soul.