Nora loved the lighthouse some few miles away from the town. She loved to go down and share a picnic with the lighthouse keeper, Reynolds Reynolds. He had tended the lighthouse since before Nora was born. Her landlady knew him. Said he had come back from the war and taken over the lighthouse.
Now he was in want for an apprentice. No one was interested in the job. It was a lonely seven-day-a week job and there were no days off. Finally he asked Nora.
“What?” she asked. “A woman?”
“Why not?” Mr. Reynolds said. I”t’s been done before. Sandy Sarah was the lighthouse keeper off the cape back before you and I were even thought of. She is a legend. Once when the light went out, she stood out on the rocks and waved a lantern all night during a storm. She died on those rocks. But she saved the lives of a hundred men. She did what lighthousemen have always done. She served the ships.”
Nora gave the thing a think and decided she was up to the offer. The next time she came out to the lighthouse she told Mr. Reynolds. In her late twenties, she had not found the love of her life. So she concluded the solitary life was for her. And the lighthouse would be the first home she had ever had. She had grown up in an orphanage, then taken a room in the local boarding house and earned her living as a typist.
The next time she came out to the lighthouse Mr. Reynolds told her that the Lighthouse League had approved her appointment as an apprentice lightsman. The next day she moved into the extra room at the cottage. The day after that Mr. Reynolds began her schooling of the finer points of lightsmanship. Teaching her how to clean the lens and how often. How to order supplies for the lighthouse. Those kind of things.
In the morning he fixed their late breakfast. In the evenings she made their dinners. In the afternoon after the chores were done, they walked out on the beach.
As time went on, Nora began her love affair with the sea. More and more she thought of it as home. There was a comfort in that. Mr. Reynolds whom she took to calling Reynolds was the father she had never had. And she was the daughter he never had.
Occasionally a visitor would come out to admire the lighthouse or to deliver supplies. They saw these two walking along the shore, two companions who had somehow found each other because of the light.
Twenty years went by and the old man came to the time of his death. His last words to Norah, “I have had only two loves in my life. The light and the light that is you. Thank you for all the happiness you have given me.”
Tears formed in Nora’s eyes. “And I have had only two loves in my life. The light and the light that is you.”
There was peace on the old man’s face as he went off to be a lightsman in another world.
Mr. Reynolds body was cremated. Nora threw his ashes into the sea. Now she was alone. But there were times when visitors would see Nora walking the beach. At her side was an old man.