It started when she was young, listening to Pink Floyd, about bricks and walls….
She found them. The bricks. the right size. The right color. Isn’t it strange, she needed them to be just the right color before she could lay them down? It would be poetic, wouldn’t it, to say she used her tears to mix the clay that held them together…but she didn’t. Perhaps it was blood….
I don’t think so. They just … well, stuck. She laid them down in a fine circle around her, Not tight; this wasn’t a casket. She paced from the ‘x’ she scuffed in the dirt and counted….1, 2, 3, 4…stop, look around..is there enough space? yes… 1, 2, 3, 4 more. She scuffed the dirt again. There. That is for the first brick. She laid it down and walked back to the middle. Directly she counted again. 1,2,3,4….1,2,3, 4….brick. The circumference was 16. Sixteen was good.
Around this circle, she began her wall. Warm or cool. Day or night. Whenever she needed to feel safe, she came here. She built the wall in a grand circle around her. She had enough space, to lay, jump rope, brace her back and read…. No one came in here.
No one even knew.
As the wall got higher, she got lonely. Wouldn’t you? Bored more than anything. But to tear it down? No. She made a small door…for her to get out. So she could go home and enjoy chicken fried steak and potatoes; to read stories to her little brother; to pet the cats and chase the chickens.
So when it got too boring, when she felt much safer, she started a step-staircase. She found driftwood and long nails. She reused them, congratulating herself on being thrifty. Saving the earth from litter. Even if it was rusty.
It went on like this….she would build the steps, sit on the ledge of her wall…possibly trust someone. A friend. A boy. Her parents. whoever. Trust them. And then she would get hurt. And she would renew her sense of secrecy, safety. Her bitter jaded thoughts sang anthems in her mind as she found more bricks, found more mud, found better ways to make it stronger, stable, reinforced….and higher.
Time would pass. Someone would give her a bit of light. She collected these bits of treasure and cradled them gently; housed them in glass jars. She saved them here in her secret place.
On it went. Build a wall. trust. live. grow. build more steps to get above the wall…trust. hurt. cry. build…. build walls build steps build…until the ground disappeared and the wind sung every night. She was so high up she saw the ocean now instead of just smelling its salty presence. She could see it well. She was much closer than she imagined. She brought her trinkets…those bits of kindness, experience, love….and they shone against the darkness like she’d caught the very stars.
She sat at the top of her wall…her lights in her jars….and she heard it.
It was another girl. Just like her, thrashing in the darkness of the waves; nearly consumed by helplessness, unable even to cry out for help….but she had seen the light, she was trying….she didn’t really want to drown. to die. not like this in the cold….
The girl ran into the waves and swam as soon as she was able. She was unaccustomed to helping in this way. But she did it anyway. She pulled the weak and wearied girl back to the beach. Arms around her for support, she brought her to her sanctuary. Yes. Safety. Yes. Warmth. Yes – light…she gave her some of her light. And when she was strong enough, she brought her to the top of her wall – to show her it wasn’t forever…the hiding. the fear. There was wind, and lights, stars and ocean mist. There was laughter. Trust. And love. There became, at that moment, shared smiles and courage. Courage to watch the horizon for other drowning souls. To be the light they needed to get out of the depths of cold fear and loneliness.
In this way, my friend built her lighthouse.
In this way, she saved my life.