The last Keeper of the Light got up to snuff it out. No candle can rival the sun when it shines, even if it doesn’t often shine at this end of the world. Still young, the candle had only been lit for one night. The hand that held the flame was young, too, with barely a couple of spots.
Leaning against the short wall that protected him from the sea which always wanted to take him away, he breathed the salty air. On days like today when waves wrapped the tower, nothing can be done without struggle. To breathe, he had to wring oxygen from the wet gust that pummeled him.
This tower was built in a time of war against the sirens’ songs, so it might guide sailors to ports without cliffs. There would always be someone to light it from within; old men who wanted a place without people; families of explorers needing rest from uncertainty but fearful of leaving the edge of the well into which they have fallen so many times.
The sun warmed one side of the tower as it moved toward the left shoulder of the priest who lifted his hand with the flame, the morning ritual.
He had been performing this ritual for centuries, creating an eternal sunrise among the fish and the monsters and the boats. He was without replacement, his immortality tied to the stone of the building, an extension of the lighthouse itself. He was the one, movable part in the midst of permanence.
He saw a bird moving through the sky and his eye explored the sea. The waves pulled back, leaving a space of sand in the open when the wind fell to the bottom. The silence of a question floated in front of his eyes. He didn’t know if the question was for him or the building or the light he had just blown out. It was all the same.
His life within the temple was a marker at the end of the world, raised toward the sky, where movement ceased. He looked at himself, then raised his hand toward the wall of water to his right, wetting his index finger and putting it into his mouth to make sure of the salt.
He turned his face toward the sun to feel the warmth, then took a step toward the edge, barely noticing the wall he must climb.
The fall did not seem so long, nor leaving the lighthouse such a mad idea. “Let the light stay out,” he thought, “I don’t have fire with which to light it.”
The man let himself fall along the wall and we never saw if he hit the bottom as the sea rose up to embrace him.
That night, the candle lit itself.