Swinging Lamps

Swinging Lamps

For Quibblo Writing Contest no. 24 - voting and commenting is appreciated!

All Carter Campbell's ever wanted is to continue the family legacy, but in an abrupt turn of events, Carter's rose-colored life is brutally shattered by an accident... and everything changes.

Soon after, run-of-the-mill preschool teacher Abigail Price becomes torn between contrasting worlds. As the lines between her mind and heart blur, Abigail's view on life, death and love is turned upside down completely.

Chapter 6

The Greatest Story Never Told: Epilogue

Frank stood outside in the rain, supported by his eldest child as he stared at the people gathered in front of him. A deep grief was reflected in his eyes, which were similar to the dull color of the current sky. His wrinkled hands, covered with spots of age, held on tightly to a vase-like object.

"I loved Abigail. I loved my wife." He paused, clearing his throat so that his naturally shaky voice came out stronger. "I am aware that everybody claims their cherished ones are special, but Abigail absolutely was. Anyone who had the pleasure of meeting her would know that and I, as her husband, am certain that there is no one on this planet more amiable than her.

"My Abby had more strength and kindness in her than anyone. She was the most benevolent woman who ever lived, capable of carrying the love equivalent of that of a thousand people inside of her. Abigail was my world for sixty beautiful years. She will always be my world." Frank paused to blink hard at the tears obscuring his vision, unwilling to reach up and wipe them away. He could only just see Karen, their daughter, leaning heavily on her husband's arm.

"Some months ago, Abigail told me something very wise. She said people were like stories. They have little plots and twists and thoughts that you will never be able to figure out, because they aren't yours to begin with. Every story has to end sometime, she claimed, and when that happens the book has to be closed and held and never looked at again."

Frank gazed at the black crowd in front of him, all sallow-looking in the weather. Their faces seemed to belong in an impressionist painting. "While I do not think I will ever be able to close Abigail's pages, I do know this: if lives are fiction, then my Abby was the greatest story never told.

"On that note, Abigail told me to never - ever, on punishment of death - hold her funeral service inside some stuffy church. 'Turn me into a willow and set me by the water,' she said. 'Let my leaves fall in the winter and grow again in the dawn of spring. Let me inspire people.'

"Unfortunately..." Frank looked down at the urn he was holding, his fingers stroking the earthenware material lightly. It rested against his chest, as cold as the rain pelting down, and he closed his eyes. Oh, if only it was her damp head leaning against him again - if only it was her cold skin after having taken a stroll on the beach. "Unfortunately, that is not possible. I can't turn Abigail into a weeping willow. But I can give her back to the water, which is what she really wanted in the first place: to be part of the ocean again.

"So here I am, doing what I should have been doing three months ago, when her ashes were first returned to me. I'm letting Abby go." Frank couldn't wipe away the tears that were obscuring his vision now. He shuffled over to the waterside slowly, barely able to make out the waves that smashed themselves against the shore aggressively. Their color was an angry gray today; the same color they'd been when Carter, their first child, was finally born.

Without much ceremony, Frank tilted the urn over the water and shook it until the ashes fell out. They were carried away by the strong wind prior to landing in the water, lingering on the surface before disappearing completely. A seaman's grave. He had done the right thing.

What he had not told everyone - what Frank could never express - was how Abigail had not just been his wife or friend. Often, in fact, their marriage had been closer to a loving relationship between two brothers. Every now and then Abby would get this look in her eyes and stare at him and take her distance, usually going fishing for the weekend or joining a crew on sea for a few days. He had been the one to explain to Karen what her period was; to do the household cleaning; to give up his job when the kids needed him at home. Abigail took the boys out to fish and taught them to whistle and swim and love the ocean just as much as she did, though this pattern was sometimes abruptly broken for a short duration of time, when she would draw things with Karen and devotedly listen to cheesy children's music. At times, Frank had caught himself wondering if he was married to two different people.

Even so, Frank thought as he continued to watch the restless sea, his heart had never changed. It never would. And when he came to die, he wanted his ashes to join hers. He would be with her again, even if his spirit had to travel across all the seven seas to find her; even if he had to squeeze himself through fishing nets to get there; even if he had to convince her to fall in love with him anew.

He could see her everywhere now. That playful streak in the wind that was heavy with the ocean's scent, that was her. And that beautiful turquoise spot in the waves, just under the foam - those were her eyes. The sound of the sea crashing against the rocks with a sizzle couldn't be anything but her laughter. Her deft hands were the tide dragging away the dark sand. And her mouth was the salt that kissed his lips so tenderly, the salt that came from his own damned tears.

Abigail was home.


Glossary of Nautical Terms


Swinging the lamp

Telling sea stories. Referring to lamps slung from the deckhead which swing while at sea. Often used to indicate that the story teller is exaggerating.

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