A short story from: Coastal Maine in Words and Art: Gallery Fukurou’s Reflections by Maine Writers, 2019. © Diana Coleman, 2019 Seeing Yohaku Yorozuya’s photo of the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse at Gallery Fukurou made me smile. It brought me back to one morning last April. That February in Rockland, there was a major snowstorm, rain, plunging temperatures, and ice. I […]
A short story from: Coastal Maine in Words and Art: Gallery Fukurou’s Reflections by Maine Writers, 2019.
© Diana Coleman, 2019
Seeing Yohaku Yorozuya’s photo of the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse at Gallery Fukurou made me smile. It brought me back to one morning last April.
That February in Rockland, there was a major snowstorm, rain, plunging temperatures, and ice. I was going to the grocery store, and headed out to my car. Taking two steps, I slipped on a patch of ice, fell, and landed on my leg. Cursing out loud, I gasped as a shooting pain coursed through my left ankle. Nausea hit me. Stunned for a minute, I miraculously hoisted myself up and hobbled to my car. Maybe the pain will go away. Heaving my hefty body into the car, I drove toward the local Hannaford. The pain intensified. A little voice admonished, Get yourself to the emergency room. Instead of going to Hannaford, I went to Pen Bay Medical Center. Angry, I’ve had my share of broken bones in my life and didn’t want one more.
After parking, I walked gingerly toward the ER, wincing with each step on my throbbing left foot. X-rays confirmed a broken ankle. Casted and given crutches, I cautiously negotiated each step, making my way outside. Cursing some more, I drove home, dreading the pity of family and friends.
Living by myself, I was proud of my independence. I figured I would still run my errands on crutches. Wiped out, however, I skipped the store on the way home, and decided to raid the freezer for my next meals.
In April, the cast came off. I was given an ankle brace and urged to use one crutch for stability while my ankle healed. Soon afterward, I was determined to walk the breakwater—a trek most would consider foolhardy. The prior week, I watched from my window as high winds and severe rainstorms brought whitecaps and waves crashing over the jetty in Rockland Harbor. But on this cold, grey morning, all was still. The thermometer said thirty-six degrees. I drove to the jetty at 5:15 a.m. I wanted to be there for daybreak, before anyone else.
I parked the car, grabbed my one crutch from the back seat, and tottered down the dirt path. Near the jetty, walking over stones and pebbles was tricky. My crutch sank and sand flew. The air was damp and chilly. Wearing a fleece sweatshirt, parka, sweatpants, one hiking boot, large wool socks and an old, fuzzy, red slipper over my bandaged foot, I looked toward the lighthouse, which seemed farther away than I had remembered. Am I crazy to walk on this jetty now? You can do this! Get going! I maneuvered up six inches onto the first, large granite slab, hoisting my body after my feet.
The salt air smelled delicious. It had been years since I was here. The breakwater, built with tons of granite, is a tourist attraction in the summer. I had brought out-of-town guests here; we walked the 1.6-mile round trip, visiting the lighthouse.
Carefully placing my good, right foot first on the flatter surface of the granite, I brought together the crutch and my braced left foot to meet my right. Walking on uneven slabs with gaps between them was treacherous. There were slippery spots, where high tide had receded and left puddles in the holes in the slabs. My body and left leg tensed and shook. Slowly, I continued. No one was around as I inched along. When I was half way to the lighthouse, I wondered if I should turn back. My breathing became labored. I stopped, leaned on the crutch, and stared out to sea. I relished this quiet, pensive time. The sea calmed me. I thought about times here in years past.
Walking on, I was jolted when my crutch slipped as I stepped across one gray slab to the next. I repositioned the crutch.
No one witnessed this crazy woman limping toward the lighthouse. Reaching the stark building in sixty-two minutes, I leaned against it and yelled, “Yay!” I paused for ten minutes. Seagulls squawked overhead. A boat engine sounded in the distance.
Heading back to shore, breathing heavily, my crutch finally hit the sand sixty-eight minutes later. I looked back at the lighthouse in the distance. You did it you old fool—on your 90th birthday!
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Coastal Maine in Words and Art: Gallery Fukurou’s Reflections by Maine Writers, 2019 was published after a contest for writers to create stories to accompany art photography that depicted Rockland and the coast in its myriad situations, moods and emotions. This story was published in the book along with 27 others.
An overwhelming 88 stories were submitted for the contest. In the end seventeen writers were chosen. Their stories are told with depth, insight, candor, irony, wit and humor. Anyone who has every visited Maine’s coast will be able to relate to them. They’ve put humankind’s instinctive emotional connection with the sea into words.
The Maine Humanities Council provided a grant for our project that enabled the Solon Center to donate books to libraries across Maine. MHC is a statewide non-profit organization that uses the humanities, “as a tool for positive change in Maine communities.”