Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 197,651,278 Issue: 995 | 3rd day of Storing, Y25
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A Light in White River


by hzoo_26

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Author's Note: Again we visit the amazing town of White River, Meridell. This is a stand-alone story, and you don't need to read the other entries in order to enjoy it, but I do recommend reading them for your own enjoyment! If you wish to learn more about the town and its unique residents, you can do so at /~Residents.

     "The wind was strong today." Miranda Moore thought to herself as she alighted right off of Main Street. The White Pteri was used to the coastal winds that came off the sea and buffetted the coastal town of White River, Meridell. They'd ridden the currents, her and her husband Shaylan, for years. Taking a moment to look at her reflection in the class of a nearby shop window, Miranda tucked a few loose strands of her salt-and-pepper hair into her bun.

     She entered Enid's Bits and Bobbins and let her eyes adjust to the light. It took longer than it used to. Her eyes weren't young any more.

     "Miranda! Good to see ye!" A cheerful voice rang out. From behind a rack of clothing, a head of curly hair popped out. "Good mornin' Enid."

     Enid Allaway was the town's seamstress. She was dressed in one of her own creations today. A red tunic, a handmade green kilt, and a woollen jacket. Her large-mass, frizzy brown curls framed her heart-shaped face and brown eyes.

     "What can I get ye?" the Snot Ixi asked, peering over her round-rimmed glasses.

     "Do you have any more of that shoe polish? Shaylan's running low this month." Miranda asked.

     "Ach! Yer husband and our mayor. They buy more polish than the rest of our little town combined."

     "You know what they say Enid, you can take someone out of the military..." Enid bagged up the polish and handed the bag over to Miranda.

     "What's that newfangled box over there?" the Pteri asked, pointing towards an object on the counter.

     "Oh it's a radio! There's a station 'oot of Neopia Central that has good music. They even have 'eather reports. Let me show ye!" The Ixi walked over to the device and pressed a switch. The sound of static filled the air as Enid fiddled with the knobs and buttons.

     "Welcome back y'all to the hottest radio station in Neopia Central, NCEN! We may be the hottest because we're the only one, this isn't the Neopies. We'll happily accept pity awards!" The radio host's voice filtered out of the speakers, and Miranda was impressed.

     "Amazing what they can do with all of this new technology! They never had this when I was a wee lass..."

     "I know right? This host is newer to the station, but I like her jokes. She also handles weather too."

     "This just in! We have an important weather alert for the eastern coasts of Meridell and Brightvale. There is a large low-pressure disturbance forming out to sea. This system will bring with it heavy rain, torrential hail in some areas, and heavy straight-line wind gusts. Frequent lightning and massive swells on beachfront areas can also be expected. Currently, this storm is just east of the Tartan Isles, and is expected to be making landfall on the Meridell/Brightvale coastline within twenty-four to forty-eight hours."

     "Oh my!" Miranda exclaimed. "I guess Shaylan and I had better get things ready at the Lighthouse."

     "Aye. I'd better stock up on some candles myself." Enid responded.

     For over thirty years, Shaylan and Miranda had been the keepers of the White River Lighthouse. They kept the lamp in shape and lived in the attached cottage that stood connected to the towering structure. The incoming weather meant the Moores had the hard task of keeping the light on, even in the torrential rain and wind. If there was even one ship off the coast in the weather, they would need the lighthouse's guiding light to make it home safely.

     As Miranda left the shop, she began to make a checklist in her head.

     -------------------------------

     He felt it coming.

     His bones ached something fierce, and he'd seen the blood-red sunrise when he'd awoke that morning.

     Miranda had gone to town to get...what? He couldn't remember. No matter. He had tasks to complete. He started up the steps towards the top of the lighthouse, an old navy chant rattling around in his head.

     "One, two, three, four --- Trim the sails, scrub the floor, five, six, seven, eight --- turn 'er rudder to make 'er straight."

     ---------------

     She borrowed some rope from Ian Darrow, and went to the apiary to get some buzzer wax. She and Shaylan used it to waterproof their slickers and boots. The wax wicked the water off the surfaces, keeping them dry. She then went to the marketplace to get a box or two of matches and some oil for the glass lamps in the kitchen.

     While she was standing in line at the stall, she spotted Jackson Reyas busking. The disco kyrii's fingers flew over the strings of his wooden guitar like trapeze artists at a circus. His little sister, Hannah, sat beside him, her voice accompanying his. They sang a shanty about a young lass whose love had been lost in a storm at sea. She waited on the beach every night for him to return. The two voices blended together, causing a slight haunting effect that sent goosebumps down Miranda's spine.

      After she had made her purchase, Miranda walked over to the duo.

     "Guess you've 'eard about the coming storm?" she asked.

     "Yep. Not great for business, but..we'll get by." Jackson replied.

     "You both have enough supplies to stay safe? The weather won't be fit for anyone to be out in it." Jackson nodded. "Tips have been good. We should have enough to buy some canned goods and a couple of spare candles."

     "And we still have the blankets you knitted for us!" Hannah piped up. Miranda chuckled warmly.

     "Thanks for asking after us though." Jackson said.

     "Anytime you two. We've got to look out for each other in White River, aye?"

     ---------------------

     The large lamp gleamed in the sun. He walked around the lens, checking for scratches and damage. The lamp was modernized, running off of electrical power. While Skarl was a bit of a spendthrift, when it came to the safety of the town, Portia was stubborn. She was insistent on modern features that were less apt to fail. She'd pestered the portly Skeith until he had allocated funds to modernize.

     Shaylan checked the fuse box, making sure all of the fuses were in working order and not tripped. The last thing the town needed was the lighthouse having a simple electrical malfunction.

     He made sure there were no loose items, tools, or cables lying around that the storm could blow away, or could be hazardous. The old Pteri didn't need a fall at their ages.

     After one last look around to make sure the top of the lighthouse was clear, Shaylan began the long trek down the winding stairs.

     --------------

     Miranda was feeling the stresses of being old. She normally didn't do as many errands at once. Her old bones and achy joints weren't used to all of the activity. The last stop was the Mayor's office. The lighthouse normally didn't run during daylight hours, but Miranda suspected the storm would create a need. She liked, when possible, to give the city a heads up if the lamp was to be on during the day. It helped with budgeting, which the city council much appreciated.

     She entered the office and peered around. She glanced towards the bulletin board behind the long counter, noticing a new sign posted. She sauntered up, and began to read.

     HELP WANTED:

     The White River City Council is seeking a qualified applicant for the position of Mayor's Secretary. The applicant should possess organizational and filing abilities, be able to maintain a calendar, and most importantly...be able to handle the strict personality of a former Ursian Military General.

     Miranda covered her mouth to keep from chortling out loud.

     "Ah! Miranda! I suspected you'd be in. Going to be keeping the lighthouse on, da?" Portia Provoskia stepped out from her office towards the back of the City Hall building. The Halloween Ixi's red hair hung down in curling tendrils that escaped the felt hat she wore atop her head.

     The mayor may not have been a Meridell native, but she cared deeply about White River and every resident within it. She hailed from Ursus, a harsh and mysterious land to the west of Altador. Portia and Shaylan got along well. Primarily because the two of them were cut from the same cloth. Military service had shaped both, and left its mark on their very soul.

     "Yes Portia. I was just dropping by to tell you. As soon as the storm hits we'll make sure the lamp is on. Will you make sure the council is informed?"

     "Da. I'm sure given the situation they'll be fine with it. I've sent Nellie out to inform the residents towards the edge of town about the weather. The last thing we need is Ian Darrow's Baabaas getting lose and running amok in town."

     "I thought they were kind of cute meself." Miranda replied.

     "You weren't chasing them out of the City Hall. One of them was even on my desk munching on notes from the last council meeting! My shouting could rouse any private from his bunk, but no matter how I yelled at that baabaa it didn't want to move."

     "You're assuming Ian will actually listen to the warning, Portia. He does things his own way. He's been that way since he was a boyo."

     "Benefits of being older, da? You've know the residents here for years." Portia replied.

     "Aye. I was friends with Maighread, Enid's Ma, before she passed. I remember when Enid would hide behind the mannequins in the shop and peer out at me. She was such a shy child. The Darrow boy gave her such trouble too. He'd pull on her hair. Her ma would try to tame those curls of hers by putting her hair into braids. The lad would yank 'em, making her squeal and she'd start to chase him all around." Portia smiled, shaking her head.

     "I hope you know how important you and Shaylan are to our town. I always learn so much from you both. If there's anything you both need once the storm's passed, you let me know, da?"

     "Will do. Thank ye mayor!" With a wave, Miranda stepped out into the wind.

To be continued…

 
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