The sharp shingles dig into my ribs and smack me awake.
There are smaller, softer monochrome pebbles that ease the pressure of the larger, sharper, blackened rocks, as though, by age, they have lost their sharpness as well as their colour. The gentle sound of the ocean’s undulations surround me. I’m wet through and half submerged in water.
I crawl out, barely able to lift myself. Exhausted. Confused. On terra firma, albeit a bed of black and grey shingles and jagged rocks. How long have I been here? Where have I come from to be here? Where is here?
After a while I manage to lift myself out of the water and onto the shingle shore, so that only my feet and shins are still immersed in the blue black sea.
I take a moment to rest my cheek on the rocks and then strain to lift my neck and look behind me, from whence I’ve come. All I can see is a faint line dividing the blue black of the sea and the blue grey of the sky. Nothing else. No boat, no wreck, no sign of life, nothing other than an endless line of ocean and sky.
I pull myself up onto my hands and knees, edging upwards, dragging my knees and the rest of me up to standing. I wobble, find my balance, and stand still.
I look ahead of me. And then up. And up. And up.
In front of me is an immense tower, a block of grey white cylindrical concrete rising out of the shoreline of grey black shingles and rocks. It has a tip, high above me and, as I try to focus my tired, sea salted eyes, I see the shimmer and pulse of a light.
I slip and stumble up a gentle incline, my feet sinking in as the pebbles shuffle and rearrange, making way for my weight. Not far up the monochrome beach, I come face to face with the lighthouse and I joyously plant both my hands firmly onto the comforting, man-made concrete.
I press my cheek against its cold rough surface and breath in. Whatever this is, wherever I am, it has to be better than an endless ocean and sky.
I start to edge my way around the outside of the lighthouse, not letting either of my hands off the gritty surface. As I manoeuvre around, I look around me and realise the lighthouse is standing alone on it’s own tiny island, surrounded by sea and sky and nothingness.
Then my hand comes across a sharp vertical edge. A frame. A door frame. I stand back for a moment, letting my hands go of the surface of the wall. I stare at a wooden, meticulously painted panelled door. Its hinges are brass, as is its solitary, round handle.
I move my hand towards the handle and grasp it. I turn it and it loosens the frame and I feel the weight of the door pulling towards me.
I step inside.
There’s an inner space, a sort of outer casing to the building that surrounds an inner, pure white wall. Directly ahead of me is a steel door, a lift door. There’s a button. I glance to either side and see the inner wall running around the core of the building. I take in the smell of chilled, stale air, of a space that’s not been opened for a long time. I press the button.
A shift, a buzzing and a whirr of movement above me. The lift descends, pauses for a moment and the door slides opens. I step inside a tiny steel lift. There’s only one button. I press it.
A repeating buzz and whirr and a jolt and the lift ascends.
A shudder and the lift comes to rest. The door opens and I step inside a room, in the top of the lighthouse.
There’s only one object in the room. It’s the familiar wooden frame of Izzy’s bed and her brown duvet, ruffled, dishevelled and slept in. My eyes begin to feel with tears as I edge closer to her bed.
She’s there. Curled up in her pillows. Asleep.
I sink to my knees.