The Last Keeper
Australia's most powerful lighthouse sits on a salt-dusted headland at Cape Byron, on the mainland's easternmost tip. Since 1901, its silver beam has been beloved by the wild things living on the headland and in the waters of the bay, and by the people of the town itself. When the lighthouse decides it can no longer relate to the ships which now pass without ever visiting the once busy little port, it switches itself off... and issues the townsfolk with an ultimatum.
The elephant in the room. It’s the thing sitting large as life, right there, and clear as a bell beside us. It’s the issue that’s always been in our lives, just so. It’s what we’ve defined ourselves by, sculpted ourselves to work around until we fit together so smoothly that we hold one another in place. We develop a kind of synergy with our elephants so that after a time, all that matters is where they are. What they are, how they work, what they might do, and indeed how they became our elephants in the first place, matters not so much. When the elephant in the room eventually comes knocking and demands attention – as it’s bound to – when it can’t be ignored any longer, our noses are rubbed in our own world views. We’re pushed to choose between the possibility of loss, and the potential for growth. If we’re quick like a fox, willing to open our eyes and hearts, we can give our elephants the attention they deserve and discover new worlds, aspects of ourselves we never dreamed existed. The Byron Bay lighthouse, which has been a beacon in so many Australian lives for more than a century, is a little like that.
Where can I read it?
The Last Keeper appears in Lighthouses 2015, published by Black Beacon Books (Australia).