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(A short story of 1246 words)

Salt Stain


by Zoe F Gilbert

A new lighthouse keeper receives a mysterious visitor.

At first I missed corners. Dust rolls round in ever-increasing balls until they snag on a table leg or encounter a drip from a spray-soaked window. Salt creeps in crystalline spirals. Cobwebs are precarious, anchored across arcs, but a cobweb here must be as tough as the nets the fishermen fix along the shore.

In a lighthouse at night, up in the lightroom, you exist for one second out of four, a speck caught in a giant’s torch beam.

You are never alone there. You, closest to the limelight, the moon eye, are the envy of thousands – I may say tens of thousands – of unrequited night flyers. At each flash through a given pane, you may witness a crowd of small bodies hurled against the glass. The panes are drifted with moth dust, edges thick with wings, legs, tributes left to the light. The spiders, crouched in their reinforced swags, are fat. Bats feast and fall away, dazed with their own gluttony...

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A review of Salt Stain from the CUT team....

An intriguing and mysterious short story set in the cornerless world of a lighthouse keeper. Zoe Gilbert’s story offers a vivid description of a setting you may never have thought about, capturing the isolation and loneliness that such a life entails, as well as how an unexpected visitor might affect that particular balance.

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