Left to watch

Category A: Highly Commended (2020) Monash Short Story Writing Competition

Author: Caitlin Toce

Title: Left to watch


Don’t you ever just sit there watching, watching the calm, the chaos, the peace, the disruption. Because I do. I will watch until I grow too old, too frail, too broken, to watch anymore. But my favourite thing about watching, is the helping. So when all I can do is watch, it's like getting lost in a prodigious school of fish.

There is a time in anyone, or anything's life where they can't work any longer. Their bones become jelly and their heart almost stops ticking like half broken clock. After many years at sea, seeing no ships, I was shut down and stripped for parts. That is when my light stopped shining. They had all seen me as useless. But I could have served a purpose, if only they had waited 7 months more.

When the day finally came for me to help, I was only able to watch. If I could, I would have been screaming louder than a blue whale, tears would run down my face faster than Usain Bolt, my light could have directed them to safety. Yet, none of those things were possible for the 7 months I couldn’t work, let alone when the tragedy happened.

I'm just a broken lighthouse. A broken lighthouse who can't warn the sailors. A broken lighthouse who can't stop the great ship running into the rocks. A broken lighthouse that can't do anything but watch the oil seep out of the ship like a dark night taking over the great blue ocean. The one time I could have helped, I was left to watch. To watch and think of the children and their wives crying at the loss of their fathers and husbands. To watch and think of the fish, wide-eyed, desperately trying to swim away from the spill. I wish I could have helped them, but I was left to watch…