Tommy was miserable.
It was bad enough that he had to leave his old school and his old friends, pack up all his stuff, and go live someplace he’d never even seen. Now it was worse. Standing and looking at the place he was supposed to live, he thought he might cry.
The lighthouse stood out on an island, its glass top winking in the sunlight, its highest tip pointing straight at the sky. All around were rocks and waves. Tommy couldn’t see anything else. Who would be his friends here? What would he do? It would just be him and his parents and some seagulls.
“It will be an adventure,” his mom said from behind him. “You love adventures.”
She had been saying that over and over for the last three weeks. Tommy didn’t think he believed her. An adventure? It was so quiet here he felt bored already.
As they rowed the small boat across the water to the lighthouse island, Tommy looked up at the white shape towering above him. There were no windows anywhere except at the very top where the light would shine out. He imagined himself living in the dark down below. Maybe he could pretend it was a cave for him to explore. If only it weren’t so small. Tommy sighed.
They got out of the boat and hauled their suitcases up to where a set of stairs wound around the outside of the lighthouse. Tommy’s eyes widened. “You mean we have to carry our stuff up there?” he asked, not caring that he sounded very whiny. His mom just nodded and started up. Tommy muttered under his breath but he did the same. Panting for air, he pictured himself climbing these steps every day. He imagined hauling groceries up here. His mom always made him unload the groceries. Tommy shuddered. This place was going to be so much work there wouldn’t even be time to play.
Finally they got to a door. They were very high up now. Tommy’s mom turned to look at the view. “See!” she raised her voice a bit over the wind. “It’s beautiful. Already an adventure.”
Tommy turned and looked. The ocean looked flat from up here and stretched on forever. Even from this height, Tommy couldn’t see any other houses on the land behind them. He opened the door and went inside.
“Your room is just over there,” said his mom. “There’s a button next to it that opens it up.”
Tommy stared at her. A button? He pressed it. The door slid open like it was on an elevator.
Tommy looked at his room. It was very small. He set his suitcase on the narrow bed and turned around. If he stretched out his arms, he could almost touch all the walls. A small desk was next to the bed. A thin plastic thing was attached, which looked like it would fold down and be a place to sit. The desk had a computer on it, but it was strapped down. Tommy stared at the straps. Did this place get earthquakes? That would be an adventure but not really the kind of adventure that Tommy liked. Everything in this room was white. Tommy imagined laying on that tiny bed and staring at the white ceiling.
“You’d better put your things in the closet,” said his mom from the doorway. “There isn’t much time. Then come down the hall to the last door. Your father and I will be waiting for you.”
Not much time? Tommy stared at the empty doorway after she left. What was the hurry? What were they possibly going to do here? He supposed at some point they had to turn on the light, but it was still hours until nightfall. Maybe his mom had made a cake or something to celebrate the move. Well, okay. Tommy liked cake. He unzipped his suitcase and began unloaded all of his favorite things. When he opened the closet, he saw that it was already half full. Strange clothes, all one piece, shirt and pants, in solid colors. Big clunky boots. A pair of gloves. Tommy wondered if his new school required a uniform. He shuddered to think of what kind of school it must be if it wanted kids dressed like that. Quickly, Tommy buried the weird new things under his own clothes. He stuck a few books in the bottom, along with his baseball and glove. His collection of baseball cards went lovingly on the top shelf. They just barely fit. It was a good thing he hadn’t brought any more stuff. No wonder his mom only let him pack one suitcase.
Shoving the suitcase under the bed, Tommy went back out into the short hall. He could see three doors just like his on the opposite wall and one down at the very end. That door had a button beside it, too. The elevator doors didn’t seem too strange when Tommy realized there would be no room to open a normal door, but the tight space made him think of long winters and being stuck in one little place with nothing to do. He jabbed the door button a little harder than was necessary.
When the door opened, Tommy froze. The room in front of him looked like something out of a movie. A whole panel of buttons and computer screens took up the wall in front of him, with a window above it looking out at the view. Three built-in seats were in front of this panel. His mother and father were in two of them, busily working on something on the screens in front of them. They looked up when Tommy stepped in.
“Well, son,” said Tommy’s father. “What do you think?”
“I…what is this?” Tommy asked.
“The control room,” said his father. “Have a seat son, and we’ll tell you all about it.”
Tommy sat down in the empty chair. His mother reached over and buckled some straps around him just like she used to do when he was little.
His father explained. They had been chosen to explore a possible location for a colony on a new planet. This “lighthouse” was their ship. It was all top secret, so they had not been allowed to tell him before in case he accidentally let something slip. No one was anywhere near here, so they should be able to get away unseen. With any luck, they would be gone for a year, but when they came back it would be to put together a team of colonists and lead them back. In five years, they could be living on a new planet.
By this time Tommy was grinning.
His mother grinned back. “See, I told you it would be an adventure,” she said. “You love adventures.”
“Hold on tight, everyone,” said his father. “Here we go.”