I’ve always loved stories about outsiders, and especially those who see or feel or understand the world in some way others don’t. With “The Lighthouse Keeper,” Daisy Johnson walks a fine line with her main character in this regard: read one way, she is exactly the character I just described, a woman who has had an encounter with a fish, but not just any fish, a fish that’s somehow different and perhaps even fated to have encountered her.
Read another way, the woman is just very lonely and isolated and doing a job that the people in the town feel isn’t right for her (as a woman) and she is projecting what could almost be a delusion out into the world.
It really could go either way, but my tendency is to read it as the former, and as the former the story takes on a whiff of magic. The townsfolk already regard the woman as strange—after all, a woman working a lighthouse?—but the fallout of a single moment threatens everything, and she has to decide what she’ll do to protect something as unique as herself.
I found his story through LeVar Burton Reads.