Chapter 11 – The Ship Wreck

Satisfied with the work they had achieved whilst staying at Alma Motel, Molly and Will prepared to travel further south to Dunedin. The previous night Molly had found a little holiday cottage on-line at the quaint village of Portobello, on the Otago Peninsula, and had booked it for a three night stay, giving them enough time to explore the area. Being early autumn the weather was perfect, warm sunny days and cool nights. The Seaside Bach was situated across the road from a park near the waters edge. She could not believe how similar the village was to their home at Lockyer! 

As they drove along the winding road which followed the waters edge of the harbour, Will noticed a lovely little beach at McAndrew’s Bay, and parked the car. They went for a walk along the shoreline, the waters were still warm and the sun quite hot, even at the end of March. Sitting on the golden sands in the sunshine, the view around them was spectacular, the sunshine danced like glittering diamonds on the surface of the water, a variety of houses lined the road way behind them and out across the waters of the harbour they could see more settlements on the other side of Dunedin, against the blue azure sky. It was not much further to drive to Portobello now.

Once they were settled into their new accomodation, Molly and Will went for a walk into the village in search for somewhere to have dinner. There was a restaurant, the hotel, a takeaways, a general store, petrol station, a jade carver’s gallery, a school and an art gallery. Agreeing on fish and chips they took their takeaway meal to sit by the water, watching the sun set. 

The next day they went for a drive along the coastal road which woven along the Peninsula to the Albatross Centre. Walking around the cliff edges they saw six solo albatross flying over head, they appeared almost stationary, unable to move forward against the incredible wind. On the rocks below was a colony of seals. This was a beautiful part of the landscape where the harbour meets the open ocean, it was rough and wild. The waves crashed dramatically against the huge rock walls forming the coastline. The ground rumbled beneath their feet with the relentless pounding of the waves. Molly began to feel dizzy. At first she thought it was the height of the cliffs and looking down at the ocean far below, combined with the strong winds. But as she got into the car, she realised it was different, the feeling that she now associated with seeing between the veils of present and past. She decided  after dinner, to visit The Attic. Will was content with working on a portrait and left her to meditate. The Bach was tiny, and Will had his desktop easel set up at the kitchen table, and Molly got comfortable on the bed for meditation. 

It only took several deep breaths to find herself at the bottom of the stairs to The Attic. She could feel a rumbling in the stairs and on opening the door, Molly found The Attic had transformed into what appeared as the lookout they had visited earlier that day. The wind was blowing a gale, so hard it was difficult to stay standing up on her feet and there were no railings to hold on to. Crouching down and holding tight to the tussocks of grass, Molly could see below in the wild water a sailing ship, cast on the rocks below, and listing severally to one side. She caught snippets of voices, cries and yells of desperation from below, whipped up to her on the howling winds.

“All hands on deck! All hands on deck!” Followed by the repeated clanging of a bell and the pursers whistle. There were frantic screams and yelling, and the blood-chilling groaning of timbers cracking as the ship was being torn apart. In the wind Molly could hear a voice, “Do something, don’t just stand there, do something! You must help them. Get some help! My children are on board, I can’t reach them. Why can’t I reach them? How did I get up here with you and why can’t I get them up here too? Oh please, do something to help them….” The woman’s voice breaking, her sobs turned to shrieks of desperation as they both watch helplessly as the ship split in two. The ghastly sound, managing to rise above the roar of the winds, made Molly’s blood run cold. She was frozen in Time and Space, watching, unable to do anything to help, because this had already happened over 100 years ago. There was no chance of survival with the sinking of this ship in the icy waters off the coast just outside of Dunedin Harbour. There was no one available close enough, nor fast enough to be of any assistance. The life boats had not even had time to be launched. She could see people attempting in vein as the ship spun before smashing into the rocks. In what appeared to happen in no time at all, what was left of the wreck was lost beneath the unforgiving, tumultuous ocean. All was lost, removed from the Physical World in a matter of minutes.

Frozen with cold and fear, Molly stood transfixed watching this event replay before her, the woman next to her was beside herself with fear, shock and grief. What was she to do? There was nothing in the physical that Molly could do, but why was she experiencing this now? Her attention is brought back to the poor desperate woman, on her hands and knees on the ground next to her retching. “Oh God, what can I do?” Molly yelled, the wind whipping her own words back at her.

“Bring her to me!”  She heard Grace’s voice above the thunderous roar of the wind. Molly took the woman’s hand, closed her eyes and imagined being in the warmth of The Attic. It felt as if the wind increased, spiralling, it sucked them both upwards and then suddenly there was silence. Apprehensively, Molly opened her eyes to find herself and the saturated woman sitting on the floor in the middle of The Attic. Grace was stoking the fire, to the side was a small wooden bath tub filled with hot soapy water, on the armchair was a bundle of towels. Silently Grace set about undressing her visitor, and helped her into the hot bath. Exhausted from the ordeal, there was not an ounce of resistance. Undressed she slid into the comfort of the warm water, her sobs eased, her body grateful of the warmth. Grace said quietly to her, “Now don’t say a word m’am, let’s get you warm and fed, and then we can have a little chat, hmm?” The woman nodded weakly in agreement. Grace placed a thick bathrobe that had been warming by the fire on the chair next to the tub, pulls across a woven cane room divider, giving the woman a little privacy. Taking Molly’s hand, leading her across the room, and wraps a warm blanket around her. Feeling  overwhelmed and anxious Molly asks, “What are we to do with her Grace, how can we help her?” Grace sits her down, wraps in the blanket firmly around her and hands her a cup of hot cocoa.

“Molly, remember where you are and what we do here! Get up to speed girl! She needs her family and she deserves an explanation of why she is here. But first, let’s get her feeling a little better. When she is dried and dressed we’ll eat and then talk, ok?” 

Molly nodded in agreement, looked around the room to find the woman dried and wrapped up tightly in the bathrobe, feeling somewhat awkward and uncertain. She stood up and approached the woman, placing her arm gently around her shoulders and guided her over to the kitchen table where Grace had served some soup and hot buttered toast. The woman sat down at the table, slightly bewildered, but once she began to eat she realised her hunger and how good the warmth of the soup was in her belly. A glimpse of a smile crosses her face and her eyes look up briefly in silent appreciation.

“Poor dear,” consoles Grace. “You are safe now, we will help you find your family.” The woman glances up from her bowl of soup with a glimmer of hope in her eyes, at least a sparkle in the dark sadness and sorrow that had enveloped her, thinking that she had lost everything after watching the horror of events she too had been a part of. Her clothes were drying by the fire and her hair, now that it had dried was a rich auburn colour, framing her pale freckled skin and bright blue-green eyes. Molly couldn’t begin to imagine what life on board that ship must have been like for this young woman, not much older than 20. And for her to think that she had lost her whole family. With a strong, broad Scottish accent, she asked of her children and  could we help find them.

“It’s quite easy,” reassured Grace. “Close your eyes now, lass, and I want you  to remember what it felt like to hold them in your arms, to imagine feeling their little arms wrap around your neck and waist,  so happy to see you again.”

Tears spilled down her reddened cheeks as she recalled her darling little ones, and she sobbed quietly, but with a faint smile of remembrance on her face. There was a quiet knock on the door, so quiet that not even she was aware of it, lost in the moment of this precious memory of her children. Grace silently opened the door and welcomes in three small children, one an infant in the eldest child’s arms. They are painfully shy and with a little encouragement from Grace, they step into the room and their faces lit up as they see the familiar outline of their mother. With the lightest pitter patter of their feet across the floor, they sneak in and wrap their arms around her, the eldest placing the wee one in her lap. The young mother’s smile increases as she feels their presence growing stronger and then with surprised delight she opens her eyes to the welcoming hugs of her little ones. Disbelievingly, she looks from  Molly to Grace and then to her children, and begin to ask, “H-h-ow? W-wh-ere?….” but her voice trails off, lost for words to describe the immense feeling of relief. They are interrupted by a loud, brisk, knock at the door and without waiting for it to be opened for him, in strides a very handsome, tall man, dressed in uniform. “Papa!!” shriek the two older children, running across the room to greet him. The big man scooped them up into his arms and spins them around, laughing loudly, until his eyes catch his wife sitting at the table, dressed in the fluffy bathrobe. He stops and gently places the children on the floor, and slowly moves towards his beloved wife and youngest child sitting on her lap. He bends down on his knees in front of her, placing his head in her lap, he begins to sob, her hand soothingly caresses his hair, as tears spill down her cheeks, unable to contain her relief. The children join them each stroking his back thoughtfully. The baby began to cry and the mother quickly puts him to her breast. The love  on her face is indescribable. Her husband looks up at her and gently strokes the baby’s cheek as he slurps noisily at her breast, his tiny hand reaches out for his father’s seemingly large finger and grasps it tightly.  The proud man’s eyes brim with tears and before he could wipe them away, one trickles down his cheek.

What happens next is something that Molly was becoming accustomed to. It was that moment of transformation, when souls move on. There is a bright light which gathers in intensity, surrounding them all, preparing them to move on. The immense love of their reunion was blissful, the relief was felt by them all, and with a brilliant flash, they were gone. It left Molly spellbound, awestruck. Staring at the now empty space, Grace broke the silence, “Another story for your book Miss Molly! Hungry? There is plenty of soup and bread….”

The vision faded and Molly became aware of the heaviness of her physical body, and that she was sitting propped up by pillows in the bed in the holiday cottage. She looked around the room taking in her unfamiliar surroundings, of all the fine attention to detail it had been decorated with. Looking out the bedroom door she can see that Will was still sitting at the small table in the kitchen engrossed in his art.

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