Chapter 12 – A Precious Gift

Invercargill 2017

Wednesday morning Anna woke early, excited as to what the outcome of this day may be. However, it was at least 6 hours until she would get any news about the jewellery, so she decided it was a good idea to clean the house, it would keep her mind occupied. Putting on the radio and turning up the volume, she got stuck into doing the floors. She vacuumed and mopped the wooden floors, swept the verandahs and pathways outside. Then she cleaned the shower and bath, the toilet, and then the oven in the kitchen. By 11am she was still pumped, made some coffee and then began cleaning the windows. She kept the phone with her, not wanting to miss any calls. 

Just after 11.30am, her phone rang. It was Bernard. She could sense the excitement in his voice through the controlled, precise manner in which he spoke, asking her if she could join them at the shop. Anna was ready to leave within 15 minutes and at the shop within another 15 minutes. Before getting out of the car, she said a little prayer – “Archangel Michael come with me now. Show me the truth of this situation and clearly let me know what is best to do.” Taking a deep breath and relaxing her shoulders,  her neck clicked, relieving a tell-tail sign of tension.  She got out of the car and walked across the road to the antique shop purposefully trying to appear calm despite her internal excitement. As she stepped inside the shop , it appeared empty. Where was Bernard? She could here muffled voices in the back office. There was a small bell on the counter, which Anna rang. Bernard’s face lit up as he walked out into the show room. “Ah, Anna, it is good to see you! How are you today? May I introduce Louisa Andrews. Please, come in Anna….” Bernard pointed towards the door inviting Anna into his office as he turned the sign on the front door and locked it, indicating the store was closed. Her curiosity was running wild as she sensed the excitement of the others. 

Louisa was a tall, well-dressed woman in her late 40’s. Her black died hair cut into a neat 1920’s style bob, the red lipstick matched her manicured nails. High heals and an immaculately tailored suit, which Anna noticed was a design either of Coco Chanel or based on her designs. She had an air of importance about her and greeted Anna in a well-educated English accent.

“Let’s get down to business, shall we?” She said in a feigned calm voice and then unable to contain her excitement said, “Oh what the hell” and her calm collected  facade cracked, Loouisa became animated, “I am incredibly excited about this piece of jewellery you have asked me to value Anna. From my experience, research on-line and verifying it with one of my colleagues, this bracelet would have been created in 1876. The sapphires are from Burma and the diamonds from Africa. The design is unusual but hints that it may have come from Vienna. Possibly originally made for royalty. How did it come into your possession Anna?”

Anna retold the fabricated story to Louisa, and then included that it was a wedding anniversary present for Grace Forrest, from her husband Captain Callum Forrest. And hinted that it was quite possible that it had indeed been purchased in Vienna. Anna had to stifle a scream, masking it as a sneeze, as she saw Callum Forrest ’s ghost standing behind Louisa, nodding his approval, a huge smile on his face.

“Anna….I have written a valuation certificate for you, and would like to discuss a market value for this piece, as I have a client who is extremely excited about the possibility of purchasing it,” handing a printed certificate, signed and dated today. The amount on the certificate made Anna wobble, going weak at the knees. She needed to sit down. The amount read ND$38,000.00!! She sat numbly staring at the paper in her hands, and then she began to laugh. “Are you serious Louisa? Really? Oh…my….god…” Anna exclaimed. Louisa soberly continued, “This is only the market value. I would like to you to please consider an offer on behalf of my client…of ND$42,000.00. I understand if you need a day or two to consider this, being a family heirloom, and that you may not even want to sell it.”

“Umm, yes, thank you Louisa, that is a good idea. I’ll call you on Friday, if  that is okay with you?”

“I look forward to your call Anna, here is my card. Morning would suit me best. I look forward to hearing from you.”

Bernard, silent the whole time, handed Anna the tin box containing the bracelet and escorted her to the door, said goodbye and locked the door behind her. She stared numbly at the piece of paper in her hands, and began to chuckle as the realisation of the bigger scheme going on behind it all was starting to be revealed to her. Sitting in the car, she caught her breath and laughed unbelievingly. Before driving home, she rang Molly.

“Fuck Molly, you are not going to BELIEVE what has just happened!” Anna continued, updating Molly with all of the details, finishing with the bit about the market value and that Louisa had a client who would be interested in buying such a piece of jewellery. There was silence on the other end of the phone.

“Molly, you ok? Molly?”

“I…I….I don’t know what to say!” 

“Say YES, DAMN IT WOMAN!! There’s your new roof and more!”

Molly burst out laughing, both the girls guffawing until they started hiccoughing.

“Oh my god, Will is not going to believe this! I’ll chat with you later Anna.” Molly ended the call and Anna sat in the car, trying to grasp what was happening here. She could hear a mischievous chuckle. “Patrick? Patrick is that you?” Again in the rear vision mirror, she saw his face smiling back at her. “Drive home safely my love,” he replied, his presence appearing as a mere glimpse of a vision.

Molly tried to contain herself as she made dinner, wanting to savour sharing this story with Will. Part the way through the meal, Molly told him the events of Anna’s day. He almost choked when she got to the part of the value of the bracelet. “You’re kidding right? You vixen, you are leading me on!”

“No I’m not Will, honestly, this is the truth. Look, Anna sent a pic of the valuation certificate, take a look for yourself!” She handed him the phone.

Now it was Will’s turn to look dumbfounded. “You will need to check in with Grace about this Molly, what if she doesn’t want you to sell it?” 

“I think it is quite the opposite, Will. I think she and Patrick have schemed this whole event, to create the funds for the new roof – can’t you see it now?”

“Do you think so? Wow! Kinda makes sense eh!”

“I’ll visit The Attic tonight, and check in with Grace.”

“Now! Do it now! I’ll take care of the dishes. Go, go….check it out!” Will pushed her towards the bedroom door, Molly giggled at his eagerness.

Making herself comfortable on the bed, stacking up behind her every pillow in the room, she settled into rhythmic breathing. Being so excited, it was difficult to relax, and took her a little longer to visualise the stairs leading up to The Attic, but she eventually got there. The room appeared empty. On the table was an envelope, hand written in ink pen and a red wax seal on the back of it. Molly sat down at the table and carefully peeled it open. She pulls out a card and turned it over. It was a copy of the valuation certificate! Puzzled she looked around the room and saw Grace and Callum sitting side by side on the daybed. 

“See it as a little thank you for taking such good care of our home,” said Callum, and as quickly as they had appeared, they disappeared, leaving Molly on her own staring at the certificate. Her stunned silence was interrupted by the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs. The door burst open before she could get up to open it. In the doorway stood Anna, her face beaming with excitement! “Oh Molly can you believe it!” She exclaimed. “What shall we do, what does Grace have to say? Speechless, Molly handed her the certificate.

Molly and Will were driving to Invercargill on the Friday morning, when Molly’s phone rang. It was Anna. “What shall we do to celebrate? Your bank account has just received a generous top up of $42,000! Fuck! It’s like winning Lotto!” Anna shrieked into the phone. Molly had to hold it away from her ear, Anna’s voice so loud it was like she had it on hands-free. “So do you want me to go ahead with the quotes for the new roof?” To which Will added, “Get them to include a quote for a new iron roof for the barn – let’s see what kind of deal they can produce!”

“Did you get that Anna?” asked Molly.

“Yep, I’ll give them a call when I get off the phone now and let you know what they come back with. Safe travels my gypsy king and queen!”

Arriving late afternoon at their motel in Invercargill, Molly and Will unpacked what they would need for the next couple of days, and walked into town to see what Invercargill had to offer for dinner. They quite liked the small city, it was busy but not hectic and had the feeling of productivity and prosperity about it. Most shops ran functioning businesses and the streets and parks were well cared for, clean and no graffiti or tagging. Proud and elaborate buildings lined the streets. Walking past one laneway there was street art purposefully decorating a tall building and although it was clean and well maintained, Molly sensed activity of a sinister kind, not in the present day, but of days gone by.

That night her sleep was restless and she woke often. The last time she woke crying, sobbing, but was unable to recall the dream. Will slept soundly and she got up to make a cup of hot milk. A heaviness sat with her that she was unable to shake off. She remembered what Grace had said about not trying to solve these things in the physical. As Molly was to learn, these kind of feelings were indicators that there was story for her  to download from the Spirit Realm. 

The bedroom in the motel unit was seperate to the lounge and kitchen, she quietly shut the bedroom door so as not to wake Will. Nestling into the comfort lounge chair with the hot chocolate between both hands, Molly’s thoughts drifted back across the day, wanting to link the heavy feeling with a particular location. The laneway came to mind. Having finished her drink, she settled back into meditation and the vision of the stairs up to The Attic. The door was open a crack and she could hear Grace chatting quietly inside. Peering in, Molly saw Grace sitting in one of the arm chairs by the fireplace, her back to the door, and was making odd noises, although somewhat playful. Curious Molly tip-toed across the room, not wanting to disturb her. But nothing misses Grace’s attention, she was well aware of Molly being in the room. Looking over Grace’s shoulder, she found her playing with…a baby! Unable to contain her surprise, Molly blurted, “Good god woman, what have you done now?” Grace turned to look at Molly over her shoulder, all gooey-eyed, “Isn’t she just the sweetest thing?”

On Grace’s lap, lying on its back looking up at her was a small baby, about 4 months of age, all happy and cute, smiles and oozing joyfulness. 

“I found her in a woven basket by the door, not long before you came in. Can we keep her?” This was an aspect of Grace she had never seen before. Grace looked at Molly with doleful eyes and batted her beautiful long eyelashes. 

“Grace! She is not a kitten! We need to find her parents, well, at least her mother. And how do you suggest we are to do that?” Molly commands, taking the ‘mother pose’ with both her hands on her hips, looking sternly at Grace, then at the baby, and then at Grace again, who looked back at Molly pleadingly, and then at the baby again, who was still exuding  love and smiles. 

“Oh honestly Grace, what are we to do with her?”

“Goodness gracious Molly! After all of this time, you still forget where we are, don’t you” she replied and started laughing at her. “Come, sit down and we’ll sort this out together,” she said, turning her attention back to the bundle that simply oozed love all over them. Molly sat on the floor by Grace’s chair and together they placed their hands on the baby, closed their eyes imagined that, just like making a phone call, they are able to connect with the little one’s mother. Almost instantly, there was a knock at the door and Molly got up to open it. Standing apprehensively in the doorway was a well dressed young woman wearing a pretty floral 1950’s sun frock, white gloves and a hat, but she was not much older than a girl, maybe in her mid-teens. Nervously she stuttered, “I…I….I have no idea how I got here, or why I am here. Can you help me?” To which Molly replied, “Come on in, please. Have you been missing something?” As the young woman entered the room, she warily looked around taking in the environment she now found herself in.

“Beg your pardon Miss, my name is Anna, I’m from Invercargill…do you know where that is? Not many people do….” She started chatting nervously, until she heard Grace cooing at the baby on her knee. Anna’s curiosity drew her attention to Grace, and seeing the infant lying on her knee, her gloved hands covered her mouth as she gasped with unexpected surprise. Unable to believe what she saw, she stumbled and Molly caught hold of her arm, preventing her from falling to her knees. Anna started to cry and knelt down next to Grace and the baby. Ever so gently, she slipped off her gloves, reached out her hand and touched the baby’s head, she was barely breathing. 

“May I hold her?” Anna whispered.

“But of course!”  Grace replied, standing up, making way for Anna to sit in the arm chair and gently placed the baby in her arms. With a mixture of disbelief and inexplicable joy, she sat holding the baby, spellbound, her eyes filled with tears. Leaving Anna for a moment, Grace and Molly stepped aside busying themselves making tea. “She’ll tell us her story, when she is ready,” says Grace. Taking a tray with tea cups and a big pot of tea, Grace placed them down on the old sea chest that they use as a low table by the fireplace. Anna was lost in the loving gaze of a young mother. “What’s her name?” Grace enquired softly. 

“Violet May,” whispered Anna, slightly distracted, the baby now sound asleep. “Where, where am I?” Anna enquired.

“It is a special room in my house, I guess it is a spiritual lost and found, a meeting place for lost souls,” Grace replied.

“Spiritual lost and found?” Anna repeated, trying to make sense of this.

“Anna, do you believe in Heaven?” Molly asked.

“Oh yes! It’s where we all go when we die……Oh my! Am I….dead?” She looked surprised at the realisation.

“Well, actually you are far from dead, however, it is probably the easiest way to describe it for you to understand,” said Grace.

“Hmmph, well that explains a lot!” Anna exclaimed and becoming very animated, she stood up and abruptly placed the baby on the chair behind her, quickly apologising to the little imp, whom barely twitched in her sleep. “Now I know why after all this time, I was being ignored by everyone at home. I thought they were all embarrassed by me, because I had to go to our Aunt’s farm up in Northland. That I had shamed my family. I had been so sad over this, and then of course there was dear darling Violet May. I had to leave her behind. You see, Father was a publican, but despite his business, he wanted me brought up as a good Catholic, none of this Presbyterian nonsense. But poor dear, what he thought was me being a “misbehaving” girl was his misunderstanding of me. I had been taken advantage of by one of his loyal patrons, who had decided he wanted to impress me in the laneway at the back of the hotel. I was putting out the rubbish in the bins after the evening meal had been served for the patrons by my Mother. He wooed me and was all very nice to me, and then he got very forceful and pinned me against the wall. He hurt me, if you know what I am implying….”her voice faded as she started to cry at the memory of this event that caused a cascade of what felt like uncontrollable nightmares, one after the other. Unable to tell her Father or Mother, because she felt that they would not believe her, and that they would think that she had encouraged the man because of her vibrant, outgoing personality. Accused of behaving unacceptably, she was sent away to her Mother’s sister in Northland, to “attend a ladies college to better her educational options,” or truth be known, to see out the pregnancy and deliver the child where it could be adopted out at birth.

“The last thing I remember was the excruciating pain of being in labour, the baby’s head crowning and the feeling of all the blood in my body draining away. Dizzy and weak, I passed out. All around me I could see the nursing staff panicking, trying desperately to revive my unconscious body. Violet May had been born and lay crying on the delivery table between my legs, a massive pool of blood surrounding her, my body limp on the table. I stood by my body yelling at the staff to do something quickly. But it was like they were ignoring me, or maybe they were too busy to pay any attention to me. One of the nurses picked up Violet May and wrapped her in a blanket, rubbing her body vigorously to keep her warm and took her away from the delivery table. Anna paused for awhile and then exclaimed, getting a grasp on what had actually happened, “Now I understand! The next thing I knew I was in the nursery with so many babies, but Violet May was not there. Wandering down the hallways of the hospital I stopped to ask one nurse after another, ‘where is my baby?’ but they all ignored me, I thought they were too busy to answer. Eventually I found her in a room, so weak she was hardly able to cry. The nurse in attendance had her wrapped firmly in a blanket and under a heating lamp. She looked grim and sad. Next thing I recall was being at home with Mother and Father, but as I had said earlier, I thought they were disappointed with me and ignoring me as punishment. They both looked so sad, so incredibly sad, but nothing I said could make any difference to them. Then there was a darkness and now, here I am with you, and Violet May! But I get it now, I do understand, I died didn’t I? And Violet May too?” Grace and Molly nodded in agreement. Anna picked up the sleeping baby and sat down with her snuggled in close. “Well, being dead is nothing like I thought it would be,” she said relieved. “And now I have Violet May with me!” She looked up at the two women with the most beautiful smile on her face. 

There was a knock at the door and the room fell silent as they all look towards the the door in anticipation. Grace opened it to be met by a well dressed man in a tailored navy pin-striped suit and a woman in a smart knee length black dress with a hat  and gloves to match, looking somewhat nervous, more than a little confused. Grace invited them in, “Please, do come in. My name is Grace and this is Molly and I believe you know this young lady and her daughter….”  The woman gasped and the man cleared his throat nervously. Recognising their daughter, she asked, “Anna?” Anna looked over her shoulder and invited her mother to come sit next to her. “Mother, this is Violet May.” Together Anna’s parents stood beside her, looking at the grand daughter they had never met. Anna’s father places his hands on Anna’s shoulders and together the four of them were surrounded by that wonderful light that Molly now knows, is Divine Love. The light increased and the room filled with an overwhelming sense of Love and as the light faded, Molly saw that there was just her and Grace standing in The Attic, and much to Grace’s disappointment, even the baby had gone. “Oh welll….” She drawled, “It is good to see them reunited again. Now….some tea is in order, don’t you think?” Molly giggled, delighting in this casual  side of Grace which was new to her. “Tea? Oh yes please!” Molly answered.

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