Chapter 16 – The Flood

Will woke during the night to the sound of torrential rain. The forecast for most of the country was for heavy rains over the next 48 hours. He drifted in and out of sleep, feeling slightly disturbed. He woke again to the sound of something being moved around in the motel room, and the sensation of someone sitting gently on the bed next to him. “Molly, is that you?” he asked, expecting Molly to reply.

“Please sir, can you help me find my mother? I tried to wake the lady by she is sound asleep.” Startled by the clarity of the voice, Will froze in bed, his eyes wide open and scarcely breathing, unsure of what to do. Why wasn’t Molly awake? He felt next to him to make sure she was ok, and there she was purring like a kitten, sleeping deeply. 

“Please, sir….I need your help,” the young girl asked again. Not wanting to wake Molly, Will sat up to find a young girl sitting on the bed next to him., appearing very real. Conscious that he was naked beneath the sheets, he sat discretely covering the lower half of his body. “I…I am not sure what I can do to help you…” Will replied. The young girl took his hand in hers and instantly Will saw himself standing with her on the edge of a raging river in full flood. It was raining heavily and he can hear many voices shouting, their instructions coming to him on the wind. Saturated, he looked at the young girl who was looking up at him pleadingly. Will yelled into the strong wind and heavy rain desperately, “MOLLY! PATRICK! GRACE! Somebody help us! Please!”

‘I am right here with you Will,” it was Patrick, standing just behind him, and placed his hand on Will’s shoulder. They looked down at the riverbank where there were people hurriedly filling sand bags and securing boats, pulling ashore the smaller ones. They seemed to be so organised, not chaotic at all, as if they had done this many times. Unsure of what to do to help, Will stood transfixed, watching the events unfold before him. Again it was like watching a movie of himself. The water had already burst the banks on the other side of the river and was flowing quickly into the streets which ran alongside the river, where there were rows of houses. He saw a woman on her own struggling to stack furniture inside of her house, a baby sat in a box on top of a table and another toddler squirmed, not so keen to sit still, was being kept in check by an older child, a young girl, the same young girl standing next to him now. The rising flood waters swirled around their feet already as the  level rose rapidly in the street outside and it rushed into the lower lying houses. The rain was torrential, relentlessly heavy and there seemed to be no way to ease the situation for these people. The sand bagging had been abandoned, and there were some people moving through the streets, gathering others and guiding them to a safer place on higher ground in the town. They could only take what they are able to carry.

Silently, Will watched as the young woman gathered what she was able to, her eldest daughter carrying one infant, the baby in a sling over her back, crying. She was slightly distracted, trying to carry a suitcase of belongings as well as the baby, the waters swirling up around her knees, which was dangerously high for her young daughter. A man called out and entered the house to assist her, taking the daughter and toddler in his arms, wading through the water rushing into the house. He made his way up the street, towards the town hall located on the higher side of town, where people had been gathering. The young girl looked over the man’s shoulder, worried about her mother. The last thing she saw of her was the woman wading waist deep through the water, struggling with the suitcase and the baby. The young girl begged for the man to check on her mother, but the water level had become dangerously high and the current almost too strong to keep upright, he was not able to return to the house. Will heard him say, “She’s in God’s hands now young ‘un.” He carried them through the rising waters to the community hall where people had set up a rescue centre. Walking in the door he beckoned an older woman seemingly familiar to him, to come take care of the young child and the infant. “Betty here will get you some warm soup eh,” and he left her in the hands of the kind lady.

The vision changed and Will saw himself and the young girl in the kitchen of The Muse sitting at the table. She was wrapped in a large towel, a cup of hot chocolate in her hands, Lucy was towel drying her hair and Patrick was sitting opposite Will. The young girl’s clothes were drying by the fuel stove. More relaxed now, the young girls legs swung playfully over the edge of the kitchen chair, her feet unable to reach the floor, as she sipped her hot chocolate. Patrick turned to Will, “This is Maria.” The young girl looked at Will with a bright confidence in her smiling eyes. “Thanks Sir, for listening. I know that you can help me find my mother and brothers. They told me you could do it! I am sorry to wake you, but I needed your attention.” 

Having finished her hot drink, Lucy picked Maria up and sat the small girl on her knee, but she won’t let go of the cup, insisting on draining the last few drops of chocolate and licking her lips for any bits she may have missed. Warm and contented she handed the cup to Lucy. “Thank you m’am,” she smiled at Lucy politely, her blue eyes sparkling and a smile that melted Will’s heart. She then turned to Will, sitting sideways on Lucy’s lap, and looked at him with such a knowingness, which took him by surprise. “I am ready to find my mother now,” she wriggled excitedly in Lucy’s lap, sitting up straight and expectantly, like she knew her mother could walk through the door any minute now.

Will was still a little unsure what to do, and looked to Patrick for some assistance, who  just nodded expectantly at Will. “Umm, ok, Maria, let me see…ah…I think a little bit of magic maybe needed here. You have magic in your heart, don’t you Maria? You know how to play pretend games?” She nodded eagerly, her eyes wide with excitement. Will continued, “Good. Now, close your eyes and imagine sitting in the warm sun down by the river. The grass is cool beneath your bare feet and you are setting out a picnic on a blanket. There are sandwiches and a glass bottle of lemonade. In the distance you can hear the sound of laughter, and foot steps getting closer and closer behind you. A pair of hands slip over your eyes and you hear a familiar voice whisper in your ear, “Guess who?”

They are all surprised by a knock on the back door. Will instructed Maria to keep her eyes closed, unsure of what was about to happen. Patrick smiled and opened the door to reveal a young woman holding a baby on one hip and a toddler in her other hand by her side. Quietly she came in behind Maria sitting on the chair with her eyes closed, handed the baby to Will and winked at him, holding her finger to her lips, slipping her hands over Maria’s eyes and whispered in her ear, “Guess who?” Maria reached up to touch her mother’s hands and she leapt off Lucy’s lap to wrap her arms around her mothers waist. Squeezing her tight, she said to Will, “I knew you could do it!” 

Will watched as a beam of light surrounded the mother and her children, growing in intensity like an aura around them all, it rippled out to fill the whole kitchen and with a bright flash, they were gone. He woke with a start, lathered in sweat, disorientated his body lying on top of the duvet, on the bed next to Molly in the motel room in Greymouth. Molly was still sound asleep, totally unaware of what he had just seen. Looking around the room, he whispered, ”What the fuck just happened?”

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