Wanting to keep the wedding simple, there really was not much to plan for. They had set a date coinciding with the Easter holidays at the end of April which gave them the four weeks required by the marriage celebrant to apply to get married, and making it easier for them to have the time off from work and study. It would still be warm enough to enjoy being on the beach in the mid afternoon. Alice had been sworn to secrecy about the purpose behind Molly and Will’s gathering. Keeping the event intimate, they had only invited Will’s family, Molly’s mum Tessa, and close friends such as Annabelle and their Cafe family. Still not yet able to get over her inability to accept Molly’s chosen career, Tessa was not willing to come to the wedding and had declined Molly and Will’s invite. This had not surprised Molly, and yet there was a sadness which lingered in her heart. After all, it was her mum. But, Molly would not let her mum’s decision taint this special chapter in her own life…
Will had not had much to do with his folks since moving out of the family home. Carly and Gus had met Molly briefly on two occasions, for their first Christmas together and for Will’s parent’s 30th Wedding Anniversary. Despite them all having busy lives and Will’s folks often travelling overseas, it had been relatively easy to line up a time when everyone could be in the one place at the same time. Will’s younger sister Olivia lived in Lincoln near Christchurch, having moved there to study Veterinarian Science, she was now in her final year and considering offers of work in the UK. The timing of the wedding would be perfect for her. Will’s older brother Lucas lived in Auckland, working as a solicitor. Will had not seen him much either, and it was looking like the wedding was going to be a good excuse for a complete family reunion.
One night, as he chatted with Molly on the phone, he put forward a suggestion to her, “Hun, how do you feel about visiting my folks next weekend? I can come home on the Friday night and we could stay Saturday night with them?”
“Sounds good, I would love to get to know them a little more before the wedding,” Molly replied, quite excited about sharing some more time with his parents. She was enthralled by their stories last time they visited Carly and Gus. They had travelled so much of the world for both work and pleasure, of places Molly had only dreamt of.
Friday night came quickly and she was pleased to see Will again. It had been awhile since he had actually stayed with her at their home, the previous weekend they had met at The Lake. After dinner, and making love, Molly laid in bed feeling restless, drifting into sleep and snapping awake again, her body jolted every time she reached for a deeper state of sleep, like something or someone was wanting her attention. She decided to focus on what or whom this may be and sensing a presence in the room, opened her eyes to find an old lady standing at the foot of the bed. She reminded her of someone…..and with realisation she whispered, “Nanny? Nanny, is that you?” To which the apparition nodded her head in agreement. A little startled, Molly asked, ‘Are you ok? Is there something you need me to do?” Nanny looked at her and smiled, then Molly heard her voice in her head, “Pay attention to your dreams. Them be talkin’ to ya through ya dreams.” Nanny’s voice sounded so recognisable, more than just from their relationship in this life. There was something very ‘old’ about the resonance in her voice. Molly sensed a connection beyond this life. She looked up to see Nanny snickering mischievously from behind her hand, and her ageless eyes twinkled brightly in the darkness. Then just as suddenly as she appeared, Nanny vanished. “Who is she, or rather who was she?” Molly pondered, now wide awake. The room felt alive, filled with energy, she saw tiny sparkling lights dancing in the darkness, and the feeling of excitement was tangible. Knowing that sleep was not coming any time soon, Molly quietly got out of bed and tiptoed into the living room, put the kettle on and opened her laptop. She needed to do some journal writing.
Getting her thoughts down as words through the keyboard was always therapeutic and sometimes the most amazing solutions would come to her through this process. As she wrote, she felt a strong presence in the room, again a sensation she was becoming accustomed to, and something caught her eye in her peripheral vision. But when she turned to focus on it, it disappeared. Sneeky spirits! “Come on,” she whispered quietly, “Show yourself. I want to meet you.” With no instant response, she began writing again, and then heard a rustling sound behind her. She turned to see an old woman, very similar in appearance to Nanny, but somehow different. Shorter in stature maybe, she appeared quite small, but not frail by any means. There was such strength in her presence which made Molly pay attention. Then a name popped into her head, “Jordana?” she whispered. The old woman smiled knowingly and nodded. “Yup, now you sees me!” She answered excitedly. “But I am awake!” Molly said surprised at seeing this woman beyond her dreams.
“Yup, you’s awake now! Good! Hmph!” The old woman grunted, pleased to be conversing with Molly. “You keep writing, I jus’ sit here,” Jordana added. More than slightly distracted and wanting to converse some more with her, Molly found it difficult to focus on writing again. “Jus’ write!” Jordana said firmly, convincingly enough to get Molly writing again. She began by writing about what she was experiencing in this moment, of conversing with an old woman In Spirit. By the time she stopped, feeling very sleepy now, Molly could see the sky getting lighter outside though the gap between the curtains. It was 4.45am! She looked around the room but there was no sign of her visitor or that she had even been there talking with Molly. Had she imagined it all? It felt so real to her… Exhausted, she slipped between the sheets of the bed and snuggled up behind Will, who slept so soundly he did not even move. Quickly Molly fell into a deep, peaceful sleep. Having not set an alarm, they both slept until 10am.
After a shower, Will suggested getting brunch along the way to his parents house. As they drove south, the weather became wilder, the sky heavy with rain and the wind whipped up waves which crashed dramatically along the edge of the highway leading into Wellington. This was not uncommon weather for this part of the country. Carly and Gus had been looking forward to seeing Will and Molly again. Carly was intrigued by this young woman who had captured her sons heart, and Gus was simply happy that Will was happy. Carly had been preparing dinner since the night before, baking and cooking up an amazing meal. She loved to cook, something she and Molly had in common. Conversation was a little stiff and formal to begin with. As they enjoyed tea, several bottles of wine they chatted late into the night when matters closer to the heart were discussed. After a contented sleep and by lunch time the following day, Molly felt comfortable enough with Carly to open up a little and explain to her why her mother would not be coming to the wedding. Initially, Carly was devastated by this news, but by the time Molly had explained as best as she could, Carly understood and felt more at ease. Carly’s parents had not been happy about her travelling overseas by herself and this had caused a riff between them, putting a slight edge on her experiences. She wrote to her mum regardless, and never once got a reply from her. However there was a reconciliation of sorts after Carly and Gus got married, with the arrival of Lucas. Gizelle confided in Carly, realising how insecure she had been, and slightly daunted by her daughters strength and determination. One night, after maybe too many bottles of red wine, together they read over the letters Carly had sent, and her mother had kept in a box unopened. Emotions flowed as the mother and daughter united in a new way they cried and laughed, the shared stories, healing the hurts of the past. Carly reassured Molly that her time with her own mother would come too, that the mother-daughter bond can never really be broken, just stretched at times. And that was all apart of growing up too – for all of them. That growing older didn’t mean that you stopped growing within yourself.
Surprised and incredibly excited about the announcement of the wedding in the following month, Carly went into what Will called Organiser Mode. Gus remained calm about their decisions but had to pull her up and remind her that Will and Molly had this sorted, that she was a guest and could relax and enjoy the experience they were wanting to create themselves – by themselves. Reluctantly, and sulking just a little, she retreated and accepted that she was a guest at the wedding, it was not hers to organise.
During the night, Molly had been sleeping well, until she was woken suddenly just after 3am. Lying awake she felt the presence of someone in the room. This still freaked her out a little, the sensation so strong, until she was aware of whom it was. Jordana sat in the wicker chair in the corner of Will’s old bedroom, now the guest room in his parents house and smiled at Molly, not saying a word. But Molly sensed what she wanted, to just let Molly know that she was around – a lot, and to be ok with this. Feeling more at ease with this, Molly drifted back into sleep, a peaceful sleep undisturbed by any other visitors.
The following weeks leading up to their wedding passed quickly. Keeping it a secret and things simple was proving more difficult than Molly could have imagined. Everyone invited was wanting to improve upon what she and Will had decided as what they wanted. Each day she was confronted by someone else’s well-meaning intentions. She learnt quickly about personal boundaries and being okay with saying “I love you but no thank you.” They had not been able to keep the actual wedding ceremony a surprise and had had to agree to allow their guests to join them on the beach for the ceremony and sharing of their vows. With the reception at the Cafe organised, Alice felt relieved that she was able to be more open about this event with the staff and their mutual friends. Molly and Will were able to focus on their own individual work leading up to the wedding. They would be taking two weeks vacation for their Honeymoon and doing a small road trip up north. Their days were busy but enjoyable and everything seemed to be flowing smoothly towards their wedding day. Except for one unexplainable element – Molly’s dreams. She had rescheduled her work days to accommodate an extended lunch break so that she could take a nap as well as have time to eat, because each night was filled with lucid, interactive dreams which left her feeling tired each morning. She had already filled one and a half thick journals with dream entries. The dreams seemed to be piecing together for her what she had experienced during her time in hospital after the horse riding accident, whilst she was unconscious. Each morning she would sit in bed with a cup of tea and write the dreams down by hand in her dream journal whilst the details were still clear in her mind. Everything seemed relevant to where she was in her life now and leading up to this. All but one consistent part of the dreams….The Attic. She had a recurring beginning to each dream, of walking up an old wooden staircase into an attic room, where the window over-looked a circular garden with a fountain in the middle. The room always appeared the same and in this room she would meet with a beautiful woman dressed in Victorian styled clothing. She had told Molly that her name was Grace Forrest. Often the dreams would be about Molly being in The Attic and the discussions she would have with this woman and at times with other visitors.
Molly wondered if this woman called Grace Forrest was in any way connected to her guardian angel whom she had already named Grace. Neither of them would discuss the matter with her, leaving her perplexed, but more so, curious.
* * * *
Not having her father to give her away, Alice’s husband Bart had offered to do this. This step had completely been forgotten by Molly and she was touched by the offer. Bart had been a subtle aspect of her life, but they had shared a few secrets over the occasional late nights cleaning up at the cafe. There was a deeper connection that they both felt and that no words could describe. Molly called it a soul connection, a spiritual knowing.
Will’s family were staying in a large holiday house close by and were to share the night before the wedding with him, for what he thought would be just a family gathering. Carly was pleased to be cooking for this occasion and managed to cover up her excitement about a surprise she and Gus had organised for the night. Taking the opportunity to let her mischief out to play, she had organised a stripper for Will, just for a bit of fun.
Molly had agreed to stay at Annabelle’s for the night before the wedding and to get ready there the following day. Annabelle’s mum Lizzy was so excited about this and had made a scrumptious supper for the girls to share. She had offered to provide the flowers for Molly’s bouquet and corsage for Will and his brother.
Alice had very much become an adopted mother for Molly. It helped fill a hole she felt by not having contact with her own mum. Alice too had also been invited to the small gathering with most of the girls from the cafe at Annabelle’s home, her mum more than happy to play the host. They shared an intimate evening, finishing well before midnight. Molly intended to get some sleep, but she tossed and turned in the unfamiliar bed, drifting in and out of snatches of vivid dreams. The last dream she had was one so familiar to her, of walking up the stairs to the attic room. This time, the room was filled with people, most of whom she recognised. Standing at the front of the small room by the dormer window overlooking the garden, was Will. He smiled at her in a way that spoke to her soul, her heart raced and she woke with a start. It was early in the morning just as the sky began to lighten. Annabelle was already awake and heard Molly’s gasp as she woke suddenly from the dream. Giving her a moment to realise where she was, Anna suggested they get dressed and take a walk on the beach, just the two of them.
Hand in hand, the girls walked down the dawn-lit street. The birds were busy singing the morning chorus and Molly could hear the waves breaking gently on the beach. Without a word the girls walked along the street lined with Pohutakawa trees and onto the sandy beach. The tide was on its way out and the freshly washed sand was empty of footprints, the girls being the first to step onto the beach that morning. After walking in silence along the sand, Molly stopped and looked over her shoulder. Just for a moment, she saw several sets of footprints. Puzzled she stopped and tugged on Anna’s hand. She turned to see what Molly was looking at. Unbelievably, she looked at the numerous footprints in the sand. Simultaneously, they looked up the beach before them at the blank sand and again to see the multiple footprints behind them, only this time to see that there was now just their own. The vision had faded, and there were only two sets of footprints behind them. Staring at each other, they burst out laughing, knowing all too well that they were not alone, and never were. But Molly had sensed who these footprints belonged to…her dad. Anna quickly picked up the shift in Molly’s energy and held her tight, knowing also whom these footprints belong to. “He is here with you now Molly, watching everything. He will be on the other side of you as Bart presents you to Will,” Anna reassured her.
It was 7am. Realising the time, the girls turned to run up the sandy track back towards the road and back to Anna’s house – it time for the bridal breakfast! Something she had organised with Alice previously. Alice had already arrived at Anna’s with the catering and was busy setting it out on the table on the back verandah, overlooking the ocean. It was just for Molly, Anna and her family. Molly invited Alice to join them, but with so much needing her attention for the celebrations later that day, she could only stay to share a coffee with them. Molly reminded her to ease into the day, just chill, that everything would work out perfectly.
“That’s easy for you to say, your just the bride, everything happens around you!”
Molly hugged her dear friend and said, “Mumma Alice, it’s all ok. Enjoy the day with me!” And Alice sighed deeply and decided to stay on and share a glass of Mimosa, take on Molly’s approach to the day and to ease into it, realising that she had taken care of most things already and that there was not actually much more to do.
* * * *
After the unexpected excitement of Will’s night, he woke with a nasty hangover. Groaning, he cursed his mother, blaming her for such a full-on night before a day he when wanted to wake looking and feeling fresh and handsome. Peering in the bathroom mirror, this was not what he saw at all! Turning on the shower, he stepped into the cold water in an attempt to freshen himself up. Not recalling much of the night, he felt despondent – what had he done? His heart sank as his imagination fired up with vague memories of a male stripper…..who actually was a very attractive female as the peeling off of clothes revealed! He laughed quietly to himself and moaned at the same time, his head reminding him of the overconsumption of alcohol. “Oh Mum! What have you done!” Will knew well his mother’s mischievous nature which loved the opportunity to come out and play, recalling some of his parents wild parties from his childhood. He cleaned his teeth, got dressed and went downstairs to join them for breakfast. And there at the table eating breakfast with his family was the stripper! Looking around the table he saw the amused faces of his family. Puzzled, it took him just a moment to realise that she had stayed the night with his brother! Smiling at the expression on his brother’s face, Lucas had the look of a cat who had eaten the cream. He knew that his brother had not had much time to play lately, work consuming most of his waking hours. This was a well deserved moment for him, and there was something more lining up for both him and Rebekah. Rebekah was in her final year of studying a Bachelor of Science in Wellington, and worked part-time as a stripper, or “entertainer” as she preferred to call it, which paid very well. It was purely work which came easy for someone who was confident in herself and with her body. This is what Lucas was attracted to – she had an inner strength and knew what she wanted. He admired that. And they both knew that there was something more to their meeting…
The morning of the wedding was warm, partly cloudy with a strong breeze. Neither Will or Molly minded what the weather did. Everyone else was bracing for the unexpected – weather on the Kapiti Coast could be unpredictable. Molly had opted to ignore lunch, too excited to consider eating at that time. She took this time to sit quietly in Anna’s bedroom on her own. Too excited to meditate, she sat quietly in the chair in the corner of the room. She sighed quietly, anticipating the special moment in her life she was about to enter. Her thoughts flicked back over the time she had known Will and of how they had met. And of the dreams she had had leading up to this. Her thoughts shifted to Grace, her guardian angel. “I know you are with me,” she whispered. “Please give me a sign to know that you can hear me.” She closed her eyes and tried to relax her body and listened. Nothing. And then…a fluttering and the familiar chirping sound of a piwakawaka! Molly opened her eyes to see a tiny bird fluttering around in the bedroom. It had come in through the open window. She thought her heart would burst and tried to contain the tears of joy, not wanting to make her face puffy. Laughing out aloud, she addressed the tiny visitor. “Well hello – it is you! Thanks Grace.” Her thoughts were interrupted by a quiet knock on the door. It was Anna, and it was time to get Molly ready. Anna took care of her hair, braiding portions of it and lacing it with ribbons and tiny flower buds. Molly had chosen a medieval styled dress, satin and lace panels with a bodice top in peach and pale pink fabrics. Anna handed her a small parcel. Molly looked up at her friend. “What is this?”
“A little something from your Mum.” Molly struggled to hold back the tears, not wanting to spoil the beautiful makeup Anna had just applied. With her hands shaking, Molly carefully unwrapped the parcel. Inside was a small card and a velvet box. Molly opened the card which read, “Wishing you every happiness just as I shared with your dad, and so much more. My heart is with you always, Love Mum xoxo.
PS ‘This was your Nanny’s, she wore it at her wedding, and me at mine. Now it is your turn’. Molly opened the box to reveal a rich blue sapphire and diamond pendant on a fine silver chain. And then she lost it, tears streamed down her face, smudging her mascara and foundation, making stripes on her cheeks, her body shook with emotion. Anna held her quietly and then looked at her face and burst out laughing. Oh, My, God! You are a mess. Quick, we’ve gotta sort this out! Its after 2.30 pm! The time had arrived. Molly was to meet Will on the beach at 3pm. Laughing hysterically, the girls made the finishing touches to Molly’s makeup. Alice and Bart had arrived and the girls could hear their voices downstairs. A knock on the door announced Bart’s arrival. His face showed the pleasure of what he saw. “Aww, ain’t you perdy!” He drawled playfully. “It’s Time!” He announced and took Molly’s hand and led her down stairs. Molly had decided she wanted to walk to the beach. The weather put on a fine performance as if planned that way, or that someone had an influence on Mother Nature, and maybe they did…
Will had already arrived at the beach and stood waiting with his family and Hinemoa the marriage celebrant. Friends had created a shelter out of drift wood, inside of which was a small table where they were able to sign the wedding register. Will saw Molly walking onto the beach, arm in arm with Bart. She took his breath away more so than ever before! As if on cue, the breeze dropped and a crowd of people followed Molly down the beach towards Will. All Molly could see was Will waiting for her. He looked more than handsome, his dark hair being tossed in the breeze, he wore smart but casual clothing – a loose fitting white linen shirt with the sleeves rolled up to just below his elbows, the top two buttons were undone. On top of this was a black velvet vest buttoned up and a gold fob chain visible (his grandfathers fob watch tucked in the small pocket of the vest), his corsage made by Lizzy pinned in place, together with black, tight fitting denim jeans and leather shoes.
With just the sound of the waves breaking gently on the beach, they shared their vows and signed the register. As they hugged and kissed a gentle breeze stirred, forming a whirl-wind around them, wrapping Molly’s hair around Will’s face, and the fabric of her wedding gown around his body. The feeling of unity touched everyone, the moment profound and the small crowd of people watched on speechless, mesmerised by the spell of the moment. The soft sound of waves breaking on the shore was interrupted by the loud squawking of a seagull, hovering directly above Molly and Will. They both looked up to see the bird deliver a timely blessing, thankfully missing them both and landing in the sand between their feet! Will looked at Molly, unable to contain his humour at the obvious sign from Heaven – his contagious laughter rippled through the group of family and friends. Laughing and chatting the intimate crowd walked up the beach and onwards to the cafe. Molly and Will lingered behind capturing a moment alone on the beach. Will wrapped his arms around Molly, kissing her neck and holding her from behind, they stared out over the water at Kapiti Island. The sun sat just on the rim of the horizon of the island, casting golden rays into the sky. As the persistent seagull hovered above them, Molly heard a long forgotten voice, that which belonged to her father, “You take good care of my girl William Ferguson, I’ll be watching you!” Will spun around to see who the voice belonged to, but saw no one. Molly looked at him bemused and said, “Did you hear that too?” Stunned, they stared at each other, and again the seagull delivered a timely message, this time landing on Will’s shoulder with a splat. Giggling, Molly looked up at the seagull and said, “Thanks Dad! He is and will do.” Together they ran up the beach catching the last of their friends as they walked up the road to the cafe.
They celebrated until the wee hours of the next morning. Alice and Grant had set up Molly’s work space as a Honeymoon Suite, together with a continental breakfast put aside for them when they woke the next morning. With the last of their guests leaving just before 4am, Molly and Will sat with Alice and Grant, amongst the left overs of the celebration. “Cleanup can wait until later…..no rush. Don’t you two have something better to be doing?” Alice winked. Blissfully tired and having had just a little too much to drink, Will was not quite able to carry Molly up the stairs. Supporting each other, they staggered up the stairs giggling and collapsed onto the bed. Smiling at each other, it was difficult to keep their eyes open and contented they fell asleep in their clothes, neither of them concerned about consummating their marriage, just yet…
The sound of muffled voices penetrated Molly’s sleep. She opened her eyes, and felt a little disorientated by her surroundings. Where was she? The bed was unfamiliar and yet somehow familiar…through her bleary eyes she made out the lace curtains which moved gently in the breeze of the open French doors. A mosquito net surrounded the bed. Looking around the room, the furnishings did not seem like anything she could remember. Will laid asleep in the bed next to her. Quietly she got out of the bed, picked up the bathrobe from the floor and wrapped it around her naked body as she walked through the door and into the hallway. Where was she? Was she awake? It felt like it. Looking to her right she saw a front door, and to her left the hallway continued further and into a kitchen. As she walked down the hall, the floor boards creaked gently beneath her bare feet. She could smell bacon cooking, and in the kitchen, by the stove was a young lady dressed in a Victorian styled dress, floor length and with a bodice top and a crisp white bibbed apron. She turned and smiled at Molly and without moving her lips, Molly heard her voice say, “Mornin’ Miss Molly, good to see you have arrive!” Disorientated, Molly somehow knew this woman and felt herself saying aloud, “Lucy? Lucy is that you?”
Molly woke with a start, her skin damp with perspiration. Will had his arms around her, one hand gently soothing her moist hair, “Sh, sh, sh, Molly, it’s ok honey. Just a dream. It was just a dream. I am here.” Molly looked around the room trying to remember where she was. At least Will was with her, but where were they? And then she remembered that they were upstairs in the studio apartment above the cafe and it was their Honeymoon. Breathing a huge sigh of relief, Molly snuggled into Will’s body. “No need to get up just yet, is there….” Her voice drifted off as she undid the remaining buttons of his shirt and kissed the warm, bare skin of his tanned chest, her lips kissing upwards towards his mouth, where their lips brushed lightly, teasingly. “Good morning Mrs Ferguson, I don’t think I have made love with you before…” Will’s voice trailed off as he kissed her passionately, as he rolled onto his back, pulling Molly on top of him.