Looking out of my attic window I could see the traffic roar past like huge dragons coughing smoke and would open their jaws and roar if anyone should get in their way. Small figures like working ants going this way and that, no time to speak or even look at each other, through trying to reach their deadlines. My world, it seemed to me had all but come to an end three months earlier, when mum and dad had decided to divorce. It had been very nasty and I would often come home to mum crying alone in the house. Mum had often said that she would like to escape from the fast paced life of the city and it seemed that her wish had now been granted.
We were all packed up and ready to set off for Foley Harbour, a picturesque fishing village on the South coast, where mum had acquired a small tea shop which she was going to make into a thriving business, this she said would be a new beginning. And I to make her happy just went along with it; even though all my friends and everyone I had ever known would be left behind.
It seemed like an endless journey from the hectic city to the pleasant atmosphere of the country, the landscape forever changing until all their seemed to be where field after field with houses dotted about in tiny villages, there lights twinkling in the pitch starless sky. Long gone all the grey featureless multi-storey buildings of the city.
I must have fallen asleep and was woken by the whining purr of the engine coming to a slow stop. There in front of me was the most wonderful sight, inky blue waves tossing, tumbling and caressing the grey rugged rocks and gently tickling and teasing the golden sand. Coloured fishing boats with their nets lying over the sides like a discarded assault course of a children’s play ground, bobbing up and down on the gentle waves as if being rocked to sleep, at the end of a hard day at sea, which were all tied to a little wooden jetty that had seen better days. The watchful eye of a huge crescent shaped bright yellow moon was overlooking this most wondrous setting.
Mum and I soon settled into country living, like ducks to water mum said. Everyday before and after school I would help mum in the teashop, observing the villagers and their quaint ways, they had not accepted us yet. Mum said this was because most of them had been born and bred here along with their ancestors before them.
The setting up of the shop had been hard work, but mum always thrived on being busy and preparing for the summer when the tourists would flock to the village for their annual two week break.
My large comprehensive school had taught me well and I found the local school inadequate and slightly boring. The highlight of my week was at the weekends, when I would go down to the harbour and watch the fishermen bringing in their catch and then I would explore the many nooks and crannies off the small caves winding in and out along the length of the long golden beach reminding me of a long wriggly and writhing snake. As I approached the headland of the harbour I noticed a beautiful young woman sat on a large rock, her long auburn hair cascading around her fine and featured pale face, staring motionless out to sea. She appeared almost like a statue and not wanting to disturb her for she seemed to be in deep and private thought, I turned away and walked slowly back to where the fishermen were laughing and telling fishy tales with good humoured banter, now and again casting a glance my way with a cautious smile.
As the weeks past by I got to know the fishermen better and better, they would wave and beckon me to join in with them and help them sort the glistening and slimy fish in to large wicker baskets, their large poppy out eyes staring as if knowing this would be their last journey to the large fish markets in the nearby town. After they had finished their jobs, they would sit on the rocks pushing the brown grass like tobacco into their pipes and puffing out clouds of pleasantly smelling aroma whilst telling me fascinating tales of shipwrecks and smuggles. One such tale was about childhood sweethearts Joe Price, a young fisherman, and Maggie Turner, who’s love for each other was well known all through the village. In all weather Maggie would sit on the rocks awaiting her lovers return. It was not long before rumour had it that Maggie Turner had brought disgrace to her family by expecting a child out of wedlock.
Joe’s family could not forgive their only son and he was made to leave the village. As Maggie’s pregnancy became obvious people in the village made life unbearable for her, but Maggie was a proud and spirited girl and spent her long isolated days down by the harbour knowing in her heart that Joe would return to her one day. Around about this time the fishing crew of the ‘Lucky Lady’ had left Blithe Harbour, Joe Price was a member of the crew. That night there was a ferocious storm, the wind howled, the clouds covered the sky like a black thick blanket. The waves smashed and battered the small boat from all sides; the ‘Lucky Lady’ never returned to shore, the wreck and the crew were never recovered. On this very same night Maggie, her screams heard all around the village, miscarried her child and lost her own young life. The villagers never understood why Joe never attended Maggie’s funeral.
Local fishermen still say that after a rough night at sea they are guided safely into the harbour by a beautiful, auburn haired, young woman.
The hairs on the back of my neck stood up, I could not quite believe it. The description of Maggie matched the beautiful young woman that I had noticed down by the rocks.
I was awoken early the next morning, by the sound of wind whining against my window. I peeped out my window and noticed huge thunderclouds; they looked like mountains in the sky. The wind was beginning to blow harder and harder, the sea was growing choppier by the second. The boats down by the harbour were being tossed so fiercely that sometimes a wave would slap right over them. And then the dark sky just opened up. It was as if it were so full of rain that it could not hold it in any longer, the rain came down in sheets. In my minds eye I imagined Maggie waiting down by the rocks.
I slept late into the afternoon. My mind was still thinking about Maggie, so I decided to go for a peaceful walk down by the harbour, just for some fresh air and to clear my mind. The beach was littered with seaweed, drift wood and wreckage left over from the previous nights storm. Out of the corner of my eye something glistened amongst the debris. I bent down to pick it up, brushing away the wet sand, wondering if it had been washed ashore with the storm. It was a gold heart shaped locket, the chain of which was damaged. I gently prized it open, to my amazement it contained the photographs of two young people, one of which I had seen before. Maggie! Engraved on the back where the words
‘Our hearts entwined’
I could feel the tears streaming down my checks. It was then I realised that Joe had probably been lost at sea. This could explain why Joe never attended Maggie’s funeral.
I knew in my heart that I could never keep the locket, it belonged with Maggie. I decided to go back to the rock where I saw Maggie and carefully placed the locket there.
I often walk along the beach with my own children now and visit the rocks where I once saw Maggie. I have never seen Maggie’s spirit since that day, and hope that Maggie and Joe’s spirits have now found everlasting peace together.