Though Maggie may have been suffering from amnesia, she instinctively knew that pregnancy wasn’t going to be easy. Despite help from Mary James she was still a pregnant woman, on her own, in a strange town, in a strange land and to top that, she was even a stranger to herself. What she did know was that she had been on the Titanic sailing from Europe to the United States, so she assumed she was a foreigner in America, despite being able to speak in English. Her recent foray into a foreign tongue meant she felt it to be true that she was not an American. In much the same way, in her short period of being Maggie she had no experience of what pregnancy entailed. But a woman has her own biological clock, her own ability to know and Maggie instinctively knew her condition was fine, albeit a little uncomfortable.
As time wore on and the child inside her grew, she became more at peace with herself than at any other time since she awoke in Blackmore’s cabin on the Lady Jane. The thought of Blackmore brought another kind of glow to her cheeks and her stomach fluttered slightly.
Maggie sat on a small chaise long and absent-mindedly smoothed her stomach with her hand, in a manner best described as soothing her baby. It was too early for any movement, yet she knew the baby was well and the frequent visits of Doctor Henderson did much to calm any form of anxiety she may have felt.
The days wore on and though Maggie’s commitment to hers and Richard’s child was not wavering bearing a child was becoming an act of endurance. But she was determined, despite day after day of what seemed to be never ending tedium. But it wasn’t getting any easier and Maggie spent many days with gritted teeth, after all, there was only so much poetry and learning anyone could endure.
Had she known it, Maggie would have been more careful of her day to day routine. Because the sheer boredom of that routine was making her more and more careless in what she did.
And so it was that one bright morning Maggie noticed a cobweb had formed in the corner of the bedroom. Without thinking she pulled a dining room chair through the apartment, banging and scraping as she went, much to the consternation of her downstairs neighbours. Chair in place, Maggie then found the feather duster and slowly climbed onto the chair and carefully flicked the cobweb onto the duster and thus removing the offending item from her view.
Job done to her satisfaction Maggie slowly turned, holding the duster in one hand and the chair back with the other. She had not yet made the bed from her sleep and the sight of the ruffled pillows and the unkempt sheets suddenly reminded her of Richard and of the love making mere weeks before. Unthinking, Maggie smiled at the thought, moved the duster from one hand to the other and stepped off the chair, not realising she was quite a distance from the floor.
Ungracefully Maggie’s foot went too far down, she realised her error and tried to grab the back of the chair but missed and fell sideways toward the bed, hitting the side and in a bouncing-rolling motion fell hard to the floor. A retired army major in the apartment below, reading his morning paper, harrumphed loudly at the noise but thought no more of it.
Maggie lay, trapped between the bed and chair, the air in her lungs forced out and gasping desperately for more air, like a fish just landed onto a river bank. Then the pain in both her left side and belly started, and Maggie feared the worst. She tried to extricate herself only to feel a searing pain in the left side of her ribs, making her gasp and lose more air. Maggie stifled a scream and then panic set in, her body squirming this way and that in a desperate attempt to extract herself, but only making matters worse.
Suddenly she relaxed and thought of the baby she was carrying. That was Maggie’s last thought for a long time as she fainted through pure fright. Maggie’s last thought, as a pain in her left temple exploded, searing, through her head, was of ice, screaming metal tearing and people shouting.
“Get her in the boat,” a man shouted and then all was silent, and her world became deathly cold.
In the dark recesses of her mind, it seemed to Maggie that she was waiting for something, for someone to arrive and explain to her who she really was. Unbeknown to Maggie the hours passed by and it was in the early morning that her dream became a reality to her when a female voice called out her real name, very gently.
“Magda! You must wake up from this dream and follow me.”
“My name is Maggie. Who are you?” Maggie didn’t question the use of her real name and the dream would be forgotten soon after she awoke, but somehow her real self was trying to tell her something. If she but knew it, her hormones were on fire and coupled with the amnesia, her mind was suddenly in acute turmoil.
Another voice, this time a man. “Never mind her. I’ll show you the way to go. Follow me, Magda.”
“I told her my name is Maggie. Why don’t you listen.”
The voices stopped and suddenly Maggie was sat on a chair beside a rock-strewn river with white water gushing ever downwards. Fish, salmon she thought, were jumping the rocks, trying to get upstream to spawn. White water gushed down and red salmon jumped up. The spectacle made Maggie smile. Brown bears were in the water, wading deeply, trying to catch and eat as many of the salmon as they could.
“You know, I could do that,” Maggie said to herself.
“Do you know about such things?”
The sound of a familiar male voice made Maggie stand and turn. “Richard! You’re back!”
Richard Blackmore shook his head. “Sadly, my love, only in your dream. Just make sure it’s the right dream, the one you really want.”
Then Blackmore, the river, the fish and the bears were gone, and it was dark. Maggie could smell fish guts. She somehow knew the smell but didn’t know how or where she knew this to be the smell of fish guts. Suddenly, with a screech of metal, machinery juddered into motion and the ground shook. Maggie was standing in front a mass of machinery making such a noise she had to hold her hands over her ears.
“Cans,” she muttered to herself, as she recognised the small tins seemingly forever flowing past her. Maggie realised she was watching a mechanism for placing fish meat into cans and sealing the can.
“How clever,” Maggie said aloud.
“Why thank you,” a man said.
Maggie turned and could see the hazy outline of a man. “Who are you? I can’t seem to see you very well.”
“That’s because you haven’t opened your eyes. You are not looking at the world the way it should be. This is the future,” he said, a hazy arm sweeping across the mass of machinery. “This is our future, Magda.”
“Maggie! Maggie! Wake up, please Maggie.”
It was almost like a light going on in her head and Maggie was instantly alert, eyes open, scanning to and fro but with a blinding pain between her eyes. The concerned face of Mary James swam into view.
“Oh, Mary… I… I can’t move,” Maggie muttered, her throat raw and dry.
“Just stay there, the caretaker is coming up with some men to help move this heavy bed. We’ll have you out of there shortly. How do you feel?”
Maggie knew the question was more in concern for her baby. “I’m fine, just shaken I think. I fell and landed badly, couldn’t move. My leg’s a little sore but the baby…” Maggie coughed, grimacing from a sharp pain in her ribs. Her throat was sore and her head throbbed with pain.
“The baby?” Mary’s concern was evident.
“It’s fine, we’re both fine. Oh, tell them to hurry I think I’ve hurt my leg, my left leg.”
At that moment Maggie heard the bustle of men coming into the room, assessing the situation and carefully lifting the heavy bed and moving it to one side.
Maggie sighed heavily as the pressure on her leg was instantly lifted. “Ohh thank goodness, that’s so much better.”
“Do you want me to get an ambulance, Ma’m?”
Maggie heard the man’s question. “No, no, I don’t need an ambulance. I think I’ve twisted my ankle,” she blurted out.
“Maggie, we need to get you checked over, for the baby.” Mary was insistent, and Maggie knew she was correct, but the last thing she wanted was a fuss and a night in an expensive hospital. Mary could see Maggie’s growing consternation. “Luckily Richard’s doctor has a telephone installed and the concierge has managed to get through to him, he’s on his way, so rest yourself and don’t worry.”
Maggie physically relaxed. The thought of more time in a hospital bed brought back the horror of waking up on Richard’s ship and not knowing who she was.
“Do you think you can sit up, maybe even stand?”
“I’ll try,” Maggie said, grabbing Mary’s proffered arm and pushing herself up from the floor with her other arm.
“Very good, my dear. Just sit a while and we will try and get you onto the bed. Mary looked up at the building caretaker and the man motioned for his colleagues to move into position. With little extra effort, the men had Maggie standing and then sitting on the edge of the bed. At that moment, there was a loud knock on the bedroom, door and a man wearing a bowler hat came into view. He had the most enormous pork-chop moustache Mary had ever seen but the most outstanding thing she observed was the gloriously luxuriant dark red colour. Mary could not quite work out if it was his real colour or in some way dyed.
“Doctor Henderson, I presume,” Mary said, “so good of you to come so quickly.”
“All in a day’s work, my dear. Now, let me sit next to my patient and check her out.”
It took only thirty minutes for Doctor Henderson to complete his examination and to confirm the baby was fine and Maggie had only suffered a twisted ankle and minor abrasion to her head. Henderson ordered her to bed and informed the ladies he would return in the morning to check on his patient, to be sure she was not putting too much strain on her baby. He doffed his bowler, to reveal a bald pink head, and left the room quickly.
Mary managed to get Maggie into bed and made her some warm milk and little dry toast.
As Maggie sipped the milk and nibbled on her toast, she took Mary’s hand, who was sat next to her with her concerned look still firmly in place. “Thank, you,” Maggie said, smiling. “You are the best friend a woman could have.”
“I worry for you, the child and obviously Richard. You must take better care of yourself. What on earth were you thinking, climbing on a chair?”
Maggie looked abashed. “That’s the problem, I wasn’t thinking. I’m going stir crazy here and needed a distraction.”
“A distraction? So you decided to climb on a chair?”
“No, the distraction came in the form of a cobweb. I climbed the chair with my feather duster and well, stepped off the chair thinking I was standing on the floor. I landed on the bed and bounced off and, well…”
“Any other time and that could have been funny, but not while you are with child, Maggie. It’s a good job I came around to see you and even more fortuitous the caretaker was willing to let me in when you didn’t answer the door.”
“I know and thank you for coming to my rescue. But I did have a strange experience. When I lay on the floor I began to lose consciousness and it was just then, at that very moment, I was back on the ship, just as it struck the iceberg. I remember something, Mary. My memory is coming back.”
“That’s good, but we have a more pressing problem.”
“What are we to do with you, Maggie? I know you are bored and I can only guess what it’s like to be with child and not do the normal things you take for granted.”
Maggie nodded, nibbling a little more of the toast.
“So, you are coming with me, today. I’ll inform Doctor Henderson and he can visit you in my home. I’m taking you under my wing and I will not take no for an answer.”
Copyright Tom Kane © 2018
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This is a first draft, so please forgive spelling & grammatical errors. Context and characters may change between now and the final publication date.
When published as an eBook and paperback at the end of 2018, this book will be the first in a trilogy: The Brittle Sea, The Brittle Land and The Brittle Sky.
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