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Authors: Helen Goltz

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BOOK: Ophelia Adrift
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Chapter 21




When I went up to my room after dinner to get my text books, I felt Jack before I saw him—the air turned cold around me. I wheeled around and there he was—so gorgeous.

I’m sure he could hear my heartbeat going a thousand beats a minute—it was embarrassing that it was obvious I was completely taken by him.

He held a finger to my lips and I didn’t speak a word.

“Close your eyes,” he said softly.

I did as he told me and then he seemed to be all around me; I was surrounded by his kisses, embrace, touch, electricity and cool space enveloping me. It was the most surreal feeling ever like being caught up in a heady whirlwind of love and angst and I began to go weak at the knees. He supported me before I slid to the ground, and pressed me against the wall.

I opened my eyes and exhaled. I could only just see him; my eyes were glazed like I was love drunk.

“How did you do that?” I whispered.

Jack grinned his boyish grin and it only made matters worse.

“I’m not seeing you tonight,” he said.

“No,” I began to protest. “I’ve waited all day.”

He kissed me to silence me. Then kissed me more frantically before pushing away. We were both breathless.

“Right,” he said, “Got to go. You need sleep tonight. We have plenty of time Ophelia, all the time in the world. Tonight you sleep.”

I felt devastated.

“You can call me Lia,” I sulked.

He shook his head. “Never. Ophelia is a great beauty, you own that name.
loved her more than ‘forty thousand’ brothers could. He was mad with lovesickness for her.”

I smiled at him, looking into his beautiful face and dark, ocean blue eyes. I knew the story well, not only because I was named Ophelia but I copped Hamlet in year ten.

“You’ve been doing your research,” I said, guessing he would never have studied
in his schooling.

“Indeed I have,” he said. “Ophelia is goodness, sweetness and light. Naive but capable of great love, even when treated unkindly,” he said, interpreting Shakespeare’s Ophelia, not me.

“That’s not me,” I said. “I’ve had my eyes opened a lot in the last six months ...”

“It’s you more than you know,” Jack said.

“Then you know Ophelia drowned,” I whispered the words, not wanting the nearby deep waters to overhear.

“Is that why you are frightened of the sea?” Jack studied me.

“No, maybe ... a little,” I shrugged. “I don’t want my name to be a prophecy.”

“You don’t have to be afraid anymore. The ocean is in my blood; I will always protect you. Goodnight my Ophelia, sleep well. I will be nearby.”

And with that he disappeared and my night ahead felt lonely.




I’m sure I heard Ophelia speaking with someone when I went to get a glass of water from the kitchen around ten p.m. Soft voices drifted down from upstairs. I suppose it could have been the radio and I guess if Sebastian isn’t worried I shouldn’t be either, but I know guys my age and younger, and sneaking in to see a girl at night is not out of the question.

Seb’s a good guy but he really is clueless in the parenting stakes. He thinks we’re all flatmates which is great for me, but Lia has just come from a stable family environment and has never had this much freedom in her life; I feel the need to watch her back. Seb might not have done much that pushed the boundaries when he started dating, but when Vanessa and I hooked up in year ten we couldn’t get enough of each other.

I snuck into her room so many nights that I can’t believe we weren’t caught. Then when her parents went away and she was supposed to be staying with her best friend, we stayed by ourselves at her house—it was a wild time and we did a few things that I wouldn’t want my sister or Ophelia to do. I was also pretty persuasive to get my own way; I reckon a young guy will promise almost anything to impress and get the girl.

I hope it’s not Chayse. The thought made me almost want to tear upstairs and check it out. I’d deck him something chronic if he was up there with her. I breathed deeply and let the thought go. Thinking of Vanessa made me miss her, but it was over, definitely over. My best mate Zach’s girlfriend has a friend she wants to set me up with, so maybe this weekend.




I slept so soundly that I surprised myself. I guess eventually the body overrides all longing and takes what it needs—sleep. The moment my head touched the pillow, my eyes could not stay open and I felt for just a few moments his cold lips on mine. I smiled and drifted into sleep.

Like my first day in Port Fairy, again I woke to Uncle Seb’s voice yelling up the stairs. I glanced to the wall clock and it was five a.m. I couldn’t believe I slept right through from ten p.m. last night until now! I heard Uncle Seb call out to me, and Argo and Agnes racing up the stairs to the attic.

I thought and jumped up, grabbing my dressing gown, pushing my hair sort of flat and racing up to join them.

Uncle Seb had his customary two cups of tea; he was lowered into one of the timber chairs and both dogs stood beside the window. Adam didn’t join us on ship watch.

“Morning Lia, a ship is passing,” he smiled excitedly.

“Morning Uncle Seb,” I grinned back at him; his enthusiasm was kind of sweet. I hugged Argo and Agnes, then accepted the cup of tea. “Thank you.” I looked out to the edge where the ocean disappeared. “Oh wow.”

“She’s a beauty isn’t she?” Uncle Seb said, and sipped his tea.

I nodded. “I can imagine why the early explorers thought the world was square and you could fall off the edge.”

Uncle Seb laughed. “Indeed. Look at that horizon line, so sharp it could be drawn with a ruler and blue pen.”

We sat watching as the ship coasted along the edge of the world and I wondered where Jack was now. 





Ophelia was right, she will—like me—die a watery death.

Last night I watched her sleep for as long as I could—I wanted to lie beside her all night, but I too, needed to re-energise. I had to go home, to return to the La Bella from where I draw my strength. I know that divers see my ship as a fascinating wreck— they circle it, touching it and marvelling at how well-preserved she was lying in her watery grave. She’s not filled and covered with sand like some of the other ships that share the water with us.

But I don’t see their La Bella. For me, she exists in a time warp; she floats grandly on the ocean just off shore visible only to me and my crew. I always felt pride when I saw her and I still feel that way every time I return to her; I love my life at sea. The La Bella is my home in all her beauty and strength and she charges me. I roam her deck and walk amongst the rooms; they come to life as it was in 1905. You should see her when the three masts are up and full of air, billowing, the rigging making a noise that only sailors can describe.

I used to love coming into port and going ashore. The young ladies were always happy to see the visiting sailors, even young ones like me and I loved to roam the streets and see the different markets, foods and cultures. These days, I just stayed in the harbour. Sometimes I sit on deck and watch the people going about their business on shore. I can hear the tapping of the divers and see the fisherman as they try their luck every day. I can’t wait to bring Ophelia here to be with me, maybe to be with me forever.

Sometimes while roaming my La Bella I hear my name called and I race up to do the captain’s bidding or I join the Quartermaster when he has time to teach me knots and splices or guides me on how to steer the ship. I do not wish to relive the punishment for I’ve been birched several times—caught smoking and one time for neglect of duty when I fell asleep when I shouldn’t have. I’ve got the marks to prove it, but I got off lightly. We’re not a naval ship so I only copped a few hits and trust me, that’s enough to put you off doing it again.

I am not always alone; sometimes the lads join me on deck or I walk in to the galley where the cook is doing his best to create a meal with the supplies he has. I can smell the familiar odour of salted beef and beer and am no stranger to the taste of canned food. It is like nothing has changed and I am living my life at sea as planned. It is hard when they leave, but they always do—they belong on the other side. Me, I can’t ... I don’t know why. For years I’ve sought the life I never had—to be loved and to belong. I’ve had other girlfriends, many girlfriends. They’ve taught me their ways and I confess it hasn’t been easy to adapt to their change in speech and their change in clothing. They sometimes take offence that I wish them to cover more of their bodies or that I choose to protect them or do things for them. Odd this new world; but not Ophelia. So feminine but open to a strong man in her life. No-one in my century of looking for real love has been like Ophelia. Now she sleeps and I wait.





Chapter 22




I never thought Friday and more importantly Saturday night would come. The week dragged and it is all Jack’s fault. Every night he met me, sometimes staying only for an hour, each time making sure I was in bed well before midnight. I protested, cried, refused to talk to him—two minutes was my longest and then I forgave him. He took charge and that’s the way it was going to be. Infuriating! I wondered if he was punishing me for going to the dance tonight, but I promised Holly I would go with her and my new friends have been so good to me. Jack insisted I go, but I wonder.

At times a panic settled over me that I would never see him again; but I was getting better at moving out of that headspace. Of course I would survive, I’m strong, but I swear I will never, ever risk love again if that happens. Never.

Since I had most nights alone this week, I used the time to catch up on my school work, my friends in Brisbane via Facebook and sleep, even though a short visit from Jack every night would keep me awake for hours dreaming of him.

The only thing that kept me sane was that Jack promised me a date on Saturday night—a real date. He would come to the door, meet Adam if he was home—Uncle Seb would be away at his conference—and take me out. He would tell me how we would be together forever.

I wonder if ghosts ate. Surely not, they wouldn’t need to, but could they eat just to blend in? I realised I didn’t know much about ghosts. I was pretty up on vampires and demons, but blindly ignorant about ghosts. I tried to do more ghost research but most of it was just sightings and hauntings. No-one owned up to having a ghost hanging with them or being in love with a ghost.

I had also thrown myself into my shipwreck assignment because it made me feel closer to Jack and it was due next week. Peggy said she would read it for me if I emailed it to her over the weekend and asked me to do the same for her. I wrote up Adam and Chayse’s account, included my research and press clippings. I analysed the cause and effect. So sad to think many sailors died close to shore, but unable to swim to save themselves and weighted down with heavy seafaring clothing. So sad to think of my Jack ...

Last night he gave me enough emotional food to feed on all the next day, maybe even longer. I had just turned off the light but left the curtains open—I liked the moonlight coming in. I propped my pillow up so I could see the moon as I dozed off and then I felt the chill—Jack! He appeared lying beside me.

“You’re here,” I grinned stupidly.

“Just to say goodnight,” he said. He took my hand as we lay in the dark of my room lit by moonlight.

“What did you do all day?” I asked, “besides think of me.”

He smiled. “That I did, all day. And I worked ... I’m preparing my home for you to see.”

“When?” I asked eagerly.

“Soon,” he responded. “I know what you did all day, I watched you.”

“So you have me in sight and I have to go on memory. Hardly fair.”

Jack turned side on to look at me. “There’s a song that I play because it reminds me of you. It can be our song if you like it—you could play it if your memory needs topping up.”

“What is it?” I asked expecting it to be some old song he had heard a hundred years ago.

“Where’s your phone?” he leaned up and I handed it to him.

“You do it,” he said. “I don’t like the technology.”

“Really?” I said. “I can’t imagine life without it.”

“That’s because you’ve never lived without it,” he reminded me. “Look up the band Hunters and Collectors. The song is ‘
Throw your arms around me’

I smiled at the title and quickly found it.

“Listen to it with me,” Jack said as he rolled onto his back again, took my free hand and closed his eyes.

I started the song and closed my eyes too. The lyrics brought tears to my eyes.

And then he was gone again.





I had spread the word that Lia wasn’t interested in Chayse, that she had met someone who didn’t go to our school and I made sure it went to Imogen’s group. It seemed to work as we didn’t get any more letters or trouble, but that didn’t stop Imogen still looking towards our group on the bus like we all had leprosy.

But now I had Chayse sussing me for information about Lia. Who was she seeing? Was she seeing Adam? Plus, telling me how he hated Adam and on it went. It’s not hurting my reputation having Chayse Johann talking to me, but he looks right through me and if he can’t see me and Lia’s not interested then, um, see you later Chayse!

In the last class for Friday afternoon I had a study break in the library and Chayse’s class was in there too. I looked up as he pulled a chair next to me. Chayse doesn’t seem to realise that half of the girls in year eleven and twelve—including me—are tongue-tied around him.

“Ha, you’re doing the history assignment,” he scoffed recognising it from my Word document on the screen.

I nodded like an idiot. I managed to get out my topic. “I’m investigating whether the digital age will change our view on history.”

Chayse looked impressed, yeah, go me.

“And will it?” he asked.

I shrugged and there goes the impressed look. I tried to save myself. “It will definitely change how we record it and may change how we perceive it as we have more views and opinions to access.”

A nod and an impressed look returned to his face again. I’m on a roll.

“How’s Lia’s assignment coming along ... on the shipwreck cause and history?” he asked. Didn’t take him long to get back to Lia.

“Good,” I said, “I think she’s nearly finished.”

“Did Adam tell her about the curse?” he asked.

I shook my head. To be honest I didn’t know if he had or not, but I was so taken in by his tall, blondeness—is that even a word?—that I didn’t want to talk, I wanted him to talk and talk and stay near me. I pulled myself together but noticed several of the girls in the class were looking at me with nothing short of envy.

“What is the curse?” I prodded him to tell me about it, even though I knew.

Chayse smiled. “Well the legend goes that if any of the survivors—that’s obviously the descendents now—or anyone who was even remotely connected with the La Bella is near the ocean late at night, then the La Bella crew reclaim them for their own and they have to serve on the ship with them forever! Great, huh?” he grinned.

I think I shuddered and then I found my voice.

“No, it’s truly creepy and awful given it was an accident,” I said, forgetting that I was in awe of him.

Chayse shrugged, indifferent to my thoughts. “I guess it is creepy.”

“Why would the deceased seek revenge?” I continued. “It’s not like they were deserted, everyone tried to help but it was impossible.”

“Maybe they don’t bear a grudge,” Chayse said, “after all the sailors knew the risk and how dangerous the sea can be. Maybe they just want to all be together again and they don’t realise they are dead ... it’s kind of a freaky ghost story,” he stopped to reflect.

I nodded, wide-eyed and encouraging.

“Yeah, it’s kind of kinship,” he decided.

“Then why is it called a curse?” I asked.

“Fair point,” Chayse nodded. “Anyway, Adam should be careful.” He tapped my arm and rose. “Been good talking with you Holly.” And then he was gone and so was I—physically and mentally. He remembered my name.





Uncle Seb was away at his conference but Adam offered to drop Holly, Harry and me to the dance tonight before he went out with his friends. Peggy’s mother was dropping her to the dance and picking her up at ten p.m. sharp. Adam said he’d swing by and grab us at eleven which was pretty good of him to cut his night short to pick up three schoolies. He was a good soul.

I came downstairs and saw Adam, Argo and Agnes waiting in the lounge room. Adam looked good in his jeans and black shirt. He gave a low whistle on seeing me and Agnes barked.

“This old thing,” I grinned. The house shuddered and I looked skywards at its two ‘eye’ windows and thanked it too. “Now you two be good kids,” I said giving Argo and Agnes a pat. I turned to Adam. “Ready?”

“Yep,” Adam said, reaching for his car keys. “You look really lovely.”

“Thank you,” I said. I left my hair down, put on a bit of make-up—mainly mascara because I didn’t have much make-up. I used to borrow some of Mum’s every now and then when I snuck out but there was no-one to borrow from in this house. Also, in defiance of my last few horrendous months, I didn’t want to wear anything black; I had had enough of black so I wore my sequinned A-line, silver party dress that Mum had bought me for our year ten end of school dance back home. It was long-sleeved and the length came to just above my knees and was very girly, but that’s just fine by me. I had matching silver sandals and a bag.

Adam ensured Argo and Agnes were secure in the house and within minutes we were pulling up outside Holly and Harry’s place. Mrs Geers greeted us and took a thousand photos.

“It’s only a school dance, Mum, not the graduation formal,” Holly rolled her eyes.

“I know but you all look so beautiful,” she continued to take photos—Holly and Harry; Holly and I; me and Harry; the three of us; the three of us with Adam; Holly and Harry with their Mum; and just when the cat was about to get a look in, we made a break for it.

As we pulled out of their driveway, Holly turned back from waving goodbye to her mother.

“I told Mum that you were picking us up, Adam, but she did her hair and makeup anyway just because Sebastian might come too,” Holly shook her head.

“He’s away for a week at a conference,” I told Holly.

Adam glanced at Holly in his rear-view mirror.“Well, you look lovely, Holly—that jade dress does bring out the green in your eyes,” he teased her. “You scrubbed up okay too, Harry.”

“Yeah thanks,” he smiled. “Chic magnet, what can you do?”

“It’s a burden we must bear,” Adam agreed.

I shook my head at the two of them. I couldn’t believe I was here in Victoria, going to a dance with three people in the car who I didn’t know three months ago and that somewhere out there, watching, was a guy I was madly in love with. Life was truly bizarre. I missed him and my hand went involuntarily to my heart. I glanced out the window, only seeing my own reflection. In the background I could hear the three of them laughing and talking. I suddenly felt totally alone.

Adam nudged me and I came back to reality and got back into the conversation.

“What’s the dance theme?” Adam asked.

“Written in the stars,” Holly said. “I was supposed to be on the committee but in the end there were too many involved and no-one could agree on anything so I dropped out.”

I loved the theme, it made me think of Jack and our love. Although pretty much everything made me think of Jack.

We arrived at the school hall and Adam pulled the car to the shoulder next to the footpath for us to alight. I could see the hall was well lit outside, dimly lit inside with hundreds of stars dangling from the ceiling at different heights, the music pumped already. Everyone looked so different all glammed-up and further along Imogen and her group were heading inside. I wanted to make sure I was nowhere near them.

“Have a good time and behave ... Harry,” Adam joked.

“For sure. Thanks for the ride, appreciate it,” Harry hit Adam on the shoulder as he piled out.

“I just need to talk to Lia for a minute,” Adam said.

“We’ll loiter and thank you, Adam,” Holly said ever so sweetly. She’s so transparent. I waited with my hand on the door handle while Holly made a face at me and closed the door.

“Are you okay?” Adam looked at me.

“Sure, of course. Why?” I frowned at him. I was rubbing the top of my bag nervously. What did he know?

“You looked a little sad for a moment there, like you weren’t with us,” he said.

He had seen my hand on my heart.

“I’m good, great even,” I exaggerated, fussing with my dress.

Adam turned to face me and put his arm across the back of my seat. I looked straight ahead not wanting to meet his eyes.

“Lia, you’ve been through a lot and it’s okay to be a bit overwhelmed by stuff,” he shrugged. “I’m no expert on loss, not by any means, but I’m here, okay?”

I nodded. “Thanks, I really appreciate it.”

“Then look at me,” he said.

I turned to look at him. His eyes scanned my face.

“I’ll see you at eleven, huh? But call me if you need me earlier.”

“Thanks,” I nodded. I opened the door and bolted. Close call ... I thought he’d stumbled on something about Jack. I caught up with Harry and Holly as Peggy’s mum pulled their car to the kerb.

“Go do your thing, tiger,” I teased Harry.

He smirked at me but looked quite handsome in dress shirt and pants. He wandered over to meet Mrs. Carboney.

At the side of the building I saw Chayse talking with Imogen—might be on again. I felt bad for Imogen—who wanted to love someone when it wasn’t returned.

BOOK: Ophelia Adrift
11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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