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Boston, 1912 - Noreen Sails into Trouble

Few passengers strolled in the crisp air now, and so I had a clear view of the leaden water and churning heavens. As my father had taught me back on the farm, I scanned the sky’s four quarters. My father and his weather eye had mastered the alphabet of Ireland’s ever-changing clouds and tides, though I doubt even he could have read the trouble riding in on the waves that day.

A vague luminescence shone in the spot where clouds obscured the sun, which was on its way west at that time of day. The Laconia sailed east, past the islands in Boston Harbor. Soon she would turn northeast. Toward Ireland.

Toward home.

In less than two weeks’ time, I’d be with everyone in my family but Ned. The vast, cold sea would separate us forever more. Already I missed my brother's practical mind, his concern, his friendship. Eager to see his photo again, I hurriedly unlocked my cabin door.

I gasped at the room’s icy temperature. Annoyed that the heater had failed to perform, I eyed the button that summoned the steward. As I crossed the room to push it, I glanced at the photos on the desk and froze.

What I’m telling you now is the truth, I swear. As I gazed at the portrait of Ned and me, a golden glow rose from the top of the silver frame, and the dark-haired image of Molly Kimmitt appeared between us.

Had I drunk more wine than I should, you ask? On my word, I did not. The woman was there, in the portrait, staring. Staring at me. Smiling.

I squeezed my eyes shut and shook my head. When I looked again, she was gone.

You think guilt made me see her? A good question, Tom, but no, I doubt it. What guilt would I feel? Hadn’t I done all I could for her child, as she’d asked? At the time, I told myself I needed rest. The events of the last few days had exhausted me.

In less than five minutes, the room grew as warm as if I were wrapped in my grandmother’s shawl. Perhaps I’d imagined the cold air too. I had no further need to complain to the steward about the heat, but I thought I still might summon him. As I said, I needed rest. I would ask him for tea and try to relax. I’d brought a few books and would read to while away the rest of the afternoon.

Then I scolded myself. Not even one day at sea, and I was letting my feathers droop. I mustered my resolve and opted to stroll on the promenade deck before dinner, to take the air while land remained in sight and daylight lingered.

If only I’d known, I’d have taken that photo with me and tossed it overboard.


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