If I hadn’t been so stricken by Gran’s fragile state, I probably would never have agreed to her outlandish request. I had a mountain of work waiting for me back on the farm and here I was jet setting across the country to find a woman I had never met, or heard of in my life, with nothing but a piece of paper with name and address of Molly Pinton from Sydney and a box with strict instructions not to open it no matter what.
Strange woman my Gran, kind and generous but there was nothing ‘sweet little ole lady’ about her.
Only a couple of months before she went, she was up on Flynn’s old nag trying to push the poor thing into a gallop, strangest sight I ever saw and she was bloody lucky she wasn’t bucked off. Regardless of her age, she wasn’t even winded and she had enough strength to clout me behind the ear for telling her she was too old to be doing things like that.
I’d never been to the city, born and bred on grandpa’s farm, where I learned to drive the old Ute at ten and was shearing sheep by fifteen. Just thinking about Sydney gave me a headache and the plane ride was something I wished never to repeat for as long as I live. Most others on the flight wore business suits and tapped away on laptops and tablets, and there I sat in my flannel shirt and faded jeans, thinking I should have worn my Sunday best. Even then it wouldn’t have come close to reaching the tailored attire of those fine gentlemen.
I’d fallen asleep along the way; a stewardess woke me to tell me I had arrived. Nothing had prepared me for what I was about to see. It was much like a herd of cattle being mustered in different directions, people bumping into each other with no apology, no eye contact and no warm welcoming smiles or nod of a head, a far cry from the friendly country folk I was used to.
Collecting my bag was like feed time at the pig pen. All pushing and shoving in an attempt to get their bags first, then pushing and shoving back through the crowd once their bags were secure in hand.
I found a taxi as Gran’s note had instructed and gave the driver the address wanting to get this over with as quick as possible. I had a strong feeling of claustrophobia as soon as I stepped foot on the plane and Sydney only made it worse.
After battling the excessive traffic we finally made it to a street of little townhouses, so close together that I could only presume these people had no cars. The only greenery I could see were potted on the tiny porches and hanging in baskets.
I knocked loudly on the door and a young woman in a uniform answered.
“I’m looking for Molly Pinton.” I said
“I’m sorry, Molly is about to have a lie down. Would you like to come back tomorrow? Mornings are the best time for visitors as she is a lot more alert.”
“No! I mean, it is rather important.” I said a little too desperately. “See, I am only here for today and my flight home leaves in the morning.” It was a little lie, my flight didn’t leave until afternoon but I really didn’t want to prolong this any more than I had too.
She looked at me sceptically for a moment and then ushered me inside warning that I might not get any sense out of her.
“Miss Molly? A gentleman is here to see you.” Louise said loudly.
“Who?” The old woman snapped.
“Mrs. Pinton, my name is Walt Fletcher. My grandmother used to be a dear friend of yours. Barb Fletcher, do you remember her?”
“Friend! HA!” molly said. “Barb the thief! She stole my egg. Sixty years ago, but I remember. I remember like it was yesterday. Friend, HA!” she repeated.
“I never heard about any theft. All I know is that my grandmother asked that I bring you this.” I handed her the box I had been gripping tightly. This revelation had set me off guard. Gran? A thief? No, never.
“Well I’ll be…” Molly grabbed the box slowly and ran her hands over the wood carved surface as recognition moved across her face, and opened the lid. Her eyes grew twice their size and she looked from me to Louise in absolute disbelief.
“Is this some kind of joke?” she screeched, pulling out a piece of paper and hurling it in my direction. “Read it! I don’t have my glasses!” she demanded angrily. And so I did.
“Dearest Molly, I suppose you eggspected to find something different in this box. I know you would recognise it. This obsession has parted us for many years dear sister and for that I am almost regretful. Well fear not my spiteful sister MY Fabergé egg is in a safe place and there it will remain as it is buried within the same coffin as I. You must know why Granny passed it down to me. She was well aware of your intentions to sell it if your greedy little hand were ever to gain possession of it. Now, that day will never come and for that I am truly thankful for. Sincerely, Barb Fletcher.”
By the end of my reading my hands were shaking. I looked up at Molly, who was now bright red in the face and ready to burst in anger.
“GET OUT!” she screamed.
“I thankyou should leave.” Louise said firmly.
And I did, shamed by the task Gran had entrusted to me. Of all the things I should think of all I was left with was, Gran had a sister and we had never known.