The clap of thunder woke her. Lightning blazed revealing her half unpacked suitcase on the other bed. The crashing waves hit the beach with such force she could hear debris landing with resounding thuds. Was it such a good idea after all? Escaping to Okarito for some time alone had seemed the only answer to her misery. At this moment, misery had been replaced by terror. The cottage was only a few strides from the beach and it sounded as if the breakers would be crashing on the verandah any minute. She got out of bed and looked through the window at the empty section next door. Not that it was empty now. Soon after she had arrived, a young woman had unloaded three beautiful chestnut mares from a massive horse float; tossed some hay about and left them, presumably to perform as lawn mowers. There they stood, backs to the howling wind and driving rain. Why didn't the owner come back and rescue them? There was nothing she could do, so she climbed back into bed and pulled the duvet over her head.
But sleep was not an option - or so she thought.
The horses needed care and she was the one to administer it. She found the oilskin hanging in the usual place by the back door; pushed her bare feet into gumboots and went outside. They could be housed in the garage. Lightning struck again and again frightening the poor creatures (not to mention herself) beyond endurance. She grabbed a fistful of mane from the smallest of the three and, with the other two following, led them round the front of the house to the open garage door. Luckily they followed her in with what seemed to be trust and gratitude.
Back inside she could hear crashes and bangs that were not related to the storm. It sounded like gardening tools and boxes or maybe even more precious items were being obliterated. Her worry for the horses turned to worry about the damage for which she no doubt would be liable.
The sun was shining when she awoke. The gentle wavelets rippled and hissed as they caressed the stony shore. A tui called from the nearby gum tree. Through the window she could see the horses placidly eating the wet hay.
Who? The garage was tidy without a sign of inhabitance.