Story postcard – on the road (2)


The truck jolts.


“Are all the roads around here like this?”

“Getting that way.”

More potholes flare in front of them, like a rash. Rudd misses most, but not all. Simi, both hands on the dashboard now, turns towards him.

“How old are you?” she asks.



 “Ja,” he says, eyes trying to hold on to the distance.

“And you’re the manager? You know I’m almost twice your age.”

Rudd says nothing. He feels her eyes search across him, and knows there’s a gap he should fill with words but he doesn’t know what to say. His neck is hot red still, and now his back is sweating, sticking to the seat.

“I surprised you, didn’t I?”

“Well …”

“You didn’t expect me to be black, did you?”

Rudd’s stomach curls. She’s right, so right, and he has no idea what he’s supposed to say. He begins to shake his head, and then stops. Simi Bishop. How was he supposed to know?

“Never had any black guests?”

“Ja. Of course, hey. Just not from London. Never entered my head.”

He sits straighter, trying to keep his eyes on the road, his mind playing back over his rush to airport, and his hopes of collecting some glossy young Londoner. All he’d been told about was the last minute booking.

The road is better now. Simi releases her brace position, smooths down her kaftan and places her hands in her lap.

“And? Is it a problem?”

“No. Not at all. Nothing like that. Just didn’t have time to get …. Anyway data costs too much here to check stuff you don’t need to, and the lodge WiFi is useless. Plus the wedding… Just knew you needed collecting, and that …”

Rudd’s voice drifts away into the tall grass on either side of the road. He wants to vanish with it. To hide. Questions kick inside his head. What did he do to deserve the Queen of Sheba? How did she pick his lodge for her big adventure?  What did the agent say? Wants somewhere different. Off the normal circuit. Where no-one goes. Brilliant.

Rudd sighs.

Simi turns her back to him and stares out the window.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

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