Story postcard – through Simi’s eyes (2)

Simi picks up her gin and tonic, and takes a sip, leaving a loop of red lipstick on the rim.

What a morning. Images tumble around in her head. Crowded cars. Kopjes. Cows. Potholes. People. Small gatherings waiting, walking, heading who knew where.

She drinks again.

Nice, she thinks, her mind soothing back to the present, and her eyes wandering over the far greens. All these trees. Natural forest. The peace. Sarah’d be impressed. She’d love this. Me? Out here? Told her I could do it.

Simi smiles at the thought of her friend. Willowy, blonde, vegan. No children. Green evangelist. Everything sustainable. The flight would bother her, but … then she’d be here. Proper Africa.

 “Yesss,” she says quietly. “You’d like this. I think even I might like this. As for you SJ. Not going to think about you.”

She bends down and lifts her handbag on to her lap. It sits deep on her kaftan, creases curving beneath its weight. Her hands linger over the bag’s soft folds. She pulls back the longest of the zips and digs inside, fingers searching for sunglasses, but instead of finding the case they find a smooth, unfamiliar rectangle. Hand paused, she considers the options, then lifts the object out.

“Of course,” she mutters. “The keyring. They gave it to us at that roadblock. Town had some strange name. Thought they were going to snatch us. Not give us gifts.”

She holds the keyring up to the sun and reads the small, stiff words beneath the plastic – “Drive Safely. Zimbabwe”.

Bizarre. Just a couple of barrels and those ladies standing there, in the middle of nowhere. Uniforms tight tight tight. Stopping cars. Handing out keyrings.

She drops the keyring back into the bag, and feels around again for her sunglasses. Finding them, she slips them on with one hand, and places the bag back down on the grass beside her. Then she picks another macadamia nut from the bowl, and drops it into her mouth.

She is about to lie back again when she remembers her hair. She reaches her hands up to check her headband, wishing that her plans to get her hair braided before she left had worked out, but there’d been no time.

So much stress sorting stock. Love the new fabrics. Just hope Lola can handle the shop while I’m gone. And the orders. Not much I can do now. Had to get away. Prove I’m still alive. What did SJ say? That I’m a fake. Just playing at Mama Africa. Hope he swallows that German Chocolate Beefcake vape of his. Just because he’s born in Lagos doesn’t mean he’s any more African than me. Anyway, here I am. Stuck up the mountains in Zimbabwe. So he can put that in his vape and smoke it.

She takes another swig of her gin.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

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