Story postcard – Simi gets ready (2)

The sky is a deep dark, blazed with stars. Simi stares up at them, her chest tight, her eyes burying into the night sky. It surrounds her and reduces her, thick with scent and sounds she cannot place. As her eyes adjust, they lift her away from the lodge, and out into the trees.

She is lost in their branches when a sudden square of light falls over the grass beside her. As she turns towards it, the doors on the other side of the wall are pulled wide.

“Aneke, I’m going up to the bar. You coming?”

“Ja. Wait please.”

There is the sharp rap of heels on stone.

“Come out here, we’ll walk round this way.”


Simi hears the sound of the glass doors being closed.

“Do you think we need to lock up?”

“No. We’ll be fine here. Listen can you hear the bush?”

“Ja,” says the woman, “that’s the noise it makes when it’s not making a noise. I miss this so much.”

A burst of laughter bounces down from the terraces above.

“Guess they’ve started. We’d better hurry, hey?”

“Ja. Can’t wait for this party.”

Two figures step out into the wedge of yellow light. They pause, their comfortable rectangles shadowed by the night.

“Agh, I think I’m going to take off my shoes.”

Simi watches as one rectangle bends in half, and then straightens out again, shoes dangling to one side.

“Right, let’s go.”

Then the owner of the shoes turns to look towards Simi’s room. Simi, knowing she has been seen, begins to wave a greeting, and then stops, shocked by the voice that hisses into the dark.

 “Ruan! Ruan! Who’s that?”


The two shapes blend into one.

“There man. In the light there next to our room.”

Simi stands frozen, the urgent whispers hitting her like bullets.

“I have no idea. Probably somebody’s maid.”

 “Do you think I should go and lock the room?”

“No, she knows we saw her. It’ll be fine.”

“You sure?”

“Ja man. C’mon Aneke. She’s not worth even worrying about.”

“You better be right, hey Ruan.”

As the pair move away into the dark, Simi stares after them, rage exploding through her. It hammers and tears at her heart, her body rigid with shaking fury. She flings her head back, and takes five deep, panting breaths, fingers clenching and unclenching, eyes closed. When she opens them she knows she has to get inside before she screams.

She yanks the doors shut behind her with such force that they bounce back on their rubber, and she has to slide them tight again. She locks them together, hands methodical and angry, and then pulls the curtains closed.

Only then does her mind begin to topple. To calm it, to distract it, she paces backwards and forwards, her hands unwrapping and then rewrapping the scarlet cloth around her head.

She knows she is in the danger zone, too close to the edges of the pit that has swallowed her before and will leave barely a trace if she does not resist. She understands, even through her fury, that she cannot let that happen. Not when she is alone, alone in Africa.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

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