Story postcard – introducing Marybelle (2)

“Jambee told me you were here. Can’t have you sitting all alone.” Marybelle pauses and waves her wine glass around the empty table, although this lot will be back. People of their word in this family.”

“Okay,” says Simi. “I hope so. Already met one couple who didn’t like me.”


“They were rude.”


“Aneke and Ruan.”

“Oh them!”

Simi feels her hands begin to shake. She puts down her glass.

“It’s not right.”

Marybelle touches Simi’s arm.

“Ruan and Aneke used to be Jacobus’ neighbours, until their farm got taken. House surrounded for days. They got driven off and their dogs killed. That’s why they went to Australia. This is the first time they’ve been back here. Over twenty years now.”

“Do you like them?” Simi asks quietly.

“They haven’t moved on like we have. Inside, I mean. We’ve changed hey, Simi. When you lose everything, you see things differently. You figure out what matters. It’s this. This matters.”

Marybelle lifts her wine glass again, raising it to the crowd and the stars above. As she does so Simi studies her profile. The pale skin, blotched and lined by decades in the sun. The happy sadness. The lack of apology.

“I don’t like it when people are racist,” Simi insists, suddenly feeling irritated.

Marybelle sighs, and hitches her hair behind her ears.

“Simi, we can’t do much about them. Anyway, here we’ve got major problems, proper problems. All of us, together. Black, white, green, purple … we’re all in it together.”

Simi looks down at her hands. They are still shaking, but less. She wonders whether she should have chosen a darker nail varnish. She wonders about her impulse choice of destination.


She looks up.

“Do you believe in God?”

“Believe in God?”


Simi fiddles with the stem of her wine glass, avoiding Marybelle’s eyes.

“I don’t know …”

 “I used to be like that,” says Marybelle, “but I’m not now. I believe. It’s God who’s keeping this country going. That’s why we’re still here. God and the Crocodile. You heard of The Crocodile?”

Simi nods.

“He says he’s going to do amazing things for us. Ha ha. We’re still waiting, and while we do God takes care of us. He’ll help you too Simi, so don’t worry. Look at us. This is a great place. Things are going to get better. Let’s have another drink!”

Marybelle twists around in her seat towards the bar.

“Do you know where the waiter is? Can you see him?”

Simi scans the guests returning with plates of food, but she can see no sign of a waiter. She looks at Marybelle, eyes searching, her hand on her chest trying to keep down the hiccups.

“Marybelle, how do you fit in here?”

Oh, I still work at the school Jacobus and his family all went to. Same with Katania’s – Jen’s mum,” says Marybelle, without turning round. “Oh … look there’s the waiter, talking to Rudd.”

She raises her arm above her head and waves, calling out a loud “wooo hooo” as she does so.

“And Rudd?” Simi asks. “What’s his story?”

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

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