Story postcard – debating elegance (1)

Simi tries to ignore Katania, and begins to eat her pancakes. She slices into the pile. It bounces, soft and yellow, with maple syrup oozing darkly between the layers. She loads her forkfuls carefully, securing each with bacon.

She is in savoury heaven, until Katania touches her lightly on her arm. She looks around, and meets the green eyes.

“So tricky, don’t you think? How do you tell these young girls that this kind of thing isn’t the end of the world?”

Reluctantly Simi puts down her knife and fork and clears her throat. Just as she is about to say something, a shadow falls over the table.

“May I get you ladies some more coffee?”

Simi, relieved, smiles up at Tonderai. “Perfect. Strong and black please!”

 “Of course,” says Tonderai, smiling.

“A cappuccino for me,” says Katania, not bothering to look up.

Simi watches Tonderai walk away for as long as she dares, then turns back to Katania.

“The thing is,” Katania says, “there’s not enough sophistication here. You know what I mean? Elegance. People who decorate space.”

“Decorate space?” Simi raises an eyebrow.

“Who exude presence. Are you following?” asks Katania, eyes stalking off to inspect other guests. She waves a hand despairingly towards a clump of hot birdwalkers who’ve gathered to admire the view. “See what I mean? T-shirts and shorts, at a resort? In the Eastern Highlands? This is not Kariba.”

They look happy. Confident. Nothing looks better than that, Simi thinks. “What’s Kariba?” she asks.

Katania sighs. “Never mind. Anyway, I don’t know why I even expect you to understand.”

Annoyance ripples over Simi. “It’s a wedding, not a beauty contest.”

Katania swats the comment away. “Oh please. Anyone can make an effort. Add a little elegance to the world. All the time. Look at me. And I’ve just met that priest – Father Norman. Down in the pouring dust of that tea factory, he looked elegant.”

Simi suddenly feels naked without her eyelashes. “Is this the priest you’ve found to take the service?”

“He’s perfect. Tall. Clean. No t-shirt. He’s going to look brilliant in the photographs. The forever photographs … well, maybe not every photograph judging by this lot. But you know what I mean? He’ll be right there in the middle of it, like a god.”

“A bit above his pay grade,” Simi mutters.

Katania takes no notice. “I know we don’t really need a priest, but I want him just for the way he looks. Don’t know why Jen’s bothered about us knowing him. Priests and weddings are like plumbers and leaks.”

Simi chokes. She dabs her mouth with a napkin.

“Katania, weddings are supposed to be about what’s in here.” She places her hand on her chest. “Not all the bling. Anyway look at this place. This is the earth. These are proper people. Earth people. We might not …” Simi stops.

Oh my, listen to me. Green Queen. These are not my streets. I don’t even know them. Earth people? Like I’m from another planet.

“That’s my point,” says Katania, eyes flashing. “My daughter does not belong here.”

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

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