Story postcard – getting closer (2)

Rudd imagines Hansie’s mum, up early, preparing the koeksisters, while everyone else was out on the walk. As he thinks of her, his mind flashes back to the last memory he has of his own mother.

He’d been in his bedroom. All he could hear was them arguing.

He shakes his head, and tries to focus on the koeksisters again, but his stomach is twisted tight with the tension that came each time he woke to the shouting. Mainly his father, but that night his mother too. Her voice fierce as he’d ever heard … and frightened. They’d been in the kitchen, just across from his bedroom. The place his father kept his drink. The beer. The bottles. The cracking thump, like the sound of crate being dropped. A scream. Then cursing. His father cursing. Light cutting across his room from the corridor outside. Then his father’s hulk passing the open door. Still cursing. Then the light goes, and he is lying in the dark, heart thumping, barely breathing. Waiting minutes, maybe hours, for his mother to come. Like she always did. But she never did. Waiting. Waiting. Then the sound of the television. James Bond. The song about diamonds. Forever.

He closes his eyes, and tries to block out the clanging kitchen noises, thickening the memory. But they surround him. A plate crashes to the floor, smashing into the voices of his parents. He braces his arms on the counter, chin on his chest, and breathes slowly, steadying himself. Then he stands straight, and turns just in time to see the kitchen door thud back on its hinges.

Samere, the head chef, bursts into the kitchen with a woman behind him. She is slight, and bouncing a baby on her back. By her skirt there is another child, who peers out shyly. Silence swivels briefly around them, then swells into greetings and laughter. Rudd walks over and adds his own to the pile. He is relieved to have Samere’s solid, cheerful presence back at the centre of the kitchen.

“Samere, please could we have lunch on the table as soon as possible,” Rudd says, as the talk settles. “The wedding service is at 3pm sharp.”

“Yes. Tonderai has told me this,” Samere replies, crossing over to the sink to wash his hands.

“Excellent. Thank you.”

Rudd leaves the kitchen, and outside in the sunshine, he runs his eyes around the edges of the lodge, drawing up a mental checklist.

Lock up the umbrellas. Find torches. Batteries. Candles. Matches. Check fuel. Maybe that generator will start this time.

Laughter swings up from the tennis court, and in the distance the clip of a well struck golf ball. Warm in the sun, and calm again, Rudd stretches his shoulders up and back, thankful his head has cleared.

Stress. Always when I’m stressed.

“Hey Rudd?” a voice calls, from the edge of the pool. “What time’s lunch? ”

 “Shouldn’t be long now. Half an hour max. Sooner I hope.”

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

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