Story postcard – fetching the jacket (2)

Simi watches as the crowd parts around the solid square of Aneke, heading towards the back of the room. She is cheerful and joking, jabbing comments here and there, punchy as a boxer. She reaches Father Norman and puts out a hand for a towel, the scene caught in Ruan’s torchlight following her from behind. And it’s then. Right then. That everything stops.

The room freezes. Paralysed. Trapped by a guttural, beneath-the-feet roar, that fills every pore.

Simi stops breathing, overwhelmed by this heartbeat. This earthbeat. The groaning shift comes again. It thumps in from outside, growing louder and louder. Rolling like a thousand diggers. Rolling. Rolling. Freeing the sound out of throats. Forcing shouts to fly.

“Marybelle!” Simi’s voice is hoarse with fright. She reaches for her friend, and as she does so the silence comes back, and with it the listening. But now there is just rain, and more rain. The wind has gone.

“Marybelle!” she whispers again, listening for the tearing roar, but it has vanished.

“What was it?” comes the reply. Simi has no idea. She stands still as pillar, ghost-frozen, waiting for the next shuddering sound, but it never comes. Instead the room fills with questions.

“What the …?”

“Where was that?”

“ … outside the front …”

“What was it?”

“Landslide. Must have been. Maybe some of those rocks.”

“No man, my car’s got all my fishing gear in.”

Rudd’s torchlight picks over the room.

“I think it was some kind of slip. Somewhere near the carpark. Sounds like the wind’s dropped so I’ll go check it out with Tonderai and Innocence. Meanwhile if we could get a few search parties going please, while it’s quiet. Main thing, nobody go alone, and please get back here ASAP.”


“Okay guys, we’ll do the bar area.” Jacobus waves a torch over his head.

“And any volunteers for the squash courts and round there, come over to the doors please,” calls Hansie.

Simi watches the crowd shift and split, as the search parties begin to form.

“Don’t hang about,” shouts Steve. “This cyclone is not done yet.”

“Ja. Steve’s right,” Rudd shouts to the disappearing torches. “Don’t hang about. The doctor will be up here. That okay Tim?”

“Okay. Reckon I can stay put.”

Slowly the groups organise themselves, and start to leave. Simi moves a little closer to her friend, and as she does so, Marybelle swings her torch beam around, and Simi has to put out a hand to block the light.

“You okay Simi?” Marybelle asks, then suddenly her voice changes. “No … what’s that?”



“Can’t you put that down. It’s too bright.”

“No. Look. Look at you. Why didn’t you say? Here.”

“What? What’s wrong?”

“That. When did you do that?” Marybelle reaches for Simi’s raised hand, and turns it palm upwards into the light.

“Oh no …,” says Simi, noticing the red gash that frays from her thumb down to her wrist. “I have no idea when that happened.”

“Must have been when you fell over by the doors.”

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

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