Story postcard – finding her own body (3)

“Great work guys. Any chance we can close that door?” Tim shouts into the wind.

“I’ll try,” Jambee replies. He has almost reached it when his father staggers in, a pile of blankets hugged to his chest, his torch shining out beneath them.

“Jacobus brilliant. Thanks. Bernard first please,” says Tim, going with Jacobus to Bernard’s end of the bench.

Simi watches the blanket delivery. Jacobus’ face is shining with wet, and the back of his shirt is soaked. Tim looks calm and in control.

“How’s Fred?” Jacobus asks, as the doctor wraps a blanket around Bernard’s legs.

“Alive …” comes the reply from a shaky voice.

“Fred! That’s what I like to hear,” Jacobus booms, grinning. “Ladies, have you got blankets? Marybelle … okay?”

Jacobus’ torch picks out Marybelle. Simi is shocked to see that her face, so bright when she sang, is drawn tight by cold.

“Come. You need a blanket. You must take this last one.”

“Oh …”

“Jacobus is right,” Tim urges.

“Okay, but only if Simi shares. Come Simi!”

“Come on Simi,” Jacobus calls, holding the blanket out wide. It flaps in the wind, so thick and heavy that even from a distance Simi can feel its shield. She stands up and goes across to Marybelle, squashing in beside her bony damp while Jacobus lifts the blanket behind their backs, binding them together on the bench.

“Jacobus, how did you find us?” Marybelle asks.

“Jambee told me. Saw him getting the wood. And we need to get some more,” says Jacobus going to the fire and warming his hands over it for a few seconds. Then he straightens, and heads for the door. “Come guys. More wood.”

“And … tea … sugar please. And we need to get that door closed when you come back,” Tim shouts as Jacobus leads Tonderai, Jambee, and Rudd back into the dark.

Simi feels Marybelle’s elbow nudge into her.

“You okay Simi?”


“Cosy hey?”

Simi smiles. She slips one hand out of the blanket and checks her headscarf. It is damp but still there.

“You still look immaculate,” says Marybelle. “I feel a complete mess. And I know I look it, so need to say anything.”

Simi looks down at the which-way head of hair, straggling beside her shoulder. “Well, you’re not quite as awesome as when this party started.”

“As if,” says Marybelle, smiling.

Simi begins to relax. As the drum sparks, a waft of smoke drifts her mind back to sitting around Ade’s firepit in London. Her memories circle lazily, lifted high on the smoke. Not a big garden. Nothing fancy. But his. And theirs to share on special occasions. Birthdays. So special until the neighbour complained. Some environmental do-gooder. No fires now. Not for Ade anyway. She remembers the faces around the fire. And the garden. The space of it compared to their flat.

“What you thinking, Simi?”

“Oh nothing. Just remembering.”

“Good memories?” Marybelle asks.

“Yes,” Simi smiles. “Thinking about a fire and friends.”

“A fire? Like this?”

“Sort of …”

Marybelle stares into the flames for a little, and then turns back to Simi.

“I love your singing Simi. Can you sing us something else?”

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

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