Story postcard – Simi and the story (1)

As the pause in the story lengthens, Simi struggles to stay calm. Her mind is battered by the rain’s constant raging, and she cannot understand the upbeat energy of the others in the room, their banter loud, then drowned, then loud again. She tries to soak up some strength from the shine of Marybelle, but still every storm crash shocks her, each one racing her pulse to its limit.

She looks across at Tonderai leaning on the table like an actor in the wings, waiting for the weather to leave the stage. The sight of his ease steadies her a little. She studies him, her panic retreating as she does. His gaze is down, his face hidden, his mackintosh polished by shadow and flame.

Like a root, she thinks. Holding us. Slowly she feels the tension begin to ease out of her shoulders, and pulls the blanket a little closer. Then she closes her eyes, and decides to count, to carry herself off to bed like a child. Back in her childhood home the throbbing shove of the wind becomes the sound of London buses rumbling beneath her bedroom window. They brake, squealing, then accelerate away, while others return to collect more passengers. She hears their voices outside – waiting, joking. Her list of numbers grows longer … the buses quieter … the passengers distant … and the dark deeper …

Suddenly she snaps upright, neck aching. She looks around. Tonderai is still there, but now he is by the fire basket, sparks lifting around him as a fresh log settles into position. The room feels expectant, poised now the rain is no more than needles, and the door still.

“Tonderai please, what does Girl do?” Marybelle calls, other voices joining her.

 “Yes, Tonderai. More story please.”

“We can hear you now.”

“What happens?”

“We are ready,” says Bernard.

Tonderai shakes his head as though to clear it. “Aha. The story.” He holds his hands out over the fire as the sparks turn to young flame. When he begins, his voice is low. “Girl thinks and thinks. What can she do? She thinks so much that the Women get worried. Is Girl sick? No. Girl tells them she is thinking. She tells them that they must leave her alone. So they do, for they are too busy with their work to stop for long. Soon Girl will be married, and then she too, like them, will have no time to think. They know that this is the truth. They know that Girl knows that this is her path. But what they do not know, is that this Girl is not one for paths mapped out for her by others.”

Simi watches Tonderai lean back on his heels, eyes closed, arms crossed. His voice begins to rise.

“So, Girl sits and thinks. She sits and thinks for day after day. While the Workers work, and Grandpa feasts, she is thinking. Then, one day … ” Tonderai opens his eyes, “Girl stands tall. Her frown is gone. She raises her arms and shouts, loud enough for all to hear. “Yess! I have a plan.'” Tonderai stands, arms stretched high above his head, palms open. “Yes!” he repeats, his exclamation ringing through Simi, chasing out her panic. Her world is now Girl’s world.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

Space for comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.