Difficult discussions as the wedding gets closer

Simi: a Londoner, who happens to be staying at the resort while the wedding is on

Rudd: the young manager of the resort

Katania: the mother of the bride

Jen and Hansie: the soon-to-be-married couple

Setting: Zimbabwe

Simi shifted in her seat, her kaftan sticky against the back of her legs. One party is enjoying this, she thought, the other is not.

Katania continued, voice brisk.

“Oh, Mick’s fine. Anyway, I’ve sorted it. I had a brainwave. Knew there must be a local priest, so I went and found him. He’s perfect. Problem solved.”

“A priest? But we don’t know him. We don’t even need a priest. Surely someone else could do it? A friend?”

“Who Jen? Do be sensible. I’ve been through everyone here. And there’s no-one. Just trust me on this. This priest will be perfect. Such presence.”

Presence? Simi considered the word, as she balanced a forkful from her plate to her mouth. She chewed slowly, savouring the fluff of the pancake, against the crunch of the bacon.

“Presence? What’s his name?”

“Norman.”

“Norman?” Jen pushed her bowl of fruit away. She stood up, rewrapping her towel around her waist. “Who is he? I mean we don’t even know him. Thanks for finding him, but I’m sorry, I really want to talk to Hansie about this.”

“Okay.” The word stretched slowly. “Fine by me. I’ll wait for you here.”

Katania’s fingers drummed lightly on the table as the bright pink of Jen’s t-shirt disappeared into the lodge.

Simi swallowed, then cleared her throat, searching for words. She was about to reach for the weather, when the laughter of the birdwalkers surged up the hill behind her. Katania, apparently, did not notice them.

“So tricky, don’t you think?” she said.

“Difficult” mumbled Simi, wishing she’d woken in time to go for the birdwalk.

Katania tipped her head back, shaking out her hair behind her. She ran the fingers of both hands through its length, flicking sunlight back at Simi.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

The fictional wedding – things looking tricky

Simi: a Londoner, who happens to be staying at the resort while the wedding is on

Rudd: the young manager of the resort

Katania: the mother of the bride

Jen and Hansie: the soon-to-be-married couple

Setting: Zimbabwe

(I’ve skipped on through the text a little to this next section. It the morning of the wedding and Simi has overslept.)

Simi, pleased with her choice of pancakes and bacon, sat down opposite Jen.

“So glad you overslept too. They’re not going to turn the bride-to-be away, even if she is dripping wet.”

“Ha, ha,” said Jen, twisting water out of her hair. “At least the swim woke me up. I should dry off quickly out here. This verandah …”

“Jen … Jen, I need to talk to you. Been looking for you everywhere.”

Simi recognised the voice instantly. Jen looked up, one hand trying to block the sun.

 “Oh. Why?” she asked.

Katania swept around the table, heels clacking on the stone, eyes focused on her daughter. She slipped on to the bench beside her.

“Do you want me to leave?” asked Simi.

“No, no.” Katania shook her head. “You carry on. I can see you’re a breakfaster. I couldn’t eat a thing. Such a stressful morning, and this young lady slept through it all. As usual.”

Katania pursed her lips, body turned accusingly towards Jen.

“Why stressful?” Jen asked.

Simi studied the pair, unsure as to whether she should eat, or go, or stay. She decided to stay, to listen, but not listen. Plus it was her holiday, and she did want breakast. She pulled her plate towards her, wondering. Jen soft as a pillow, she thought, the other like a knife. A masked knife with those dark glasses.

“Your uncle Mick can’t join us. Held up by some storm. He sent half a message this morning. I’m furious. He knows this is your big day …”

“He can’t come? But why? Is he okay?”

Simi, fork in hand, looked up, unsettled by Jen’s alarm.

“Oh, he’s fine. Don’t look so worried Jen. He’s not ill or anything serious. Nothing like that.”

“That’s such a relief.”

“Selfish if you ask me. Just didn’t want to get stuck in Zim. Some storm. Needs to be with colleagues in Mozambique. So annoying.”

“A storm? What storm?”

“No idea. What storm? Exactly!”

“I haven’t heard anything about a storm … have you?” Jen asked, wide eyes on Simi.

 “Well,” Simi hesitated, not sure if she had heard right, “the pilot on my flight said something … about a a cyclone? I was half asleep and, I wasn’t sure where …”

Katania cut in.

“Oh Jen, since when does a storm stop Mick? Anyway, I’ve found a solution? Not to the storm, but …”

“Just as long as he’s okay …”

“He’ll be fine.”

Simi said nothing.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

Preparations for the imagined wedding continue

Simi: a Londoner, who happens to be staying at the resort while the wedding is on

Rudd: the young manager of the resort

Katania: the mother of the bride

Jen and Hansie: the soon-to-be-married couple

Setting: Zimbabwe

Rudd remembered the priest saying he was from Southwark Cathedral in London. Out for a couple of months. Father … or was it Reverend Norman? He looked at Katania. Surely a London priest would do?

“There is a visiting priest who might be able to help,” he said slowly.

Her fingers stopped their drumming.

“A priest? They are already married you know. This is more celebration than service.”

“Well, he’s over from London,” he paused, “… unless you want Simi?

“Simi?” Katania spun the name around her tongue. “Simi. The lady in those kaftans? I do not want her. A kaftan? Leading the service? Can you imagine the photographs? No. Not her. Who is this priest?”

“He’s called Norman. I’ve only met him once. Not for long. Looks a tidy sort of guy. Long sleeves. In his sixties. ”

“Long sleeves? What do you mean?”

“Well he’s different. City type.”

“Hmm. Just as long as he doesn’t ruin the day. This is a wedding. Like launching a brand. You understand? Part of Jen’s forever portfolio. Any chance you can find this priest?”

“Well, I could try …”

“That’s good. Let’s do that,” said Katania standing up.

“Do what?” asked Rudd getting to his feet.

“Find this priest.”

“Now?”

“Yes. Where is he?”

“Right now?”

“Yes. I want to meet him.”

Rudd realised he was doomed, or, as his grandmother used to say, about to be the egg in somebody else’s pancake.

“Well, I saw him at the tea factory about this time of day, two days ago. I suppose he could be there again.”

“Oh that’s very close. Let’s go.”

“I don’t …I didn’t mean …”

“What?”

“Well … I just came to see the birdwalkers off. I’ve still got to …” He rubbed a hand across his unshaven chin, and then up through his hair.

“Oh. This won’t take long. You can sort yourself out later.”

“But…”

“No buts Rudd. We’re paying for this remember.” Katania began to walk away. “I’ll fetch my sunglasses, and be out front in two minutes.”

 “Sure …” said Rudd slowly, as she willowed into the distance.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023