Who’s in charge at this imagined wedding?

Simi could not take her eyes off Katania’s hair. Blonde? Or fake blonde? Usually she could tell the fakes from across a room, but this time she was not sure.

“May I get you ladies some more coffee?”

Simi turned to see Innocence just behind her.

“Perfect timing. Strong and black please,” said Simi.

 “Of course,” said Innocence.

“A cappuccino for me,” said Katania, her grooming complete.

I’ll bring those over.

Katania placed both palms flat on the table, fingers drumming, while Simi picked up her fork again and pulled off another wedge of pancake. She ate it slowly, then pushed the plate to one side. The pancake was cold now, slightly rubbery, and her appetite gone.

“The thing is,” Katania said “the priest really impressed me. Tall. Handsome. Collared shirt. Who cares if we don’t know him. Jen gets these things so wrong. Getting a priest now is like calling in the plumber or something.” 

“Calling in a plumber!” Simi, choked on the last of her pancake. She slapped herself on her chest, until her coughing stopped. “Getting a priest to marry you is not like calling in a plumber.”

“Why not?”

“Well …” Simi stared at Katania. “You’re not serious are you?”

“Oh I am,” she said, smiling, and leant back again, her fingers running through her hair once more, first one hand, and then the other.

Shocked, Simi watched in silence. She barely noticed Innocence when he appeared with the coffees.

“Thanks,” she said automatically, and stirred in some sugar, her brain blank. She raised her cup, held it in both hands, elbows on the table, and watched Katania over the rim.

“I had to use all my charm to get the priest to agree. He was very happy when he heard that they’re actually married – properly married. Whatever that is.”

There was a brief silence, then Simi cleared her throat.

“Well, whatever you think of priests, and of this priest, whoever he is, choosing him … it’s not really your choice, is it?” She lowered her cup back on to its saucer, her eyes never leaving Katania. “Surely this decision is up to Jen and Hansie, and the priest?”

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

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

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