The fictional wedding – not just a wedding

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

“Jen and Hansie? Oh please! What do they know? They’ve never been married before. I’ve had two weddings, and I know what matters. It’s the looking fantastic. The evidence. It’s so important to do this stuff better than everyone else. You want them to talk about your wedding. The beautiful show. Tell me Simi, have you ever been married?”

“No.”

 “Then of course, you’ve no idea what I’m talking about. It’s like building a portfolio. It matters.”

Simi sipped slowly, eyes lowered. Nearly married she thought, as Katania clinked her teaspoon into her coffee and scraped out the last of its froth.  

“The trouble is,” Katania said, pausing to dab a napkin around her lips, “the real problem is that most people here will have no idea what I’m talking about. No disrespect – I love them all – but they’re too close to the earth all these farmers. All they want to talk about is crops, cattle, rain. Do you know what I mean?”

Simi looked at her. Neither cows, nor crops had been mentioned to her. A bit about a storm, but not much. Gossip and birdwalks yes, and now marriage, but not the farming stuff. Perhaps the ‘Londoner’ bit she thought, perhaps that’s what’s put them off.

Katania’s dark glasses stared at her expectantly.

“No? You don’t know what a I mean?”

Simi shook her head.

“Well, anyway, poor Jen has got a bit mixed up in it all, seduced somehow, but I think it’s a phase that she’ll grow out of. I know there’ll be other weddings for her. She just has to come and live with me for a few months in Paris and voilà, the lights will come on. Probably shouldn’t have left her here with her father, but what could I do?”

“And Hansie?”

“Oh, I think she’ll be happy to leave him behind, but the right sort of people will want to know what they’re getting. Believe me Simi, it’s a tough, glittery world if you want to be where the money is. Isn’t it like that with you in London?”

Simi put down her coffee. She considered the question.

“No. Not with me,” she said. “I’m no expert but I thought the idea was to stay with someone for life? Not marry them for show, or for money.”

“Oh, that’s hopeless. Romantic nonsense. Actually, I don’t expect you to understand Simi. It’s a tricky situation. But Jen will come round.”

“Really? Do you think that? She and Hansie seem pretty devoted from what I can see,” said Simi, turning her chair half round to face the view.

She had no idea what to say next. She barely knew the couple, but she liked what she’d seen and they seemed well suited. Her eyes reached out over the golf course, over the tea terraces, over the distant hills … reached out to anywhere that was not Katania.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

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