This is the last of three competitions using as springboard etchings by Diane Victor courtesy of David Krut Projects, Cape Town. Here’s the etching, Lot’s Wife…
And here’s the challenge:
Using Diane Victor’s etching as inspiration write a short story of up to 250-words that culminates in the temptation to look back, despite a determination not to.
Congratulations! Tie first place goes to Lindsay Sanderson and Christpher Leach. And congrats;nations too to Judith Joubert and Victor Atterbury
Lot’s Wife by Lindsey Sanderson
Those two kerels were just too dressed up and when they stood at my gate I was a bit skrik. White suits and ties. Maybe they’re dealers I thought or maybe cops. Maybe a trap and even though Mister and I didn’t do the drugs and stuff, I still thought well, I just don’t know. I asked them in and when Mister comes home I told him we must watch it. He said no Edie keep your hair on and ask them for supper maybe they’re missionaries or from the Department.
Lucky we have a nice skaapkop and I have spinach in the garden. So I turn on the stove. No damn salt. I try Sannie next door. She vloeks me out so I go to the Minaars down the road. Hettie and Dirk have more wine in them than the papsak on the table. Solly’s Kroeg? I push my way past the patrons and fight off vatterigge boykies who goose me and grab my tits. I take the salt from the counter and duck.
We sit down to supper and the kerels say no time to eat. We need to run and hide in the mountains. Are you joking, I say. But Mister Lot says, no, we need to go NOW. Get the baby. He climbs into the bakkie with the kerels but I just stand there looking back and thinking I need to take the salt pot back to Solly’s and did I turn off the stove?
Don’t look back by Christpher Leach
There come moments that mark a lifetime, meetings with momentum that carry you to places previously un-presumed. You realise that this is one of those. She drops her elbow to the counter at her back and turns the requisite number of degrees to face you. Her right hand cradles a glass of wine. She looks like the chardonnay type; urbane, polished, lightly wooded by the summer sun. Her eyes capture yours and you have never seen that shade of blue before. It is almost indescribable, but you try to. Perhaps it will help you make sense of the rush that ripples through you like a song. Normally well spoken, confident, cocky, in this instant you are dumb. You search for a sentence, fumble for a phrase that won’t sound contrived, won’t trot tritely over your teeth. Your brain is busy, trying to polish the pearl that might be an adequate response to this awe-struck instant in which you are trapped. Then there it is! The magic. The words that will entrance her. A slow smile moves your mouth. You prepare to pronounce the incantation that will end this impasse. But you have blinked and she is gone; hidden by the man that has moved between you. The next second stretches, breaks the rules of time. It is already too late. You turn your back on them both, denying the soul-scream for one last look. You put down your drink, walk out the door and drown in the sound of the traffic.
Lot’s Wife by Judith Joubert
Pack your things, they said. It’s time to go, they said. They told us we’d be safe in the mountains. “I’m staying – you go,” Lot was not going to drag me back to a village in the mountains. In the township, things are better – we have taps in our houses, and electricity. I no longer have to fetch fire wood and cook outside. My eyes no longer burn from the smoke and my clothes no longer stink like cremated branches and leaves. I no longer have to dispose of the ashes – all I do now is turn a button on the stove to provide nourishment for the living.
I don’t want to go. I like the people here – so open-minded, where I’m from they used to do corrective rape if a woman liked other women. Okay, so they nearly raped the men who told us to leave but those men shouldn’t have been judgemen-tal, coming here and telling us the place is bad because the people are bad. How can it be bad when it has taps inside, and electricity?
Lot is taking us to a small township – it sounds more like a big village. I don’t want to go. What happened to bettering ourselves? I told him last night that if he does this, he does not love me. He said shut up, can you not say at least one of the five things in your head? Words flew like embers out of his mouth.
It’s easy. Just close your eyes and count to a thousand. Count loud, count slow. Let your mind not drift beyond the numbers you see with your mind’s eye. Make them appear big and white, just focus on them, one… two… three…White, only white and not strawberry red like the colour you just painted the roof to your new government issued house.
Thandi loves strawberries. Thandi loved strawberries. Thandi, my Thandi who never complained a day in her life, who loved strawberries and me and even our crooked house in the ditch we called home. But if home is where the heart is, as they say, then I’m homeless because my heart stays with her. If I turn around will she still be behind me?
No, don’t turn around, it’s easy. Just focus on something else. Push everything out of your mind as if it never happened. Forget about every meal Thandi made for you, like the delicious chicken she made the day when little Simphiwe went to the shop and came back with a live one and then everybody tried to catch the thing while it ran headless all over our small yard. One of the funniest days of our lives.
Will she remember that day? Can she? If I turn around can I ask her or just maybe say good bye? Let me try.