My Short Stories

12.

"South Africa in Winter"                                Charlie Dimech.

Home | "Interior Communications with God." | ESSAYS. | COFFEE CLUB | Thought for the day. | ancient australia-2

 
 
Who can describe the love we had on the island? It was all around you. It was in you. It filled the air with humble warmth and gave you a great desire for life, and a fulfillment of that desire.
 
With each passing day, with each new mountain that had to be climbed we saw into our past, savoured the present moment, and proceeded resolutely and with hope undiminished.
We recognized Christmas as the cause of all our joy, and this belief and faith led us to rely on Divine Providence in the face of seemingly insurmoutable difficulties. The old trials of life were not diminished just tackled in a more just and equitable manner, for all concerned. Thus there was no conflict on the island , and for this we were eternally grateful and problems seemed to be and were, more easily solved as a result.
 
Some time later we were surprised to find our waterfall and creek had dried up completely. But  after five months  there was heavy rain, a downpour which after nine days finally abated with the stream in full flow.
I dug a dam a good distance from the house. The heavy earthmoving machine provided seemed miraculous at the time and the dam was sufficient to provide for our irrrigation needs.
 
Time passed slowly on the island. That was a good thing, and enabled one to relish the passage of time not simply measure it.
Within three years crop production was in full swing, as was the many other industries on the island, not in any 'normal' sense but individual house, one on one, industry. These nevertheless, as stated earlier provided for the needs of the whole community.
 
Story telling was common on the island especially at any social events. Some were the product of too much good wine and some had an important message; but they were all listened to with good grace and humour such as these silly little ditties:
 
'As I went riding through the woods, [probably a true story on this island]  I met a little girl one day.  she said "Could you give me a lift?"
 I kicked in, 
"Where to?"
she replied "
Not far" .
 "Hop aboard" I said  and we left the woods behind as we kicked up the dust out on the open road. We travelled far and that evening we stopped for refreshment and rest and I sized up the situation I had gotten into at her request.
"You said you weren't going far." I chimed with some feined show of alarm.
"Well that was then, this is now, you can't leave a poor 'damsel' in distress can you?"
"I don't know, what kind of distress are you talking about?" I said , uneasy.
"Well I have no money to buy food and accomodation."  [not that money was ever used on the island, but that didn't matter] she said with a wimper.
"I'll take you no matter how far and I'll do it at my own expense, and if the journey never ends I'll still be there to lend you of my life and see you through" 
"Then marry me." she said startlingly.
"What!" I replied.
"Marry me " she pressed these words to my lips." [spontaneity was not lost on the island!]
 
There was something in the air that night, the aroma, a thousand lilacs in bloom, the low sweet sound   of  the 'roadhouse' music, the starlight. My heart fell for this girl [they probably already knew each other]. I pressed her to my lips and received her kiss soft and gentle. What more could I wish?  We sat down beneath the moon on a rug.
So I married her in Spring [by this time his inebriation was showing - though, undoubtedly a true story ] - a few days later. 'Twas in a town somewhere [probably 2 buildings together]. We'd travelled very far. And now we have a child on the way. Conceived in spring [blush] will be a child of Autumn.
So be warned. don't give a lift to strangers."
 
This was how courtship was carried on on the island, a little joking and role playing never hurt anyone.
 
A  more serious but equally fluffy tale;
 
"A  beacon, the lighthouse, stood above the cave and back some 20 metres from the ledge which was inclined at an angle of around 60 degrees to the  mouth of the cave - its moonlit shadow cast down in front of the cave created an erie effect to those who hid inside.
No one spoke, as all ears were strained for the slight noise from above which would alert them to the oncoming soldiers who must, as this cave was well known, and once they had seen the wreck of the small boat beneath them become aware of their possible presence.
But they did not come. In the gloomy, dim lit, dank and silent hole in the hill the two women and seven men sat in silence for an hour waiting to be captured.
 
They gave up waiting and decided to try again for the summit. The climb, they knew was pocketed with land mines.
In single file they finally reached the top and felt the weightlessness of finally being relieved of anticipating at any time being blown away without so much as a farewell.
 
On reaching the summit they burst into the lighthouse whose door was left unlocked, climbed the stairs, knowing now there was no one left inside , turned on the light and without waiting for a return party of  foreign troops descended again to the ocean to await the  ship, hoping, as they did, that a rescue boat would be dispatched .
 
With the lighthouse lit the invasion would be that much easier  and also that much more dangerous for themselves so they crept beneath the rocks of an overhang of the shoreline 120 metres to the north of  and around behind a protusion of another sand crested rocky outcrop where their boat had been dashed. When the ship passed through their flare would be lit and they hoped they would be spotted
 
The strange and eerie absence of soldiers on the above peninsular was something they had not known in advance and could not now account for.
Little could they know that they had been poisoned by the natives on whom they were forced to depend for three months for their food supply. Only now had the nativesdeemed it expedient having gained their trust, and at the same time  safe, to give them the fatal dose."

13.


"Spooky!"