My Short Stories

6.

South Africa in Winter.                      Charlie Dimech.

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I was self-absorbed one day atop a very large tree, looking out to sea, birds singing all around me to my souls delight and the sound of the ocean massaging the inner tumult I had just begun to feel at being stranded here so long.
I had just finished these very thoughts when I noticed a ship passing very close to the coast. I wondered why it was so close, shipping though infrequent was normally at some distance and barely visible.
 
Anxious to learn more about our visitors I ran down to the bay behind which my tree was perched and started waving frantically hoping they would see me. They did and to my great excitement and astonishment they adjusted course and came closer before drawing to a complete stop. A boat was lowered into the water and no less than fifteen persons came ashore.
 
I greeted them heartily and they were all smiles and cordial as could be expected, nay, more than one would expect on this wild, barbarian coastline.
 
We shook hands all round and introduced each other by name. I then invited them to sit down which we all did on a ledge formed by the washing away of the rocks and sand at one end of the beach.Cigarettes were passed around and I lit my first cigarette for at least eight years. It had a toy value and somewhat social value only by this time. The relaxation was years in this place and I had no need or help from from a cigarette, nor could it have relaxed me any more than the wind, the trees and the quiet of our shore.
 
It was a beautiful summery day - in  Spring. A time when all physical sensations are at their peak and mother nature takes you back to the elements to recharge and refresh you.
We sat around chatting, about my life on this shore and how long I had been there and where they had come from. They told me about their boat and how well she could do and how well she had been equipped for the journey etc,etc,etc
I listened with delight, a delight which comes from years of being in an isolated place and hearing your fellow race once more.
As we spoke whisky and bread with cuts of meat in between were passed around and for the first time in nearly a decade I was delighted to partake of both and at seeing the others too enjoying these luxuries which served as a reminder to go back to Cherrinne and Charlie Juniour with, I hoped, these men and three women. To  my surprise they were more than happy to accompany me back through the forest to the other side of the promentory which formed the borderline of bare, exposed rock between our beach and this bay.
 
The same occurred with my wife and child as with myself.They were as happy to see us as we were with them. I didn't know why. There were handshakes all round, names of introduction, hugs for Juniour including gentle, crouched bear hugs from the larger members of the group and tender, warm, motherly clasps from the female members of the group. Juniour was equally pleased with both. Cherrinne was also excited and happy with our new aquaintances. And the dog still in camp, we didn't name him unless it was 'dog'  gave delighted barks of approval at their arrival and throughout their stay.
 
We informed them of the others who were living close by. The five like us as well as the refugees from the volcano. They were most interested from the two to meet the five.
We offered to take them to meet them if they wished immediately or they could wait till the following day when we were expecting them in our camp. They would come to check up on us, to eat with us and to hunt with us as well as help with any project we might be undertaking and to just say hello and enjoy each others company which usually involved swimming, lolling around and talking and laughing.
They informed us of the need to get back to their boat but would return on the following day, that the ship would be worried about them. Five hours or so after they first landed I led them back to the bay and saw them off in their boat.
 
I made my way back to camp and stayed up most of the night discussing our new visitors. I managed to snatch a couple of hours sleep just before dawn, Juniour getting about three hours more and Cherrinne when I awoke insisted she had had none at all. This I  could believe as there was fried fish already cooking on the spit as well as a herbal soup.
 
"Should you really go down to meet them today?"
Cherrinne asked. I had been totally convinced that they would return and I knew what this question implied, that is, maybe they would not be there. I assured her that they would be there.
 
"Don't you worry about them, they don't seem to be in any hurry to go anywhere."
I said finally after a prolonged discussion about whether or not they they would return.
 
My wife resigned herself with more confidence to staying back at camp to look after Juniour's breakfast and a hundred other things. I made off in the direction I had come the night before.
 
I wasn't gone long along the track. I was still in the thick of the bush when I heard a loud blast of the horn of the ship. "Could they be leaving ." I thought. It now seemed entirely possible. After all it was the night before that we had last seen them and they were on board now. A whole night had passed and anything could have transpired, not the least expected was the new day itself with its new promises and demands. Could ours have been pushed to the background? I hoped not.

7.


"North to 'Alaska'!...Go north, the rush is on!"