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Fiction, Summer 2007

Page 8

Postcards From November by Liesl Jobson


So, she says, scratching the translucent skin beneath Pis beak. She looks at me sideways. Maybe Im doing the same bloody horrible thing you do. She smirks at the hairpin logic.


I return to my puzzle. In America a hooter is a horn. Or a tit.




Its Kates last day of the school year. Shes dyed her hair again. The towels and tiles and shower curtain are smudged with dark inky stains. I thought shed go orange when her roots started showing, or red, but no. Black.


We talked about losing the Satanist look, giving up the pentagram she wears on a chain round her neck, ditching the book of teenage witch spells. I raised my eyebrows and nodded when she emerged from the shower, her hair a wet mess of clinging black snakes.


Tonight Ill take her to her father for the Christmas holidays. Shell sling her kit in the boot. Ill kiss her and her bird. Shes taking it along. Her father has erected a hook in the courtyard where she can hang the cage, safe from the cats.


I am writing up the article on the excavator operator I interviewed in Limpopo last week. Theres just time before we leave to phone the plant hire business owner who drove me to the farm up on the neck. He is a white Zimbabwean who lost his farm in the land invasions. I ask him the details I forgot to write down at the time: the make of the vehicle, the tonnage, the names of the butterflies hed pointed out.


Kate starts up the hair-dryer in my bedroom. I put my hand over the receiver, saying, Cant you go do that someplace else? She switches the hair-dryer off but doesnt leave.


The plant hire guy had showed me a green-banded swallowtail, a glossy black butterfly with a strip of emerald green, and a giant white guy, clouded mother-of-pearl. We also saw a shy impala ram that bounded away before I could take a photograph. He told me it was a conservancy, where endangered species are protected.


Kate preens in the mirror, stretching her neck, swinging her head, spraying the glass.


I ask how the repair to the dam is going? How is Andries?


Not well, he says. Looks like hes got shingles. I think hell join the sleepers soon.


Hey, I say, Im so sorry.


Kate stares up close at her new black eyebrows, making wide eyes.


Hey, he says. You take care.




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Per Contra Summer 2007