A woman waited in doorways, stood under arches, listened at windows for the magical abracadabra -- a combination she knew would arrive.
The doctor said it could come at any given time, so she listened to the September wind, waited for Jacaranda blossoms to fall and pop underfoot in November. She heard hadedahs shriek at dawn in December, but by February, there was still no sign, only sighs and post gathering unopened on the mantel and her nails chewed till they bled and throbbed.
The taxidriver with flared nostrils said it would come soon.
It would be a cryptic code: the right words whispered by a stranger wearing lilac eyeshadow perhaps: "light of lime, purge of pipe," or a message flashing on an electronic hording over the highway: "inner circle infant, don't drop the dog."
How will I know if I've been called, she asked at confession? The priest said to open last year's umbrella. She consulted a palm reader, a gambler, a hungry vagrant to whom she offered a tin of beans. She handed over her questions to those who would take them, gave them away for free.
The radio bumped onto the indigenous language station by accident. In that moment of not knowing who the Radio Xitsonga DJ was, she heard the answer in a leeched voice: answer your phone, please and dammit, or at least open your post.
Knock, knock, are you hot? Reply or die, what's the cry? Ooh ah, ja and ja, if you do it, don't tell your ma. The junior girls are French skipping next to the netball court, elastic firm around smooth knees, gymslips fly with each hop and twist. On the court seniors practise for today's netball quarter-final. They jostle for the ball. Catch. Two steps. Throw. Pleated skirts swing revealing firm thighs, taut buttocks, little breasts jiggle with each pitch and shoot. This afternoon the boys will come to the match, honking vuvuzelas, whistling, waiting, hungry plucky boys. When I was ten we sang Chocolate cake when you bake, how many minutes do you take?
In the Biscuits
Discord speaks in the insect air. Sometimes it's the computer buzz, or cables in a snarl beside my bed that make my heart race, my palms sweat. The modem, the ear phones, the camera toys. If they were snakes I would not be so fearful. I would chase them out, saying Shoo! Shoo! Out boys. Other times it's the weevils in the cupboard, weaving stringy tangles in the biscuits, the flour, the oats that make my knees buckle in a faint, because once you've got weevils you can never get rid of them, unless you buy those super duper snappy Tuppers, which we can't afford. And I can't be throwing the flour out every time the webs appear. I can't bear waste, so I sieve the flour and throw out the tangles, making sure you're not in the room when I'm picking the weevils out your pancake, turning the pan on high to kill any eggs. Or it can be the unopened post -- a stack now -- of bills I'm afraid to open. Debt, like marriage, a union of being fucked deeper and deeper. After the fanfare, no more ceremony, just shopping for gear, accumulating kit. Stuff and things. Too many things.