Daises by the roadside 3/3

By Drum Digital
11 January 2014

What really happened to the woman by the roadside?

The girl gestured toward the coffee machine, but I shook my head. I didn’t want more coffee. Maybe I had misheard her thanks to a caffeine overload.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you correctly. I thought you said that she’s dead.”

“Yes. A few people from Kroonstad have seen her there along the side of the road, but I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone who has actually talked to her. You must be the first. Oh my God, my friends aren’t going to believe this, I promise you!” “How did she die?” I asked.

“She and her fiancé were travelling to Joburg in an old rattle trap car. They had a flat tyre and no spare, so her fiancé got a lift back to Kroonstad to try to get the tyre patched. In those days the Ultra City wasn’t here,” she explained.

“Anyway, he got a lift and he left her there to wait. It was safer then.”

“And when he got back?”

“It took longer than he thought it would, but he did come back.”

“And?”

“And he found her lying next to the road. She’d been knocked down.”

“That’s terrible. What happened to him, the fiancé?”

“He never recovered. Some say he lost his mind. He died in a car accident himself. Car stalled on a railway track. Some say he did it deliberately out of grief and a guilty conscience. They say he shouldn’t have left her there alone . . .”

Poor woman, that poor woman, I thought. The waitress walked slowly away. I sat slumped in my chair, thinking of that chance encounter along the highway months before, a conversation with a lonely woman waiting for her beloved.

I paid the bill and ran out to my car. Heading toward Joburg, I kept checking the odometer. It was roughly 30 km from the Ultra City that I had hit that pothole in January. Right about here, I thought. I checked the rear-view mirror and eased the car off the road. Taking a deep breath, I opened the door.

The rain was falling softly, like tears streaming down a cheek. I walked back toward the patch of orange and yellow. The circle of rocks still formed a cradle around the flowers. A slight hollow in the ground waited for someone to kneel in the grass.

But there was no one there. I looked around. This time I was alone. A chill ran through me – I shivered and turned back to my car. As I pulled onto the highway again, I looked back in the rear-view mirror.

Off to the left of the car, in the grassy area just off the verge of the road, the woman knelt, still dressed in black. Transfixed, I watched as she lifted her head and waved to me.

The end.

-by Pamela Moeng

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