Gogo's Journals 2/4

By Drum Digital
16 February 2014

Thando's dying gogo Mildred tries to tell her a story from her hospital bed.

BACK then, Mildred was 13 years old. On that day, she was about to fall in love for the first time. When she woke up that morning she had no idea that it was going to be different to any other day. She’d been hanging the sheets out to dry when her mother had called her. It was a lovely, sunny morning and before coming inside Mildred had stood gazing at the horizon. She could hear the sound of the sea beating against the rocksand because it was such a fine morning she knew that the fishing boats would be far out at sea. “I want you to go to the shop for me, Mildred,” her mother said as soon as she came indoors. “Yes, Mom,” Mildred said, glad for the opportunity to get out of the house. She had what her gogo always called “wanderlust”.

And her mother fretted about her all the time.

“I know there’s no point in telling you to take the shortcut,” Mom said. “But be careful if you go down to the rocks, Mildred. I’d like the groceries home before nightfall, too.”

Mom smiled ruefully as she handed her a list to give in at the corner grocery shop.

“I promise I’ll be careful, Mom!” And Mildred impulsively threw her arms about her mother’s waist, then jumped back and set off with a lightness in her step. She knew she was fortunate that her family understood the lure the sea had for her. In this way they allowed her a certain amount of freedom. And considering how terrified her mother was of the rocks and the sea, Mildred loved her dearly for her understanding. Mother had lost her father and two older brothers at sea. She always vowed that she’d never marry a fishermanand she had kept her promise. Mildred sang as she hurried along the road.

“This little bird flaps its wings,

Flaps its wings, flaps its wings,

This little bird flaps its wings,

And flies away in the morning!”

It was a childish verse but Mildred loved the sound of the words as they fell from her lips. She picked a bunch of the wild fuchsias and inhaled its scent deeply as she turned right at the end of their lane.

She could hear the sea more clearly now and sneaking a look back up the lane, she headed off in that direction.

She skipped from rock to rock, her feet as nimble as a ballet dancer’s on the granite surface.

She enjoyed the feel of the wind in her hair and stood gazing out at the sea for several minutes. She wondered, not for the first time, what lay beyond its vastness.

She promised herself that one day she’d travel and see the world. She had only been out of the village once, and that was into the town of George when her older brother got married. Suddenly she noticed someone far below on the beach. She would tease him afterwards that it was she who had seen him first. He was just a speck on the sand when she first saw him, absorbed in catching crabs and putting them in a bucket. Mildred watched him for several moments and then, as a blustery east wind blew in from the ocean and clouds gathered, she expected him to leave the strand. She knew from past experience that the wind could be cruel and unforgivingand many unfortunate souls had met untimely deaths on that beach. She remembered the funeral she had gone to with her Mom only last month. A young mother had been out walkingand the wind had lifted her straight off the rocks and into the sea.

The village was still mourning her loss.

-by Agnes Kimberley

To be continued...

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