Daises by the roadside 1/3

By Drum Digital
09 January 2014

Who could be the beautiful stranger?

AFTER quickly checking the rear-view mirror, I slowed down and eased my silver Toyota Corolla off the highway. I glanced behind me again, checking the flow of traffic and for any lurking tsotsis, before gingerly stepping out.

About 20 metres behind me I could see the pothole that had burst my tyre and put me in this sticky situation. “For heaven’s sake!” I shouted across the field to my left, thankful that no-one in the cars, taxis, buses and trucks passing could hear me.

The trip back from the coast had been going so well and now this. Traffic had been heavy, what with all the post-festive season travellers returning from the Cape.

But the journey had been an opportunity to compose my list of New Year’s resolutions and mentally prepare myself for a return to real life – real life as opposed to being waited on hand and foot by the friends who’d been my hosts for two weeks in the windy city of Port Elizabeth.

I thought wistfully of those friends now as I opened the boot of my car to look for the fluorescent triangle which I then put a few metres away.

For a split second I considered using my cellphone to call the AA, but the idea of waiting an hour or more with twilight not far away had me pulling the jack and the spare tyre out of the boot. Now what exactly had my father always said about tyre changing? I wasn’t keen to get my white linen trousers dirty but a girl had to do what a girl had to do.

With a great deal of trepidation I tried to do exactly what I’d often seen my father and brothers doing when they changed a tyre. Slowly but surely, step by step, I managed to get the wheel off the car.

Just as slowly, I managed to put the spare onto the car and tighten the nuts. Then I packed the burst tyre and the jack back into the boot.

Luckily I’m neurotic about being prepared, I thought as I wiped my hands clean on the wet wipes I always carry. Those wipes and the fresh bottle of water that’s always stowed in the car have saved me in many situations. In fact, a good long drink of water was just what I needed now to cool me down after the hot work of changing a wheel.

Glancing down the highway towards Gauteng and then sadly looking back toward Kroonstad, I leant against the passenger door of the car, not caring now about my white trousers since they were already grubby.

While taking long, slow swallows of water, I nearly choked in shock.

Not five metres away from the rear of the car, a young woman, dressed in black, knelt in a patch of orange and yellow daises. I squinted in an effort to see her better. She was so intent on what she was doing that I don’t think she’d noticed me or my car. What was she doing there on the grassy verge?

I looked across the highway but couldn’t see any other parked cars or houses, not even in the distance. Turning to look out across the veld to the left, I saw the ruins of an old mud house, but nothing habitable.

Curiosity got the better of me and I strolled toward her. Not even the crunch of my shoes on the gravel made her look up. Only when I stood less than a metre away from her did she turn her head.

Hers was the saddest face I’d ever seen. An old fashioned S-curl hairdo framed almond shaped brown eyes. The dress she wore was something from the ’80s, but it suited her slender figure. Her cheap canvas slip-ons lay tossed to one side.

To be continued...

-by Pamela Moeng

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