It worked! It really did! I have felt so much better since ranting the other day. Yes, things are still as bad as they were then, but boring you all with my views on it has swept away the block and got my writing head back on properly. I have even begun to sketch out characters for a novel which has been festering/pestering me for ages. That is, I have actually committed ideas to paper. This may seem trivial to more experienced writers, but to me it means a lot. And I really enjoyed doing it. Of course, now they have names and jobs and lovers and houses they will be with me all day long, and probably most of the night too. Fabulous. I look forward to getting to know them even better.
On to my latest flash fiction. This time inspiration comes from my recent trip to Johannesburg. We decided to go on a day safari drive and it was great. We saw plenty of elephants, rhinos, giraffes and all manner of skipping springbok/impala type animals. And a lioness. I would like to point out that the following didn’t actually happen. But we did meet a very generous woman who lent us a pair of binoculars, enabling us to watch the lioness for a while. I hope you enjoy the sights and sounds…
Quid Pro Quo
The wooden boards creaked loudly as the two couples and their guide entered the watering-hole hide. A woman crouching over binoculars in the corner turned suddenly and held up her hand in a silence-making gesture. The afternoon heat was intense in the stifling interior of the viewing hut and sweat beaded the visitors’ foreheads as they gingerly crept to the free bench, vainly attempting to hush their progress.
Quietly taking measured breaths, they slowly focussed on the panorama offered by the narrow gap of the hide’s slatted wall. Wordlessly, they pointed out vignettes of savannah life as it materialised, chameleon-like, from the heat-hazed dust.
The woman, who had returned to her private, long-range vigil, shifted on the bench, easing the tension in her cramped legs. She checked that the arrivals were complying with her unspoken rule of silence, and returned to her quarry.
To the right, a warthog busily chaperoned her brood of tottering youngsters towards a hollow formed in a desiccated tree trunk. On the left, a trio of uneasy impala hesitated in the shade of a thorn-bush, desperate for a drink yet wary of approaching the muddy water. They, like the warthog, sensed her presence. Instinct winning over impulsiveness.
Even the turtles gathered on the back of a solitary hippo, basking in the afternoon sun, seemed alert to an unseen but familiar danger.
And still the dust settled through the thick air.
‘She’s watching something,’ whispered one of the men, ‘it’s under that tree.’
The others followed her gaze.
‘Lioness,’ mouthed their guide, ‘a big one.’
‘She’s called Zara,’ whispered the woman with the binoculars in a thick Afrikaans accent, ‘I’ve been watching her for years. But she never comes to the water when I’m here. You know, don’t you girl. You know.’
The couples and their guide fell silent again, intrigue now adding to the drama outside.
The sun inched over the water as an egret flapped its wings in an exhausted effort to cool itself.
Still, they waited; watching.
Suddenly, a young warthog made its escape towards the water. Simultaneously the woman let her binoculars drop on their strap whilst reaching beside her; meanwhile the lioness widened her eyes. Waiting. Watching.
The warthog began to drink greedily from the water, complacent with juvenile bravado. The hippo and its cargo sank silently into the murk; the impala merged back into the grass.
Springing from her position, the lioness launched her immense body towards the water but stopped short of her prey. Her eyes locked with those of the woman in the hide in a long-gone but never forgotten glare.
‘That’s right girl,’ said the woman, ‘you remember me, don’t you.’
The shot cracked like thunder, ripping the innocent silence apart and blasting a hole in the side of the lion’s head.
The woman withdrew her shotgun from the ledge and turned to the horrified faces looking at her.
‘She took my husband,’ she said flatly, ‘ripped him apart.’ Rising from the bench, she brushed the dust from her shorts. ‘Now we’re even.’
copyright: flyingscribbler 2010