THE VASE

THE VASE

By Johannes Adriaan Snyman

“You always say its business! Do you think I’m stupid?” Adele Darling shouted at the top of her voice while Tony, her husband, looked at her in utter bewilderment.

“Business, business, business,” she continued with velocity. “Really, what makes you come home this time of the night? Every night! Do you have any idea how slow and dreadful my evenings have become, while you, in you vain imagination, throwing yourself at every possible woman out there?”

“Honey…” Tony said but she continued her tirade.

“Don’t ‘Honey’ me, you know I hate it when you suddenly switch to your pitiful sweet words! Now tell me, what pathetic excuse have you thought up now? Huh? Where were you last night?

Adele using the words “last night” raising her eyebrows in such a way that Tony should have realized that whatever comes out of his mouth next, would only escalate into further fury and vehemence from his wife.
But he didn’t come to the realization.

“Well! First of all,” he exclaimed, raising his voice, “It’s not ‘always’ business! Last week I got caught up with the invitation to see the opera, of which you my dear, were very well aware of! And secondly, last night was not work at all, but the necessary maintenance and nurturing of some of our business relations.”

A look of utter amazement started forming on the pale face of Adele.

“If you must know,” Tony continued with a firm voice, “dining with our business partners is much more of a pleasure than listening to your ranting here every time I come home!”

Tony immediately regretted his words, but anger built up so badly that apologizing was not the least in his train of thought whilst in the heat of the argument.

“You’re lying!” Adele proclaimed, with a tremble in her voice. “You’re lying through your teeth! Just like you are lying about everything!” she said while Tony noticed her glancing at a beautiful, white and blue, Victorian vase on the table to the right side of the tense battlefield between them.

“Like what exactly?” Tony said slowly in an unnervingly low tone.

“Like that vase you brought back last week,” she replied daringly. “A gift from a colleague? Am I really to believe that these expensive gifts just fly about in the work place nowadays?”

“I didn’t want to tell you,” Tony retorted.

Yes, this one time, the previous week, he was lying about the vase, but with tensions running so high in the house, he just wasn’t prepared to deliver the news to his wife, at the time. In fact, he wasn’t prepared to deliver the news to his wife ever. But it seemed like he didn’t have a choice now. Not because of his reputation as an apparent liar, but because ethically, it just had to be done.

“I’m sorry,” he started. “I truly am.”

“What about exactly?”

Tony swallowed hard before he answered.

“The Vase came from your sister. I received it last week. Your sister’s new baby passed away two weeks ago, but she is still not speaking to anyone. They’ve put the ashes in the vase, but somehow it got knocked over which has put your sister in a state of serious depression. Her husband thought it best for the vase not to be in the house anymore, so he gave it to me. I was so busy last week, that I didn’t think of bringing it anywhere else but home. But I couldn’t tell you… It was a bit much for me…”

“And you would dangle a lie like that in front of me?” Adele said unconvincingly, as she knew her husband to well, together with the fact that he would not lie about something like this.

*****

Seclusion

SECLUSION

By Johannes Adriaan Snyman

Hopping from Facebook to twitter to Instagram and back to Facebook again.

It wasn’t always like that. Gemma remembered a time not so long ago when she, and all others in her life, took the friendly and joyous companionship they had, for granted.

She remember the Sunday picnics by the lake after church, and the early evening dinners by candle light in the garden, in front of the white plantation house.

The white double story plantation house, full of love and good memories.

They told her that moving to Yorkshire in England will be lonely. But she didn’t think it felt like this. There was the dream. The dream of becoming a world famous writer. Or at least the notion of making a name for herself.

So at first Gemma had tons of music to keep her company. But it lasted for about a month or so before becoming mundane. Then the entertainment of YouTube videos kept the mind from darkening.

It was not that the local people in Barnsley were unfriendly. Not even remotely, for the Yorkshire countryside presented itself as hospitable and openhearted as any region in the Northern hemisphere can be.

People actually went out of their way to welcome this young Zimbabwean girl who came all the way for the prospects of a better life, after having heard the cruel reality of her, together with her family having been evicted off their sugar plantation.

With her parents having moved to South Africa, she decided that the beautiful adventurous world awaits her. The exciting world of writing and exploring.

And here she sat in her apartment.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. And then back to Facebook.

How did it come to this?

How could a person be surrounded by so many people, yet being lonely to the point of severe frustration?
‘Dear me,’ she thought to herself whilst putting the kettle on in what felt like the hundredth time for the morning.

The flashbacks of her loved ones just kept jumping into her head, endlessly, over and over again. And then the darkness in the mind. Life became dull so quickly. She read somewhere about serotonin levels of the brain being low, and doesn’t really understand it, but if she could find a drink for boosting those ‘feel good stuff,’ then she would have downed it instantly.

The previous day’s church service didn’t help the situation one bit either. They were all old-aged people keeping the usual rituals of the reformed religion, smiling out of duty… or habit, she couldn’t really be sure.

Gemma closed her eyes.

‘How do I get out of this body?’ she whispered softly, while images of her family jumped involuntary in to her head.

‘How do I escape? There must be a way. Any way.”

Gemma felt like running away and never stop. To all the nice places in those Facebook pictures. Or anywhere else. Back home.

Why? Why? Why? Our home for ever ruined. Never to return.

Loneliness. Aloneness. Solitude.

Worse than death.

No tears. No facial expression. Nothing. Worse than death.

‘How do I get out of this body? How do I escape my own soul?’

*****

THE MOVE

THE MOVE

By Johannes Adriaan Snyman

“So how about it then, Miss Arlington? Do you not think we should muse this one over?”

It was Markus Duvenhage speaking in the most casual manner possible, amid the slight restlessness he felt as he looked upon the fine figure of a tremendously smartly dressed lady in front of him.

“Come now Mr Duvenhage, this is not at all like you, now is it?” Miss Arlington said, turning about in the two bedroom apartment which was meant to serve as their home for the following year.

“What, my dear,” she continued in a most distinct manner, “could be your objection to this fine place we found ourselves? Oh! Would you look at that!”

Sliding over the floor of the living room, her voice almost went into the high pitched notes of a soprano singing, “Dark wooden floors, white walls, high ceilings and windows tall and wide!”

She stopped and frowned, jestingly, tightening her elegant red lips, pretending to be serious.

“Miss Arlington! You know very well that is not what I’m referring to. The apartment is most surly a splendid place indeed,” Markus said while moving to the middle of the empty room, as if to give his manly prominence more meaning. “A splendid place indeed, I say!”

“What is it then Mr Duvenhage? Tell me this instant, what it is that troubles your mind!”

“You have to understand, we’ve been working together now for, how long? Over three years now?”

Miss Arlington jokingly widened her eyes, but let him continue.

“I think…”

“You think?” she teasingly interrupted him.

“I’m serious!” he said, raising his voice only a bit.

“Oh go on, darling, I’m listening.”

“Don’t you ‘Darling’ me! We are colleagues, and must be committed to a professional work relationship at all times. Any way…

“Wait a minute,” Miss Arlington said raising her eyebrow while pulling her mouth to one side. “Why on earth would you feel threatened by me calling you ‘Darling’?”

“That’s not the point!” Markus responded more quick than he meant to utter the words. “I mean… Oh you have me all confused now… wait,” he said while shyly looking down to the floor in front of him.

She smiled softly when she said; “Darling, we are just moving in together, it’s not like we are getting married or something.

Markus kept his gaze on the floor, and hesitantly started verbalizing his collection of thoughts.

“I know, but we’ve been colleagues for over three years now. We know each other pretty well, and we work together better than any of the other colleagues in our department. We know each other so well.”

“Mr Duvenhage?”

“Yes Miss Arlington?”

“May I inquire as to where this discourse of yours is leading to? And if indeed it will be complementary to our moving in together under one roof?”

“Miss Arlington, that is what I’m trying to tell you…” Markus said no longer looking at the floor ahead of him but rather at his shiny polished black shoes now.

“I hope you understand,” he said, “there might, and I don’t say that it will… but their might come a time when I take an interest in you more than what the current state of affairs reflect.”

“My darling!” Miss Arlington exclaimed with a healthy mixture of amusement and excitement.

“You have your tenses all mixed up!” she cried even louder. “You mistakenly believe that, as you say, there might come a time. But I can with all the joy in my heart say that you are already, madly in love with me! You can’t fool me Mr Duvenhage, and with that said, I am thrilled to have a fine gentleman such as yourself take an interest in me! Now come, come. We’ll find you some decent accommodation this very afternoon, and you can make yourself ready for an evening to remember.”

Inwardly sighing with a great relief, he knew the words coming from her were of an absolute truth.

She decided there and then, that an evening to remember, will no doubt include a night to the theatre.

 

*****

THE HOME COMING

THE HOME COMING

By Johannes Adriaan Snyman

Only twice before, could Rada remember tears building up for days, before releasing the emotion into the anticipated moment.

This time however, her body reacted in a quite different manner, as she couldn’t keep her hands from shaking and the feeling of something stuck in her thought kept her from speaking. Her eyes displaying a constant state of redness, revealed to the airport personal, and anybody else for that matter, that having any form of communication with her was out of the question.

‘If I just wouldn’t be so stubborn,’ she kept repeating to herself, over and over again.

That is something her mom brought her up with. The notion of her stubbornness being an unfortunate inheritance from her father, and Rada in turn developing her obstinacy into perfection.
“I just don’t know how I am like this,” She argued with herself.

“I want to change, I really want to change, but I don’t know how…”

Knowing that if she uttered one more word in her speech to herself, she will start to cry uncontrollably.

She couldn’t have that, as she needed to stay calm and focused.

She was going home now. No turning back. No excuses. No self-righteousness. No Arguments.

Oh! The argument when she left Nathan that day. She could see the hurt in his eyes, but what was he supposed to do? Run after her? She knew the suggestion was as ridiculous, as her behavior leaving him all to himself on the farm, on her way to a better life in France.

That day was probably clearer in his memory than hers. To her it was all so blurry, her leaving, even afterward phoning back home and speaking to him. Rada remember only vaguely the words through the tiny speaker, coming with a vast amount of hurt from very deep in his throat: “You are my wife! Do you have any idea what you are doing?”

Upon those thoughts, a tear started running down her cheek. She quickly wiped it off with her left shoulder, knowing she properly smeared makeup all over her face. But it doesn’t matter now.
She drove through the farm gate, which stood wide open some distance from the old wooden house.
Stopping in front of the farmhouse, Rada looked in the direction of the veranda, searching for any sign of movement.

Whether she stood there for two or ten minutes, she didn’t know.

The door eventually opened, and out came a very neat looking young man, with a dark complexion, indicating farm work of more than a few days in the sun.

He came to a halt at the edge of the wooden veranda, which also served as the front porch.

Whether he stared at her for two or ten minutes, he also couldn’t tell.

And it didn’t really matter either.

The love of his life was home.

As he was walking toward her, she just stood there in her white dress, silently crying. They took a hold of each other to such an extent and with such a grip that both struggled to breath, tears flowing without end, their bodies violently with inner groaning’s that would have moved any person to the brink of the deepest of heart gripping heaviness.

A heaviness, no one’s heart was ever meant to experience.

 

*****

THE LIGHTBULB

THE LIGHTBULB

By Johannes Adriaan Snyman

“Honey, Darling…” Lisa muttered with a husky voice which she knew Jacques adored.

Jacques, having known Lisa for only a couple of weeks, was lying comfortably on his white sofa, feet in the air, reading some old music magazine with an overwhelmingly sense of calm on his face. He attributed his light-hearted peace, and calm state of mind to the strong white balance in his decorating tastes, which the French apartment in Cormeilles-en-Vexin was furnished with.

It was around eleven o’clock on a very warm Sunday morning, and with the tall, old-fashioned windows in the living room open, Lisa appreciated the slight breeze filling the room periodically, which provided a refreshing coolness that she in turn accredited to Jacques’ pleasant state of being.
“Honey, Darling…” she said again, in the same tone as before, with no enthusiasm and no expectation of an exciting response from him.

She knew he was quite at his leisure, but she, having in her heart a particular feeling of joy, took some mischievous and silly pleasure in disturbing his line of thought. She searched for a sign of reaction on his face, but wasn’t disappointed when she found none. Her lazy attitude on this perfect day was as comfortable as his lying on the sofa, she herself with her bare feet on the light grey coffee table in front of her.

“Honey, Darling…” she repeated a third time, breaking the valuable and peaceable silence.

“Yes dear?” he said slowly, not lifting his eyes from the magazine.

“The light bulb needs to be replaced, love.”

He paused for, what seemed to her lasted for a minute, but the atmosphere was so relaxing, she wouldn’t dare nudging him for an answer.

“Whose lightbulb dear?” he said in what seemed the laziest tone she had ever heard.

“Yours…” Lisa stretched out the word.

Jacques knew it to be a futile action, but lifted his eyes toward the roof anyway, to see if he can spot what his girlfriend was on about.

She smiled at the thought of him paying attention to her words, how pointless ever it may be.

“So, are you going to replace the light bulb?” she continued.

Jacques, having returned his attention to the article he was trying to read, tried not to smile, as he knew she was just being silly. Somehow he liked it about her, smiled inwardly and for the moment, refused to acknowledge his emotion toward this easy going girl who doesn’t seem to have a care in the world.

“Jacques honey…” she continued, by know unable to hide the laughter in her voice.

“Yes dear?” he said, eyes fixed on the pages in front of him, but by know finding it difficult to read even a single sentence.

“Are you going to fix the light-bulb?” she asked again, her eyes shining with happiness.

“Lisa!” he finally exclaimed in a friendly tone, while throwing the magazine on the table and sitting up straight. He looked straight into her cheerful grey eyes, contagious with a vast flow of optimistic energy.

“Yes dear?” she laughed in a childlike manner.

“I don’t know why,” he said. “I just love you!”

“…love you to dear!” she said, widening both her smile and her eyes.

*****