It rose out of the savannah, a lone white mark in the expanse of yellow and green. The dusty red road lead to the front door, and that was where she stood as she waited for the news. Her long dress, white as the painted walls of the cottage, moved imperceptibly in the evening breeze. Even as the great inferno travelled below the horizon the heat rose from the ground, its waves obscuring the red dust cloud moving slowly up the road. She didn’t feel the heat, not any more. Her face, once as pale as the moon, was now brown and freckled, her wrinkles matching the shimmer of the road. And so she stood, her stillness and silence towering above the bushveld, waiting for the night.

He was a tall man, like all his people. His black skin glistened with millions of beads of sweat as he ran along the road. It was a long loping gait as was favoured by the hunters of old. The bag slapped against his naked back as he hastened along the red path.

He apologised in his thick accent, bowing deeply as he produced an envelope from his bag. It was yellow and curled, damaged from its long journey across the plain. She took it from the long outstretched hand and slowly opened it. The paper wilted in her grasp, but the letters and words were sharp. The messenger watched as the paper escaped her grasp and flitted away, dipping low across the cracked ground before lifting up, high into the darkening sky, over the white cottage.

A beat of sweat ran down her brow. The dry air caught in her throat, sucking the moisture from her bones. She became aware of the dress, constricting her body, trapping in the heat, that immeasurable heat. She felt it now, the long swelter. The messenger bowed again and left the cottage, kicking up the red dust as he ran.

She watched him leave. Then she was alone.




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