Someday. It will happen then. Maybe the day after that. Always in the future. Never now. Why?
It was a question that didn’t have an answer. Kiri knew anyway. It was a question she’d lived with for so long, a question she couldn’t answer, or wouldn’t answer, because she had yet to take the first step on the path to Someday.
That was the day she would leave this place. Leave it all behind. Walk away. Start fresh. Change her name, the way she looked and dressed, the way she spoke. Someday.
the day of the new beginning, of the search for a more true self. Someday.
But not today. Today, Kiri would take care of the snarling old woman who lay in the chair all day; the old woman who ran the whole place, who stank of bitter tobacco and rancid fat. The woman who would be her grandmother if her mother or father had . . .
Gone. Somewhere. Somewhere else. They chose their Someday, and stepped out into it. The chose wrong, because the old woman found them. They did not come back, did not come home. They chose the wrong Somewhere Else on the wrong Someday – because how else would they have been found?
She, Kiri, would choose the right day; she would choose the right place; she would not come back – but she would not be found.
Play along, be the one unnoticed, be nothing more than a shadow of dust seen when the door opens or closes. Become the dirt, become the shadow, become the dust. Yes, the dust, because dust can move away, far away, with the right wind.
Soon, so very soon, her Someday would come.
Almost, she smiled as she prepared the main meal for the mid-afternoon revellers. She turned it into a grimace, a more normal response to the work she did, the smells she had to tolerate every day in this place. Pressed her bare feet against the sharp rock to remind herself of what was real, what was almost real – but not yet.
The door slammed like a cross-bow bolt in her heart. The old woman lifted her gammy teeth in a smile as the man came in. He was the last.
The group waited for her to serve them. Kiri filled all their ewers of hot wine and pointedly refused to serve the ones who didn’t clear their space; the table was finally cleared of weapons and spoils – shoved under the table and out of sight while the feast for her celebration day was consumed.
She continued, laid out the plates of flat wood and the dull, flat-bladed knives used to lift the food parcels; and she struggled with the heavy full-to-the-brim platters of roasted carcasses: two of goat and one of pig and one with ten roosters. And the old lady’s favourite, a whole ram with the head pointed at the head of the party.
Each dish contained the green edges of her carefully tended herbs: parsley, rosemary, marjoram, lavender. The roots and nuts and seeds: yam, beets, artichokes, carrots, valerian, kava, passionflower – and many more. And the gravy, flavoured with all the most efficacious of them all.
Colourful, delicious, food that filled and satisfied.
The smile snuck into her eyes as they dived in like a raucous gang of cockatoos at a waterhole.
She would not be allowed to participate in the eating. Her job was to serve and to make sure the table did not empty.
Someday. Today was Someday.
Copyright 2017 Rosey Brimson.