Cynthia Mac Pherson

Red ball on a dark night

It’s five minutes before midnight on a long dark night in the lush rolling hills of the Natal midlands. Poised on a hilltop is a big red exercise ball, casting a long dark shadow, hysterically escaping the confines of the school gym, where a midnight feast is in progress.

The ball took her opportunity to inch towards the open gym door and out into the dark night where thunder roared across the heavens. She was elated by the slap of rain  on her shiny skin, like a face toning treatment, and by the prefrontal wind that gusted her across the rugby fields and under the posts, across the try line,  and now on her way to the Redemptorist monastery. She sees it  lying in the dark hollow below her. How is Brother Albernoni she wonders. Whoops – another gust, a squall of rain and down she speeds to nestle against the stone walls of the monastery. The wind swings open the chapel doors and along the carpeted aisle she rolls, chased by windswept spray. A solitary candle flickers at the altar of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and the ball, in high excitement, zigzags from pew to empty pew to land at the heels of a dark figure, kneeling in prayer. She nudges his soles and he sits back and then with a sigh lies on the red ball, slowly deflating from her long ride over fields and brambles.

‘Come into my arms, Brother Albernoni,’ she murmurs. ‘I know you. Forget about core strength pilates exercises on my taut body. Just sink into my softening roundness and tell me your troubles. I am your mother of perpetual help.’

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