Bridgett Whyte

‘Phrasing paradelle’

Violet canopy in the distance
Violet canopy in the distance
Mature trees sprouting moss
Mature trees sprouting moss
Distance mature trees in violet
The canopy sprouting moss

Bamboo sticks enclose a herb patch
Bamboo sticks enclose a herb patch
Bricks at attention line the walkway
Bricks at attention line the walkway
Sticks bricks herbs a line
At attention bamboo enclose the patch

Logs half burnt and blackened in the braai
Logs half burnt and blackened in the braai
An empty swing and bench wait side by side
An empty swing and bench wait side by side
The logs and swing empty and half burnt
Wait side by bench in side an blackened

The canopy stick in half line
Distance and mature trees enclose herb walkway
The bricks side a violet swing
Moss blackened by an empty braai
Burnt bench and bamboo at attention
Sprouting patch in side the logs wait

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Bridgett Whyte

Arch in time – a drabble

In the garden waiting for her friend to bring tea. It’s a long time since she’s been in this garden. She gazes at the trellis archway vine-threaded.
A picture of a woman walking through the archway before a group of spectators appears. Bouquet in hand the woman steps in time to soft music.
Two men stand waiting. The woman looks only at the flowers in her hands. She stops in front of them looking up as a tear slips from her chin onto the flowers.
Here’s our tea. Are you crying?
‘Something flew into my eye while admiring your trellis.’

Bridgett Whyte

Mr. Whelan tells his tale

 

The smell of baking scones greeted George as he descended the stairs.  He inhaled deeply, anticipating the taste he would soon consume. The doorbell chimed its welcoming melody.

Right on time, George thought. He stepped to the landing and opened the door. 

‘Hello James, Welcome Susan.  It’s about time you made the journey to our house.  Come in, come in.  Win darling, Susan and James have arrived.’

‘George you’re looking younger than the last time we were together! Just how do you do it, at 83?  You put us 70 something’s at a disadvantage.’

George beamed.  ‘You know what I say, James, take care of yourself, feed your body right – it will take care of you.  Sit down now.’

‘Before we go any further you must put Susan and I out of suspense and tell us about this dreadful business last week.  We want every detail.’

‘A dreadful business it was.  I got the fright of my life.  I’ll let Winifred fill you in on her part of the saga as it was her scream that woke me from my deep peaceful sleep.  If I can remember correctly, I was reclining on a chaise watching the waves of the Caribbean lap gently along the shore in a happy dream when a loud scream startled me.  Winnie’s screaming had pierced my sleep. That and the sensation of her springing from the bed. I opened my eyes in time to see the tail of her nightgown escaping through the bedroom door.  A masked man carrying a huge blade strode across the room after her.

‘I flung off the covers about to spring from the bed myself when the unfortunate realization I was not alone confronted me.  A knife held by a second masked man was aimed precisely at my throat.

‘In a menacing voice the intruder uttered.  “No further moves grandpa, otherwise this knife will have to take its place in your belly.  Now cooperate and turn around while I tie your hands.” 

‘James you know how much I detest violence and I’m loath to admit I can barely handle the site of bloodshed, most specifically my own.  Luckily there was no time to think.  My hand shot out and hit his jaw; my leg gave a quick kick to his arm.  He stumbled back and, most fortuitously for me, dropped the knife.  In a fluid movement I swooped down picked up the knife, grabbed the masked man’s arm and spun it up and behind his back.  He let out a yelp of pain and surprise as I pushed the blade of the knife against his windpipe. 

‘I could hear shouts. I knew I had to get down to Winnie as quickly as possible. Holding the knife in the man’s back,  I forced him face down on the bed.  With my free hand I grabbed the handcuffs out of my night table and in a flash he was handcuffed to the headboard.  My handy work impressed the police almost as much as myself and Winn…’ 

‘Sorry, George, but just what are you doing with handcuffs in your nightstand?’  asked Susan.

George chuckled.  ‘Yes an extremely lucky coincidence.  You know my son, James, is in the force.  Well, when the grandkids were visiting, they begged him to bring an old pair to show me and play with.  The novelty wore off quickly and when the kids were collected, the handcuffs were forgotten.  When I let James know they were still here, he said he would collect them next visit.  I decided the best place for them would be my night table.  Didn’t want anyone else coming across them, especially Win.  You know how fantastic her imagination can be.  Remember that incident with the whip …’

‘Hmm.  More about that later, George. What happened next?’
 
‘I dashed from the room and down the stairs at record speed.  I rounded the corner into the kitchen, as Winnie, bless her, boomed, “you call that a knife, – this is a knife!” Our large 14-inch carving knife was in her hand and she was lunging it at his belly, feet planted, her other arm held high like an expert fencer. 
 
‘I’m sure there was a look of terror under his mask.  He looked from Winnie to my hand holding his accomplice’s knife and with visible resignation dropped his own.

‘I tied the man up with Winn’s old stockings, while she called the police.  Fortunately there was a Bobby patrol around the corner and they arrived just minutes after Winn put the phone down.’

‘Good grief George, weren’t you horrified?’

‘Why naturally, of course I was.  But there was no time to think.  Action was the order of the day.  I don’t believe either of us has moved that quickly since the kids were young, if ever.  But you know what I always say feed your body right and it will take care of you.  Now where is Winnie with those scones?’

Bridgett Whyte

The scarf slides off the woman’s shoulders, onto her chair. Not content there, it floats to the floor in a gust of wind as the café door opens. From the corner table a man sits watching. He wants to pick up the scarf, make a move. He must hurry before someone else does. He hesitates.

The café door opens again, and the wind stirs him into action. With a ballet performer’s grace his hand scoops up the scarf. He stops, immersed, silky sensation caressing his fingers. With deliberate longing he raises his hand and then his eyes to the woman.

(100 words)

Bridgett Whyte

A Different Time

The heavy front door is open at 7 Warwick Street. It leads into a long passage to the kitchen at the back of the house. Old pictures of family members line the walls. Light shines in from the rear kitchen window and open dutch door. It spills over the edge of the table. Food in various stages of preparation clutters the surface of the small table. Aroma escapes from a pot of sizzling onions and makes way down the passage and onto the stoep where a little girl is playing with her teddy and dolls.

‘Bridgett, Bridgett come here, your lunch is ready.’

‘I’m here Ma.’

‘Where have you been? You look hot. Are your hands clean? Sit down and eat. If you’re a good girl and finish all your food instead of playing with it, I’ll tell you a story about my growing up.’

‘When I was a young girl not much older than you, things were very different in Cape Town. There were almost no cars. Proper black paved roads with painted lines were also uncommon. There were no phones and few appliances. Life was simple and less complicated by things. Neighbours were such a part of everyday life they were treated like family. Everyone knew each other. There was little distinction regarding what belonged to whom, everything was shared, even raising and minding of the children.

‘In my teens government decided citizens must be grouped, classified according to their skin colour and ancestry. It meant thousands of families had to relocate without any say and move to communities far from the ones they were used to. Unfortunately many families had members with differences in skin colour and were classified differently.

‘My mother, your great grandmother, was Cape Malay. Her skin was dark brown. My father was a white skinned German. Of their six children, three had white skin and three of us brown. I have three brothers and two sisters. My two brothers have white skin, like my sister Frances – though her skin is as white as white can be. My other brother and sister have honey brown skin the same colour as yours and mine.

‘It made people uncomfortable to see us walk down the street. Eight people from the same family all with varying skin colours. People who didn’t know us called us ‘the black and white family’. It was painful, especially for my younger sisters, who withdrew and became quiet. When we were older, in high school our parents called us together. They had something sad to tell us. My father explained my brother Jacobus had to move to Plumstead and Frederick would move to Kensington. It was a terrible day. Maggie and I cried the day my brothers left not fully understanding why they had to leave. My father would only say was it was the way it had to be. It seemed so wrong. Many families were affected. We rarely saw our brothers after they moved. I think my parents thought less contact would make it easier for the boys and us to carry on. It upset us deeply and still does to this day.’

A gust of wind blew down the passage upsetting the flour sprinkled on the table. Ma, ready to roll out the piecrust, stopped to wipe her brow. Flour stuck to her forehead making her honeyed skin appear darker. The flour particles hung suspended dancing in the light coming through the windows. Some landed, others mixed with the onions and quickly vanished. Bridgett blew into the air trying to make them conform to the direction of her whims.

Bridgett Whyte

flight

the shadow of a plane passing
my shoulders press into their sockets
souls of my feet absorb energy
the sun descends
 
my shoulders press into their sockets
ashes, dust, dirt, life, – continuous flowing
the sun descends
hills rolling into valleys tell stories
 
ashes, dust, dirt, life, – continuous flowing
earth soil birthing fruit, abundant beauty
hills rolling into valleys tell stories
seasons play, dance, and misbehave
 
earth soil birthing fruit, abundant beauty
souls of my feet absorb energy
seasons play, dance, and misbehave
the shadow of a plane passing