Helen Fenwick

Angels out At Sea100 word drabble

He falls overboard into the icy choppiness of a darkening sea.

Crashing waves and roaring winds drown his cries for help. He gulps litres of ocean and begins to drown.  His finger is broken. He can’t remove his sea-filled boots and soggy clothes.
Angels buoy him up.

At the harbour the skipper finds him gone.  Distraught he turns to search the wide, dark, sea.

Angels guide him to his mate.

He smells the diesel, hears the engines’ chug and sees the bright search light.  Arms reach down.

Angels give them strength to yank him back aboard to fish another day.

Helen Fenwick

The Night Wind Woman i

The night wind woman in my home is not me
But a shadow of she who lived here before
She sails from room to room checking on those left
She whispers to them

She glides over me and caresses my cheek
Deep in my soul I hear her silently speak
We are girlfriends giggling and sharing secrets
But he doesn’t know

The night wind woman, wise and strong floats freely
I earth-bound have taken her place in this home
She passed on the mantle, a gift to her loved ones
She watches and smiles

The Night Wind Woman ii

The night wind woman has become part of me.
She’s a shadow of one who can no more be.
She sails through the house among those she has left.
She whispers to them.

She glides over me and caresses my cheek.
Deep in my soul I hear her silently speak.
We are girlfriends giggling and sharing secrets.
But he doesn’t know.

The night wind woman guides me all of the time
to nurture her children for now they are mine.
She’s passed on the mantle; I wear it with pride.
She watches and smiles.

Helen Fenwick

An interesting Interlude

Silvia throws back her long, black hair and strides into the bank.   Her ipod blasts a head-banging beat into her multi-studded ears.  She joins the queue and fiddles with the beaded chains around her neck.   Her eyes, ringed with dark make-up, dart around the hall.   She notices a cute blond boy and an older, burly bearded man filling out forms at the attached-to-wall desks.   There is an old woman in front of her.  It’s a slow day at the bank and her teller is the only one on duty.  

A fish eagle calls, softly at first then louder; its African shriek shattering the serious stillness of the bank.   Greg fumbles in his backpack and retrieves his cell phone.  He is aware of puzzled eyes boring into him and then hears sniggers as he answers his call.
“Should’ve shut off my phone,” he says, “everyone’s looking for the eagle! Call you later. I’m in the bank.”  He shoves his cell back into his bag, pulls on his beard and says, “Sorry, folks – birder’s phone!” 

Silvia turns on her high-heeled boots and fixes Greg with a haughty glare.   Asshole, she thinks, what kind of ring-tone is that!  But he’s got everybody giggling and off-guard now. I must concentrate.

She shoves her hand into her black sling bag.  The little old lady takes her cash and shuffles toward the exit.  Silvia lets her go.  “Move on, you old bag.  I’m in a hurry,” she mutters under her breath.
“What’s that?” the old woman fiddles with her hearing-aid and receives a cold scowl in response.

Greg slinks in behind Silvia.  He takes in her dark appearance, Why does a gorgeous young girl like this spoil her beauty with piercing and  appendages.  Who’d want to kiss those black lips with all that protruding metal.   You’re liable to do yourself some serious injury!   His eyes move down her body.  Nice ass, though.  Hey – what’s she doing?  Why is the teller looking so nervous?   My God – she’s pointing a gun.  Shit this is a hold-up!

He glances around.  Nobody else has noticed.   The pretty boy is still scratching on his form.   The teller is silently putting notes into a bank bag.  Greg backs away quietly, calmly, barely daring to breathe.   He looks toward the exit and notices a figure equally as dark as the female felon shrugging his shoulder and shaking his head.   People stomp off, frustrated but accepting the word of the accomplice that the bank is closed.  

Greg sidles up to the blond boy and touches his knee.  He puts his fingers to his lips – sh.  Jamie winks and rubs his shoulder against Greg’s.  He whispers, “I was attracted to you from the moment I set eyes on you.”

Oh God! thinks Greg. My only hope is a cowardly pooftah!
“Sorry sweetheart,” he says. “But we’ve got a situation here.  This is a stick up!”

Jamie leaps up daintily and shrieks, “Don’t hurt me! Take whatever you want.  Here thith gold chain ith very ecthpenthive.”

Greg puts his head in his hands and groans.

Silvia spins around and aims the gun at the commotion.   Jamie sinks, whimpering, to the floor.

“Don’t move!” yells Silvia   She grabs the bag of cash and edges toward the exit. 

Jamie catches sight of a wire and bead giraffe spilling from Greg’s back pack. He grabs it and throws.  It catches Silvia on her brow ring.  The gun clatters to the floor as she reels in pain.   Greg leaps up and dives to retrieve it.  The dark youth at the door beats a rapid retreat.  The teller sounds the alarm. Security races in and arrests the female felon.

Greg and Jamie leave hand-in-hand to have coffee at the Brinjal.

Helen Fenwick

I read the walls
The strong sides of iron and peat
The letters of the alphabet
taste of a witch’s brew.
by Christina Coates

Searching – A Glosa 

I walk about confused
suppressing my frustration
searching for a vibrant colour
like a dragon’s tail.
I read the walls.

I am lost and floundering
fumbling in the dark
swimming in deep water
through tunnels long and narrow.
I feel the strong sides of iron and peat.

Out in the sunlight
I dash across a field
beside a gurgling brook
rushing over pebbles like
letters of the alphabet.

Night creeps up unnoticed.
The sky brightens with starlight.
A cauldron there is bubbling.
Drawn by its temptation I
taste of a witch’s brew.

Helen Fenwick

Depth of Discovery

Depth is where there is joy
Fall in love
Embrace the stillness
Deep behind thought
Discover what is there
Explore the caves
let loose the creepies
disturb the rocks
See what you didn’t notice
at a place that is rewarding
As you look down
feel the vibrations

Feel the vibrations
as you look  down
at a place that is rewarding
See what you didn’t notice
Disturb the rocks
let loose the creepies
explore the caves
Discover what is there
deep behind thought
Embrace the stillness
Fall in love
Depth is where there is joy.

Helen Fenwick

Sweet Abandon

The dog yaps excitedly dodging kicks as she descends.
“My turn,” yells Mike.
She laughs.  ” Give me the works Uncle Tony”.  He pushes her in a wide arc.
“Higher,” she calls gleefully.
“Not fair, my turn,” yells Mike.
She shrieks and throws back her head. She spins back up in ever-increasing
She breathes in the piny fragrance of the denneboom. She swings in sweet
“My turn!” yells Mike.
She leaps; lands at a run and calls, “Come Atom.”   She gathers nuts then
sits on the front step and cracks the shells with a smooth stone.  She
shares the white kernels with the dog.

She shares the white kernels with the dog. She gathers nuts then sits on the
front step and cracks the shells with a smooth stone. She leaps; lands at a
run and calls, “Come Atom.”
“My turn!” yells Mike.
She breathes in the piny fragrance of the denneboom. She swings in sweet
She shrieks and throws back her head. She spins back up in ever-increasing
“Not fair, my turn,” yells Mike.
She laughs.  ” Give me the works Uncle Tony.”  He pushes her in a wide arc.
“Higher,” she calls gleefully. He pushes her in a wide arc.  ” Give me the
works Uncle Tony.”
“My turn,” yells Mike.
The dog yaps excitedly dodging kicks as she descends.
Sweet abandon.

Helen Fenwick

colours free my soul
bothering my senses
and mood swings with no focus
sensing the stirrings

bothering my senses
an unexpected image
sensing the stirrings
holds and then unfolds

an unexpected image
the sign of peace
holds and then unfolds
creating a picture

the sign of peace
sensing the stirrings
creating a picture
colours free my soul

Helen Fenwick

Ouma’s Biltong Knife

 “Karel, I am not going to leave the farm,” Magda crosses her plump arms across her ample bosom.   “This is my home.  I am not coming to live with you and Susan.”  

“But, Ma, you are eighty-five years old!   You shouldn’t live alone!”  

“I’m not on my own.   Mandla and Nwadisa are just 500m away.  Nwadisa visits me often and Mandla comes to talk farming to me nearly every day.” She smiles, “I’m so glad he agreed to take over and still let me stay in my home.  And he is making such a success of the farm!’

“Yes Ma.  But we worry about you.   Two men invaded the van Zyl farm and murdered Oom Piet and Tannie  Loutjie last month.”

Magda clicks her tongue.  “It won’t happen to me.   A black man owns this farm.  There is nothing to kill me for.”

Karel shakes his head. His mother has such simplistic answers to complex questions.  
It is 12 midnight.   Magda sits in her rocking chair snuggled warmly in her purple gown and fluffy slippers.   On the coffee table beside her is a steaming cup of cocoa and a bowl of freshly sliced biltong.   The standard lamp casts a shaft of light from behind her and illuminates a Nikki French thriller which transports Magda into a world of intrigue.  Every now and then she dips absently into the bowl of biltong or takes a sip of cocoa.  

Suddenly the frogs stop their throaty song and the fiery-necked nightjars give up praying, “The Good Lord deliver us.”

Magda turns her book over and listens, and then relaxes when the nightjars’ plea starts up again and the froggy choir continues.

”It’s my book,” she giggles to herself, “it’s got me all edgy!”

Then she hears the door creak.  She looks up.  In the doorway stands a skinny youth staring wild-eyed at her.

“Your money or your life!” he yells.  He raises a flick knife and lunges toward her.

Magda has long outgrown her youthful slenderness but is still surprising light on her feet.  In one fluid movement she leaps up and grabs the biltong knife.

”You call that a knife,” she screams dancing deftly out his way.   “Look at this!” the curved blade glints in the lamplight. “Now this is a knife!” She slashes the blunt side at his wrist, slapping the flick knife from his grasp. It falls with a clatter to the slate floor.

The youth raises his hands and backs away. ‘I’m sorry,” he whimpers “I did it for a dare!”

“A dare! Who dared you?”

“My cousins, Tannie.  I’m staying with them on the next farm!”

“I’m calling your uncle!”

“Please, please don’t. I’ll do anything for you.”

He looks so pathetic that Magda feels sorry for him.  He’s just a kid after all.

 “Well you can’t get away with this.  You must be punished.”

“Yes, Tannie!”   The boy expects to spend the rest of his school holidays doing menial chores. 

“It will be our secret but I think you need a good hiding,” says Magda taking a horse crop from its peg on the wall. 

“You can’t beat me!  It’s child abuse.  I’ll phone child-line!”  The boy knows his rights.

“Ah but I’ll have extenuating circumstances and won’t your cousins laugh when they read the report in the paper, ‘Knife wielding youth overpowered and spanked by 85-year-old grandmother.’” 

The boy groans, drops his jeans and bends over.

Helen Fenwick

Bird Nerd

I am alone in the dark hide. It is midnight. A soft spotlight illuminates the waterhole and the sparkling stars and sliver of moon making its slow journey across the African sky create an eerie atmosphere.   I stare beyond the edge of silvery light willing an animal to relieve the boredom of my patient wait.    Without warning a great grey shadow silently transforms into the ghostly shape of a bull elephant.  I gasp in wonder.  The elephant lopes to where a pipe is spurting in fresh water and takes a long, leisurely drink.   A steenbok appears on the opposite side.   His eyes dart all around before he stoops to take a brief thirst quenching drink.   Ever alert for signs of danger he once again scans about before risking yet another sip.  

I turn at the crunch of footsteps on dry leaves behind me.   He strides in, Swarovskis harnessed close to his skinny chest, field guide peeping from his jacket pocket – a bird nerd with straggly, ginger beard and pale, beady eyes, ready to twitch at the first sign of an owl.

I ignore him as he takes a seat on the opposite side.   

An hour ticks slowly by.  A trio of jackal appear briefly, tease the steenbok then scuttle back into the bush.    The bird nerd stifles a yawn then is suddenly alert when the skittish steenbok leaps quickly into the bush.  A leopard prowls stealthily onto the scene. 

Bird Nerd gets up and moves toward me where the view is clearer.    I smell his Ego.   Suddenly the scraggly beard takes on the appearance of a lion’s mane, his chest muscles ripple like a hunting leopard’s and his eyes sparkle like a calm ocean. The attraction is unbearable.    He sits beside me and our thighs touch. I burn with irrepressible desire.  He smiles, our eyes lock.  My cheeks flame. He slips his arm around me and pulls me onto his lap.   I submit and lean back into his strong, muscular arms.   His dewy lips meet mine.

Then – a rude sound as the elephant farts – a pungent smell.   He lifts his tail and trunk and parts his lips in an apparent smile, as he deposits a pile of smelly pancakes.

We pull apart, I wipe dribble from my mouth, the mane returns to scraggly ginger and the sea blue eyes tic nervously.  

Hu hoo – an eagle owl calls as it swoops upon a scuttling rat.

He puts the Swarovskis to his eyes and twitches in ecstasy while I yearn for the smell of Ego.


Helen Fenwick

All Work and No Play

Jay sits at the dining room table, homework spread out before him and stares out of the window. It’s a warm, sunny autumn day and he can see the bicycles, leaning against the fence, beckoning to be ridden. His younger brother, Josh, already finished his spelling and reading, is playing with his toys and Jay can hear the sound effects of an army helicopter dropping bombs on the action man in his jeep below.

His grandmother, a garrulous ex-schoolteacher, stands with her hands on her hips, deep lines furrowing her brow.

“Jay, start your homework, please.”

“Can’t we ride bikes first? He asks. They look so lonely out there.”

“First work then play, my boy.” she says drawing up a chair to sit beside him. “Now, where is your pencil?”

“It was here just now”

He hears a cacophony of birdsong and is instantly distracted as a flock of witoogies feast in the hibiscus tree outside the window. Granny glances toward the sound too but quickly turns back to the task at hand.

She gently pulls his face toward her, “Your pencil, Jay? It can’t have walked away. Perhaps it grew wings and flew.”

Jay laughs. He slides bum first from his chair and slips under the table. “Here it is,” he cries. “Gee, it’s dusty under here, Gran. I’m going to sneeze.”

“Atishoo!” he exaggerates as he returns to his chair.

Gran sighs. “Study these words. Look they all have silent gh. They’re tricky so be sure to pay attention.”

Jay scratches out each word three times.

Granny steals another look at the witoogies. She notices a nest makes a mental not to investigate later.

Jay flings down his pencil. “Done! Test me.”

Granny picks up his word list.


He sucks on the back of his pencil – “Which comes first – g or h?”

Granny raises an eyebrow. “Jay, you didn’t study!”

“I did! But the g and h keep swapping places – I can’t remember which is first!”

Granny slaps his word list back in front of him. “Look, read, absorb!” she says firmly.

“Ohhhh,” he says, “Okay, got it!’

She calls ‘naughty’ again.”

Josh stomps in, “I’m hungry,” he whines.

Gran scoops him up onto her lap. “In a minute, Josh. Let Jay finish here.”

The gate bell chimes. Gran scrapes back her chair and pushes Josh in front of her as she goes to check the monitor. She picks up the air-phone.

“Madam, please madam. I need a few rand for paraffin”

“Just a minute,” Josh slips out of the door as she goes to find her purse.

She returns a minute later. Jay is not at the table.

She rushes out. The bergie is standing at the open gate.

She hands him some change. “Did you see my grandsons?” She is furious.

“They rode that way Madam.”

She feels the warm sunshine on her skin, breathes in the fragrance of autumn, glances up as the witoogies fly freely over her head and says out loud, “Oh, what the heck!”

She leaps onto her own bike, throws back her head to feel the wind blow through her hair and races off.

Helen Fenwick

Lovers’ dance

At sunset near a gurgling brook
I twirl in orange peasant skirt
He pipes a merry dancing tune
We share a secret look

Releasing feelings gay
We bop in leaping flames
It’s fun to take the risk
We leap and laugh and play

Hot passion burns my heart
Emotions in turmoil
We carry on the dance
And feel we’ll never part

We reach for stars and moon
We soar toward the sky
Our thoughts are telepathic
A sweet united croon

The centre of my life
We are in perfect sync
My partner, mentor, soul mate
A dancing man and wife

(100 words)

Helen Fenwick


dancing dragon puffs out fire
flames of red and orange
kicks up legs in a rhythmic jig
powerful, lively, searching

kicks legs up in a rhythmic jig
connects to the wild-peace of earth
powerful, lively, searching
a song growls out in bursts of light

connects to the wild-peace of earth
lost in a gyrating dance
a song growls out in bursts of light
grounds the body, frees the soul

lost in a gyrating dance
kicks up legs in a rhythmic jig
grounds the body, frees the soul
dragon snakes in with puffs of fire