Jenni dreamed she was being tossed on the sea in a tiny boat. Her stomach heaved with the waves and her face was being slapped wet. A familiar male form was sitting with his back to her in the boat, pulling at the oars. She couldn’t decide whether he was Pienaar, Greg, Robbie or her brother, James. The wind appeared to be making a strange whining noise. Suddenly he turned towards her, his face was in the shadow of a flat hat and she jolted in shock, knowing it was the man she’d seen in the park. She was then conscious of a shrill ringing that overwhelmed the whining noise as she was dragged awake. Abi’s face was just a couple of centimetres away her own with her extended tongue dripping threads of saliva. The whining had stopped but the telephone hadn’t.
Jenni groaned, rubbed her face and checked the time –it was after 10am. “Eww Abi, that’s gross!” The phone rang off before she could roll over to reach it. She made it to the bathroom and back to bed but Abi was looking too depressed for her to stay there long. “Sorry my baby, you need your breakfast.”
Stupid, stupid, stupid, she remonstrated as she winced down the passage way. At the doorway into the kitchen she cautiously peered up to where Spidertropolis was suspended only to rub her eyes and check the remaining corners. It had completely vanished.
Absolutely mystified she fed the dog and put the coffee on. Her cell phone beeped somewhere in her handbag. There were two messages, one from her brother (Oh rats!). James wanted to know where she was this morning and when she’d be home.
The other sms was from an unfamiliar number. “Hey Babes, glad I could help last night, hope you slept ok after. Do you want to hook up later?”
Babes! She shuddered. And what ‘help’ is he on about? Jenni was worried, she couldn’t remember giving Pienaar her number and what’s worse she actually couldn’t remember anything after Robbie left The Ant, except a consuming anger and a desire to punch his pretty face. It perturbed her that she had no recall of how she got home (did she drive?) or what happened after. She peered out of the window, her car was parked with one corner of the bonnet in the Strelitzia bush.
Grabbing a mug of coffee, she went back to bed and picked up the land line to call her brother.
“Howzit Jenni! I just tried calling!”
“Sorry, I was...sleeping.”
“Oh, you OK? Sounds like you’re lying down.”
“My stomach’s a bit queasy. How can you tell?”
“Your voice is...flatter. Anyway, how’s things, how’s Flabigail?”
“I wish you wouldn’t call her that!”
“Sorry Jenni, you’re right.”
“So what’s your good news?” Jenni tried to find a positive tone.
“Oh yes! Guess what - I’m engaged!”
“Ja you haven’t met Rose but I’ve known her since varsity, she was in my civil engineering course at UCT. I only plucked up the courage to talk to her last year when I met her again here at the Institute. We have so much in common; and she’s beautiful. You’ll meet her at Christmas.”