Skipping Reels Of Rhyme
Early the next year his father got transferred to Lydenburg, out in the
Eastern Tranvaal. He was with the Department of Water Affairs, and was sent out
there to do research on the impact of invader species on the water supplies of
the mountain streams. The whole family moved with him.
There were only four of them; himself, his brother Joe, his mom and his dad.
He said goodbye to Natasha and they promised they would write to each other.
"I'll come through and see you soon, too, he promised her.
"How will you do
that? You have no car? she asked.
"Oh, I'll come through, you'll see, he
said, and knew that he would. He would do anything to be close to her.
The removal truck took the contents of their house to Lydenburg, and they
followed in he family car. Lydenburg was at least situated in a beautiful place,
and that gave John some small compensation.
There were plenty of things to do, such as mountaineering and trout fishing.
He kept on playing rugby at his new school, and soon made a few friends. But he
remained loyal to his girl, and did not bother trying to find other dates in
this new town.
On Friday nights he would go to the small local cinema down on Main Street
with a buddy or two, and watch the double feature. In the afternoons, and on
weekends, him and his friends would go fishing in the river close to his house.
Occasionally they would play a game of rugby against the school of a nearby
Life was laidback and relaxed out here in the sticks, and he soon became
accustomed to it. His one friend; Fred, had parents who owned a farm in the
Waterfall river pass, and some weekends he would go and stay out there with
them. He loved the farm and the beautiful valley in which it lay, surrounded on
all sides by majestic mountains.
Early in the morning a rooster would crow nearby, soon followed by others in
he distance. Then one would hear the cowherds taking out the cattle, with the
bells jangling about their necks. In the late afternoon one could hear them
returning in the same way.
The boys would climb the steep mountainsides, and play in the stone ruins of
the ancients. Or they would venture up the river gorge to the waterfalls, and
swim in the clear mountain pools. Yes, being on the farm almost made up for
being away from Natasha. Almost, but not quite.
Boy, he sure missed her. He which they hade made love before he left, just
once. He wished he could have nearby to tell her how much he loved and ached for
her. He just wanted to have nearby, and hold her close to him. He loved her,
yes, he knew he loved her.
And as he lay on a bunk in a out room of the grand old farm house, he
wondered if she was still thinking of him and holding on to their love.
She was thinking about him all the time. Would he be true her, would he be
true to their love. She smiled, she trusted him, she did not think he would fool
around, after all, they really did love one another.
Her life went on much as usual, she attended the same school, and played the
same sport she used to; hockey. She took French, Latin and Art, and wanted to
become either an artist or a writer; specifically a journalist. She new this
last option was the most realistic one, as few people managed to make money from
She saw that her English was always up to scratch, and as a result, excelled
in this medium. Her best friend was called Martha van Zyl, and the two of them
went down to Centurion Mall on weekends to watch motion pictures, and drink
milkshakes, and maybe have a bite to eat. They were seldom allowed to go to
Hatfield, as the place had a bad reputation among their parents. It was well
known that all manner of drugs was available here, as it is in the city center.
So she and Martha only occasionally went to the flea market there on Sundays.
Besides, she hated those Eastern suburb yuppies that one found hanging out in
droves there. All sent to the rich white university nearby, which only parents
like theirs were able to afford, and whose courses most of them were set to fail
in any case.
No, she would rather hang out at either her or Martha's house, and watch
videos and listen to music. She and Martha were very good friends, and Martha
traded in her old boyfriends for new ones, on a regular basis. As a result there
was frequently some loser around in their presence, which only made her miss
Martha was quite jealous of her long and steady relationship with John, and
told her so several occasions. She in turned was never really attracted to any
of Martha's boyfriends, and she never hit it off with any of them. She was
waiting patiently for the day John would return, as he said he would, and then
she was ultimately looking forward to the day they would be together forever at
She was going to go and study journalism at UCT in Cape Town when she
finished school. She wondered if he would want to study after school. He never
really spoke about it, maybe they could go and study together, and share
lodgings. Her parents would die. She smiled.
Martha was giving some fool mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the couch next to
her. She nudged her in the ribs to make space, as she was being cramped by the
two teenage lovers.
They corresponded regularly and loved each other's letters, and writing
styles. He wrote more frequently than her, and waited sometimes or a few weeks
before getting a reply from her, but she always wrote back in the end.
He would take the classical dark brown envelopes her letters came in and hold
it to his nose, to smell the feint trace of her and her perfume. He would then
savor the smell for a long time before opening the letter. He would then first
stroke the soft white paper and fell its silken touch for a while, before
reading the content. Her handwriting was lovely beyond compare.
She told him about school and her plans thereafter. Sometimes she would tell
him about things she and Martha had been up to, and he always smiled when he
read these. She was doing learner-driving classes and found it a bit difficult,
this made him smile some more.
He phoned her once a week when the letters weren't enough to keep him from
longing for her.
"What's Lydenburg like, and the people there? she asked him once.
you know the part where the Cheshire cat says to Alice; 'we're all mad here. I'm
mad. Your mad'? Well Lydenburg is a bit like that, he said.
"Sounds a lot
like Pretoria, or just about any other place in this world, she said.
said "Yeah. And laughed at her joke.
And at the end of each week he would sit and wait for her letter, and
sometimes he was disappointed. But when it came at last he was not disappointed
at all, on the contrary, on those afternoons he was the luckiest and happiest
When the midterm break came he would hike though to see her. He told his
parents he was going by train. But he was going only as far Middelburg by rail,
and would hike the other half of the journey.
The return journey he would not take the train at all, but would do the
entire trip on his heels and his thumb.