Skukuza, 1956

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December 21, 2016 by The Citron Review

by Kara Moskowitz

 

A man sits in the driver’s seat of the Vauxhall and in the passenger seat is his wife, and between them are two girls of twelve and fourteen. It is the day the man will die but not yet, not yet. They are smiling, warmed in the winter dawn of the veld with thermoses of milky tea, wool blankets, each other. They are quiet as the animals they’ve come to observe. It is the place he loves best in the whole of his beloved South Africa. The crackling, burnt-grass smell and the sky that’s brilliant with stars. It is straightforward. Here, as in life back in the city, there is bloodshed, but here there isn’t malice.

They are parked just away from a watering hole and dip rusks in their tea while they watch for elephants, springbok, perhaps a lioness and her cubs. He looks over the braided heads and freckled faces of his daughters to catch the eyes of his wife, and a quick grin that is all thin lips and no white teeth. Does she know, somehow, what this day will bring? The way the big cats know of something ominous, can feel a coming storm in the vibrations of the atmosphere? A cheetah will chase down an impala while they look on, passing binoculars among them and drinking Seven and Sevens out of a jar. And farther into the bush, hours from camp, this is the day on which his heart will give out, and they will lay him down on the back seat, press down on the horn as if there’s a person to hear it, she will drive back along the worn dirt tracks, swerving to avoid puddles and game hens, knuckles white on the wheel, the two girls by turns frantic, crying and then somehow composed and, like that, older, grown.

 

Kara Moskowitz is a lawyer living in New York City. She received an MFA in creative writing at The New School in 2015. Her stories have appeared in Liars’ League NYC and the 2015 Fish Publishing Anthology.

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