Author: Lola Steiner
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. The echo of the golden church bells carried across desert dunes. Along with the sound, came a fluster of wind, disturbing the peacefully swaying blinds that billowed against the windows. I brought the last of the straw into the shed, grabbed a beer and slowly walked across the creaking deck. With dust filled wrinkles I squinted over my sunglasses, observing the valley of the Karoo. It was a breathtaking sight; the aloe flowers became a deep autumn coloured sea. There was not a single sound, but the light rustling amongst the reeds and the tinkling of the wind chimes. A tumbleweed had caught my attention as it quietly floated across the ground. My muscles screamed with pain as I slouched onto the wooden rocking chair. Slurp! The beer had a taste in my mouth like live spring water.
Scoping the landscape, my eyes were drawn to a silhouette across the olive grove. Must be that of a man. I stood up. All of a sudden, in the blink of an eye, the man vanished. I rubbed my eyes, dumbfounded by the sudden turn of events. That night I took a walk with Sam, the farmhand, across the acres. “This is where he stood”, I pointed ahead. As we drew closer I noticed a precisely arranged pattern of small pebbles, there where the man had stood. “Ah ha…” said Sam unbelieving. It was a fruitless conversation.
The next day, as I sat peeling the freshly harvested potatoes, the strange shape appeared on the horizon yet again. I dropped the soily spuds and I made my way towards the strange man. The figure swam in the simmering heat, becoming clearer as our synchronized steps drew us closer. Suddenly I was left standing deserted. He had vanished once again. The encounter troubled me. It had left me restless that night, as I sat nervously blowing into my steaming cup of tea. Blackness pressed at the single window of the kitchen.
The encounter repeated itself like a stuck record. Day by day the faceless man drew closer before he miraculously evaporated. A week passed and I found myself snoozing in the swaying hammock outside. It was a cold bright day and the clocks were striking thirteen. I woke with a jolt. The first thing my eyes settled on was that familiar figure, in the distance. Tired of this childsplay, I stubbornly stamped towards the body. “Face me!” I bellowed. In the heat of the moment I didn’t realize how fast I was moving. Abruptly the stranger and I stopped dead in our tracks. Face to face. “You’re me”, my voice stumbled on the last word as if it came with difficulty to my lips. Right then and there did I realize I’ve come to look myself in the face.