Khaya Series #1

Skermunkel

One hot February morning, still in bed and feverishly dreaming of recovering from the tick fever I picked up only a week after moving into the bushveld, I suddenly woke with a shudder. Some-THING cold just lightly brushed my eyebrow.

At first, I tell myself, it is just my imagination…probably a nightmare brought on by the fever. But then I hear it move right next to my left ear. After a moment of silence, it touches my hair. I fly out of the bed to search for the thing that disturbed my feverish slumber underneath the five million pillows I keep on my bed (to my husband’s biggest irritation). I gather all the sickly courage I can to prepare myself for the catch of this lurking creature. Side note: Just remember, I live in the bundus*… One by one I pick up the pillows. Ready for a fight. But there’s no sign of the giant spider, monitor lizard or Mozambican spitting cobra I am expecting to find. It must be my imagination.
 
I return to my softest pillow, hoping to catch the late morning train to la-la land. But then I hear it again. This time the creature is under the bed. My body turns cold (a great relief from the Weenen heat). Maybe it’s my husband coming down the path towards the house? But the door stays shut. With my heart running faster than Hussein Bolt, I get up from the bed. I refuse to get down on my belly to look under the bed though – what if the thing bites me in the eyeball?
 

“Breathe Almarie…breathe…” Thud-thud-thud.

 
Then I see a tiny tail. Lucky for me. Now I don’t have to go down on my knees to face this monster. A dark, curly thing is sticking out from below the bed stand. Too small for a snake? Maybe. Too scaly for a spider? Definitely.
 
Upon closer inspection (albeit still from a safe distance), I find it is only the skink that likes to stain my carpet with his tiny ice cream-shaped poo. Ah relief!
 
“Jou skermunkel*!” I yell at him and dub him Lyonell. The name appeared to me as if from above, or is it below?
I decide to make my bed. I am not in the mood to spoon with Lyonell today. I do lie down again however, since this is what one does when one is suffering from tick fever.
 

Fluit fluit, my storie is uit!

*Bundus – a distant or wilderness region
*Skermunkel – a derogatory name much like “vagabond”


Read the original Afrikaans version of the story here!

More about the series and author (hint – she’s my twin sister)

© Text by Almarie Stander, images by Barbara Cilliers

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