Shoes and Socks

THIS STORY IS TRUE AND NOT FOR SENSITIVE READERS.

It is cold this morning.  The grass is brown and the earth desperately dry.  The funeral procession has left a faint dust trail as it passes. The members shuffle, shoulders hunched, tears course unashamedly down their faces. Those witnessing this party have bowed their heads as they passed. They share the respect due a funeral party, they share the pain, they share the atrocities that continue unaccounted for.

And so begins the story of a simple, loving woman who decides after a longish lapse to visit her brother in the country.  She sets off on foot on the 6 June, wearing her smart church skirt, a shirt and jersey,  a borrowed jacket for the anticipated cold, and a new pair of shoes and knee high socks. She says goodbye to her sister, niece and daughter in town.  They are a close knit  family and everyone is concerned that the very area she will traverse is where her estranged husband, who had always been treacherous still lives.

The days pass slowly for both her daughter and her sister, as they are powerless, not knowing how her trip is progressing, and wait anxiously for news of her safe arrival.  On the 10th day, both are frantic, there has been no word, and via the via of many cell phone messages, it becomes clear that she is not with her brother. They formally report her missing at the Police Station and her daughter goes in  search of her.

She travels the exact route she imagines her mother to have taken.  As the hours tick by, she becomes more anxious and the dread of passing her father’s home looms for her too.  The dirt potholed roads, the stray cattle, the smell of spent fires, the broken fencing, stray dogs all bring back awful childhood memories, but she shoulders on, her mother’s face and smile clearly imprinted in her heart. She greets a few familiar faces on the road, and asks if anyone has seen her Mother.  Most just glumly shake their heads, some just wave and say nothing.

The house is as she remembers it.  She furtively glances at it.  A time warp, nothing seems to have changed, and there is no sign of life even though the door is ajar.  She stumbles a bit and forces her shaking legs on.

It is the loud buzzing of flies and a putrid stench that cause her to stagger again.  Every fibre of her being is now terrified, something is wrong, the smell is overwhelming.  There is something just off the path, she can’t quite make it out.  Flies hit into her as she peers at what is before her.  She pulls her scarf into her mouth to stop gagging.  What lies before her is not an animal, she sees that the once human face has no eyes, and is skinned, she takes in the enormity of what she is seeing and finds that there is one arm  missing, and all around the frame is the jelly like mass of intestines.  She vomits into the soil and is about to turn away when she notices the lower legs and feet.  These are streaked with dirt, but intact, lying at strange angles.  Further horror dawns when she takes in the knee high socks and the new shoes.

The service is coming to an end.  As is customary, the neighbours and mourners will all be well fed.

There have been no arrests made, the police have said there is not conclusive evidence that the estranged husband killed his wife horrifically.

The freedom of choice we were granted has gone awry.  Our country has gone awry. May God help us.

(The niece in this story is employed by a friend of mine.  All the factual details are correct)

 

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