COVID Hair n Writing Life + Pamela S. Wight on Flash Memoirs – Happiness Between Tails
Click H-E-R-E for the Spotify for Podcasters Happiness Between Tails page, where you’ll find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts and Breaker, to Pocket Casts and RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher, plus many more and an RSS feed. The full list of 50+ places is H-E-R-E.
Books, neighbors, authors from South Africa (or anywhere else) — we all need to look closer before we judge (and that includes the novels I’m seeking representation for.)
South Africa is the backdrop for The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso, a thoughtful novel about trying to get along with difficult neighbors that I just finished reading in good ole fashioned hard copy. Here’s my review for Goodreads and Amazon:
“Goddesses help you if you’re two old grumpy neighbor ladies in South Africa, one black and one white, who’ve started off on the wrong foot. With intelligence, humor, and tenderness, Omotoso does an amazing job navigating the complexities of long-term friendship between women.”
On the subject of South Africa as well as appearances, doesn’t today’s guest, Helena Olwage who blogs from there, smile as sweetly as a cupcake? Hehe, by her picture, I would never have tagged her as an author of… fantasy, horror, and psychological thriller!
A self-described writer/poet/housewife, her father, who was an avid writer, nurtured her writing since she was in fourth grade. She says, “I’m a bit on the eccentric side — I love some dark humor from time to time. I was born in a small town called Klerksdorp, North-west. We moved to a different town, Bothaville, Free State, when I was five. Currently, I’m living in the eastern part of Pretoria. I’m a Jack of all trades who loves animals, nature, people and, of course, writing about ghosts and anything paranormal but also psychological and poetry.”
Here she shares a short tail — erm — tale — of love, loss and forgiveness, from a horse’s mouth, or rather eyes….
Through Madonna’s Eyes by Helena Olwage
The sun cast splashes of light before Madonna. The currier had already groomed and tacked her long before dawn. Now she was waiting for her beloved owner, Madeleine.
The American Quarter nickered.
Madeleine was on her way, fully dressed for their usual morning excursion, the sun gleaming against her helmet. Madonna heard Madeleine and her husband fight last night. Hence her relief now that her owner was finally on her way.
The sound of sobbing filled the air. It was a familiar pattern after each fight. She would usually threaten to leave Harry for good, her beautiful blue eyes full of tears – all because of what happened that night.
Madonna remembered it all so vividly as if it happened yesterday – groups of people gathering at the house, mourning the loss of little Annie. At the time she didn’t understand what it meant when Madeleine and Harry talked about mourning their daughter’s loss, but as days went by without the vibrant little girl, Madonna became the owner of a grieving heart too – although she couldn’t express her emotions in the same way humans did. She could listen, however.
And then one night, it happened.
At first she thought it was a dream, but then she realized it was all real. She was in her stable when she heard the beautiful voice. Oh, it was sweeter than the voice of an angel, she imagined. Little Annie sung a lullaby, one she often sang to Madonna when they were alone in the stables. That was the first time she saw little Annie after the accident – the one that took that young life; the one Harry held his wife accountable for.
Madeleine caressed Madonna’s nose, bringing her back to the present. “Do you have any idea how much I love you,” she asked softly. She opened the stable door and led Madonna out by her reins. Outside, the early morning sun threw red, orange and yellow splashes. Madonna waited patiently while the tiny woman brushed her mane. She never did that. It was as if she was stalling time.
“This time, it’s over,” Madeleine whispered. “I can’t take his accusations anymore. Maybe if we didn’t go to that resort that weekend…” She paused and glanced over her shoulder as if she could sense an unseen presence. “If only I could have that night over.”
Madeleine’s voice broke down. Then she continued brushing. “I told him I wanted to ride you one last time before I go.” She laughed sardonically. “It’s funny, you know. I think it was the first time I lied to him. He thinks I’ll pack my bags when I return, but what would my life be like without you?”
Madonna nickered as little Annie appeared behind Madeleine. Madeleine glanced over her shoulder.
“She’s here, isn’t she?” she said, returning her sight to Madonna.
The animal wished she could answer. All she could do was stare at the little girl behind Madeleine.
Madonna missed Annie. Since the accident, everything changed – especially Harry.
Harry was a good man, always laughing and loving. After Annie was gone, he withdrew from the world. Cheerful Harry was gone; they were all broken.
Annie didn’t look cheerful behind her mother now, either. A tear ran down her cheek as she reached out for Madeleine. Madeleine glanced over her shoulder again and back at Madonna.
“I can feel her all the time, you know?” She massaged Madonna’s nose. “You can see her, can’t you? Yeah, I knew I wasn’t crazy.”
A Door slammed in the distance. Madeleine looked back at the house. “He’s coming,” she said before she jumped on Madonna’s back. “We have to hurry.”
Madeleine kicked her gently in the sides. This time Madonna did not obey. She didn’t want to trot and she didn’t want to leave Harry. Madeleine tried again.
“Come on, Madonna, trot,” she whispered against the mount’s ear. Again, Madonna didn’t obey. “Please, listen to me,” Madeleine pleaded.
Harry had caught up with them. “Please, don’t leave,” he said in a broken voice. “I – I can’t live without you.”
Madeleine tried one more gentle kick. Madonna didn’t give in. She loved her owners too much to see them split up. Little Annie was still standing in the same position, her face awe-struck.
Harry pulled on her leg. It was something he used to do even before they were married when he wanted her attention and she was already on the back of a horse. Madeleine didn’t look down this time; she didn’t want to. He smiled a desperate smile through all the tears running down his face. His red hair glimmered in the sunshine.
“Please look at me.” He tried to swallow the lump in his throat down, but he couldn’t. “I still love you, Madeleine. If you leave-what will I be?”
Madeleine didn’t answer; she couldn’t. She knew it was the truth – both of them needed each other.
He let go of her leg. “I’m so sorry, I was wrong. I wanted to sell the farm because-“
“You wanted to run away because you couldn’t face the memories anymore,” Madeleine finished the sentence. She bent down to him. “I know. But what if we can support each other and make some new memories? What if-“
“Do you want to try?”
Madonna saw something in both of them, she hadn’t seen for more than a year now, something humans called hope.
“I do. I don’t want us to fight anymore, Harry. I don’t want us to accuse each other. I want us to work through this together.”
Madonna didn’t know what all of this meant, but by the look on Harry’s face, she knew it must be good. She nickered. Even little Annie smiled quietly. Harry held out his hand to help Madeleine down. They hugged each other.
“Promise me you won’t leave,” Madonna heard Harry say as he walked with his wife while she led her horse back to the stables.
One of the curriers hurried to them to take Madonna to the grooming room. Before she went back into the stables, she glanced at the two humans. They held hands, something they also didn’t do in a very long time, she saw. In her heart, Madonna rejoiced. Also smiling at the two of them, was little Annie.
Long after she was groomed and had her usual trip to the field and, once again, groomed, Madonna pondered upon what happened. She was happy. It won’t be easy and she knew her owners would never forget, but they would heal in time.
Have you been surprised by animals being more perceptive than they look?