In 2008, I entered a competition for short story writing in which the story had to conclude with the following line: “The guardians of the rainbow don’t like those who get in the way of the sun”.  The story also had to use the above image.


I won the competition, here is my entry:


It was a long and difficult pregnancy, an unending reminder of the brutal scene of the child’s conception.  Sureya loathed the foetus with a fierce dread; honed by the heaving, bilious nausea that stopped her sleep and made her bedclothes reek of rancid sweat.  She teetered on the edge of madness, sometimes wishing she could simply yield to its seduction.

When she did collapse into sleep, it was to enter the inside of the macabre theatre of her skull; to feel the callused hands of the men tearing at her, forcing her apart, licking her with their tainted tongues.  She smelled again their putrid breath and heard them screaming encouragement to each other, laughing at each new climax, every new spurt of vile and virile semen; to the accompaniment of the crescendo of frenzied noise made by the circle of drummers around the flower-strewn platform.

The thirteen ancient crones sat in a tight knot around the fire, chanting their constant mantra from beneath their lavishly jeweled hoods; symbols of their august status.  Never seeming to look directly at the bed in the corner, they watched Sureya every minute of the day and kept their slit-eyed vigil throughout the night.  It had taken too many years to find the right girl, they had had to sacrifice many along the way and time was running out.  Darkness was drawing close and hope was dying amongst the people too quickly, this baby was their last hope.

It was not at dawn, as they had planned; that the first pains came and her waters broke.  She uttered the first long, telling wail in the afternoon, as the rains flooded down on the dusty cracks of the courtyard floor.  Blood streamed from her chewed lips and she clawed at the ground, crawling as if to move away from what was trying to wrench itself from inside her.  The blood mixed in with the foetid mire and tattooed her body with a thousand tales of her agony.

For long periods of time, she let herself slip away from her body and float in her childhood; where sunlight prevailed in a world of lush green.  She allowed the long-ago music to wash over her and heard the laughter of the other children; ran with them again and felt the soft wind on her face.  And then the searing pain would bring her back to this place and make her body bear down against the will of her mind.

In the liquid light of the early moon, they caught the perfect infant and laid him on her breast.  As she bent her head to smother him in a first kiss that would stop his breath and would be his last, the high-priestess drew a gleaming, ancient dagger from the sash at her waist and plunged it into Sureya’s heart.  She handed the precious child to the others and told them to prepare him for their long journey.

The guardians of the rainbow don’t like those who get in the way of the sun.

©Cindy Taylor 2008



“The bloke is perfect, a dead ringer.  The girl is too short, work on the height of her heels and she’ll pass muster.”

The dresser obeyed and the couple was sent down, through the Ritz’s foyer, to the waiting car.

Mohamed Al-Fayed lifted the phone; “It’s time” were the only words he uttered.

All eyes in the room were glued to the images on the CCVT screen.  They watched the car pull away from the hotel, saw it enter the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel and observed the close proximity of the camera man on his motor cycle.

The motor cyclist overtook the car.  With that first flash and the ensuing bang of the car against the stone wall, the audience in the hotel room gave a collective gasp.  Diana heaved and was given a glass of water.

“Can we go now, Papi?” asked Dodi.

Mohamed embraced his son and kissed the woman who would never legally become his daughter in law.

“Go in peace, my children.  There is a tunnel at the end of the corridor.  A car will be waiting outside; I have asked James Dean to fetch you.”

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I’ve spent my lifetime looking through windows. Right now, as the van turns down into the road approaching my stop near the university; I am struck by this fact.

Oh, of course I have no recollection of being in the incubator; my memory is of my grandmother’s telling me about it. How she peered in at me through the big window, her hands flat against the glass on either side of her face. Willing you to live, with all my hearts and wattles and warts! She said.

Years later, before I went to the boarding facility, I’d wait by her big lounge window in the afternoons; peering down the walkway, to wave excitedly when I saw her head appear over the garden wall. And I would shout; I spy you, Gramma! And she would laugh, every time.

The school had a bay window in the recreation room, the perfect spot for a bird’s eye view of all the matches and races. Here you could see as far as the summer house and bicycle shed, see who sneaked there for cigarettes and clandestine cuddles.

Once, after an operation which required a long hospital convalescence, I stared down through the window next to my bed, into a parking lot and watched a young woman remove a ring from her finger, hand it to the chap beside her and turn away, walking to another car idling at the pavement. I’d felt oddly ashamed when the young man bent over weeping, leaning on his car’s bonnet for support, in public like that!

When Gramma died and the house was too big and expensive to justify my living alone there, I made sure the estate agent understood that the windows would be the deciding factor when they took me to look at prospective flats to purchase.

Ah! Here’s my stop now!

I bend down to release the brakes on my wheelchair and wait for Solomon to come around and let the ramp down from the van, so I can join the other students flocking into the building. He says the same thing every morning, his wide grin splitting his happy face; Heave-Ho Desmond, let’s go!

I am studying architecture; there was no other choice for me, really.

©Cindy Taylor 2009


This is an extract from “The perfect choice and other stories” published by Macmillan.

ISBN 978 1 77030 732 2


You’ll end up working at Jimmy The Greek’s bloody shop with a bastard to take care of; you’ll be known as the town slut!

Even now, the taste of beetroot and gammon together sends me back to that hot, deserted sand dune where I’d fled from my father’s words.  I’m sure the whole caravan park heard him; nosey Sandy had probably run as fast as her fat legs could, up to Jonty’s house to tell his folks.  Becky went with Jonty in the boathouse, her dad went to get her when the sun came up and he saw her bed was empty.  He saw them and dragged her home by her hair.



Banished.  And he said nobody was allowed to talk to me, but Momma said Chrissakes Ant, it’s Christmas Day! And he said She shoulda thought of that before she lay down for him and him a bloody Jew at that… And I just ran; past staring Ben Conradie and daft Pietie Snyman, testing their remote-control toy helicopter.  I ran past the hotel, where rich English people sat waiting for the lunch bell to ring in the dining room.  I ran past telltale smells of chosen family menus; chicken roasts and mutton braais, a curried fish soup down near Mr.  Patel’s shop.  The Patels didn’t do Christmas, but they closed the shop and had a party all the same.

I sat on the dune, no towel or sunscreen, sore from Jonty’s roughness and trying to forget that he said things so beautifully.  I want you.  Oh God, you are so… Oh God … and his accent like nothing I’d ever heard before, the strawberry-blonde stubble on his cheek scratching me.

My brother brought me the gammon and beetroot sandwich and news.  Jonty’s parents had packed up and locked the house, bundled everyone into the car and returned to Johannesburg.  Mr. Solomon said it was an emergency at his practice, but Boet said that Mrs. Solomon wanted to send Jonty down to speak to my dad and Sanna, the Solomons’ maid, heard Mr. Solomon say Leave it Mirriam, that’s quite enough!  The girl is only fifteen, you never know what notions these people may get into their heads.  Next thing you know, we’ll have them trying to litigate.



At six o clock Boet came up the dune again.  He had a black eye; he’d wanted to bring me a sleeping bag and another sandwich, but Old Man Venter saw him and went and told my dad.  They were all packed, he said; Dad wanted to be back in Kimberley by lunchtime the next day.  He said my mom would try to leave some of my things with the lady who cleaned the ablution block.

When everybody came to the beach on Boxing Day, I went and hid behind the main bar exit at the hotel.  Sometimes one of the kitchen staff shared her lunch with me.  It was quiet and I could use the toilets.  Once Sandy’s mom came in, she pinched my arm and said you’re finished now, thought you were so fancy; hobnobbing with them up at the private houses.  I could smell her cigarette breath.

By and large the townspeople ignored me for two weeks and then one night the first one came looking for me; he was a hotel resident down from Pretoria I think; because when he gave me his twenty rand note, he spoke Afrikaans.  I never asked his name, this first customer of mine.

Ja, that was all so long ago, I’m twenty four now.  I still make a special little Christmas celebration every year, except now days I go down to the beach at Sea Point; where there are no dunes.  I sit and eat my gammon and beetroot sandwich and I wonder if Jonty Solomon ever thinks about me.

©Cindy Taylor 2009



For Chrissakes, Beryl!  They’re not our kind; he’s a bloody truck driver!


Well, Claire has chosen to spend her life with his son; live with it already.  Beyond meeting them at the engagement party and the wedding, we need never see them again.  Here, give me a hand, I can’t reach.  She turned her back to him and he drew the tongue of the zipper up to the nape of her neck, fastened the little pearl button into its loop.  He lifted his drink from it’s damp footprint on the mahogany surface of the bedside table and walked over to the open French doors, out onto the patio where he stood staring out over the rolling lawns.

A sooty black cat sneered at him from a deckchair, swishing her tail with disapproval at the interruption of her nap.  From next door came the smell of woodfire and the telltale clank of the Weber’s lid being removed in preparation for a braai.

He thought back to the day she was born; his jubilation upon returning from the hospital to his practice.  He’d gone into his partner’s office with a bottle of Dimple and two of his best cigars.  It’s a beautiful girl, Walt, what say we start her portfolio with some Anglo shares?


And if that mockingbird don’t sing,

Daddy’s gonna buy you a diamond ring …

She was putting his baby grandson to bed, the words of the rhyme drifted down out of the bedroom window, as it had at Christmas when she herself was a child.  He smiled wryly as he brushed the ice from the latch on the gate to let the dogs out for their last run.  Yes, Daddy had indeed bought her a diamond ring.  He’d also bought her a sports car, a university education and several trips to wherever she wanted to go.  He’d bought her everything her heart desired and more.

From the day she was born, he’d tried his best to protect her.  She grew into a wonderful young woman and he was proud when she graduated and joined his law firm.  It was exactly what he had planned for her.  And then she spoiled it all by taking up with that good-for-nothing drifter.  Bloody opportunist, three months and then she was pregnant and off they went and got married without his permission.  It had given him great satisfaction to arrange the car accident.

She’d soon get over the grief.  And then he’d introduce her to that nice young lawyer who’d just joined his golf club.  Yes, Daddy always knows best and what’s right for his little girl.

Hush, little baby, don’t say a word,
Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird.

©Cindy Taylor 2009


Side View’s challenge this week is ‘Trees’.


I played with this, could be an outline for a future poem.  At the moment I am stuck with it and can’t do much …

Pushing the tender, young branch aside to make his way out from under its cover, he went out into the world to make his fortune.  Every day, that pliant branch would welcome his return and shield him in her embrace.  His absences grew longer; still the branch waited patiently in her pushed-aside position.

The branch strained away from her link to the tree, becoming a deformed doorway, standing ajar.

And she waited…


Fifteen years she waited, betrothed, for this day.

The aunts started before daybreak, using the special spices, saved all this time; bought with money squirreled away, when it could be.

They painted her hands, a most sacred women’s ritual.

She sat there patiently. The sun set, the moon rose.

He never came.
Oh, the shame!

The picture is not mine, I found it ages ago on the net somewhere.

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