Looking for a Present for an Ex-pat?

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Four contributors celebrating at de Hollandsche Manege

‘Foreign and Far Away’ by Writers Abroad will make the perfect gift! This tantalising collection of short stories, real life experiences and poetry will make the ideal read for anyone who has an adventurous spirit! It can be ordered online for just over seven pounds at Amazon.co.uk or for just over nine dollars at Amazon.com Here is an extract from my short story included in the anthology:

Going Native

Cor rolled up his knee-length shorts, unbuckled his sandals and stripped off his socks before running into the lake. The shallow, lapping water cooled him in the tropical afternoon. Shoals of tiny fish darted around his legs and damsel flies skimmed over the water’s dark surface. A burst of chatter came from the shore. A bunch of barefooted Indonesian children were sniffing around his stuff. One of them tossed the sandals to his chums and waved the socks back and forth above his head, as if they were flags. The others threw back their heads and laughed. Cor shook his fist and lolloped through the water in pursuit of the boys, but they disappeared into the mangrove’s shadow. A butcherbird flew overhead and squawked, joining in the derision.

Cor ran towards the trees, but as the sweat gushed off him he thought better of it. Good riddance, he thought, who needs socks and sandals anyway. It was a ridiculous school rule that he had to obey. It was just his bad luck that his dad was home on leave, so he’d probably get a hiding for losing part of his school uniform. Soon enough though he forgot his cares, relishing the freedom of walking barefoot along the dirt track and stopping every so often to wiggle his liberated toes.

The maid, Rikki, was sweeping the veranda floor. She beckoned to him as he walked up the steps. Pointing at his feet, she put her index finger against her lips and shushed. She took his hand and they went up the stairs to the linen cupboard and she found him some clean socks. Cor got his brown lace-ups from his room and put them on, going along with the charade. If his father hadn’t been home, none of this would have been necessary. He clunked downstairs, missing the freedom of bare-soles and sat in the cane chair on the veranda.

Music drifted from the bungalow window. Tante Leen singing, ‘Diep in Mijn Hart.’ Cor’s mum often played the record on the wind-up gramophone before dinner. In the garden his sister, Gerda, picked a hibiscus flower and put it behind her ear. She waltzed around with an imaginary dance partner. Why are sisters so utterly ridiculous, Cor asked himself. If he had a brother they could be playing football or pretending they were knights and having jousting matches, not dancing to soppy Dutch songs. He stood up and grabbed the broom Rikki had left on the veranda. He tiptoed down the steps, watching his sister all the time. She was lost in her own fantasy world. Cor squatted down behind the rhododendron bush. He wriggled through its branches and just as Gerda danced by, he stuck out the broom handle. She stumbled but managed to save herself by grabbing the edge of a garden table. He quickly withdrew the broomstick and crouched very still while Gerda looked on the ground for whatever had made her falter. Cor extricated himself from the bush, dusted off a few spare leaves, crept back up the steps and sat down in the chair as if nothing had happened.

From the kitchen wafted a smell that turned Cor’s stomach. Vomity sock smell. A while back he’d thrown up over his feet at school and tossed the sick-soaked socks in the back of the cupboard when he’d got home. A few months later he’d found them and the smell reminded him of the food he loathed. Caul-ee-flower, even the word left a bitter taste in his mouth. What kind of people lived in Holland where his father sailed to? And why did they eat a blubbery vegetable that looked like the pickled monkey brain the biology teacher had showed them? Worst of all, why on earth did his father have to bring it back and insist on sharing it with them?

Want to read on, then buy the book! 

Dutch Colonial Veranda

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About susancarey

Writer and teacher living in Amsterdam. Trying to be mindful and occasionally succeeding!
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3 Responses to Looking for a Present for an Ex-pat?

  1. nessafrance says:

    Hear, hear! Lots of good stuff in there. Great teaser, Susan, which I’m sure will make people want to read on.

    Like

  2. Chris says:

    Love the photo you chose to go with the excerpt. It pretty much matches the way I imagined the house when I read your story.

    Like

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