by Marijke Hillmann
Kafue River, Zambia
My fear smells the fungus and dank moss along the river bank, the burning of charcoal and the sudden, sharp change of my own body odour.
My fear hears the changing rhythm of the gently lapping waves, my husband’s sharp intake of breath and our son’s anxious scream.
My fear sees Raksha, our German Shepherd Wannabe gliding towards us through the murky waters, the retrieved stick proudly clamped between her teeth. A few hundred meters behind, the yellow eyes of a large crocodile are rapidly closing in on her.
We desperately call out: “Raksha here”, wondering whether she will manage to swim the few meters which separate her from the river bank, whether she will obey our command or whether the croc will once more submerge before making a final lunge for its prey.
Panic, followed by survival instinct takes over – picking up our son we start running, shouting for the dog to follow us. How far and how fast does a croc move on land – does it have good eyesight – do we zigzag in between the trees? Every piece of advice by our fellow expatriates flashes through my mind and simply dissolves; I lean against a tree, my breath rasping in my heaving chest.
The leaves rustle behind me. I jump in fear: a wagging tail and trusty eyes, begging me to throw the stick into the river again.
Marijke writes a monthly story for us. She write our segment Stories in Africa, and her stories will some day become a novel. For now please enjoy them, we are honored to have her work on our site. You can find more of her work here.
Richard Edwards has a BFA in Creative Writing and Journalism from Bowling Green State University and an M.S. in Education from the University of Akron. Managing editor of Drunk Duck, poetry editor for Prairie Margins, reporter for Miscellany, Akron Journal, Lorain Journal, and The BG News. He has also worked as a professional writer and editor in the medical publishing industry for several years. For the last 15 years Richard has also taught literature and writing at the secondary and post-secondary levels. He works much of the time with at-risk students.