Neil Coppen

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A post apocalyptic love story for these dark ages

April23

With the power and water stations long collapsed and no diesel left to fuel their stagnant SUV’s (let alone the standby generators) life had become near unbearable for the powerless Houton couple– Ned and Nancy Van Der Spuy. Shacked up in their three story mansion in a once plush and functioning suburb they were left with little option but to wait, wait until their number (sixty- five thousand) on the immigration list to Aus would be called.

The death of the microwave, oven and electric braai meant that their show piece fireplace now had to now serve some sort of cooking function. Its synthetic rock embers substituted by wood which Ned had gleefully chopped from his wife’s pseudo cottage furniture. Admittedly the redolence of a Transkei hut took a little getting used to. While the Jacuzzi –now a tepid and bubble free pond– was to become the place where (god forbid) Nancy was forced to do their daily dishes and washing.

Trying to maintain their dietary requirements after the food crisis and collapse of national super market chains’ was a task that required more then a little ingenuity. With the couple first turning their famished eyes upon their neighbor’s menagerie of exotic pets’ and then later Nancy’s own accessory Pekinese. Thus a Thai Green Pekan curry– initially the cause for revulsion– soon became a delicacy to be pined after. While Ned ,who had been demoted from corporate honcho to resident homestead hunter, resolved their mutual Sushi pangs through a spot of spear fishing in the Koi Pond. Needless to say that with a dash of wasabi and ginger, the pricey prize winners went down a decadent treat.

With the closure of restaurants and social parading grounds, the couple’s immaculate appearances no longer required hours of painstaking maintenance.

Over time, Nancy’s primed house wife facade began to unravel. Once her sun bed had upped and stopped emitting and her hair iron could no longer assist her in the branding out of that impossible frizz. Similarly, with the electricity went Ned’s electric shaver and nose hair trimmer–his extensive range of grooming utensils. Without his ‘Men’s Health’ morning ritual, he came to resemble the very man, the magazine had promised it would make him: savage and essential, rugged and hardy.

Alas with no wide-screen, no soapies or Super Sport to come between them, something extraordinary happened. They were forced to take meals together, to embrace the bane of their married existence — communication.

And so one evening while huddled around a candle and feasting on the last of their tinned Woolies meals (Salvaged from their bomb shelter Ned had constructed pre 1994) they found themselves reminiscing over their Varsity days. Ah, the days when evenings’ were spent voluntarily in the dark, where power outs only ever occurred when electricity bills had been neglected –considering booze was always a higher priority then illumination– this tended to be often. In the dim light of the flame, Ned saw his estranged wife resembling that gawky yet effervescent Drama student from her dig’s days. While Nancy rediscovered, that away from the distraction of numbers and (slinky office) figures, her husband was less the over worked machine and more the engaged human being. With her trusty vibrator long out of power (batteries were rare to come by) and Ned no longer with a job or secretary to inspire him into working late, they had promptly resolved to give the shared bedroom another try.

It helped that she didn’t have to ask him to turn out the lights when they tumbled into the down feather duvet. It helped that the treadmill in the home gym no longer worked and that ‘Virgin Actives’ nation wide had sat inactive for months. With a legitimate excuse for being out of shape, Nancy no longer had to harbor anxiety over the inevitable dimpling of her thighs –nor Ned for the receding of his hairline.

And so in the squalor of their suburban settlement. Through those dark and interminable ages- illumination it seems was granted and a teensy weensy little light happened to flicker back to life.

posted under Short stories, commentry

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