by Anne Alcock © 10 April, 2014
This item, written in 20 minutes, is one of 2 winning entries from our Non-Fiction Writing Competition.
It's 3 a.m. and the African sky is lighter than I expect. Grey rather than black – since black belongs to the moving wall of fir-trees on the horizon. The stars are still out. I have been up for half an hour and already assembled the "emergency kit" of travel needs (in a little tin box) that a "self-help" ten year old always brings on holiday; a band-aid, a tiny "tickey" coin for a toilet stop, a pencil, and matches. Apart from this, I have no other personal luggage, so sitting outside on the verandah steps seems like the best, and most beautiful, thing to do.
My parents will soon come out, with my brother and grandmother and we will take the wide, dawn-lit African road out of Johannesburg into Mozambique. Tarmac will give way to earth and by the time we arrive, I will be red with dust, sticky and irritable on the baking-hot back seat of a non-airconditioned Opel.
This suddenly reminds me of something I've forgotten! A glass jam-jar, containing tepid water, with a screw-top lid – my 1956 precurser to today's ubiquitous travel water-bottle.