the Namib desert

She appeared from nowhere. ‘My husband’s in vertical blinds,’ she announced, a hand coming to rest on my knee. She was smiling as she spoke, her voice high-pitched and peaking on the vowels, which were clipped, as though she held a pair of scissors in front of her lips, hacking off the parts of the words she deemed unnecessary. ‘My husband’s in vertical blinds.’ There it came again, her head nodding vigorously off the back of it, like a continuation of the sentence that stopped me from opening my mouth. I was thinking about the vertical: what other blinds are there? ‘He’s at a conference right now,’ she added. There were no vol-au-vents left on the plate. A single olive lay in a pool of vinegar. The air-conditioner was still going strong. I could see a tray of coffee coming out of the kitchen. Swakopmund, my new home.

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