Endgame by Wilna Adriaanse is available now. This extract published by permission.
The sun was going down when Ellie drove into the town. Old houses and orchards lined both sides of the broad street. A dog scampered across the street. Two elderly people were chatting at a garden gate. The sign that said Pub was small. It was the string of coloured lights on the veranda that caught her eye. She stopped, got out of the car and went inside. A few tables were occupied. She crossed to the long bar counter and chose the last stool against the wall. The man who looked up reminded her of Joe. He was younger, but his hair was also thinning and he was strong and sturdily built. Just like Joe, he had a dishcloth hanging at his side.
“What will it be?”
Ellie looked at the rows of bottles against the wall. She paused at each one, considering. If ever there was a good time, it was now.
“Whisky on the rocks.” She didn’t have to do everything at once. She had all the time in the world to change to something else. He poured her drink and when he put it in front of her, he paused.
“I had my money on white wine. I’m seldom wrong.”
Ellie smiled and shook her head. “Not tonight.”
“Long road behind you, or ahead?”
She sipped her drink. Relaxed her shoulders and took a deep breath. “Both.”
He held out his hand. “Wynand Bruwer.”
She hadn’t been looking for a specific place. Nor a specific road. Just a road. She had no idea why she had taken the turnoff. Maybe the place had found her, she thought, standing in front of the house. It was on a hill. Just high enough to see the town a few kilometres in the distance. When she turned around, there was a mountain at her back. There was a small lawn with a big oak tree, and an irrigation dam with muddy water. Where the lawn ended, someone had made flowerbeds that could be watered from the dam. Neat concrete furrows channelled the water. The beds were bare, except for an occasional weed or spinach plant gone to seed. She sat down on the swing suspended from a branch of the jacaranda and slowly swung backwards and forwards. The young couple who had lived in the house had clearly had a child. She had told the owner she wanted the place for six months. Maybe she would move on someday, but for now she wanted to stay under the jacaranda beside the dam. If she was patient, she might even catch up with herself.