Watering hole

Sylvia claims to have seen antelope, and on one occasion a couple of warthogs, as well as birds. ‘You just have to be patient,’ she says. ‘This is real, not like the edited highlights you get in wildlife films.’ Larry has watched the fuzzy black and white images from the live webcam stream on several previous occasions, but only briefly. Apart from the trails of insects crossing the screen, and the occasional glancing swerve of something larger, a bat maybe, he’s seen nothing. This evening his wife has persuaded him to watch with her. She wants him to imagine they’re sitting in a hide at the watering hole. She’s turned up the heating so the flat feels more ‘tropical’, and rubbed insect repellent onto her arms and legs. ‘Connecting with nature will help you feel less stressed,’ she says. The camera pans left, zooms in on some vegetation, then out again. It takes a while for Larry to make out what he’s looking at, some bushes at the edge of what might be water, trees outlined against the night sky. Occasionally they hear the sound of something grunting nearby. Another moth zigzags across the screen. Larry shifts his position on the sofa, picks up his beer and starts to pick at a piece of calloused skin on the ball of his right foot. ‘Shush,’ Sylvia says, her eyes fixed on the screen. ‘You need to keep still, or you’ll frighten the animals.’




Simon Collings
Illustration Nick  Victor

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