Judy van Niekerk stood at her full length mirror in her bedroom. She was wearing the Springbok rugby shirt Darrel had bought her last weekend especially for today’s rugby game. She pulled at the sides of the shirt, trying to desperately stretch it out. It showed the three rolls of fat around her belly and her bust almost burst out of the V-neck. How horribly cruel Darrel was, she thought. He always insisted on buying most of her clothing and they were always a size too small. Was he trying to say something? Loose weight or go around looking like her clothes were getting too small. So she wore the same clothes almost every day, the ones she had bought herself. She looked at herself again, maybe she should lose some weight. Judy stifled a sob, putting her hand to her mouth. She should not cry, her face became red with blotches on her cheeks when she did. Darrel would notice and admonish her for it.
Darrel had a few people coming over for the match today. South Africa was playing England in the Rugby world cup final. She was dreading the guests, they were not really her friends, they were his. Her friends from her Pilates classes did not watch rugby. They had a book club she went to once a week.
Judy wished that they could just all go and watch it at a bar or sports club like normal sports fanatics. And Darrel was obnoxious when he watched sports. He drank too much and got loud and verbally abusive.
She changed her pants. Black jeans. They would make her look slimmer. She examined her hair, it was thinning out, she should have washed and blow dried it. She tied it into a tight bun.
“Judy man!” Darrel shouted.
“Coming.” She replied.
She walked out to the back stoep, in quick little steps. The kids were in the pool and they were splashing and squealing. She stared at them. Feeling nothing when she knew she should at least smile or call out pleasantries.
“Can you start on the marinades man Judy. Don’t just stand there.”
“Yah! Ok. Sure.”
She walked into the kitchen. Which was now a mess of plastic trays, bloody from the meat. Why could he never clean up after himself. The bafoon. She began tidying up. Once thrown away, she cleaned the surfaces, heavy on the Jik. She loved the smell of Jik. She marinated the chicken and chops.
In the top cupboard, where the children could not reach, she took down a chocolate bar. She bit into two rows at once. The chocolate landed softly in her stomach.
“The beer-bread. Where is it?”
“Uh.” Judy said, swallowing another two lines of chocolate.
“Stop eating and get the beers in the fridge. It’s almost time.”
It was mid-morning and the guests would be arriving soon. Judy scuttled, organizing the food and snacks. Putting the beer in the fridge and throwing away plastic. We should recycle more, she deduced and shrugged. Darrel had already polished off a six pack. He stood by the braai area fanning the coals. Coals where better than ‘the electric shit’, he had once said. She reached for another bar of chocolate. Munching quickly this time. Barely allowing it to melt on her tongue.
“Darrel. Do you want another beer?”
“That’s great. Judy sort the kids out please, and I don’t want them running around when the game starts.”
She went inside to fetch some towels.
“Come guys, out.”
“Last ten minutes.” They said.
“Come now. Your Pa said so.”
They left the pool reluctantly and took the towels from her and ran inside.
The house had green streamers everywhere and green confetti. What a load of nonsense this was. She looked at her husband and wished at least they were like Anika and her Dutch husband Henry, the perfect couple in every way. Slim, full heads of blonde hair, and tanned. They would never put these kinds of decorations in their house. She sighed and decided that she would change the Springbok shirt and wear one of Darrel’s, it would fit better.
“Judy, why did you change? What was wrong with the other shirt?”
“It was too small Darrel.”
“Too small?” he looked confused.
“I bought it in your size. How could it have been too small. You look frumpy now.”
Judy sighed, she was not going to change. She tucked the shirt in.
“Ag no man!” Darrel said exasperated. “If you insist on looking like that, at least put some make up on. Really Judy. What will people think.”
He behaved as if he was the good looking one in the marriage. His hair was balding, he was medium height and he had a beer belly. His beard made him look like a farmer who had lost all interest in appearances. At least she was younger than him, by twelve years. She took the chocolate from her pocket bit into it.
“I hope we win hey.” Darrel said.
“I said yes. It would be nice.”
“Nice? We are only in the finals here, we need this win. We need to show those English bastards that we are better… We need…” he trailed off gazing upwards. “Yeah, anyway.”
She did hope they won. For his sake and hers.
“We’ll be fine.” She replied.
“This fire is good and ready, not too hot. I will braai after the guests arrived.”
It was all too early for this. Judy thought. Meat, beer, spirits. She wished she could be firm in her stance to be vegetarian. None of their, his friends were, and she always found herself eating the meat disgustedly at these gatherings. “You don’t eat meat? Why?” was always the common question. So she had stopped saying she was a vegetarian. She was only vegetarian with her friends from Pilates and when they did not have visitors. Her parents or in-laws did not understand either. She belonged to a culture of meat eating, braaiing and potjies. Darrel used to turn red when she announced she could not eat a sosatie or boerewors. “Why do you have to be so difficult” he would tell her later.
Now she looked at all the meat on the table and felt nauseous.
The doorbell rang. The guests where here.