Writing Workout – literary conflict in a scene

Cape Town harbour came into focus as The Silver Star broke through the mist. Gigi sucked her breath in. It was indescribable.  She accepted the glass of champagne as the table cloth swept over the Mountain. No photograph had done it justice. She fell in love instantly. Cape Town was to be the final stop before they headed home to Natal. The tugboats guided them gently through the harbour walls. Streamers and balloons greeted them as the ship docked and the crowd on the pier cheered excitedly.

She watched the Captain greeting the new passengers as they walked up the gangway. A curly-haired toddler dropped his mum’s hand and dashed off, only to be scooped up by the captain and handed back to his frowning mother. An elderly couple was helped up by two strapping young sailors.  Gigi gave her husband’s hand a squeeze and moved closer to him. This trip was the best anniversary present ever.

She watched a mother and daughter wave back at their family on the pier and then stride up arm in arm. A group of silver haired women clutched onto their hat boxes, while sailors helped to carry their suitcases onboard. Gigi felt immensely grateful to have her husband beside her and she gave his hand an extra squeeze…

Suddenly she saw her. Her tulip skirt parted to reveal a dancer’s legs and she was gracefully making her way up the gangway. Her black ponytail fluttered in the breeze and she held onto a feathered hat with one hand. Young sailors stepped forward to help her with her suitcase and she flashed a million dollar smile at them, before her eyes rested on David. Gigi felt his hand slip out of hers as he stepped forward to kiss Caro on the cheek. Twenty-five years on and she still felt the rush of jealousy strangling her heart.  She turned away from them and studied the ship’s wake.

“Would you like another glass of champagne Madame?”

She accepted the glass in silence.

David was now deep in conversation.  Caro’s hand was now resting on his shoulder and she was looking up at him, hanging onto his every word. Gigi lit a cigarette and stared into the choppy water.  She took a deep drag and then blew the smoke out into the blue sky.  Her solitaire twinkled in the fast fading sunlight and she twisted the ring round and round. It had come on the same day as the wedding ring…so many years ago. The long whispered phone calls, just before the ceremony, seemed like yesterday.  Caro had hung on till the last minute. She’d even made a scene outside the church…

She was kissing him on the cheek now. Gigi swung back to stare at the reddening horizon. Yellow and red strokes drew the deepening blue into the water as the sun slowly slipped down. Her face was on fire and she rubbed her hands on her skirt. How could this woman be here? How dare she just arrive to spoil this? She’d give them five more minutes and then she’d…

She felt his hand slip into her neck but didn’t turn around. David turned her to face him and cocked his head as he smiled sheepishly.

“I’ve invited Caro to join us for dinner.  She’s on her own now so I…”


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