Pavle Radonic ~ Wife No. 2


What do her friends call her? Alba?

— Alba can. Daroh can. Up to them.

More than ser­vice­able English unex­pect­ed, learnt from her hus­band. Not a busi­ness type; psy­chol­o­gy major, Malaysian with PR. His sec­ond wife. Alba vis­its from Surabaya a week or two every year. Husband very busy. Alba very under­stands. Very under­stands. (Uncertain whether Alba assumed baf­fle­ment or what.) Two late-teen kids.

Startled ini­tial­ly at the lifts and mak­ing a dash for the stairs, rapid san­dal-slap­ping echoing.

Catching up direct­ly after­ward out­side the car-park, the men­tion of the hus­band warding-off.

Fair enough. Unseemly talk­ing to a strange male, for­eign­er to boot.

From the over-devel­oped sense of pro­pri­ety one could draw only one con­clu­sion. Oh well, nev­er mind. If that was how the lady felt.

Second time rid­ing the lift sud­den­ly easy and relaxed. Scarf loose­ly wound—it had been tight­ened for pro­tec­tion the first morning.

Hair short, dyed a deep red. Black dress and blouse pat­terned flow­ers and swirls.

(NB. no white for meet­ings. Muslim colour of mourn­ing, from the Sarajevo and Srebrenica footage, if that was right.)

Dark eye-lined glances bestowed sparingly—flashed like in old nov­els from a peri­od that accord­ed here in this com­mu­ni­ty on the equator.

From inaus­pi­cious begin­nings, rapid progress in the oppo­site direc­tion before one knew what was happening.

Lady of her own mind Alba, straight­for­ward as much as ardent final­ly. A surprise.

The lofty and wary had been giv­en a short run; not to be guessed that first morn­ing out­side the lifts hear­ing the stair-hammer.

Inevitably one could only fol­low where a woman such as that led.

Adieu Alba.

Geylang Serai, Singapore

Previously pub­lished in hard form by the Australian mag­a­zine Gargouille, (#6 2017).


Australian by birth and Montenegrin ori­gin, Pavle Radonic has spent eight years liv­ing in SE Asia. Previous work has appeared in a range of lit­er­ary jour­nals and mag­a­zines, includ­ing Ambit, Big Bridge, Panoply, New World Writing and Citron & Antigonish Reviews.