Another week passed and there was still no word on when the children’s mother was coming home. Jacqueline continued to call out her hearty greetings, and some people began to wave back. Not that people didn’t stare, or give her a second look. Many a man’s eyes travelled down to Jacqueline’s chest. It was a mistake they only made once.

As she told one young man, “Honey, they may be one heck of a pair, but they ain’t going to talk back. Just my mouth does that, and a fine job it does, too.” The young man’s eyes jerked up so high he was staring at the ceiling.

But mostly people adjusted. She was Madeline’s crazy sister. And, as people whispered, with all Madeline had been putting up with lately, you know, with her husband’s troubles, maybe Madeline needed a bit of ‘crazy’.

Besides, this Jacqueline woman was entertaining. She went through the aisles of the local supermarket, doing what she called her ‘boogie’ as she pushed the shopping trolley around, tippy-tapping in her high-heeled shoes.

“Goeie môre,” people would say.

“And a hore-more-ay to you too, honey!” Jacqueline would reply.

People shrugged. At least she was making an effort.

Life found its own sort of normal. The children went to school, they came home and did their homework. After dinner, Auntie Jax would bring out Uncle Jack, pour a bit into the glass, then put them to bed.

Of course, it was Ida who finally asked. “Auntie Jax?”

“Yes, sugar?”

“My mama says you like Uncle Jack because you’re lonely.”

Auntie Jax chuckled. “Honey, if people only drank because they were lonely, your mama would have been hitting the bottle hard.”

Ida scrunched up her face. “You not lonely?”

“No, honey, I’m not lonely. I just like to unwind. Some people jog ten miles a day to relax; I’ve got Uncle Jack. Now, don’t you worry your little head, everything’s going to be fine.”

“But you live in that big house all alone.”

Jacqueline tilted her head back and laughed, causing her breasts to jiggle and her hair to fly around like flames. “Oh my little Chihuahua, let me tell you, a woman like your Auntie Jax can boogie the three-way tango all by herself, and not miss a thing.”

Ida wasn’t so sure. Here she was tucked in bed, brothers in the next room, and her Auntie Jax right here, but she was still lonely. She wanted her mama. But it was a few more days before her mother phoned that she was coming home.

Jacqueline drove the bakkie to the airport. Her sister was waiting alone. The children rushed forward and hugged her tight.

They told their mother all their adventures. She listened the whole way home, never mentioning what she’d been up to while away. Madeline was all mother as she read bedtime stories, supervised the brushing of teeth, and tucked the children into bed. She kissed each of her children’s heads, and then kissed them again.

It wasn’t until Maddy crept downstairs that she allowed her shoulders to sag and her face to fall. Jacqueline watched the woman slump into a chair and stare into space.

“He’s gone too far, Jax. Too far. I know what I promised our Heavenly Father, but … I’ve got to protect the kids. This mess … I can’t even … What was he thinking? We’re going to lose everything and more. I have tried to stand by him, but every time he promises that he’s told me everything, it’s just another lie. What am I going to do? I don’t have any skills, I don’t have any–”


Tell us: Would you enjoy having a relative like Auntie Jax? Or would she be a complete embarrassment?