My statue had arms, legs and a face made of earthen river clay. She had shells for
fingernails, glass pebbles for eyes. I colored her lips with ochre and decorated her seagrass hair
with dried flowers and ivy. Her clothes I wove myself, out of newspaper and magazine scraps,
yarn from old sweaters (jumpers, the Brits called them), cloth torn from aprons and hand towels,
whatever was at hand. I named her Magdalene.

“Newborn babies often awaken because of an empty stomach,” she began. “But an eight-
month old cries in response to stimuli such as slight discomforts and small noises. I feed her
formula, but she prefers breast milk. Please do not worry about me. I am tireless.”

I did not discover Herbert. The old woman called me over to the house one day because
there were strange sounds coming from the old garden at night.

“Did you recognise her?”
She shuddered in response.
“Who was she?”
Hesitation. “My mistress. Señora De Lorca.”
Maria de Lorca. Could it be true? The first person burned on the Prado
de San Sebastián, stepping out of the flames, delivered back to Seville as a
demon, as an empty shell, as a cloud of smoke… as what?
Then on Monday, at what appeared like a billionaire’s evening party – at the Mumba residence, men and women who drove the latest and most expensive cars, spoke on the trendiest of cell phones and wore immaculate designer suits converged, wined and dined. They swayed in an English way and even sneezed in English – or so it seems to Sipho. 
The vodka doesn’t taste like anything. None of them remark on this. The boys
know exactly this much about vodka: it’s not supposed to taste like anything, right? That
was the point of vodka. The hash brownies are mostly gone. Milo’s mom cut them up and
put them into a Tupperware and didn’t tell them she’d kept half.

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