Excerpt of The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey
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Sabine kept fanning herself. 'Oh, don't be so prudish. Who cares?'
'I does care.'
'Oh! It's too hot to wear clothes.'
Jennifer stared as if Sabine was crazy.
Sabine smiled and slowly fanned her dress downwards. She made the tea and carried the tray out to George, who was reading out on the porch, researching his next article for the Trinidad Guardian. Reading, reading, reading, he was always reading, sometimes not speaking for hours. But at four, he'd put down his book. They would discuss their plans for tomorrow. It was about all they had, these days, this teatime catch-up. But at least her husband wasn't boring. Or short. Sabine detested little men and boring people. George was still brilliant, somehow, despite it all, maybe even more so. He turned heads, George did, with his skin turned red as rum and his hawk-like nose. In his later years, he'd come to resemble a totem pole. And his eyes shone brighter, his blue eyes were turquoise now, like a wild liqueur. No, despite it all, she'd never stopped wanting to talk to George.
'Jennifer is baking cakes in the kitchen,' she told him.
'Oh, good. What kind?'
'I know you like to eat banana cake when it's still warm. She'll bring it out.'
'Thank you. Give an Englishman cake, tea and cake every day of his life.' George rubbed his hands with impending pleasure, trying to catch her eye, his gaze shy of hers.
Tea. At 4 p.m. every day on the porch out back. Tea and cake and the keskidees swooping to drink from the swimming pool. Earl Grey. White sugar in lumps. No one else around drank tea like this, no one on the island cared for tea, not like them. 'Allyuh white people crayzee wid all dis tea.' That's what Jennifer always said.
'So. Who's next to be interviewed?' Sabine pressed; George often didn't say.
'The coach.' His voice was hesitant.
'Yes. Why not?'
'I'm going to ask Ray later.'
'They've spent a fortune on this man.'
'Football, they spend millions. Hospitals, zero.'
George stared at his tea.
Sabine stirred hers. The Soca Warriors, Trinidad and Tobago's national team. A ragbag collection of players, some just out of high school. Only two professionals, both almost forty. She made a sarcastic smile.
'It's an important event.'
'Of course, darling.'
'Trinidadians are good at football.'
Sabine nodded. 'I know. Talented bunch. Good all-rounders.'
'Try to see it as a good thing. Try, darling.'
Sabine squinted. 'Ugh. Football, football. The world loves football. Men kicking a ball around, so proud of their countries, most run by imbeciles.'
'Eric Williams loved football, didn't he?'
'So? Where did that come from?'
'Never mind,' Sabine brooded, surprised at herself.
'Pass the cake, please.'
Excerpted from The White Woman on the Green Bicycle
by Monique Roffey. Copyright © 2011 by Monique Roffey.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Books. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.