It was just after seven when Kallis rang the doorbell of her friend Mel’s flat. Melanie flung the door open.
‘Kal! Mate, how are you?’ Melanie was pleased to see her old friend.
‘I’m fine, Mel, how are you? You look well.’
‘Thanks. So do you, but WHAT are you wearing?’
Kallis looked down at herself ruefully. ‘I’ve lost my bag with all my clothes and makeup in. I was hoping I might be able to borrow something of yours?’
‘Course you can. Come on in’.
Melanie led Kallis through into her flat. Melanie was taller than Kallis (who wasn’t?) and had long brown hair which she usually wore piled artfully on top of her head. Tonight it was held up with a large pink rose.
‘So, what are you doing back in Newport? I wasn’t expecting to see you for a while. I saw your Mum last week; she said you were going to the festival this year.’
‘Yes, I WAS there. It was brilliant. I met this great guy called Dave…’
‘Ooh, Kal, do tell!’
‘No, no, it’s nothing like that; he’s just an interesting guy to be friends with. Anyway, after the festival was over we went up the Tor and I drank SOMETHING of his. It must have been a drug of some kind but, wow, Mel, the trip it gave me! And literally it WAS a trip; I ended up here, at Mum’s house in my old room and no memory that made any sense of how I got there.’ Kallis went on to tell her open-mouthed friend all that she remembered.
‘Bloody hell, Kal, what are you like?! Anyway, this bloke Dave must have panicked when he found that you had drunk his drink and you were passed out and hallucinating and brought you here and dumped you at your Mum’s. He MUST have, Kal, you don’t just magically wake up somewhere else miles from where you went to sleep. You just don’t. I KNOW you are into all this new-age weirdo stuff but – honestly. Honestly.’ Melanie was shaking her head in disbelief.
‘He didn’t know where Mum’s house was. He couldn’t have. I DID tell him she was in Newport, but it’s a big place!’ Kallis was adamant.
‘Kal, listen mate, he probably went through your stuff. Did you have an address book on you or anything?’
Kallis was nodding thoughtfully.
‘And a key to your Mum’s place?’ Melanie asked.
‘Yes, it was in my pocket.’
‘Well, there you are then. AND he’s still got your bag, presumably.’
‘Well, I don’t know. I don’t know where my bag is but there’s nothing of value in it, just my dirty undies and some t-shirts. My money and credit cards are in my wallet and that was still in my back pocket, thank goodness.’
‘Look, come on through and let’s have something to eat. I did my pasta special’.
Kallis laughed. Mel only EVER cooked pasta and added one of those ready made sauces.
Melanie looked at Kallis. She had been delighted to hear from her old friend but WHAT a strange story. Thus it always was with Kallis; she always had to be different. Why can’t she just lead a NORMAL life, thought Melanie, rolling her eyes. Then we could gossip about men and shopping and clothes and shoes like NORMAL girlfriends do…Still, Melanie had her friends in Newport for that. And Kallis was a loyal and kind friend who had been there for her when Melanie’s long-time boyfriend had dumped her and gone off with the new Pilates instructor at the gym. Kallis had taken a week off work and arrived with chocolates, wine and a large box of tissues on Melanie’s doorstep to pick up the pieces and wipe away the tears. By the end of the week, Melanie had felt a whole lot better and, with encouragement and match-making courtesy of Kallis, already had a date lined up with the cute new guy who worked in the estate agents over the road.
The girls sat down at the table in Melanie’s tiny living room. Melanie disappeared into the kitchen area and came back with a steaming pot of the pasta. She opened a bottle of red wine and the girls started to eat.
Kallis sipped her wine thoughtfully.
‘I think Dave will be worried about me. I bet he doesn’t know what happened to me. I’m going to head back to Glastonbury tomorrow or the next day and try and find him. I have to talk to him to find out what happened. He will have the answers; he must have’.
Melanie shook her head. ‘Kal, I don’t know. I guess you need to find him or you’ll never know. But be careful. What does he do, does he work?’
Kallis shook her head. ‘He told me he’s a carpenter by trade but he only does odd jobs to make ends meet. He just travels around really, from place to place. I think he was planning to do some work on a farm near Glastonbury.’
‘So, a carpenter like Jesus but with a rabbit on the side, eh?’ Melanie smirked into her wine glass.
Kallis smiled, the wine was warming her stomach and cheering her mood.
‘Right, let’s find you something decent to wear and then we hit the town! See if we can find any of these dinosaurs, eh?!’
Kallis laughed. She had known her friend wouldn’t take her story that seriously.
Half an hour later they were on their way out the door, Kallis was now wearing a black halter neck top with a red fluffy bolero over the top. Half way down the street on the way to the town centre they passed a partially constructed building. It was a very strange shape, and the centre was a circular metal ring, as though they were going to build a dome.
‘What’s that going to be? ` Kallis asked her friend.
‘Oh, that. It’s a mosque.’
‘A mosque, here in Newport?’ Kallis was surprised.
‘Yeah, there’s a large Muslim population here you know.’ Melanie looked sideways at Kallis. ‘Aren’t YOU Muslim, Kal?’
‘Well,’ – Kallis shook her head – ‘not really. Dad was and Mum converted when they married but we left Cairo when I was eight and I don’t really remember much about it. I always say I’m not really with any religion when I’m filling in official forms. Mum didn’t have anything to do with Islam after we left either.’ Kallis had stopped dead and was staring at the building.
‘What?’ Melanie was impatient. ‘Kal, come on, I need a drink!’
‘It’s interesting though. I haven’t thought about it much but I was brought up with Islam the first years of my life. It’s bad I don’t know much about it. I’ve been reading about all these alternative type things and not looking closer to home for the answers.’
‘Kal, mate, honestly, we are out to have some FUN not a religious debate. Come ON!’ Melanie tugged Kallis along by her arm.
Half an hour later they were sitting sipping wine and watching Newport go by from the front of a wine bar in the high street. Kallis was still thinking about the mosque.
‘Do you know what, Mel? I think I’d like to go back to Cairo. Maybe meet up with my
father’s widow, see Cairo again – see the pyramids, the mosques. Do you know, I think Shamiela had a son with her new husband, but I’m not sure. Mum doesn’t really tell me much.’
‘Blimey, Kal, I thought you always said you’d never go back?’ Melanie was surprised.
‘I know. I just – well, I suppose I’m doing a bit of soul searching at the moment and as I‘m between jobs it’s an ideal time, if I’m ever going to go back. I’d like to see what my life would have been if Dad hadn’t died and we’d stayed in Cairo’. Kallis pushed her fingers thoughtfully through her black hair. ‘A glimpse of an alternative reality to my own, what my life might have been.’
‘Well, by all accounts, life would have been awful for your Mum, Kal, what with your Dad marrying that other woman and all.’
‘I know, I know.’ Kallis was nodding as they watched a group of woman heading past the wine bar. They were very tall and rather large, wearing very little in the way of clothes: short skirts, tight low-cut jeans, corset tops; the exposed pale, plump skin was tattooed and pierced. They walked leisurely, in a swaying wave, undulating from the hips, cigarettes dangling from fingers, looking to see who was checking them out. Kallis knew what Melanie was going to say before she said it.
‘Well, Kal, looks like we found your dinosaurs!’