‘The Weekend’ by Makhosazana Xaba

South African poet and writer Makhosazana Xaba often writes with honesty, care and humour about women’s lives and relationships. In this story from her first collection, the trope of a romantic weekend away is overturned as two women, one fifteen years older than the other, arrive at a guest house where they will stay until the younger has undergone a medically induced abortion. The story evokes a kind of heightened perception as the sunflowers on the bed cover and the two toilets in the newly renovated bathroom seem to highlight aspects of the intimacy between the two women. This is a story of loss and grief that challenges the secrecy and shame still attached to abortion. It’s also a story about female strength and solidarity; by the time they leave Zaba, the younger woman, has a face “like the dawn of another day”.

From Running and Other Stories, Modjaji Books, 2013