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Juliet, die Vinnigste Slak

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Slow 3

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Marli en haar ma spring weg: soos 'n kano-span wat saamroei om te wen. Nie dat haar ma nie die hele tyd giggel en vir die hele familie in Suid-Afrika vertel van die gedoente nie.  Marli gee glad nie daaroor om nie. Solank nie 'n siel in haar skool weet van hierdie desperate plan om geld te wen nie, gee sy nie om dat haar ouma, oupas, ooms, tannies, nefies, niggies en die ou bure in Bloemfontein weet nie. As hulle eers gewen het, deel hulle die prysgeld en haar ma sal sê dat dit haar idee was. Soms is sy so ontsettend lief vir haar ma. Veral op dae soos vandag, want sy sien hoe haar ma buite in die tuin spit met 'n grafie – aan die soek na 'n groot genoeg slak. Marli doen solank die papierwerk en skryf hulle slak in vir die wedstryd.

Ruan loer oor haar skouer: "Koop jy en ma nie julle slak by 'n slakwinkel nie? Gaan julle sowaar nie 'n pedigree-slak inskryf nie? Ek sou byvoorbeeld nooit ooit 'n tuinslak gaan uitkrap het nie, daar is sekerlik 'n winkel ..." Boem. Hy kan nie sy sin klaarmaak nie, want sy gooi hom met haar wiskunde boek, amper raak boonop. Dit was 'n goeie gooi na haar simpel kleinboetie toe. Simpel seunskind wat haar ewiglik tart.

Ma roep van die deur af: "Kom kies een, liefie. Ek het vier mooies gekry." Marli loer tot onderin die ou roomysbakkie. Sy gril. Veral toe haar ma 'n slymerige een optel, hoog in die lug hou en sê: "Die een is my keuse, sy kop draai mooi heen en weer. Jy sal hom 'n naam moet gee, Marli." Haar ma draai die slak onderstebo en loer na die gogga. "Dalk is dit 'n wyfie-slak," Hulle bars altwee uit van die lag en kies 'haar' summier as die meester slak wat hulle gaan ryk maak.  Marli gaan gooi die ander drie slakke in die bure se tuin omdat dit nou nogal wreed voel om Juliet se vriendinne te vergiftig of dood te trap, al vreet hulle haar ma se lelies op.

 
•3•
Marli and her mom start: like a canoe team rowing in tandem to win. Even though he mom giggles the whole time and tells all the family in South Africa about this whole affair. Marli doesn't mind about that at all. As long as not one soul in her school knows about this desperate plan to make money, she doesn't mind her grandmas and grandpas, uncles and aunts, cousins, and former neighbors in Bloemfontein being told. Once they've won, they will share the prize money, and her mom will say that it was her idea. Sometimes, she deeply loves her mom. Especially on days like today, as she watches her mom dig up dirt outside in the garden with a small shovel – looking for a sizable slug. Marli does the paper work and enrolls their slug for the competition.

Ruan peeks over her shoulder: "Aren't mom and you buying your slug from the Slug-store? Are you really not enrolling a pedigree slug? I for instance, would never had dug up a garden slug. There must be a store..." Boom. He cannot finish his sentence, because she tosses her Math text book at him, and nearly gets him. This was a good toss at her silly little brother. Silly boy, constantly teasing her.

Mom calls from the door.: "Come choose one, my love." I got four beautiful ones." Marli looks down to the bottom of the ice-cream tub. She shivers with disgust. Especially when her mom picks up a slimy one, holds it up into the air and says: "This one is my choice, his head nicely turns to and fro. You will have to give him a name, Marli." Her mom turns the slug upside down and takes a peak at the bug. "Maybe it is a female slug," They both burst out laughing and immediately pick 'her' as the master slug that will make them wealthy. Marli goes and tosses the other three slugs in the neighbour's yard because it feels cruel to poison Juliet's friends or to step on them, even though they devour her mom's lilies.

Slow 4

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Nadat haar ma vir Juliet gewas het, maak hulle saam vir haar 'n huisie in 'n houtboksie waarin iemand verlede Kersfees spoggerige sjokolade verpak het. Hulle maak ook planne vir Juliet se dieet en oefenprogram. Die $10 is betaal en die twee in die huis besluit selfs om die Saterdagoggend saam te gaan om die hele gedoente te aanskou.

Ouma Joh bel spesiaal uit Suid-Afrika: "Wat voer julle haar en hoe leer julle 'n slak?" Sy giggel ook saam, want sy is 'n hups ouma wat tamaties in haar voortuin tussen die dahlias plant en boonop dink die slakwedskryd is 'n wenplan. Hups is een van die woorde van die week wat Marli en Ruan moet leer. Hulle ma hou rigied by die plan dat haar kinders goeie Afrikaans moet aanhou praat, sekerlik omdat sy 'n Afrikaanse juffrou was voor hulle getrek het.

Marli speel saam en sê gemaak-ernstig: "Sy eet mamma se beste plante se nuutste blare wat ek twee keer per dag afknip en in haar huisie sit. Ons sit haar in die aande tussen twee toue op die houtvloer in die sitkamer. Dan help ek haar met 'n stokkie om tussen die toue te kruip as sy nie vorentoe wil gaan nie, of as sy skeef loop. Mens mag die dag van die kompetisie, met 'n stokkie help wat nie langer as jou duim mag wees nie. Dis harde werk, maar Juliet is 'n wenner." Ouma Joh lag so hard dat hulle moet ophou gesels. Die hele straat in Pretoria sal gons oor die lawwe storie oor haar kleinkind en dogter wat 'n slak leer loop en dan die slymstreep van die vloer moet afwas. Want Juliet is ekstra slymerig. Maar: sy loop flink as mens met die stokkie saggies help stoot.

Saterdag versier Marli die boksie waarin Juliet wedstryd toe moet gaan. Sy plak pienk hartjies al om die hout houertjie en maak selfs 'n naamkaart: Juliet. Sy rond die projek af deur 'n groot pienk strik om die houer te bind, nuwe blare onderin te pak en toe vir Juliet in te pak. Sy vat nou al maklik aan Juliet en gesels met haar presies soos haar ma maak. Veral omdat dit vir Ruan so ontsettend irriteer dat sy en haar ma met 'n slak in 'n huisie speel en praat.

 
•4•
After her mom washed Juliet, they jointly make her house from a wooden box in which someone gave them some fancy chocolates last Christmas. They also make plans for Juliet's diet and exercise program. The $10 is paid and the other two at home even decided to go along on the Saturday morning, to watch the whole affair.

Grandma Joh makes a special phone call from South Africa: "What are you feeding her and how do you train a slug?" She's also giggling, because she is an lively grandma who plants tomatoes in her front garden among the dahlias and she also thinks that this slug competition is a winning plan. 'Hups' is one of the words of the week that Marli and Ruan have to learn. Their mom rigidly sticks to the plan that her kids have to continue to speak good Afrikaans, surely because she was a teacher of Afrikaans before they moved.

Marli plays along and says in a fake serious voice: "She eats mom's best plants newest leaves that I have to cut off twice daily and put in her little house. In the evenings we place her between two strings on the wooden floor in the living room. I then help her with a little stick to crawl between the strings if she does not want to go forward, or if she veers off to the side. On the day of the competition you may help with a stick that may be no longer than your thumb. I's hard work, but Juliet is a winner." Grandma Joh laughs so much that they had to quit chatting. The whole street in Pretoria will be buzzing about the funny story about her grand child and daughter teaching a slug to walk. They then have to wash the slimy trail on the floor. Juliet is extra slimy, but; she walks briskly if softly pushed with the stick.

Saturday Marli decorates the box in which Juliet will be taken to the competition. She pastes pink hearts all around the small wood container and even makes a name tag: Juliet. She finishes the project with a big pink bow around the container, new leaves packed on the bottom and then to place Juliet inside. She now touches Juliet easily and talks to her just like her mom is doing. Especially because it irritates Ruan so much when both of them play and talk to a slug in a little house.