short story

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So this is the story I wrote (last minute thanks to Nina’s persuasion) over a year ago for the Farafina Workshop Shop last year. I didn’t get in, I didn’t even think I would but at least I tried. Please read and feel very free to drop your suggestions, thoughts, criticism in the comments.

Thank you!

Prices are increasing.
Everything is now expensive, we’re getting by but still. Yesterday my mother was calculating how much it costs to fuel two cars and a generator in a week. The other day the mallam that sold suya had all types of vegetables but no tomatoes. I jokingly mentioned it to my aunty that it’s that bad now.
“Aha, tomato” he said while arranging sticks of meat on a  rusty yellow tray
“E don cost no be small”
He wore an ugly looking silver ring on his oily finger. For some reason I continued to stare at the mallam’s oily fingers as he continued to arrange his ware. His apprentice poured more oil from an old bottle on the meat and turned them over.
I continued to stare and inhale the smoke
* * *
I spoke to my father today. Nothing out of the ordinary. The usual how are yous, how’s your health. The only thing out of the ordinary is that I haven’t seen my father in three years. Over the years people have asked “Don’t you miss your father”. I always shrug it off, and tell them not really. Now see, my father wasn’t around much while growing up so I guess I’m used to it. So I use his absence to cover up for my moody days or when my roommate catches me crying. People tend to buy that lie. A lot.
But today I asked a question I never asked in three years
“Are you still coming home this summer”
“Yes of course now, sometime in July. Just a month and half”
I feel a lump in my throat and my eyes are watery. “How’s Uncle Amaechi”

I’m staring at the table .I’m staring lot at things lately
* * *
I’m sitting here staring at students walk by. Most of them are walking blindly, looking at single sheets of paper in their hands with writings on it. It’s exams, nobody is walking slowly.
Sitting opposite the bus park, waiting for my friend and I start to think of him.
We’re arguing a lot nowadays. He says I’m uptight and far from sensitive. I don’t argue about the latter. He once told me he had a love-hate thing for this artistic side of mine. He loves it but it makes him think I’ll drift away at some point. All I could say to that was “Shit happens”
He doesn’t like the way I go neither do I but I agree with him. We have no spark anymore so there’s no need wasting time.
I’m sitting down,  staring at students walk by and I’m thinking about him.
* * *
As much as prices are increasing, we’re getting by. We still find time to laugh. I’m sitting at the verandah with my mother and aunty . There’s no light so we’re entertaining ourselves with small talk. Someone’s approaching the gate, it’s the landlord’s son
“I’m sure he has gotten to smoke again” I say breaking the silence
Mummy lifts her hand to slap the mosquito on her arm
“If you see the girl he brought the other day ehn, ike ya ra ka basin. Her bum was as big as a basin”
I try to hold it but I can’t. Mummy’s laughing so hard that she starts to cough.
At that moment I realize that we will be fine, that I will be fine. I’ll leave home soon and I don’t feel like I have the ability to survive without my mother guiding me. I’m afraid one day, he would come back with that smile and say in that low deep voice “I miss you” and our tragic love story will repeat itself. Over and over I’ve chosen the love that has hurt me. The type that drains me to my bones even though on the outside it looks like it did not leave a scratch.  I feel like my identity isn’t mine sometimes and there is so much that I can do but I don’t try. I have words in my head that I can’t get out no matter how hard I try. It is these words that cause me to turn and be restless till 4 in the morning. But still I’ll be fine.
* * *
Every where is quiet. Everyone’s asleep already except from me. I’m not restless today instead I am calm but still there’s no sleep so I’m staring at the ceiling in pitch darkness. My phone beeps. I pick up it up to read the text with no intention of answering it. The message was simple,
“Kedu”
At that moment I have no strength to lie. “We’re not fine but we’ll be fine, nothing’s wrong.” That’s all I say.
Idi kwa sure? Are you sure?”
As simple as this question is, nothing prepares me for it. I break down and start to cry. Every thing feels like a mess, I’m a mess. I’m crying and staring at the ceiling in pitch darkness but the tears makes everything blurry.
Just like everything around me.

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“O dinma. I’m fine”

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Today we’re going on a road trip. From Lagos to Nnewi. I’ll keep to myself all through. If I’m not reading , I’ll listen to music on my mp3 player. Or I’ll sleep. My mother says I keep to myself these days. I just turn and look out the window. It’s true, I have been unusually quiet. But what is there to explain. That I don’t what’s going on with me. People irritate me. I don’t think I like the boy I thought I liked. I don’t have the strength for intellectual conversations, or any type of conversation. All I want is to do nothing. Feel nothing. And write. There’s a 3 days Creative Writing course in my mail box, all three classes with yellow stars next to them. I opened them though, just didn’t read them .I can’t write if I don’t feel anything. I feel like I’m floating. Wayyy up. And I’m enjoying it. Coming down would be facing reality. Answering the same questions “Are you okay?” “Where have you been”

It’s like my feelings know I’m not myself and they’re patiently waiting. Waiting for me to come back. Then they can come rushing all at once. That would make me confused, overwhelmed … I know. I would break down no doubt but I don’t want that. So I still want to float. Enjoy the peace while it lasts. Do I describe it as peace or running away from what I don’t what to feel? Whatever it is…

“We’re at Asaba, we would soon reach”

Nnewi. Home. Something there that makes me feel some kind acceptance, safety. The air is cool. It’s quiet there. I have my special place, nobody ever finds me there. When I get to Nnewi, I can let myself be vulnerable. Let my feelings peeping through the door overwhelm me. I could break down a little… I would break down a little. Then sort them out one after the other. And I could write. Write about how I started walking early in the morning, my new diet, my personal opinion on something. Or a story. I could write anything. I could finally take that 3 days Creative Writing course. I could finally answer all those messages and tell them that I’m fine.

I wake up to the car horning. We have gotten here.

“Aha bia go, they have come”

As if on cue, everyone comes rushing outside. The ones I know and the ones I can’t remember. The ones that weren’t home, people were sent to go and call them “Hian nekwa gi, look at you..you have grown. I just smile. Then I see my grandmother, slowly emerging from the house

“Nne m o, kedu” I hug her and hold her tightly.

“Mama o dinma. I’m fine”

Photo Credit : Google Images. toddadams.net