AND THIS IS HOW THEY BECOME BEAUTIFUL
by Mhembeuter Jeremiah Orhemba
First Runner-up of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Flash Fiction Category)
The boy wants to cry.
He sniffs in mucus for the umpteenth time, but his mother holds his arm and tells him that he will have to make a choice. He stares into her face, searchingly. Tears stream out of her eyes. And so he turns to his father, but his father stares into space. Hopeless, he turns back to his mother. “I want to stay with both of you,” he drawls.
His mother’s hand finds her face. She sniffs. She says she can no longer tolerate his father, and the boy shudders. But he cannot deny his mother’s words either. They are fact, and his memories are proving it. In recall, his mother’s wails are loud and raw. His father keeps lashing her. The cane in his hand comes down swiftly, eliciting pleas from her. He joins his mother, pleading, pleading. His father barks at him: “Get away from here, asongo!”
The boy buries his face into his palms. His father might be wicked, but he still loves him. And his mother—ankara-clad, ginger scenting—he can’t part from her—his sweet mother who kisses his forehead and pinches away his nightmares.
He lifts his face. Breath raspy, his mind tears into a whirlwind. His mother’s countenance prods him and the thought that he will have to choose scatters shivers all over his body. He looks onward. The door is ajar. So he gets up suddenly, chest heaving, and bursts through the door. One thought in his head, he runs and runs. Runs through the sandy street. Past houses. Past Madame Ura’s puff-puff stall and takes a turn around the bend. A tarred road ahead of him, people scream. It teems with vehicles whooshing back and forth, but the boy’s body is no longer his own. Before he realizes, a massive force slams into him and he is not on the other side of the road but rolling and rolling over its roughened surface.
“Yesu terem ka tor!”
“Check pulse, check pulse. Is he dead?”
Everything in the boy’s vision blurs. Mind muddled, he can barely decipher what people are saying. A sharp pain blazes in his ear, but it is becoming mild because he is growing lighter and lighter. When his father and mother arrive, their faces hover over him, he, however, makes out their faces. He smiles. His parents are here with him and all is beautiful.
He doesn’t have to choose anymore.