TO PULL A LION’S TAIL by Boloere Seibidor

TO PULL A LION’S TAIL by Boloere Seibidor

TO PULL A LION’S TAIL

by Boloere Seibidor

Shortlist (Top Six) of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Flash Fiction Category)

Two days ago, there was another cold-blooded murder down Wellington Drive, riling up trepidation in the city.
What bothered him wasn’t the killings per sé, but the killer; a seemingly smart assassin. The victims—particularly ladies—were stripped naked before strangulation with their wrists slit open, and bore a neatly clipped paper, with a number inscribed on it, patched to their forehead with blood. These numbers, he’d surmised, bore a significance. What that could be, scared him too.
All these he’d narrated to his wife, Yemi, last night, made her neglect dinner. He understood her fears; they had a teenage daughter too.
His assistant, detective Rena, who’d been recently transferred down from the Uyo’s SCID, also lost her crave for nicotine, she stabbed her half-burnt cigarette in an ash bowl. Perhaps he should remind her this was the garden city, and to expect more, viler, mishaps.
His phone rang, jolting him from his disconcerted thoughts. A frantic Yemi was on the receiving end. He excused himself, and returned minutes later.
His expression, full of angst, gave him away.
“What is it?” Detective Rena frowned.
“It’s my daughter. . . she hasn’t returned.”
“From?”
“School.”
She chuckled and checked her watch.
“It’s 8:45, Bakpo. Something’s wrong.”
His skin grew ashen against the keen spikelets of the harmattan breeze. He quivered.
“I know. . .”

The drive home was incautious. He’d asked detective Rena to come along. . . just in case. He found his daughter by the veranda when he arrived. On seeing him, she sprung to her feet and rushed forward. She was safe!   His relief was insurmountable.
As she drew close, he noticed she’d been crying. On her forehead was a red blot, and her blouse was stained with blood. His pupils dilated as his body’s mechanism built a reaction.
“What happened, Rose?”
She cried in heavy torrents, shaking her braids.
“I’m. . . fine, daddy.”
“Tell me! . . .there’s blood.”
Detective Rena tried to calm him; an abortive attempt.
“Rose!”
She sniffed back sobs then finally conformed. She led him to the parlour where he found Yemi lifeless on the floor in a small blood pool. He grew ashen. Numb. Perhaps he died that instant. Detective Rena moved closer and retrieved the paper on her head.
“Number 8,” she said softly. She didn’t know when she offered him a cigarette; she didn’t know what else to do.
* * * * *
Four days later, with the intervention of officer Yakubu Jed, a police general, the killer was found. His last killing seemed hasty, and his DNA imprints were caught.
“If it’s any consolation,” the general said to him during a lunch he merely poked at, “he’ll rot in prison.”
He nodded and acknowledged condolences from nearby colleagues.
He looked up when he saw Detective Rena running in, covered in sweat.
“There’s been another murder.” She breathed.
The general froze, looking from one stricken face to the other.
She lifted a small paper, “number one.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Boloere Seibidor is an undergraduate at the University of Port Harcourt. Boloere was born, brought up, and writes from the city of Port Harcourt, where she still resides. She is inspired by virtually all things; from music, to paintings, to people.  
Her poem has been featured on SprinNG, and her other poems are upcoming on other online magazines. Her story was shortlisted for the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Writing Competition, where she won honourable mention.
When somber, she listens to Ed Sheeran and James Bay. And at the grimmest hours of the night, Boloere enjoys reading/writing suspenseful stories.
Meet her on Instagram @b.s_vinnie
THE FALLEN ANGEL by Ebeigbe Brian

THE FALLEN ANGEL by Ebeigbe Brian

THE FALLEN ANGEL

by Ebeigbe Brian

The Fallen Angel – Second Runner-up of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Flash Fiction Category)

The door let loose an agonizing creak as it slowly leaned open. Crumbled paint and what he could only assume to be mice droppings lay scattered the floor. It was funny to think that despite all that had happened, he could still return to this cave. A sanctuary that had sheltered him from the barrages of the unforgiving and unapologetic reality that was his life.  He switched on the mains only to notice the cobwebs. It was better to ignore the terrible state of the place. A sudden fluttering of wings as resident bats swarmed out due to the surprising presence of a new entity forced him to crouch in astonishment. Some things can’t be ignored.

A pen, some books, a broken pencil and a few notes scribbled on old pieces of paper littered the table. He sighed, dropping his satchel. Pulling out a dusty record case, he walked towards the vintage record player. Two things struck him as his eyes darted across the old machine, his record although taken with him everywhere he went was still as good as new and his bird bath seemed to house a new creature. As to what it was…that would be left for later. He dusted the record player and blew at the dusty record. It read “Viva La Vida and all the melancholy of the institution.” There was only the initial scratch, the coarse sounds eventually blended out into a harmony echoed throughout the orifice in the mountain.  Stripping down to just his tattered jeans, he sighed in relief as his broken wings clumsily fanned out creating all sorts of shadows that seemed to stun the little mice scurrying about. He lowered himself onto his seat next to the table. The old chair creaked and buckled but didn’t collapse under his familiar weight. Reaching into his satchel revealed three items. A cigar, a matchbox and a photograph.

No time was wasted in lighting the cigar.  A cloud of smoke enveloped his face although his glowing brown eyes were still visible in the mist. Looking at the picture the stitches in his chest began to bleed once again as he beheld once more what he wanted but couldn’t physically have. Turning the picture over he read again the note written on it.

“[4/27, 10:21 AM]: Let them hurt. Let them molt and wither. Then, when the time comes, let them grow. The muscles surge and the feathers strong. They will lift you again and the sky will be your friend

Signed

The Eleventh Gentleman”

Would the council find him before it was too late?
Would jealously consume him?
How many more demons would he have to face and seal in his scars?
Would she be worth it?
Thoughts like these and more struck his mind like a rain of flaming arrows. However, before the cigar would finally find that one neural path straight to his brain, he could feel his skin being branded with one more curse. Unlike all the others on his back

Pain

Loss

Grief 

This one was different.
…It was a name.
Overwhelmed, he dropped his head into the choking fog that was never just the smoke; it was pain. Pain searing and hot as his eyes shifted from glowing brown to smoldering red.
********

Elsewhere in a place just as derelict, a form could be seen kneeling in snow. A man dressed in a dark coat knelt amidst corpses. Corpses that could only have been victims of his wrath. Upon closer inspection anyone would tell you these three things; accompanying a truly terrifying groan, his eyes had slowly transitioned from murky brown to a vicious red. His coat seemed to burn, but from the inside and upon his kneeling he had spoken in a garbled tongue.

They would tell you upon his strange exclamation his then red eyes had cooled to an eerie green. They would mention that he had raised two fingers to hi temple and then spoken clear unmistakable English.

“He is slowly losing his grasp on the words of Power Merion. If we do not find him soon, he will be lost to us. I refuse to lose my brother to fate. I have only just regained my wings, so I leave his rescue in your hands”

They would tell you that he walked towards one of the corpses and slowly retrieved a sickle-like blade. Those strong enough to watch would recount how he cut an unforgiving gash on his neck, how he spoke without moving his mouth. Yes, if they were strong enough, they might even remember the words.

“To The Craftsman of Original Sin. Lord of Deceit. To the true Marquee of Snakes. To Lucifer’s Bane. Come forth”

Now for the rest of the story it would be best to visit the underworld, for if there were men foolish enough to listen to this chant. To watch the hand signs. They were undoubtedly dead. However, if you did manage to raise a witness, they would mention one thing before crumbling away into the nothingness. They would speak of the emergence of a dark figure that seemed to tug at their exiting soul. Whose aura foretold the song of death and the chant of anarchy. They would tell you of its sickening grin and hoarse whisper of a voice. Most importantly, as their soul was dragged to hell for whatever sin, they would scream on and on about how our unidentifiable winged killer had looked this being of darkness straight on and spoken only two words

“Hello Mother”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

From The Eleventh Gentleman:
My name is Brian as you now know and I’m a medical student at the University of Benin.
I’ve long-held dreams of either changing the world or setting it ablaze with my work. Childish and overly ambitious I’m sure. Writing and indeed the arts in general for me have served as an outlet for my erratic emotions. It’s been an honor participating in this year’s competition and I hope to try again next year.
I’ll push the line a bit to thank my Council Members: The Angel after whom this piece was fashioned, The Prince who is an idiotic yet heavenly Gift, to Percival and the Last Councilman… thank you for your wisdom. To naMe who even in absence pushes my pen. My last words will go to Sosa… I’ll continue to thank God for having met you.

BORN AGAIN by Tunji Akande

BORN AGAIN by Tunji Akande

BORN AGAIN

by Tunji Akande

Born Again – First Runner-up of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Flash Fiction Category)

My mother screamed nine times in one night, drawing fistfuls of her hair, cursing God, Eve and the earth that produced the fruit. She kicked the nurses and spat on the doctors. When she’d tried six hours straight and I still wasn’t forthcoming, the doctor said, ‘how about an operation?’ And my mother cursed my father because the doctor was asking him and not her. ‘He who is in me is greater than science, I shall deliver like the Hebrew women,’ she said. 

Of course, coming for the second time I had to be great— that’s what my mother said, but I’m not sure I believe her. 

There is my mother. She sits and stands. Back to the ground, legs up, breath held. The instructor passes bottles of water to the women whose bellies are pushed out in different sizes, sweat dripping down their dark and light skin. There is my mother pressing the yellow towel to her skin. ‘My second,’ she says to the plump woman to her left. ‘But it’s different compared to the first. ‘

‘Eh, this is my first,’ the woman says.

My mother says she knew happiness the first time I arrived inside her, but now what’s happening with me. The first and second me, all of me.

I do not have memories of the times I did not exist, but my mother wants me to remember. ‘Where did you go, when you were not here?’ She asks, and I wonder if there are people who know what it means to be dead even while they’re alive. I turn to my friend Google, our teachers say we should make Google our friend. Entry: where do dead children go.

Heaven, at God’s right hand.

No where.

They were born into this wicked, but couldn’t accept Christ, so hell.

They stopped existing.

Sent back to the world as other people’s children.

Entry:  do dead children come back.

Yes.

No.

Yes.

No.

Entry: how do I know I have been born again.

By giving your life to Christ.

Erase, new entry: how do I know I am born into the same or another body again?

You love listening to certain beats, drums especially.

Dreams.

You just know.

When reincarnation happens, you might and you might not know.
 

But this isn’t about reincarnation. I don’t think I’m taking another person’s body. And also, my mother believes this is me from the previous time. Same eyes and nose and complexion and hair.

During her first pregnancy, my mother was happy. She said knowing that another living being growing inside her made her feel like a god. Knowing that your actions didn’t only affect you, but also another tiny being learning to breathe, to live inside of you makes you feel that way. She went to the market and got clothes for the baby, accepted gifts from everyone who offered her one. She was planning to be the good mother. Had a crib made for the baby. Poor baby who wouldn’t stay.

The baby finally came out— no cries— with pale skin and eyes which were closed to the world. She had one look at this dead baby before it was taken away from her.
The Lord gives and the Lord takes.

When she became pregnant with me, my mother had learned how to avoid the sun and people.  Too much evil spirits lurking around, too much evil eyes piercing through her thin satin blouse. She kept me a secret from everybody who wanted to know if she had taken in again. She cancelled family meetings and took a break from her job at the law firm. She didn’t care that they threatened not to take her back. These evil eyes could be lurking anywhere.

‘How do you know I’m the same dead baby?’ I once asked her.
‘You were never dead,’ she said. ‘They tried to kill you, they will continue to try, but you are a strong boy, baby.’

When I was about five years old, I used to have this recurring dream that chased me out of sleep. We are all walking down the street, my parents and I. Maybe returning from church or a family friend’s place. Then we get to this junction were these women and men in long white robes are singing, drumming and dancing. They let my parents go and hold me hostage. My parents go without looking back and I scream my lungs out, screaming into wakefulness.

These dreams would come and go with my mother cuddling me, reminding me that I was strong, that I had done it before.

In school, I fought with other students so much they feared me. The teacher made me sit alone at the front of the class, repeating words I can’t remember. Back home, my mother asked, worriedly, ‘why do you allow this old spirit use your body like this?’

‘Tell me your dreams again,’ she asked. But these days, I hardly remember my dreams.

When my father wouldn’t agree that I go for deliverance, my mother called him a foolish man, and he called her a crazy woman. She took me to a church where the pastor asked me to close my eyes, praying and kept asking me if I could see anything.
‘Nothing,’ I said. ‘Just darkness.’

AYOMIDE by Nneoma Mbalewe

AYOMIDE by Nneoma Mbalewe

AYOMIDE

by Nneoma Mbalewe

Ayomide – Winner of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Flash Fiction Category)

My body craves water but I have none to give it. I have never stayed this long without water. It’s been forty-five hours or so and I really feel rotten. The human body can live for a month without food but three to four days without water can lead to death. We only have a few more hours. If not, we’d most likely die.
My sister has a higher probability of dying than me. I’m not a pessimist but I have been lying in her blood now for hours and she won’t make it if help does not get here today. The lower half of her body is trapped under rubble and she’s showing signs of shock. Her skin is cold and clammy; her breathing is shallow and rapid.

Masha’s whining pulls me out of my thoughts. I rub my dog’s fur, trying to comfort him. It’s dusty under the bed where we are and I know he really wants to leave. He would have done so hours ago but the truth is that we are trapped here. Not unless someone rescues us.

I remember exactly forty-six hours ago. It was dusk and my sister was preparing Eba and Efo. The healthy meatless, fishless Efo, as she liked to call it. Honestly, we were too poor to put meat in the food. The rain started suddenly and poured without mercy. We were about to eat when we heard something huge and loud fell on the apartment roof, the face-me-I-face-you apartment where we lived. That when everything came crumbling down.

The building was already falling apart but whatever that fell hastened things up and in seconds, the ceiling and the walls began to collapse. We were far from the door so the best thing to do was to hide under something sturdy like they do during earthquakes.

“Under the bed,” I screamed to Aramide, my sister as I grabbed Masha. I crawled under the bed, my sister following close behind. She was halfway in when the ceiling crushed her.

Now, my sister is struggling to stay awake. Thank God she knows that there is no guarantee that when she closes her eyes, she will wake up again. I don’t have to tell her that.

“It was the transformer,” I say. “It’s the only thing high and strong enough to bring down this building.”

“Ayo,” she murmurs. “The periodic table.” She ignores my statement. There’s no use thinking about the past. The future is the most important thing now. Sadly, the past is all I can think of.

I’m smart. I know I am. I’m seven years old and I can recite the multiplication table from one to fifty-seven by heart. I know all the 118 elements of the periodic table and I know a lot more than my fifteen-year-old sister. I help her with her assignments when she can’t solve them and I topped my class last year at grammar school. My headteacher calls me a prodigy even though in Nigeria, no one knows what to do with prodigies.

“Hydrogen, helium, lithium,” I begin. It’s dark but I’m looking at my sister, hoping that when I’m done, she will still be awake. When I’m done, thankfully, she still is. I need to get her talking. That will ensure she stays awake. Although, I think talking will drain the little energy she has left.

“Do you think Daddy knows what has happened?” Even as I ask, I know he doesn’t. He stays away from the house days on end, drinking around with friends. He’d only come back, sometimes, to eat Aramide’s food when he didn’t have enough money to buy food outside.

Aramide doesn’t reply. Her shallow breathing informs me she is still alive. “Don’t sleep, Aramide,” I tell her.

“I’m tired,” she tells me.

“Don’t sleep,” I repeat. I begin my fifty-eight times table. I am almost finished when Aramide murmurs, “You should be a doctor.”

“Why?”

“Doctors are smart. Like you.”

I shake my head, even though she can’t see me. “Doctors are underpaid.” I think back to the doctors who treated mama at the general hospital, who worked grudgingly and couldn’t save mama from her sickness. They never even knew what caused her death, they just left us with debt and my mother’s corpse after injecting all kinds of drugs into her body.

“What do you want to be then?”

“I don’t know. I have to think about it.”

In any other situation, Aramide would have scoffed and said something like, “You have to think about it? You know the answer already.” Now, she doesn’t even make a sound.

My eyes tear up. It is times like this, I wish we were living in a good country like the United States. If something like this happened over there, they would be busy in less than an hour and we would have even forgotten about it by now. However, we are in Nigeria where an entire building of fifty-two apartments collapses and two days later, no one is doing anything about it.

I wonder if other people were still alive. The first thing anyone would have done when the building began to collapse was to run outside. Those on the third and second floors would have never made it down in time. Those on the first and ground floor would have survived if they had gotten as far away as possible from the building when they made it outside.

We live on the second floor. I know people are trapped underneath the rubble like we are and I know that some people are dead. I know my sister will soon join them if we aren’t rescued today. I know I will be next, if another twenty-four hours passes by and I’m still here.

“It’s been forty-six hours,” I say.

“How do you know,” Aramide asks, like she does when I say something smart.

“I just know,” is my reply. The truth is, I have been keeping track.

“Are you hungry?”

I smile ruefully. She’s doing her big sister business even though she’s the one bleeding to death.

“No,” I answer. I know hunger- we both do. Since both parents are out of the picture, Aramide has been the breadwinner. She doesn’t tell me much but I know she gets money from her boyfriends, one of whom, lives in the building, two floors down. She also hawks after school. I don’t do much apart from helping her with her assignments and reading the library books. I help her when I can with the hawking but she never allows me to stress myself. “You will make us rich,” she usually tells me.

“I will be helping you after school to hawk,” I announce. That is, if we both get out of here.

She doesn’t answer. I have to listen closely to hear her breaths because I am fainter than ever. When she first got trapped, she would scream in pain for hours. The screams turned to groans after hours passed and now, I don’t think she can even feel her legs.

Masha whines again. He doesn’t know hunger like us because he is always eating any leftover he finds around the building. He can barely move at this point.

“I love you,” Aramide tells me, out of the blue.

Fear grips my throat. It takes me a while but I say the words back.

“I want to sleep now.”

 I don’t stop her.

I close my eyes and imagine us in a better place. A few days ago, Aramide washed clothes, and I read a senior secondary school textbook on physics. Masha ran around us, playing with the little puddles of water that formed around Aramide’s washing buckets. Sighing, she splashed soapy water on him and on a second thought splashed on me too. “Stand up and play with your dog. Can’t you see he’s distracting me?”

“I’m reading,” I told her.

She dragged the textbook from me and sat on it. “Abeg, go and play. You have your whole life to read.”

I open my eyes and I realize that I am crying. Not the small sobs like I usually do but noisy, heart-wrenching sobs. Neither my sister nor my dog move.

I rub Masha’s fur one last time. I remember two months ago when Aramide gave him to me. She had found him, a newborn puppy, abandoned on the side of the road. “I know how much you love dogs,” she said, as she handed him over to me.

I reach for my sister’s cold hands, the dried blood-forming hard flakes. “I want to be an engineer. I like physics and engineers are rich,” I say, in between sobs.

She doesn’t reply. She never does.

SHIFT, LET HER FAINT by Joseph Olamide Babalola

SHIFT, LET HER FAINT by Joseph Olamide Babalola

SHIFT, LET HER FAINT

by Joseph Olamide Babalola

She is in a taxi, almost reaching home, fingers caressing her old Android with screen cracks the semblance of the world map. Normally, other things being equal, this is Nigeria, SMS wishes should have started dinging since midnight yesterday. But now the D-day is almost spent, it is nine in the night, the moon has not surfaced, and only Access Bank ever remembered to say a Happy Birthday. Great, isn’t it? Ridiculously great.

She is not on Instagram, doesn’t do Twitter or Snapchat either, but she has two-thousand-plus Facebook friends who amassed over the years, who almost never said anything to her. She knows how things should roll on a day like this, has the full fantasy of how birthdays feel nowadays. She could visit a studio to do some solo photoshoot with the little money she earned from the salon and share it online with a scintillating caption. But she didn’t. Even though she knew the right noise to make to command multiple likes, reactions, and dope comments, still she didn’t. Today doesn’t mean much anyway—all that fun stuff that swells your head and catapults you to cloud nine are meant for her Facebook friends with the time and the means, not her.

Since heaven didn’t fall, she didn’t get today off. She hates today better. Mama G. refused to unhook her from the salon stress. It even seemed Mama G. blindly allotted her some extra work to celebrate her. She did many hairs and hers remain rough, partly combed, packed off-sight in a tight scarf—it was best not to scare customers away.

Someone would ask of her parents, ask what is their job sleeping and snoring under the public cemetery ground while she is here struggling to feed herself. And her only living relative, her Lagos sister, leaves her and returns twice in a year, thrice in a leap year.

Now she reaches home, alights, unlocks the door, switches on the bulbs, drops her bag on the table as though dumping refuse, and hits the sofa.

Who would time-travel her back to 1999? The music blasts, the set dining table, the arrival of august guests, the awesome gifts, the photo snaps, her precious red-and-white gown, the merry. But time rockets past and dumps her in the future, here. Now… no shopping, no outing, no cards, no ice cream, no candle to blow air-plus-saliva into, no cake to cut into sweet slices. Now none seems to care. It is a solo world, a strange one at that. Today lost its meaning years back, now just like any other Thursday in any other month of any other damn year.

She changes her posture and lies back down, trying hard to wade through, to take a nap if possible. But she hears a strange sound. It comes once, then stops. Whatever that is, she knows it can’t be that good. She hates cats but the sound isn’t cat’s. It is something else.

Everywhere remains clothed in deep silence—a silence so calm you can feel it. Now she listens, hears a faint breathing. She listens again and hears again. What?!

She springs up from the sofa as though performing a stunt. Breathing heavily, she mutters, “Who’s there?” and all the bulbs go off immediately. Startled, she takes two steps closer to the table, tries her hand blindly to reach her bag. But heck, it’s not there. Second attempt, the bag is missing still. Wait… is something toying with her sanity? She is sure she put it here the other time. She keeps turning and turning around and around, seeing only black and black and black darkness and nothing more. And worse, it’s hard to trace her way out without finding the bag housing her torch and phone. She stands stock-still, frozen to the heavens.

A gentle footstep creeps in from the dark. It sounds closer by the seconds. Her heart jumps, racing off-beat. No action no words, a concrete pillar is better than her. Things aren’t foreboding well. What if it’s a ghost or something worse? Her bones soften up like a biscuit dipped in a pool of milk. She develops a sharp headache, her stomach threatens to give way, and before she does anything, the footstep stops right in front of her.

J-J-J-Jesus! She screams and shivers, her hands grabbing her chest hard. One second, two seconds, the bulbs come on.

“Happy birthday, Titi!” echoes many voices. Damn! Her eyes fail, but in front of her is her Lagos sister, Mary, holding a birthday present. Kola, the cool guy with a dark acne-ridden face emerges from behind the curtains. Junior, her neighbor’s fifteen-year-old crawls out from under the sofa, holding an iPod. From the kitchen, Lizzy, Toyin, and Emma enter the living room with doughnuts and rolls. Tunde surfaces from under the dining table, pulling out a crate of Coke.

She stands on the same spot, mouth open wide, too stiff to fall. Tofunmi, the semi-friend from her workplace enters with a cake bearing her name and +1 written on it. Mr. Sam, the electrician living next door, enters with a package on his right and a kit box on his left.

Even if she wants to hug Mary tight and cry her shoulders wet till her eyes no longer produces more drops, she can’t. She is way too drained. She slumps backward like a sawn tree and Mary receives her and lays her well on the sofa.

As everyone comes around to check if she fainted, to know whether to pour water on her or not, or to just fan her up, she signals with her weak hand for the party to continue while she tries hard to digest the ongoing.

A soft music starts playing in the background. When Titi regains her strength, Mary would explain why she masterminded the whole scene, the heart-attack surprise—it is simply her creative attempt at making up for the lost days.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joseph Olamide Babalola is a writer and poet whose heartfelt love for literary creativity is unending. He loves to weld words to create beautiful masterpieces. He was shortlisted for 2018 PIN Food Poetry Contest and 2018 African Writers Award. His pieces have appeared in 101words, BNAP Anthology and Poetica Magazine. He lives in South-Western Nigeria.

JOG IN THE RAIN by Carl Terver

JOG IN THE RAIN by Carl Terver

JOG IN THE RAIN

by Carl Terver

She saw the new pair of trainers in the cupboard, fine white things wrapped in a transparent bag. Only, the size was smaller. She knew Dami jogged every morning because she had been waking up beside him these days.

Dami was a quiet guy, in a way any hermit would covet. He smiled gently and walked as if his heels avoided the ground. Nobody knew what he did save that he jogged every morning.

‘Maybe you should jog to Lagos one of these days,’ she said to him when he returned from one of his jogging adventures in the morning, while she gave him a glass of water. As he gulped the liquid his eyes fell on her belly whose bulge, which he expected to see, was not showing. ‘I would,’ he answered.

She kept a journal since she moved in with him because she knew her life had changed. She had fallen in love with him and now was out of school because of the baby. She had to write down the things noteworthy of this change, like the uncanniness of her lover whom she knew only a pinch of; the man she’d spend the rest of her life with, maybe.

There was little conversation that went on between the two of them. With someone like Dami, it was hard to start one. When she’d left her father’s house for his place, she’d expected to meet him very unsettled, but he wasn’t. He’d simply asked, ‘You’re pregnant?’ looking at the luggage she carried. ‘Yes,’ she had nodded.

‘How do you feel’ he asked.
‘Fine. Okay.’
He sat on the arm of a cushion, perspiration all over him. A collection of poetry was on the table. ‘You’re reading poetry?’ he asked.
‘Yes, I found it.’ She didn’t want him to take her up on it. Before now she’d only known poetry as a form of art, especially inspired by love.
‘You know, there’re some poems marked there. There’s this particular one.’

She met him at an art exhibition. She’d seen the flyer for the exhibition on Instagram. The venue was close to her house. She was more curious than interested; art had nothing on her. The only thing she knew closest to art was her little brother’s pencil drawings.
‘It’s called abstract painting,’ he had said to her when he noticed the painting’s magnetic effect on her.
‘I wouldn’t know,’ she had responded, turning to the voice that had interrupted her sudden affinity to colours on canvas. And something had buckled inside her. He was saying something about the painting, how the kind was done to make humans see beyond the ordinary …
‘It’s transcendent,’ she finally said.
They both shook hands and talked for a while. She had wanted the painting but couldn’t afford it. ‘You can have it,’ he’d said to her.
‘Thank you,’ she said, repeatedly, till the moment the painting was packaged and given to her. Even as she collected it, she curtsied still saying, ‘Thank you.’
The following days it was the word ‘transcendent’, and not her gratitude, that Dami remembered like the tune of a naughty song you kept humming because you woke up with it on your lips.

 ‘… ‘The Good Morrow’. Have you read it?’ he continued.
‘No,’ she said.
‘You should,’ he said, too.
She was quiet as she sat on another cushion. The conversation had yielded things to write down in her diary.
The room was big, deliberately so. It was both bedroom and living room without demarcation. There was a bed at the far end by the windows. There was the wardrobe. Everything in its place. Small stools, a study corner with a table lamp, a miniature shelf (he wasn’t a heavy reader), and other hardware.
‘It’s a big compound . . . Where is everybody?’ she asked.
He started joltingly, then recollected himself. She hadn’t seen it, he thought.
‘In Canada.’
It wasn’t enough. Her brows went up.
So, he continued. “My father used to, well, still works with this manufacturer. He had a big promotion. He took everybody…’
‘Except you,’ she finished.
‘I was in the Navy. I could have followed them then, but I had other plans.’
‘What plans?’ she asked.
‘Well, I calculated. After ten years I could resign from the Navy with a pension, and I would have the house. Just me. Alone.’
Then, she wondered if she had intruded on his aloneness. Her eyes were focused on a point on the wall. She followed his conversation, but his voice came to her from the point on the wall.
‘Did you see it?’ he asked.
‘The trainers?’ she thought, saying.

They walked past the area in front of the porch of the house. The front door to the house was locked. And she commented, ‘I was looking around. It’s like every other part of the house is locked.’
‘I think so,’ he replied.
The ground of the compound was filled with gravel, strands of grass shot up from the pores. The coat of paint on the walls nearer to the ground had turned to flakes, revealing cracks that resembled the boundaries on a map, some part of it, fallen off. Spirogyra fried by the sun coated the walls, too. They passed an overhead water tank, inhaling the rust on the metal architecture that supported the tank, their feet making crunching sounds against the gravel.
They were now at the backyard.
He produced a key and inserted into a lock to a door that was hidden in dried vines. It opened into a void. Blankness. They couldn’t see anything; just shafts of light from windows high up the walls of the interior that shaped into a hangar sort of. A sound was heard – the click of a light switch – and the space was flooded with fluorescent lights. She said nothing. She just stood and took in the sight.
On the night of that day, as she lay on the bed before slumber came to borrow her consciousness, her eyes were wet. There wasn’t much to know about her lover than she would know, but she knew he was the man God had sent to her.
‘I’m an artist. I paint, but I don’t like people knowing about it,’ he’d told her when they both stood at that door gazing into the plethora of easels and canvases and paintbrushes and colours and brightness.

It began drizzling in the early hours when Dami presented the new pair of trainers to her to try on. It was a bit funny to her, but she did.
‘I want us to jog today,’ he said.
‘Today? It’s raining, my pregnancy . . .’ she said.
‘You’ve never jogged in the rain before. It’s sweet. You’ll see.’
So, she went out with him, that morning, in the rain, initiated into his ritual. It was sweet as he had said. Tiny droplets of rain fell softly against her skin. The cold weather was kind, mildly so. They held each other’s hands as their trainers touched the earth and leapt making wet-soil noises. She felt the blood warm in her body even as her heart pulsed. And since that day, mornings when it rained inspired a feeling in her: Something transcendent.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carl Terver, b. July ’91, loves to listen to Bob Marley’s ‘Who The Cap Fits’, is a Nigerian writer and poet who have been published in Brittle Paper, Praxis magazine, Expound, and The Kalahari Review, and forthcoming in The Offing. He is working on a book of poetry criticism, Dead Images Don’t Walk. He is a comma disciple and fan of Adam Gopnik. His forthcoming poetry chapbook is For Girl at Rubicon. He is an in-house writer and the assistant digital Editor at Praxis magazine.

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