Let the Day Break by Chukwuebuka Ibeh (3rd Position – Flash Fiction Category)

Let the Day Break by Chukwuebuka Ibeh (3rd Position – Flash Fiction Category)

Let the Day Break by Chukwuebuka Ibeh (3rd Position – Flash Fiction Category) 

3rd Position –  Let the Day Break by Chukwuebuka Ibeh

    Today, your wife would kiss you at the doorway, a firm press of her lips against yours, lingering and unsure, and then her tongue sliding into your mouth, not the usual breezy kisses hurriedly planted on your cheek often. She would lead you into the sitting room and tell you she had made something special for you herself. Would you like the Onugbu soup or Oha or Jollof rice? When you say, still unsure what exactly she was up to, that you didn’t want to have anything, she would pause to stare at you briefly, and then she would ask in a small, defeated voice, ‘Would you like to have a bath straightaway then?’
   She would watch you closely while you undressed to use the bathroom. There was something about her stare that unnerved you.  When she asked you if it was okay to join you in the bathroom, you would say, a bit too quickly, avoiding her curious stare, that today had been particularly uneventful and you’d rather be alone in the bathroom. She would touch your arm gently and kiss your cheek. Take it easy baby, she would say as you shut the door tentatively against her.
   These days, you avoided her. Ever since the doctor, a pleasant gentleman who seemed too young and too handsome to be a doctor, had held out an envelope to you and had told you in measured, solemn tones that this was not the end of the world, that you could still live a healthy life and enjoy a lovely marriage, you had begun to spend less and less time with your wife, conjuring imaginary business trips so you could lodge yourself in a hotel in GRA and drink yourself to stupor, bringing up tales of being too tired or sick or not really in the mood when she reached out for your flaccid penis beneath the sheets. And she was sweet, this wife of yours. She would caress your cheek and call you her poor baby. You work too hard sweetheart, she would say before she rolled over to ponder over one more night of disappointment, of implausible excuses that a child would doubt seriously. She was too much of a believer, this woman. Her optimism had always unnerved, even irritated you. But now, with your status hanging over you like a scepter, you were grateful for this optimism that surrounded her, this lack of questioning on her part.
  You would sit on the bed and watch her comb her hair in front of her dresser, swinging this way and that to get rid of the water in her hair. You would look at her legs, the smooth fairness that you ached to run your tongue over. But then, how could you possibly explain to your wife why you needed to use a condom in having sex when she was on pills and you had never needed an additional contraceptive in the past?
Babe, you would say, finally, barely louder than a murmur. But she would hear you and she would turn and walk up to you, smiling in that seductive way of hers that made your heart skip, already slipping the white towel off her body.
Babe, wait. You would say, fighting the urge to break down. So ignorant was she, so blithely unaware.
Is something wrong, sweetheart? She would say, standing directly in front of you now, cupping your chin in her palms.
 No.., you would begin. I mean.. yes. I went to see the doctor yesterday, you would say slowly, staring at the tiled floor below you because you could not bear to hold her gaze, the bewildered confusion in her hazel eyes. ‘There’s something I have to tell you.
I know she would say and for moments, the air in the room would float above you, too far from your reach. You would sit there, numb and unmoving while she slipped a pack of condom out from the drawer and dangle it before you. I got them yesterday, she would say, finally slipping the towel off her body.
   Later, after you came into the condom, you would prop yourself up on one elbow to watch her calm face, and you would ask her how she knew.
I saw the results of the test in your shirt pocket. She would say. Let’s not talk about it now, sweetheart. It’s better to have this discussion in the morning. Let the day break.
     Your relief would creep up slowly, gradually taking up the space of unbelief. You would look at her eyes and see your weakness in them. You would think of those times you came home late to find her asleep on the sofa in the sitting room while waiting for you. You would think of her persistent silence, her clam looks when you rambled about late meetings and traffic.  You would think of how undeserving you were of her goodness. You would think of the future, try to imagine what it would feel like now that she knew your status.
You would reach out to her as though to hug and kiss her at the same time, but you would bring her palms to your face instead and you would weep your gratitude into them.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chukwuebuka Ibeh studies History and International relations at the Federal University in Otuoke. He has had pieces published in New African Writing Anthology, Dwartsonline, Jotters United and elsewhere. He is a regular contributor with Bella Naija, Woke Africa and the New England Review of Books.

Isolation

Our third issue ever, "Isolation" is out. We had thought-provoking conversations with Alexis Teyie and Tobi Nifesi. It's a collection of works from some of the finest minds out there -- poetry, short stories, interviews, and creative essays.

Do you love our published works?

You can add your literary work to an endless list of poems, short stories, flash fiction, and essays.

WHISPERING TREES AT THE CEMETERY by Chinweokwu Ukwueze

WHISPERING TREES AT THE CEMETERY by Chinweokwu Ukwueze

WHISPERING TREES AT THE CEMETERY

by Chinweokwu Ukwueze

It was mid-year in Nsukka when the clouds merged with the earth to become one. The brown soil of Nsukka had become muddy and clumpy, sticking to the shoes. During this period of the year, the skies were always pregnant with rain. Women carried umbrellas in their bags and the men’s eyes followed the clouds in search for signs of rain. The leaves dripped with water constantly and dampness thickened the air like cocoyam thickened onugbu soup. The cold was the sort that possessed the body making people shake like there was an evil spirit within them.
The mourners in the Public Cemetery, Nsukka, didn’t allow this to deter them on that third Friday of June. The large cemetery was partly filled up. Middle-aged men shook their heads as they stood in groups, conversing. Women wailed, sobbed and sighed as they looked up to the sky. The young men shook their heads, beat their chest and bit their fingers. The whistling pine trees that surrounded the cemetery, standing beside its unpainted walls were silent. Except for occassional wails of ‘eewoo’, ‘chai’, ‘Chineke’ here and there by male and female alike, the cemetery was quiet and cool.

 

Ebuka stood close to the unpainted walls of the cemetery and whistling pines trees. He was a young man in his early twenties. He was in a white T-shirt, black trousers, and black sandals.  He watched the water drip from the leaves. He didn’t want it to give him the feeling it always had. He’d have taken a deep breath, and the scent of the new rain on the ground and leaves would have excited him. He did not want to stop the intake of a deep breath. He did not want the sweet liquid that would fill his heart. He didn’t want to feel all these on this Friday in June. He felt as though two strong men were pulling his heart apart, shredding and then setting it on fire.
“Why?” Ebuka cried. “Why does this have to happen to us?” He closed his eyes and he felt two streams of coldness running down his cheeks. He sniffled. He opened his eyes and stared at the whistling pine trees. When he was in primary school, he’d branch off by the cemetery and as he waited, he hoped that the breeze would blow and make the whistling pines whistle. On a rainy day, the trees whistled louder than a hundred coaches. As he stood now, he wished they’d whistle and fill up the hollow space in him a little. He also wanted them to whisper to him that all was well. He cried softly then laughed at himself. He knew that he was a man, and men did not cry like women. He wiped his eyes with the back of his palms. He heard the loud murmur and he turned to look.

 

A tall, slim young man walked into the cemetery through the rusting metal gates of the cemetery. He was draped in black clothes and black boots. He walked like the male models Ebuka had seen on TV. His eyes always seemed to be looking at something just ahead, his shoulders were raised, and he often adjusted his dark eyeglasses. The eyeglasses were supposed to be sun shades, but Ebuka guessed he wore it because he didn’t want his tear filled eyes to be seen. The people at the cemetery looked at him and murmured as he walked through the cemetery to where the white plastic seats were arranged for the funeral mass. When he sat down, people looked at him for a short time before they looked away.
Ebuka looked at him longer than the others. The young man looked rich and he was the only one in the cemetery in the complete attire of mourning. Ebuka had graver issues to worry about, although they seemed a million miles away as he stared at the young man. Ebuka squatted and watched some earthworms moving on the surface of the ground. They’d be part of the things that would devour his brother. He closed his eyes, and his mind moved to a thousand places at the same time. His family was very religious, and never forgot to keep any commandment of God, he was sure of that. But trouble and calamity had taken some rooms in their house. He inhaled and exhaled.
“Good morning,” a voice said behind him. He turned. The young man was standing there without his shades. “I am Diddy. I was your brother’s close friend.” He spoke with a forced accent. Although he tried well to sound as British as possible, he still mispronounced some words. Ebuka stood up. “It’s a pity that you lost your brother at such an early age. I offer my condolence. Take heart, my dear.”
“Thank you,” Ebuka said. “My name is Ebuka.” He offered his hand to Diddy for a handshake. Diddy didn’t take the hand. Ebuka dropped his hands, slowly. “How do you know me?”
“As I said, your brother was my very close friend. We knew each other to our wardrobes and cupboards in our different homes.” He laughed lightly. “He was the best person I’ve ever met. You were lucky to have had such a nice brother. It’s a big loss.” He took out a white handkerchief from his trouser pocket and wiped his eyes.
“I also offer my condolence to you since you were so close to him like that,” Ebuka said.
“Thank you, bro. You should take it easy with your grieving. I’ll only be around for a short time because I cannot stay until the end of the funeral mass. I sincerely offer my condolence” Diddy said. Ebuka nodded but said nothing. Diddy picked his eyeglasses from his pocket and wore it. He bowed again and walked away. Ebuka watched his model-like strut until he sat on one of the white plastic seats.
When Ebuka turned to look at the whistling pine trees, he smiled. He never knew anyone could say such good things about his brother. His brother was a good man, but he was often quiet and alone, and because of this, he lacked friends. Ebuka remembered that Chidera gave him his toy for Christmas when Ebuka was five. Their parents had bought a toy for Chidera only, because he took the first position in his class. Chidera was seven then. He’d given Ebuka the toy airplane controlled with remote, smiling. Since then until his death, Chidera was always nice to him and everyone else. His quiet nature made other the children of the neighborhood (and later youths) loathe him. Ebuka smiled. He had respected his brother very well, but after the talk with Diddy, he respected him even more. The whistling pine trees whispered to him in their calmness that his brother was already in heaven, at the right hand side of the almighty, and he heaved a sigh of relief.
There was a caravan of cars led by the ambulance that stopped in front of the cemetery’s gates. The crying in the cemetery had increased. Ebuka saw his mother wailing and collapsing on the ambulance. The other women around held her back and consoled her, but she persisted in it. He saw his father remove his traditional cap and hold it to his stomach. He was a man; he didn’t need any serious consolation, he could bear the loss of his favorite son alone. In the caravan of cars that stopped in front of the cemetery, there was the officiating priest’s jeep and a bus filled with young men who worked with Chidera when he was alive. These young men held bright green leaves and sang mourning songs.
The tortuous noise that took over the cemetery stopped totally when the priest began the burial mass. The mourners sat on the plastic seats. They heard the priest’s voice as it moved around calmly. Ebuka looked around for Diddy, but he couldn’t see him again. He focused and listened to the priest’s sermon that was pineapple in the midst of lime. The priest, who was the parish priest at the nearby Catholic parish, spoke about the good kingdom after earth. A kingdom where there is no sorrow and suffering. Chidera was a good young man in all his ways, so he’ll be in heaven, and at the right hand of God. This kingdom is what mattered most, and not the short time on earth. If he is in heaven, we’ve to cry no more and rejoice for his reunion with the father. Ebuka nodded solemnly to the priest’s sermon.
While the priest was consecrating the sacrament, a loud scream pierced through the somber occasion. On investigation the scream was that of a little girl. The priest stopped the consecration. Some men moved to the direction of the little girl’s scream. Ebuka moved with them.
Ebuka got to the girl first. She wasn’t more than six. She was sitting alone, surrounded by empty plastic seats, and Ebuka wondered who she had come with. Ebuka looked at her, seeking what might be wrong with her. The other men gathered around Ebuka. Ebuka looked at the men before he fixed his eyes on little girl. “What is wrong? Did you see a snake?” Ebuka asked. The girl shook her head. He looked at her carefully and noticed her eyes opened widely like someone who’d experienced a murder scene or seen a ghost. “Did you fall?” She shook her head again.
“She must have been frightened by the casket and the entire funeral,” a middle-aged man in a brown tunic said. “Who brought a little girl to a funeral? This must have been a horror to her.”
“She’s fine. She was playing around when I saw her,” a young man in jeans and a green T-shirt said. Ebuka looked at him longer than he’d looked at the middle-aged man. The young man had a scar near his dark lips. “I think she played from where she was sitting with her mother to this place.”
“Then, what is wrong with her?” the middle-age man asked again, fixing a frightening quizzing look at the girl. The look would frighten the girl more than the funeral he claimed frightened her.
Ebuka walked closer to the girl and squatted. He held her small arm. “Omalicha, what is wrong?” he asked.
The girl turned her face slowly to the left and pointed to what looked like some white papers on the ground. Ebuka stood, walked to where the papers were and stared at them. “Omalicha, I think these are pictures. Did they make you scream?” he asked. She nodded. He picked the pictures. He walked towards the men. He smiled. “Pictures made the girl scream.”
When he got to the men, he opened the pictures for all to see. A man snapped his fingers and shouted, “Tufiakwa! Evil!”
Ebuka finally looked at the pictures; the horror in them shook him and crippled his breath. He shook his head, and he willed it to be false. He wanted it to be that his brother was not naked in the picture with Diddy, allowing Diddy to suck him up like a mother sucking the runny nose of a child. He wanted the other to be false, too. Diddy bent down, his palms on his elbows as Chidera drilled him. Many things ran through him mind and had serious commotion that weighed him down. He tore the pictures. He tore them into tiny pieces.
The funeral mass never remained the same again. People murmured as the priest tried to finish the mass. Ebuka sat down, shocked. Diddy was evil, the whispering trees had lied, and his brother had deceived them all. After the mass, the priest rushed out. Other mourners left the cemetery, silently, until the family was left alone with the casket. His father spat on the casket and left with his mother. Ebuka stared at the casket for a long time before he dragged it and buried it in the already dug grave, cursing that third Friday of June.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chinweokwu Ukwueze is a Nigerian writer born in Nsukka, Nigeria. He lives in Lagos. He studies at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he is studying for a degree in English and Literature. He is serving as the editor of The Muse Journal, 46. He believes art is human and free.

 

BROKEN TEARS by Akinsanya Damilola

BROKEN TEARS by Akinsanya Damilola

BROKEN TEARS

by Akinsanya Damilola

“Broda please, please find me something, my belle dey crack, broda please, please abeg you.”
He said this line in the same precise version over and again as though he spent an entire day memorizing that part. I looked straight into his green eyes searching for a shred of lie in them but all I felt pity for the poor boy. The kind of pity I had for the boy who had lost his right arm to the whim of a drunken policeman wielding a gun. The kind of pity I nursed toward my first crush when she lost her father violently during the Boko Haram winter strike. The kind of pity I could not describe when my next-door neighbour was diagnosed of the Ebola Virus. The fair-skinned boy could not be more than ten. I could tell by looking at his unlined face that bore a sea of endless uncertainties. He was a Fulani boy on the busy Iwo Road with crinkly hair the colour of a coconut husk.
Owo yin da? The driver shouted, etching out his impatience with meaningful glances. His calloused manner must have disgusted a woman in the back row and a rowdy barrage of words ensued. It was at that point I realized the bus was full.

 

“Ki ni e wan ro?” He added. Maybe the bus conductor knew I had been thinking of Oyinda before the Fulani boy came. Maybe he knew I had been picturing Oyinda’s beautiful figure in my mind. Maybe he knew Oyinda and I had, earlier that day, being in the same lecture room and I had not learned anything from the whole sixty-eight-minute class. “Is that your sister? The man sitting beside me asked when he saw me staring at Oyinda’s picture on my phone- the one with her mum. Yes, I replied sharply to avoid further questioning. Unfortunately, the man was not one to give easily.
“She is very beautiful,” he added.
“Thank you, sir!” I said as I looked away- the universal signal of disinterest. The man still didn’t get the hint.

 

“She looks just like my daughter, with her wide smile on a naughty face. I lost her last month to meningitis,” he added sadly. I became febrile as a cold current ran down my spine. I tried to blot out the reality of his words but the statement had blindsided me. Meningitis! That was the same disease that the state health workers had come to my hostel to administer vaccines for. At first, I had snubbed the whole exercise writing it off as unhygienic because of the limited number of needles and syringes available. And there was a man who had lost his daughter to what could have been my killer.
“I’m so sorry sir,” as words managed to make their way out of my mouth. “She must have been an angel to you.” The man did not utter a word. He was looking in the opposite direction, fixing his deep-set eyes on the verdant hedges along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. His eyes were filled with tears that trickled down like raindrops from a roof in September. The atmosphere between us was thick with sorrow.
“God will rest her soul in His bosom,” I said breaking the silence. The man looked at me, the wealth of sadness in his eyes piercing me like a knife as he said to me, “I hope she will be safe there.”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Akinsanya Damilola(Akindavies), a final year student of the Faculty of Law at the premier University of Ibadan. He discovered his writing aptitude after an encounter with Richard Wright’s Black Boy a couple of years ago and has ever since written a considerable number of poems works and short stories. He is the recipient of the Lagos State (Alimosho Local Government) Essay Contest 2009 and was among the ten finalists of the Unesco Goi Peace Essay, 2015, among others. Away from writing, he has a fondness for trees and wildlife conservation.

THE CALL OF THE CROW

THE CALL OF THE CROW

THE CALL OF THE CROW

I did not know what to write, I had always searched for the right story everywhere in mind. Then my mother woke me up. It was midnight and the whole village was sleeping.

“Listen…” she whispered to my ear, and I waited for her to talk; she did not.

I thought my ear was not cleaned enough, so I cleaned it again and I waited, and still my mother said no word. I used to be impatient when it came about listening, but my mother’s smile could turn a burning heart into an enchanted garden. Yes, my mother’s smile could.

“Keep calm…” she whispered with that same smile.

I tried but there was that thought; my girlfriend would come for a visit tomorrow, so I kept picturing the lovely day we would spend together. My paper was still white and empty, and the night would end.

“Keep calmer…” again did she whispered.

I thought of a mighty sun that would wipe out the face of my girlfriend and leave an empty room. The room got emptied, and the sun was so mighty that no other image could set a foot in. I was sweating, because of the effort I had to make to fight the first word that would make my story.

“Calmer and calmer…” tenderly she whispered.

I was getting too tired, for the right word was not coming. Then I heard a crow from a distance.  “A crow… I thought, what is a crow doing there at this time of the night?” The lonely crow kept calling, no fellow replied. “Is the crow calling?” I asked myself, without thinking of it; I was still waiting for my mother to talk to me. She did not, only the voice of the crow flew in the darkness.

The voice of the crow

Then I saw the sunlight growing weaker. A little wind caressed my body and dried it and relaxed my mind, I felt a warm hand touching my wrist; when everything go in a deep darkness in my mind, I heard the voice of the crow closer, no longer calling with that dreadful voice, but telling a story with sweetness and harmony.

“I’m inspired!” I screamed with my heart, and my softened wrist started to write the words that where silently coming along.

I knew I had the right story, and that is how I got inspired. It was not the most beautiful story on earth, but it was a perfect one. I looked for my mother in the bed, and I could find her nowhere. My mother was out, not trying to manage a sleepless night; my mother was in her grave managing a sleepless life. And only my writings would take her to Peace.

RAY NDEBI

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

My name is Théodore René Ndebi, born in Cameroon. I graduated in Banking Management. But what really makes me proud and happy is WRITING !!!!! I started writing around 1990. I write the most I can.

I mostly write for children’s future. As a child, I had always dreamt of a world where poor children and orphans could be happy as well. I have many unpublished collections in French: Chaque Jour Un Poème, Rêve D’un Soir, La Missive Du Petit Prince, Suis-Je Assez Bien Pour Toi… I’m also author of unpublished novels in French (Cierge Noir, Plus Violent Que L’amour, Les Fruits De La Tempête…). My first published novel; THE LAST GHOST/Son Of Struggle got published in 2013 by AuthorhouseUK; it appears in the LOS Angeles Times Festival Of Books Catalogue 2014 Page 8. Available online @ Amazon, Kindle, AuthorhouseUK, Barnes & Noble, Indie. I wrote numerous award winning texts. I am a Book Reviewer and Translator. I am a member of OneAfricanChild since 2013 and Co-Founder of Le Salon Du Livre Yaounde-Cameroon. You can check my works on: authorrayndebi.wordpress.com.Ray Ndebi on Facebook, @RTNdebi on Twitter, Facebook Page My Soul & Mon Ame.

 

DIGIT-AL

DIGIT-AL

On Chat. Christmas Eve.

Me: Hey Darling. I just got off the phone with your Dad.

Him: LOL. And how did it go?

Me: Surprisingly, ’twas easier than I thought. Was a lil’ scared at first, you know, talking to him for the first time.

Him: Told you you’d be fine. He wouldn’t bite.

Me: Hehehe. Thanks, Dear.

Him: Pleasure. So what do you want for yuletide, Baby?

Me: Hmm… dunno. Honestly, I feel it isn’t so much the gift as the gesture. Anything would do fine, Honey.

PS: Lest I forget, please send me your Mom’s digits.
Him: Uhm… *shrugs* Anything for you, Baby.
Me: *smiles*

The Digits

The Digits

 

Boxing Day

A knock on my door. It is a parcel. With a note on the box.

“As you requested. Sorry about the ice, wanted it to remain fresh. Merry Xmas. xoxo.”

I unwrap.

It is his mom’s digits—all twenty of them.

© Bunmi Oke

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A short attention span and a slow reading pace make Bunmi Oke’s helpless affair with micro fiction less of a surprise. His works can be found on Microbookends, 81words, Drablr, 101words etc, while a tiny piece comes out in print in Boston Literary Magazine June 15, 2015.

Oftentimes, he is seen furiously typing away on a smartphone—often mistaken for an addiction to chat. If only folks knew what muse does to you unless you give it expression.

THE DATE

THE DATE

THE DATE

So, we’re returning from our third date. Telling each other how much of a good night out we had, we hug. She asks that I call her. I nod, ecstatic. How I like this lady! So much I loathe to leave. But I have to.

Turning around, heading to flag down a taxi, I hear her door click shut. That is my prompt—run up to her window to steal one final gaze for today. Yeah, I know it’s creepy, but what will a brother do?

The date!

The date!

I see a pair of legs on the wall, then I hear a much deeper voice—no, that can’t be hers—reciting some mantra. Hearing my full name with ‘blood,’ ‘donation,’ and ‘tonight’ as immediate neighbours in the same sentence, my legs need no telling what to do. Just then she vanishes from the bed! I turn around to flee only to see her right there. And all goes black.

White walls, white gowns; and white bandage wrapped around my intensely aching head. Must have been a concussion. Trying to adjust to the light, a face wafts into my view, inches away.

“Hey you,” a broad smile on her face.

I re-faint.

© Bunmi Oke

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A short attention span and a slow reading pace make Bunmi Oke’s helpless affair with micro fiction less of a surprise. His works can be found on Microbookends, 81words, Drablr, 101words etc, while a tiny piece comes out in print in Boston Literary Magazine June 15, 2015.
Oftentimes, he is seen furiously typing away on a smartphone—often mistaken for an addiction to chat. If only folks knew what muse does to you unless you give it expression.

Pin It on Pinterest