It is night. I am holding a letter in one hand. A note. A piece of paper stained with words. Debbie’s words. A bulb casts an orange hue on the white sheet. The blades of the fan creak with each rotation, jutting downwards and pulling upwards, and briefly, I consider leaving the room before the inevitable would happen.
But I do not budge.
I unfold the paper and smoothen the creases, lingering my finger on each edge, as if by doing so, the words in the paper would vanish. I settle on a stool and begin to read.
It’s been a while. Scratch that. I’m angry at you.
How are you? How is home? How is writing? How was your semester result? Oh. Ayo mentioned you hadn’t seen it yet. Your school’s so… Sometimes, I’m glad we are only in the same institution, not in the same school. Well, I just wanted to say hello. I know your head is bobbing in disbelief, so I’ll just state my grievances.
How could you? We were close, Dave. Friends. Whispers of our relationship laced every dialogue, so much I had to pray myself into caution. We talked about writing and about family, goals, church, love, Father, everything. And you just vanished. Like a satellite hacked off the feeds.
That doesn’t work fine, Dave. It doesn’t (sigh). It’s break now. Holidays are good times to rethink and reorganize. The clothes are on the line. The smell of harmattan lingers in the air, thick as strong brandy. My mum’s cooking rice. She asks of you every morning, just after family prayers.
You know the implications.
Hmm. The hellos have been said. I should go now. Mum calls. Give your brother a wave for me.
I hold the paper at a stretch and suspend breathing. The next few moments, I think, are important. Important in preserving her voice, the smile on her face, the scent of her words, the spoken and the salient.
The door opens and Brother peeks.
I nod. “I’d join you.”
He catches the note but plays blind. When the door bangs shut, I ease up and tuck the note in a pocket of my backpack. The bulb fizzles. I fumble out of the room.
“Christmas,” Mother says. “What’s your plan?”
I gaze at her. Gaze her over. “What else.”
She sets her spoon at the tip of the plate. “Seriously, Dave, you need to think about doing something tangible with your life.”
She looks past me to Brother. Brother nods and forks a neatly cut yam. I imagine briefly, how I would write that – the boy who sat on the left of the room, sticking the tongs of a serrated knife into a piece of yam was (insert name). I immediately think of Ted. Ted and his book full of Dekker-effects and Dekker-sentences. Sentences like, Dead by Billos. Sentences like, One of his many names. Sentences like, To say he was fat was an understatement. He was obese.
A smile wiggles unto my lower lip.
I sit straight. “Yes, I intend getting a job, if that works out. Also, I am sending samples of my works – not writings – to people, hoping they would be interested in hiring me. Also, I’m trying to see if I can mentor someone in writing. I have some books to study too.” Confusion fills her eyes. “Books of the bible.”
“And of course, there are notes to familiarize myself with. 200 level notes. How’s that?”
She picks her spoon and begins to eat. Brother rocks his chair. No one says anything for a while.
Wait. That was a Dekker-sentence.
The clock strikes midnight. I tap a button on the phone and close my eyes. I do not say – Thank you Jesus for a new day. Instead, I say – Lord, I need help. I talk about the letter and Debbie, about writing, about how my fingers are growing and soon, my Sunday School teachers would be curious as to why I haven’t mentioned any plans for marriage, about the need to, yes, do something with my life?
“Should I stick with writing, Lord?”
A reptile hisses in the distance. I turn over and continue the reread of Blink of an eye. I consider the hero’s dilemma – having precognitive powers yet facing attacks from all angles. Midway, the precognition’s spell dwindles. What’s worse, he’s trapped on the road with a Saudi princess. And no, they aren’t eloping lovers.
They are just about to be.
Something about the story strikes me – the hero explaining the limitations of his precognition as, “Presently, I can see a squad car heading towards us from Fifth. But, the squad car can decide to turn right at the next junction, which produces another future.” His princess looks with blank eyes.
I too, for a trice.
But then, it connects. Ripple effects. Like a rock plopped into a pool, there’s one central action and surrounding actions. If, right now, I pick my phone and text Debbie – I am sorry. Can we meet tomorrow? – and she shows up and a month later, we are dating and on a night of wild drinks, there’s an exchange between us, the pregnancy that might result would not be because we drank too much, it would go back to the text I sent.
So, I should…
I snap awake. The phone reader glows. I tap the reader close and trail my last thought. Yes, Debbie. Central action.
I send her a text – Hi, Debbie. I have read your letter so much my head hurts. I will call tomorrow. Good night. Michael. I hit send and rest my head on the pillow. Puff a breath.
The sound of a ticking clock fills the silence.
Hi. Thank you for stopping by to read. There’s something else I have to share with you today.
Christmas was drawing close and the air was thick with carols. The neighbors chattered about chicken, rice, and what else. I, however, was thinking about writing. Another year was wrapping up and I was yet to hit that 10-pointer. In came CFW.
I remember responding to the call for submissions and how, weeks later, the two stories I sent were accepted to be published. The magazine came out in January and marked over a thousand downloads.
This time, there’s a new magazine. Freedom Magazine, published by Creative Freelance Writers. The stories in these magazines are fresh, not because they’ve clinched some Caine, but that they are narrated with unabashed voices. You wade through the poems, the story titled Lotanna and the story told from the POV of a weapon, and you wonder how, indeed, some writers are willing to put in the work. The bonus is, there’s no charges on downloading. Just visit CFW and find the download link (it should be up here as soon as I can access it).
What’s more? There’s a second publication. An anthology. Long Walk To Freedom. Thirty stories with a central, salient cry – Home is where freedom lies. The price of freedom costs more than rubies, yet the editors have decided to put up the anthology at an affordable price. Hit us at CFW to find out more. Each download matters simply because, essentially, our stories are worth telling.
And worth reading!!!