[box type=”info” align=”aligncenter” ]This is one of the stories that came out of the Writivism 2014, a project of the Centre for African Cultural Excellence, with the assistance of several partner organisations, which identifies, trains and engages readers and writers in public discourse through literature. As part of this years activities, they will have The Writivism Festival from 18 – 22nd June 2014. Like the Facebook page for more updates
The past 24 hours ran like a sequence. In flashes. The sunny afternoon. The good man. The sweet, cold drink. The rushed escape. And then, nothing.
But only for a minute, this time, there were blurred faces – snares, exposed teeth and wide eyes. Amanda sits in the dark, panting. The door whines as it was pulled open. Amanda jerked up, squinting, trying to make out the face of the one who stood by the door, his hulking frame silhouetted by the dim light from the passage way. And then another frame appeared beside it. And another. Until they were crammed together, morphing into one scary thing. Until Amanda felt light in the head, as she was sucked in by the darkness. She began to scream, but a pair of arms grabbed at her, pinning her to the floor, tugging at her dress, muffling her cries. A strangled moan filled her ears, just before she slipped into the quiet.
Amanda is awake. She is numb. She cannot breathe. She cannot see. It is as though someone was strangling her with a cord. But she is alone, panting.
Amanda sits up. The door hangs open, and weak light sifts in from the passageway. Quietly, she tiptoes across the door, careful not to make a sound. Careful not to upset her stomach which kept rumbling and rumbling, as though hadn’t had a meal in a week.
Amanda is awake, but Amanda knew that Amanda is in a dream, the type where each step taken seemed as though one was thrown ten steps behind. But she is determined, to escape, to breathe. Then she is running. And after she has walked out of the door, she kept on running, without stopping. Her heart thudding, her breathe choking, her stomach rumbling. She keeps running, because stopping meant she is back to her nightmare. Running meant that the hulking figures would be back again. Stopping means to remember.
She bumps into a stone, and then she was falling, smack down in a puddle of murky water. But she jerks back up, as though she hadn’t fallen in the first place. For a second she doesn’t remember where she was coming from, how long she had been running, or where she was going. But the key to freedom, to survival, as her mother told her months ago, was one leg in front of the other. And to never stop.
Amanda reaches the major road. Her wet, dirty clothes cling to her skin. The breeze whooshes around her. She is catching a cold. But she is smiling, because cold means she can feel, which means she was alive, which means she is free, which means she will not be back to the shack again.
Without thinking, she staggers into the road. Cars blare their horns and screech loudly before coughing to a stop inches from her. Some bump into each other. But Amanda keeps walking, without stopping, because stopping is never an option.
Suddenly, she feels weaker and light headed. Her vision blurs. She wipes her face with the back of her hand. She is crying. She sees the big church, the one where her mother had lain those days before the churchpeople took her to a hospital; before the churchpeople told her that her mother had gone to heaven, to join her Papa. Amanda’s knees give away under her. But she crawls to the stairs of the church. And just then, a pair of shoes stops before her.
Amanda stops breathing, and then, gradually, takes in the long stretch of trouser-clad legs, trousers the colour of night. Miles and miles of it. And then, the high thin chest clad in the immaculate black jacket. And then she catches his eyes.
Concern had gone and climbed into those eyes that always cared for Amanda. And then Father Kevin was carrying her up in his arms. He smelled of soaps and perfume. He smells of safety. Amanda begins to cry.
Amanda is dreaming. Of her Mama’s face. Mama looks healthy, without those skin eruptions that her made her look ugly. And her face was fuller, like she had been eating and doing nothing else in heaven. And her hair was fuller, blacker, and hung around her shoulders, like balls of black wool. Mama is smiling. And touching Amanda’s face and saying things Amanda cannot make meaning of. Mama smells of oranges. Those small sweet types Amanda loved. Amanda wants some oranges.
Amanda is awake. And she is crying. And she is happy. Because Mama is happy and healthy and beautiful.
Father Kevin stands a few feet from Amanda, assessing her, his face crumpled with concern.
“Will you now tell me who did this to you, my dear child?” He asked, holding Amanda’s hands.
Amanda smiles. And shakes her head.
“I saw Mama. She is happy.”
“That is great news, my child.” But Father’s face is still crumbling with more concern.
“I want to join Mama. I want to be where she is. Will you help me meet her, Father?”
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