Synopsis: One simple touch leads to a whole new adventure
- The image is from ChasingTheTurtle blog
- Characters in this story are fictional. Any resemblance to real persons is purely coincidental.
Author note: I found this lying on one of my drives. It appears that I was attempting to write a novel. Someone pointed me to this site so I decided to share this here. Hope you’ll enjoy it and I apologise for any grammatical errors that I have missed.
Word count: 3000+
Samantha Mugisha crossed her arms over her chest and gave an angry toss of her braided head before glaring at the dashboard.
This is going to be a long journey, she thought angrily.
She watched her father bob his head in tune to the beat as he drove. Her mother, seated in the passenger seat, smiled and hummed the tune of the song.
Twenty minutes into this four hour journey and Samantha was ready to bolt from the car and return home. She cringed when her father started singing. The song was definitely older than her and from the look of things, her father planned to play the entire oldies playlist for the rest of the journey to her paternal grandmother’s home, with her mother’s approval, of course.
Samantha sank back into her seat and turned to her left, hoping to find an understanding ear in her twenty year old brother, Alex, but was disappointed to find him stroking his non-existent facial hair while browsing the internet on his phone.
She shifted and turned to her right, taking care not to jostle her younger nine year old brother. Robert Jr. or Robbie, as he insisted on being called, was fast asleep, having given up his excited perusal of the traffic. A large picture book lay abandoned in his lap.
Her eighteenth birthday was in two days and her grandmother had insisted on having her celebrate it at the family farm. All of Samantha’s plans for the eagerly awaited day had been thrown out the window for no one would dare say no to grandy, as the children affectionately called the family matriarch.
So all the dreams of hanging out with her friends, with the increased chance of being asked out by Martin, her current crush, had come to nothing and she was now leaving Kampala headed to Mbarara for a three week stay, which was technically the entirety of her holiday. The desire to throw the world’s largest tantrum had been squashed by the recollection of her needing pocket money for the next academic term and she was not about to risk the combined wrath of her father and grandmother.
As Billy Ocean belted out a tune on the speakers, Samantha sighed again then rummaged through the bag she held in her lap, tossing her phone aside in favour of the novel she had hoped to read during the journey. She instinctively moved to the side when Robbie farted in his sleep.
“You just puffed,” he said, throwing an accusing look at her.
Samantha hit his arm, only to have him retaliate and the physical altercation soon erupted into their usual verbal sparring that had to be broken up by their mother.
Grandmother Charlotte Mugisha lived on a large farm about a kilometer away from the main town of Mbarara. Having born seven sons at an early age, she now enjoyed the benefit of having so many children and grandchildren call on her whenever she desired and spoiled the youngest mercilessly when their parents weren’t watching.
She had been widowed five years earlier when the Mugisha patriarch lost his life to a brain tumour, and had continued to run the farm with the same efficiency as her late husband. The two had been an inseparable pair.
Robert Sr. was her youngest and favourite son and he also had the honour of being the only one of her children to provide her with a granddaughter. Having been in the company of males for so long, Charlotte was eager for any female companionship and it pleased her that her sons had married intelligent and pleasant women whom she could get along with. Robert’s wife, Susan, by virtue of being married to the favourite son, was held in high esteem and shared a closer relationship with the older woman.
Grandmother Mugisha now stood impatiently, dressed in a long blue patterned dress with her grey hair in a bun and watched the car drive up the tarmacked road to the house. She had been anticipating their arrival and had nearly called every twenty minutes to discover their progress on the road.
As the family bundled out of their pajero, she stepped forward to greet them. Robbie immediately lunged at her.
“Grandy!” his small arms went around her waist and he smiled up at her.
Charlotte patted his head and sneaked several sweets into his searching hands before turning her gaze to Samantha. The younger female stretched her slender frame and yawned then scowled at Alex who was taken up by his reflection in the side mirror.
Charlotte greeted her son and his wife but waited for Samantha’s greetings as the others trotted off into the house.
“How is the birthday girl?” Charlotte finally called out.
Samantha’s scowl vanished and she came to embrace her grandmother. “Good afternoon, grandy.”
Charlotte drew away from her and eyed her book. “What are you reading?”
“It’s just a novel,” Samantha quickly stuffed the novel into her bag and ran into the house.
Charlotte observed her granddaughter’s retreat with a worried frown that swiftly vanished when Robert Sr. reappeared with one of the house-helps to unload the luggage from the car.
Samantha knew she had no reason to complain yet couldn’t help flinging herself onto the bed with a displeased sigh. She had been given her usual room, a light and airy place with a good view of some nearby hills.
Her grandmother’s farm was normally one of the most pleasant places to be: it had running water and electricity and was unlike the horror stories she normally heard from her friends whenever they were carted off to visit their ancestral homes. Grandy was one of her favourite people, though a little odd at times and save for the little spat with Alex in the car, the journey here would have been pleasant if not for her ruined plans.
Samantha may not have been very fluent in her mother-tongue, a fact that Alex repeatedly rubbed in her face whenever he and Robbie chose to cut her out of a conversation, but her grandmother spoke several languages well and was quite comfortable conversing in English with her granddaughter.
Samantha checked her phone: Martin hadn’t tried to contact her in any form, either on any of her social media accounts or through direct texting and calling, even though she had announced her trip.
It was a worrying sign.
She dropped her phone, kicked her bag aside and studied her room. To the left of her bed was a large shelf packed with novels and books, a number of them quite new and this normally would have excited her but Samantha just couldn’t muster up the interest to go through them at the this time.
She roused from her thoughts when her door opened and Robbie marched in, headed straight for the book shelf.
“Mommy wants you in the kitchen,” he announced and plopped down in front of the shelf.
Without awaiting her response, the boy proceeded to pull out several large novels in a haphazard manner.
“What for?” Samantha grumbled.
Robbie shrugged and continued with his task.
Samantha glowered at him then rose and made her way out of the room. As she left, she heard Robbie talking out loud to himself and shook her head. It was an odd habit he appeared to have developed some months ago when left on his own.
She strode past the other rooms then past the large dinning and sitting room before finally entering the spacious kitchen.
Her mother stood at the sink, washing a large pile of passion fruits and oranges while one of the house-helps tended to the numerous pans on the large gas stove. Her grandmother sat at a table to the side, chopping up vegetables. Next to her, the enormous grey fridge hummed, filling up the silence in the kitchen.
“Mommy, Robbie said you were calling me,” Samantha said with a glance at her mother.
Her mother turned to her. “Could you go and get my…”
“Samantha!” Robbie’s loud cry interrupted her mother’s words and her young brother soon appeared, waving Samantha’s phone. “Some boy called Martin wants to talk to you.”
Samantha swiftly snatched the phone from her brother and bolted out of the kitchen and into the sitting room. Reminding herself to be calm, she lifted her phone to her ear.
“Gwe,” Martin’s voice rang out loud and clear over the phone, “who was that confused kid?”
Samantha silently promised to hit Robbie the next time she saw him.
Martin didn’t give her a chance to respond as he went on, “Anyway, I wanted Rachael’s number: could you send it to me? Thanks.”
He hang up.
Samantha stared at the phone in disbelief: the call had not even lasted a minute. Of course he wanted Rachael’s number—Rachael Nuwera, her almost bestfriend and sometimes annoying classmate. Rachael, the one who had sworn to that she had no interest in Martin.
Samantha stomped her foot as tears sprang into her eyes and quickly turned to leave, only to wind up bumping into Alex’s tall frame.
“Eh,” he stepped back when he caught the look on her face and inquired suspiciously, “are you in your period?”
Robbie stood behind him, looking at both his siblings with wide eyes. “What is a period?”
Samantha stormed off to her room and slammed the door before jumping onto her bed.
It was hours later, when dusk had already settled upon them that the door to her room opened, revealing her grandmother. Samantha sniffed and lifted her head to watch her grandmother enter the room. Her eyes were red and swollen and her entire body felt achy.
“Grandy,” her lower lip wobbled.
Charlotte eyed her granddaughter and came to her bedside with a glass of juice and two white tablets on a saucer. She silently handed them over to Samantha, who reached for them without complaining. After swallowing the painkillers along with the juice, Samantha sat propped up against the pillow and stared at her grandmother.
“Alex is annoying,” she complained. “He thinks those few hairs on his chin make him a man. As if!” She snorted and wiped her nose. “As for Robbie…”
Samantha bowed her head at her grandmother’s sharp tone and sniffed. She sneaked a peek at her grandmother, hoping to see some sign of forgiveness for her tantrum and instead saw concern, along with puzzlement written all over her grandmother’s face.
The silence stretched further and Samantha quickly averted her gaze, peering at the window where the darkness of the night loomed. She moved and drew the curtains, uncomfortable with the pitch-black beyond her window.
When she turned back to her grandmother, she found her scanning the book shelf: Robbie had left several books lying around in a mess.
“It was Robbie who did that,” Samantha said.
Her grandmother moved towards the shelf and stared down at the pile. “When did you last read some of these books?”
Samantha shrugged. “I don’t know.”
She eyed the novels beyond her grandmother, several of them literature classics with a few detective series. Her eyes returned to the novel she had earlier on discarded on her bed and she quickly hid it under her pillow, hoping her grandmother hadn’t spotted it.
Her grandmother reached for one of the books then drew back. She quickly pulled out a pair of brown cotton gloves and wore them before touching the books.
Samantha eyed the gloves.
She, along with the rest of her family, had taken to calling them the ‘reading gloves’ for her grandmother never handled a book without them. She had used them in this manner for as long as Samantha could remember.
“You had better come for supper,” her grandmother announced after placing all the books back in the shelf.
Samantha nodded and stood, startled by familiar wet sticky feeling. She glanced down at the covers and groaned, causing her grandmother to look at her.
“Grandy, I need pads.”
Samantha was up, showered and dressed in warm clothing by six in the morning and cheerfully trotting to the paddocks with her grandmother. Having chosen the arrival of her menses as the reason for her weird mood, Samantha had quickly made her peace with Alex and Robbie, leaving the former confused and wary and the latter unbothered by her happy manner.
Her parents had simply observed this in silence then exchanged exasperated looks before engaging her grandmother in a conversation in which she could not participate as they spoke their local dialect and she had barely followed what they were saying.
She stomped her sneakers on the cold wet grass then sniffed the air; the scent of manure filled her nostrils and she hastened to keep up with her grandmother as they finally reached the paddocks. Several of the farm workers were up and about and the milking process had already begun.
Samantha left her grandmother’s side once her grandmother started conversing with one of the workers in Kiswahili and went searching for her cow, a gift that had been given to her a year ago. Alex had nicknamed the creature Bihogo to frighten her but Samantha had stuck to the name Bessie which she had discovered in one of her novels.
She swung her torch one way then another, taking care to avoid the sometimes enormous piles of dung within the paddock. Most of the cows had gathered impatiently at one end where the milking was being done while one particularly jealous mother guarded its calf at her approach.
Samantha finally found Bessie, a large white and black Friesian patiently awaiting its turn to be milked and spent a few minutes admiring it before giving it a quick pat on the head. Samantha left the paddocks and went to the chicken coop to help in the egg collection then sauntered over to where the goats were kept.
By the time she rejoined her grandmother, the milking had been completed and the sun was up. As they made their way back to the main house, they met her father coming out in boots and khaki pants with a weird hat on his head.
Samantha left her grandmother and joined her father on his intended walk around the farm. They first visited her grandfather’s grave, then one of the main banana plantations where Robert Sr. proceed to examine a few bunches of plantain ready to fall over and proceeded round another path to the maize garden.
It was some time later when Samantha returned to the house, tired but exhilarated, having succeeded in distracting her mind. She found one missed call and text from Martin, chiding her for not sending the promised number and demanding she do it at once. Samantha deleted the text and spent the rest of the day getting in her grandmother and mother’s way while they worked in the kitchen.
The day before her birthday dawned bright and early. With the kitchen converted into a temporary bakery, Alex, Samantha and Robbie had been relegated to the sitting room while her mother and grandmother worked. Robert Sr., reveling in his position as pampered husband and son, escaped from the kitchen with a plate of cookies and retreated to his room, much to his children’s ire.
Samantha grew bored and yawned.
The scents from the kitchen were tantalizing and she soon left her brothers occupied with a cartoon program on the TV while she wandered back to her room. As the hours passed, Samantha counted them down eagerly and set her alarm for midnight.
She chided herself, recalling that she had been born at six in the morning but the technicality of the event was not going to stop her. Her grandmother startled her when she came to her room, bearing a small wrapped gift.
“An early birthday present,” her grandmother announced and handed her the gift.
Samantha grabbed the gift. “Thank you,” she cried and proceeded to tear through the wrapping.
A pair of pale blue gloves was what she found.
“Your own reading gloves, just in case,” Charlotte declared proudly.
Samantha tried but failed to hide her disappointment. “Thank you.”
Charlotte patted her head. “Do not worry. It’s just the first gift but it is the most important.” She appeared distracted. “Or it may be. Anyway,” she patted Samantha once again, “come for tea.”
Samantha left the gift on her bed and didn’t return to her room till much later, having been caught up in plans for the next day. She showered and quickly dressed for bed then studied the gloves.
“Why on earth would I need these?” she muttered.
She pushed the gift aside then quickly climbed into bed. Her eyes quickly scanned her phone and took note of the time: one hour to midnight. Samantha grabbed her novel, intent on staying up till the midnight hour was struck. She opened her book to the dog-eared page she had marked earlier and tried to read but her gaze wandered back to the gloves.
Giving up on her novel for a moment, she picked the gloves and studied them. They were made of cotton and could probably be worn in warm weather and when she tried them on, they fit her perfectly. But no matter how she turned them one way or another, she couldn’t see why her grandmother had given them to her.
With a shrug she dropped them, returned to her book and stared at the odd pose the couple was making on the cover; both the cover and the book’s summary promised a raunchy tale and she had given in to the temptation to read the book.
“The governor’s daughter and the lonely pirate.”
With a snigger at the tagline, she returned to her page and proceed to read of how Imogen Shaw, the book’s blonde and curvaceous heroine finally met the dark haired well-built and dashing pirate called Solomon King. She burst into laughter several times as she read the ridiculous lines and passages from the book and wondered if she would survive till the end of the story.
It was while reading a particular passage describing a scene on a ship that her phone alarm sounded. Samantha put her book aside and grabbed the phone, quickly turning off the alarm. She held her phone and patiently waited.
A little while later, her phone beeped once, then again and again till she finally turned off the sound of alerts and gleefully checked her inbox: three friends had texted her birthday messages, each vying for the honour of being the first to do so. Samantha happily read the messages then proceeded to check her social media accounts, reveling in all the notifications she was receiving.
She made a mental note to respond to all in the morning and returned the phone to her side, seeing it light up occasionally with every message she received. Feeling exhilarated, Samantha grabbed her novel and returned to her story.
Imogen peered through the pouring rain, her blue orbs seeking out Solomon’s sculpted frame in the midst of the thrashing bodies locked in battle. Her fingers scraped the wooden deck as the ship swayed…
Samantha froze, her mouth wide in horror. Huge heavy drops of rain hit her and a cold wind sent a chill up her spine. She no longer sat in her room but instead stood on a surface that swayed unsteadily, sending her sprawling to the ground. All around her was the howling of the wind, the cries of men and the clashing of metal against metal. A strange pungent and metallic scent hit her nose and she reached out to grab the object nearest her when the floor seemed to vanish from beneath her feet.
Still bewildered and shocked, Samantha turned at the loud cry coming from her side and turned to see a woman draped in wet and nearly translucent garments peering into the rain, her eyes searching the figures she could barely make out in the small fires springing up around them. Her blond hair fell over her head in wet tendrils that got in her face.
The answering cry sent a jolt through Samantha and she started screaming.