A Private Experience Short Story

Wednesday, February 2, 2022 11:41:26 PM

A Private Experience Short Story

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A Private Experience

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Then riot begin and I am looking up and down market for her. The woman shakes her head and there is a flash of impatience, even anger, in her eyes. You don't hear what I am saying? This one is first daughter. She cries quietly, her shoulders heaving up and down, not the kind of loud sobbing that the women Chika knows do, the kind that screams Hold me and comfort me because I cannot deal with this alone. The woman's crying is private, as though she is carrying out a necessary ritual that involves no one else. Later, when Chika will wish that she and Nnedi had not decided to take a taxi to the market just to see a little of the ancient city of Kano outside their aunt's neighborhood, she will wish also that the woman's daughter, Halima, had been sick or tired or lazy that morning, so that she would not have sold groundnuts that day.

The woman wipes her eyes with one end of her blouse. And because Chika is not sure what Muslims say to show agreement - it cannot be "amen" - she simply nods. The woman has discovered a rusted tap in a corner of the store, near the metal containers. Perhaps where the trader washed his or her hands, she says, telling Chika that the stores on this street were abandoned months ago, after the government declared them illegal structures to be demolished. The woman turns on the tap and they both watch - surprised - as water trickles out. Brownish, and so metallic Chika can smell it already. Still, it runs. Her dimples sink into her cheeks, deep enough to swallow half a finger, and unusual in a face so lean. The woman clumsily washes her hands and face at the tap, then removes her scarf from her neck and places it down on the floor.

Chika looks away. She knows the woman is on her knees, facing Mecca, but she does not look. It is like the woman's tears, a private experience, and she wishes that she could leave the store. Or that she, too, could pray, could believe in a god, see an omniscient presence in the stale air of the store. She cannot remember when her idea of God has not been cloudy, like the reflection from a steamy bathroom mirror, and she cannot remember ever trying to clean the mirror. She touches the finger rosary that she still wears, sometimes on her pinky or her forefinger, to please her mother. Nnedi no longer wears hers, once saying with that throaty laugh, "Rosaries are really magical potions, and I don't need those, thank you. Later, the family will offer Masses over and over for Nnedi to be found safe, though never for the repose of Nnedi's soul.

And Chika will think about this woman, praying with her head to the dustfloor, and she will change her mind about telling her mother that offering Masses is a waste of money, that it is just fundraising for the church. When the woman rises, Chika feels strangely energised. More than three hours have passed and she imagines that the riot is quieted, the rioters drifted away. She has to leave, she has to make her way home and make sure Nnedi and her auntie are fine. The woman says nothing, seats herself back down on the wrapper. Chika watches her for a while, disappointed without knowing why. Maybe she wants a blessing from the woman, something. The woman looks away. Chika walks slowly to the window and opens it. She expects to hear the woman ask her to stop, to come back, not to be rash.

But the woman says nothing and Chika feels the quiet eyes on her back as she climbs out of the window. The streets are silent. The sun is falling, and in the evening dimness, Chika looks around, unsure which way to go. She prays that a taxi will appear, by magic, by luck, by God's hand. Then she prays that Nnedi will be inside the taxi, asking her where the hell she has been, they have been so worried about her. Chika has not reached the end of the second street, toward the market, when she sees the body. She almost doesn't see it, walks so close to it that she feels its heat. The body must have been very recently burned. The smell is sickening, of roasted flesh, unlike that of any she has ever smelled.

Later, when Chika and her aunt go searching throughout Kano, a policeman in the front seat of her aunt's air-conditioned car, she will see other bodies, many burned, lying lengthwise along the sides of the street, as though someone carefully pushed them there, straightening them. She will look at only one of the corpses, naked, stiff, facedown, and it will strike her that she cannot tell if the partially burned man is Igbo or Hausa, Christian or Muslim, from looking at that charred flesh.

She will listen to BBC radio and hear the accounts of the deaths and the riots-"religious with undertones of ethnic tension" the voice will say. And she will fling the radio to the wall and a fierce red rage will run through her at how it has all been packaged and sanitised and made to fit into so few words, all those bodies. But now, the heat from the burned body is so close to her, so present and warm that she turns and dashes back toward the store. She feels a sharp pain along her lower leg as she runs.

She gets to the store and raps on the window, and she keeps rapping until the woman opens it. Chika sits on the floor and looks closely, in the failing light, at the line of blood crawling down her leg. Her eyes swim restlessly in her head. It looks alien, the blood, as though someone had squirted tomato paste on her. There is blood," the woman says, a little wearily. She wets one end of her scarf at the tap and cleans the cut on Chika's leg, then ties the wet scarf around it, knotting it at the calf. She takes one of the containers to the back of the store, and soon the smell fills Chika's nose, mixes with the smells of dust and metallic water, makes her feel light-headed and queasy.

She closes her eyes. My stomach is bad. Everything happening today," the woman says from behind her. Afterwards, the woman opens the window and places the container outside, then washes her hands at the tap. She comes back and she and Chika sit side by side in silence; after a while they hear raucous chanting in the distance, words Chika cannot make out. The store is almost completely dark when the woman stretches out on the floor, her upper body on the wrapper and the rest of her not. Later, Chika will read in the Guardian that "the reactionary Hausa-speaking Muslims in the North have a history of violence against non-Muslims", and in the middle of her grief, she will stop to remember that she examined the nipples and experienced the gentleness of a woman who is Hausa and Muslim.

Chika hardly sleeps all night. The window is shut tight; the air is stuffy, and the dust, thick and gritty, crawls up her nose. Her throat was dry. She could hear the tap dripping intermittently into the aluminum sink behind her. The way the quiet pitter patter was unrhythmic and unpredictable sent a shiver down her spine. She buried her face into the couch. Dad said he was going to fix the pipes last weekend, but something came up.

Maybe mom is sick, she thought. I remember the first time I dreamt of you. The champagne still felt gold and bubbly on my tongue as I laid in bed that night, the fizzy possibilities after our first date spilling into my unconscious mind. The darkness around me was soft, the ghost of your hand pressed so warmly in mine anchored me back to Earth as we laid against the grass. Explosions of red and pink painted the sky as I turned to you, your mouth smiling so prettily in the same colours as you held on tight.

Warning: Sexual Content. The grip of the bow around her chest pressed against the armour she always wore. The warrior was fine. Emerald green eyes did not blink as it looked at Danielle. It had hair made of coniferous needles. As she watched the needles thinned, looking more and more like real hair but pine green. When it spoke, its voice was the crunch of heavy feet on dry leaves and the moan Darcy grips the steering wheel of his Porsche Boxster so tightly his knuckles are white under his clammy skin. He zooms south, down the with nail-biting recklessness, oblivious to the downpour swamping the City of Angels. The rain is Biblical and as hard as nails, hammering the windscreen with a smashing velocity, the noise so thunderous Darcy cannot hear himself think.

He licks his lips, savoring the taste of blood Everything always starts with some dramatic scene, at least every story I have ever been told has. This story however started with a moment of calm for our main character. A young girl who had grown up alone with only her father and her brother. She was left in their care after her mother passed away. She never had a claim to her sibling or father, yet they kept her close, as if left unsupervised she would spill their s His breath was shaky, and he remained focused on the road ahead despite the fact that his brain was processing 2, thoughts per second. He was dressed rather slovenly: torn jeans, one gray sock, one blue sock, five-year-old tennis shoes that were showing their age, a camo t-shirt, a flannel shirt with the sleeves ripped off, a beige double-breasted coat, and titanium tunnels stretching h Neither had Will, and it was his idea.

One he would regret until his dying day, whic This was more for reassurance than anything else, he was really worried about what might happen to the plan. It was said to at the jewel had special powers and many were out to seek that power. Including himself. Hunter Jack Row, a year-old man with nothing left to lose and looki Now he had 10 worn-out dollar bills in his pocket and he had a choice: stay and be the town queer or run and be free. Become a stray dog or a hippie maybe. Grow his hair and live his life as simple as For optimum health and well-being, scientists agreed, after much discussion and a little trial and error, that the Monster should be fed nine pounds of meat every two hours.

A few moments afterward he was seen dragging his own trunk ashore, while Mr. Hitchcock finished his story on the boiler deck. When the short-skirted, gossamer clad nymphs made their appearance on the stage they became restless and fidgety. Each sentence came as if torn piecemeal from his unwilling tongue; short, jerky phrases, conceived in pain and delivered in agony.

The Alcalde remained kneeling for a short time by the side of the corpse, his lips moving in prayer.

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