Walking Straight

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Walking Straight

concert

What am I doing here?
Once more a stranger bumps into me, with enough drunken force behind it this time to almost send me sprawling to the ground.

Where was she? She’s supposed to be back by now. Going to the toilet, my foot! Who took an hour powdering her nose, anyway? You’d think the loos were in another county instead of just twenty feet away. She had probably gone outside to smoke, a revolting little habit she’d recently picked up.
I want to go home. I feel hot and dirty,and not in a good way. I can hardly see past my hand, it is so dark in here. The crush of bodies in this place is stifling,to say the least. Who knew so many people liked this band so much? I can feel my claustrophobic urges acting up and they want out NOW.
The stench of beer, cigarette smoke and sweat- do these people never bathe?- is revolting. As I feel the bile start to rise up in my throat, I strain once more and try to locate her, my sister. Maybe you can’t see her because someone slit her throat and she’s even now bleeding out on the sidewalk, my overactive imagination taunts me. That can’t really happen in real life, can it? I pick up my Smirnoff ice and take a healthy swig from it. Clearly, I’m not drunk enough if I’m still noticing all these details.
How did I end up here? There was a time I thought coming to this concert was a great idea. I mean, who didn’t like Karma, the band? Certainly not me. Sure some said their music was a little risqué and a lot offensive, but that was just part of the appeal. They had carved out a niche for themselves.
When I first heard they were going to perform at my local club, I think I screamed for ten minutes straight. It was a lucky thing I was alone in the house, or I would have caused ear damage. It wasn’t a question of whether I would go, it was a question of what I was going to wear.
I was a little taken aback when my sister insisted on accompanying me to the concert. Our tastes in music were radically different and I did not see the point of her coming with me. She gave me some story about how she wanted to broaden her horizons and blah blah blah…. Personally, I thought she had no plans for the night and she was feeling out of sorts. The night of the concert,I could barely contain my excitement. I felt like the energizer bunny on speed.I was ready and raring to go hours before the event.
I got there to find that many others had decided to get there early as well. There was quite a substantial number of people. Who knew Karma had so many fans?

I had a plan for the night. Get in,enjoy the concert,and get out before I started to feel closed in and other people got drunk and stupid. In about five hours, tops,I could be back at home, warm and dry in my own bed.

What can I say about the concert? Fun,amazing, stupendous, a once-in-a-lifetime experience…. Words have not been invented yet that can fully describe it.

I ran into my first hiccup of the evening on my way out of the door. We saw some of my sister’s friends seated at a table near the door. When I would have walked right on by, already seeing my bed in my mind’s eye, she stopped to say hi and so did I by default. A simple ‘How do you do?’ somehow translated into us sitting down and getting a drink in front of us.

So that is how I find myself here,cold and very irritated, moving steadily towards anger. When my sister gets here, if she’s not lying dead on a pavement somewhere, I’ll have to kill her. It’s just the principle of the thing.

I look at her friends across the table, talking at the top of their voices about some inane thing or other. It is clear that they have long gone past merely tipsy to full on drunk. At first, they tried to include me in their discussion, but they soon gave up when I gave them one death stare too many. I know it’s not their fault that I’d rather be anywhere else than be here, but do they have to be so loud and grating on the nerves?

I hear a laugh somewhere to my left. It sounds familiar, so I look and see my sister with a strange man. The stranger has his arms around her waist, while hers are holding onto his arms. What they are doing can be loosely described as dancing, though they are mostly whispering in each other’s ear and laughing. It is clear to me that my sister has forgotten about me and everything and everyone else. I may be a soft touch, but I don’t appreciate being made a fool of. With righteous indignation, I pick up my stuff and prepare to leave. I’m tired, cold and sleepy,so I’m going home. She can take care of herself.

Whoa!
Did I just get up too fast, or is the floor tilting because I’m drunk?There’s a pleasant fuzzy feeling at the edges of my mind and everyone I see seems to be enveloped in a haze. Oh no, I’m seeing double double! I look at the veins in my hand, the way they stand out starkly against my glassy skin, a surefire way for me to know I’m super drunk.

With the slow shuffling walk of the really old or sick, I make my way outside. The 3am breeze helps a little in removing the cotton wool from the space inside my head. Home is just a five minute walk, along a relatively straight road. I can do this, I think in an attempt to bolster myself. I start walking slowly towards home,in that exaggerated straight line walk of drunkards. I am very careful to watch where I step lest I fall. Honestly, how embarrassing would that be?

Wait. what’s that bright light? Have I reached the end of my tunnel already? I squint and barely make out a car moving in my direction in the distance. The urge to laugh maniacally at my weird thoughts is almost overwhelming, I quell it just in time. A mad woman I am not.

I step out of the road, all the way out. Even though I think that the car is far, accidents happen. I will not tempt fate.

I walk for about ten minutes before it hits me that I’ve walked much farther than is warranted. I immediately turn around and start going back, a bit more vigilant this time. It is so dark tonight, I think. The streetlights must be busted again. Or were they stolen again? It is difficult for me to keep a straight thought in my head.

I catch the watchman at the gate to our estate closing the gate after someone else. I slip inside with a minimum of fuss, and since he’s the chatty sort,he strikes up a conversation.
Him: Habari, madam. Umechelewa sana leo.
Me: (knowing what he expects to hear) Mzuri sana. Ni kazi imekuwa mingi leo. I just want to go to sleep.
Him: Okay, madam. Uwe na usiku njema.
Me: Sawa sawa. Pia wewe.

I move away, trying not to lurch or stagger, with only one thing on my mind- a queen-size bed with a brass headboard, a floaty mattress topped with a grey and red swirls duvet, and a mountain of pillows.

EA Friday Feature September Prompt #4

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A Mother’s Love

bsShe had the perfect husband. She had the perfect child. Why could she not be satisfied with both?

The suitcase stood just inside the main door of the house. It had a push and pull mechanism. It was pink in colour with bright yellow flowers embossed on it, a present for herself on her twenty fifth birthday. Though it didn’t look it, it was quite roomy inside and her rather substantial wardrobe had fit in very well. As for her, she wore a short violet dress, the one that skimmed her figure just so and made her look and feel like a million bucks. After all, just because she was going on a long trip didn’t mean she had to look bedraggled. If that made her vain, then so be it.
She walked down the hall to look in on Mavis, her baby. She lay there in her crib, one small hand curled up under her chin, dead to the world in her sleep, as if all was right in her world. To her, it probably was. I mean what did she know? She was only a baby, happy just to be fed and changed.

Oh my baby, she thought, why is it that after all this time, I still feel nothing when I look at you?

Growing up she’d always wanted to be a mother. She had many dolls that she practised her nurturing skills on. Many were the times she created a tea party and made mud cakes to ‘eat’ . She watched her mother with her little sister and tried to emulate. To her, children were a delight and she couldn’t wait to have her own. He or she would be loved above all others.

She met him, the man of her dreams, through a mutual friend and immediately knew her life would never be the same. They had what is known as a whirlwind romance, and before she knew it, he was her husband. She had a wonderful time playing house for real. He gave her carte blanche over the household. Maybe she didn’t see him as much as she wanted, that it was extremely rare to find them in the same room at the same time, but he had to work; ,didn’t he? How else would she get everything she desired?

Then she got pregnant, and it was the happiest day of her life. Who knew such joy was possible, that you could feel as though your smile could light up an entire solar system on its own?

It was a relatively easy time for her. It seemed like in the blink of an eye, she was beset by labour pains and it was a very fast ride to the hospital. After two hours, she held the baby in her arms and felt…

… Nothing.

She tried. Oh, how she tried! There is no one in this world who is without sin. What kind of mother did not love her own child? Surely, that was a sin.

She had to leave. She just couldn’t take it anymore, all the pretense. The child would get another mother, someone who would feel. She lifted her right hand, as if to touch the child’s cheek, but she left it dangling in midair. Only a mother had that right. She, on the other hand, was just a woman who had given birth.

The door slid shut with a muted click as she closed that door for the last time.

As The Curtain Falls

rose

We met just once in this lifetime.You laughed,embraced me and called me mum.You told me I was named after your mother.You made me feel special.

You were so nice to us,and not just because we were guests in your home.You seemed to derive your happiness from ours.There was so little kindness in my life,I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.You showed me that quality people still existed in this world.

I grew up hearing stories of your kindness to my mother.How you took in a young,unwanted girl and gave her a home.How you gave her a chance and told the naysayers to stuff it.I already loved you before we met,more so when we did.

I’ve lost many,but others have mattered enough to leave a hole behind.I will miss you so much,guka.

May heaven receive you with joy.

The Haunting Of Mystic Woods

Mystic woodsEA Friday Feature September Prompt #2

The house sat on a clearing deep inside Mystic Woods. It was more of a cottage, really, with a slanted thatched roof, brick sturdy walls and crooked windows. Not a sound could be heard from inside or outside the house.

He found it almost by accident. He had been lost in the woods for days. It was rumored that Mystic Woods was haunted and that no one who set foot in it ever got out. As a paranormal investigator, he’d come here with the intention of getting documented proof of the existence of ghosts. Apart from the personal satisfaction he would feel over that, it would look great for the blog- Bump In The Night.

He had tried wandering around looking for a way out or another living soul, but had found nothing. He’d foraged for food and water, all the while hoping that he wouldn’t be some wild animal’s supper. He considered it a testament to his skill as a good researcher that he’d been able to avoid food poisoning and being eaten. It helped to know the name of plants and what they were for, as well as the habits of various wild animals.

The closer he thought he came to civilization, the more he found himself walking around in circles. To his tired mind and dehydrated body, everything looked the same. He had just been about to lie down somewhere and let himself die when he saw it. The only thing he could think of was, salvation was finally here. He hobble-walked up to the door and knocked. The door swung quietly inwards. If he had been in a better frame of mind, such a thing may have given him pause, but at the moment he didn’t care. And why would anyone choose to live so far from civilization? He went in.

It was sparsely furnished inside. There were three wooden chairs and a table that looked crooked from where he was standing. A small area to his left was obviously the kitchen. There was a charcoal cooker, a few rudimentary utensils, and a tiny sink, more brown than white. The light from outside was muted by the curtain that fluttered at the only window. Who hang it there, he absently wondered, even as he moved to the sink for water.

When he turned the tap on, at first nothing happened. He almost cried, thinking about how close he’d come to salvation only to be denied. Slowly, brownish water started to trickle down slowly, and he ducked his head beneath the tap and begun to drink. He didn’t care if the water was unhealthy; if he was to die, then he would die with his thirst sated.

Afterwards, seated on the floor after drinking what felt like gallons of water, he suddenly realized how quiet it was. It was like he was the only person in the whole wide world at that moment. Did no one live here? And if anyone did, where were they?

Upon closer inspection he saw a door that seemed to have been carved into the wall. In fact, he would have missed it altogether if he hadn’t looked twice. Since he was here, he might as well explore. He opened the door.

There was a room beyond it. The only thing there was a bed. On it was a note. It seemed to be beckoning to him, so that he found his feet moving almost before his mind gave the order. He sat down and looked at it. It was a handwritten note, hardly legible as if the writer had been in a hurry. He started to read.
” If you’re reading this, that means I’m dead and no one will ever find me. ”
His eyes bugged out at that. A chill of foreboding raced down his spine. He knew he should stop, but he was too intrigued. He kept on reading.
“I should probably start from the beginning. My name is Zoe and I’m a scientist. I first came to Mystic Woods to study why some specific types of trees were going extinct. I came here with a group of other scientists. Originally we were all twelve, but seven finished there work and left. The rest of us decided to build this cabin and finish our research here. It was a bit isolated, yes, but our company took good care of us. Every week, they would send us food and anything else we needed.

The first winter I spent here was very cold. Temperatures were in the negative. You could hardly see more than an arm’s length in front of you due to the snow that hampered visibility. If you stood in one spot for too long, you were liable to get stuck. Very soon, the company could no longer bring us what we needed and we were left on our own. Soon my colleagues started to succumb to hypothermia.

The first time it happened, it was almost by accident. Ten minutes earlier, I had watched as my best friend on this project took her last breath.I looked at her lying there and I decided that if I was going to die, I would put up one hell of a fight.I was so cold and hungry; I would have done anything to change that. I must have blacked out for a while because the next thing I knew,I was seated beside her body with my teeth gnawing on her outstretched arm. “

He had to stop now and press a hand to his roiling stomach. He felt dirty just reading this, but he knew he’d have to continue.
” Everyone says that any type of foreign meat tastes like chicken. I thought human meat tasted more like beef. Whenever I started to feel queasy I told myself I was only doing this to survive.
Well, miraculously, I got through the winter by eating all the others and using their clothes to keep warm. I could hardly recognize myself in the sunlight. I had clumps of dirt stuck to my body, I was really smelly, and my teeth were falling out. I went to a nearby stream and tried to repair the damage as much as possible. When I found some wild fruits and ate them, I vomited everything in my belly. I didn’t know it then, but my body had adapted itself to digesting human flesh only.

That is how it started. I would venture into the woods and look for a lone hiker every two weeks or so. With the right lure, they would come back to the cottage and it was easier to overpower them there. One of the side benefits of my new diet was superhuman strength. ”
A sick feeling invaded his insides. In another time, he would have been that lone hiker lured here by the promise of shelter.
” After some time, I became lonely. As you can guess my kind of lifestyle didn’t allow for friends. Any person I met was just food for me. I thought it was about time I got a pet, someone I could mold into my liking who would entertain me and keep me company.

The first time I saw him, I knew he was the one. He was carrying a backpack and a video camera hung around his neck. I could see a sleeping bag poking out from the top of his bag.

He came into the woods with a group but soon, the others left him when it got dark. There was a rumor going round that Mystic Woods was haunted, that anyone who stayed there after dark was never seen again. Of course, that didn’t stop die hard ghost chasers from coming to seek out trouble. I found them instead.

As for my mystery man, I captured him and took him home. I tied him up and treated him as I would a pet dog. He ate what I ate and he slept where I slept. At first, he was very resistant to my attention but he realized very quickly that he had no choice. He became an animal, my pet.
I thought I could control him, but one day when I came back from hunting I found he had broken free of the bonds. I tried to search for him but it was all in vain. He came to me in the dead of night and broke my legs.

I decided to write this in my last hour so that someone may know my story. I know he’ll be back to finish me off, and when he is done pieces of me will be scattered all over. One more ghost to add to the pile.

Dear reader, please go. NOW. He’ll be back and-“

The note ended in mid sentence. He didn’t want to think why that was.

He stood up quickly and went back to the other room. When he heard the growl, he looked at the door and saw two figures. The sound had come from the one who was crouched down like a dog. As he, it, started stalking him, he knew he was finished. They say that the last few seconds of living you see your life flash before your eyes. For him, it was just knowing he would never go home. Wasn’t it sad that no one would miss him much, or even think of looking for him until too long a time had passed?
  *
It had been a very good day, Zoe thought. She had fresh meat now and all was right in her world. It would feed her and her pet very nicely for about two weeks, then they’d have to find someone else. Not to worry, though. Now that the woods were ‘haunted’ there were no shortage of people coming around. It had been a stroke of genius on her part to create that rumor and make sure it circulated. As long as she made sure people kept disappearing, the story would stay alive and others would be lining up to replace them.

 Thank God for human predictability.

Never Complain, Never Explain
The Human Shrine
The Red Kanga

Dear Michael

FEAR OF FALLING

As wedding dresses went, this one was beautiful, a true work of art. It was strapless and of the palest blue, almost white. The bodice was fitted with hand stitched tiny pearls that made the gown shimmer and sparkle. The veil itself was an heirloom and made of lace. The gown had been made to compliment the veil and it all looked perfect. As per her specifications, a long train had been made for her walk down the aisle. All in all, the dress was perfect.
This did not explain why she couldn’t bring herself to wear it.
Once again, she turned her back to it and paced around the room. Once, twice and back again. She shouldn’t even be here, she thought. She was supposed to be asleep. Her wedding was scheduled to be five hours from now. As it was, her helpers would be arriving within the hour to help her look radiant on her wedding day to the man of her dreams.
There was no question about it. She loved David and he loved her. Marrying him was a dream come true for her and a testament to their love story. Why was it, then, that she felt such panic? Such an overwhelming desire to run and never look back?
The Runaway Bride did it, and the aptly named movie had had a happy ending after all, right? This could totally work. She’d dress in something more comfortable than pajamas and a robe and hit the road. Her suitcase was even already packed to go with her to her husband’s home. One less thing to do now. Of course she would leave the dress as a sign of goodwill and some sort of peace offering. She could be gone in ten minutes and none would be the wiser.
Stop it, you are better than this, she ordered herself.
‘’Linda, honey, are you up here?’’ She’d been so preoccupied with her thoughts not to notice someone was climbing the steps, and then her father stepped into the doorway. “I thought I saw a light in here. What are you doing here, anyway? You should be asleep. Or are you too excited to sleep? “He asked her.
She made a halfhearted shrug and chuckled nervously. Hopefully he couldn’t see the thoughts running through her head.
He stepped more fully into the room and could now see her clearly. “What is it? What’s wrong? ”
There went hope. She should have known. Her father had always been very close to her and highly attuned to her emotions. He could usually tell by looking into her eyes exactly what she was feeling.
“It’s probably nothing. I’m just being silly. You know how I get sometimes. ”
He would reserve judgment on that. He knew his daughter very well. While she was prone to being over dramatic and creating problems where none existed, he could see from the shadows in her eyes and lines of strain on her face that whatever it was, it was serious.
“Well, be as it may, since we’re both up, why don’t you just tell me what is on your mind? Let me decide if it is nothing or not. ”
She paced around the room once again. Maybe it was time she shared some of her doubts with someone. She was glad it was her father; for she could be sure he would listen and give her the best course of action.
“I can’t stop thinking about the wedding. I’m terrified, papa. ”
“Now, child, tell me, what do you have to fret about?’’
‘’I just don’t know if I can go through with this anymore’’
‘’Is that all? Honey, those are just wedding jitters. Every bride has them, I’m told. When you step in front of the altar tomorrow and look into he eyes of your beloved, YOU will be too busy thinking of starting your life together to worry about nerves and such. You’ll see.’’
‘That’s just it, papa. I don’t think I’ll be standing in front of that altar tomorrow. I’d planned to just run away before anyone woke up, but since you’re here, tell everyone I’m sorry and that I really tried.’’
‘’What are you going on about now?’’ There was a thread of impatience in his voice now. ‘’Tell you what. Why don’t we just sit down and you can tell me what’s really troubling you.’’ He sat down on the sofa and waited for her to sit beside him. If he knew his daughter at all, she would blurt out what was in her mind in five, four, three, two, one…
‘’I just don’t think that I can sustain a marriage.’’ There was real distress in her voice.
‘’What gave you that idea?’’
‘’Well, I read somewhere that men like quiet, biddable women who can cook, clean and be barefoot and pregnant most of the time. I can’t cook, I can barely clean and I am the furthest thing from biddable ever. As for barefoot and pregnant, certainly not for a few years. And have you read of the divorce statistics lately? They’re spiking through the roof. I mean, sure we say that we are in love, now, but will we still feel the same two days from now? Two weeks? Two years? What guarantee do I have that someday I won’t be just another statistic?’’
What was a man to do but laugh after hearing such a speech? He laughed until tears of hilarity were flowing down his face and he almost fell off the couch, while she looked on as if he had lost his head. When he could get his breath back, he shifted to look at her.
‘’ As a man, let me say that the person who wrote that book is a bloody fool. Men think that’s what we want, but if we got it, we would be bored stiff within a day.’’
‘’But-‘’
‘’Quiet. You always have to pick everything apart, don’t you? Get that from your mother, bless her. Now,’’ he continued calmly, ‘’as your father, let me give you some advice. There are no guarantees in this life. If you find a good thing, you hold on to it as long as you can. Do you love him?’’
‘’Of course I do.’’ What a silly question.
‘’Obviously he loves you, because he chose to spend the rest of his life with you, ‘flaws’ and all,’’ he said, with a twinkle in his eyes. ‘’Who’s to say he’s not right now awake, pacing as you were, asking himself the same questions and doubting himself.’’
‘’ Really?’’ That had never been a possibility in her mind, but the thought of it now made her feel more at ease.
‘’ If you weren’t nervous, then there would be a problem. This shows that you care and will continue to care.’’ He laid a hand over her arm. ‘’Marriage is a risky undertaking, I will not lie. There will be days you love, days you fight and other days you will not want to see each other. But if you both put in the effort, I can promise you the love will come out on top. And that’s what counts, right?’’
He was right. She could see it now, and it did not frighten. She was ready.

East Africa Friday Feature Prompt: Risk: What’s your interpretation of Risk? A gamble on something.

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