Tag Archives: flash fiction from ghana

My Girlfriend is Chinese

by Ron Riekki

And we live in France, in Lille.
We take pilgrimages to Paris almost on a weekly basis.
She says she loves the smell of the Eiffel Tower’s metal. We go there and hurt our necks glaring up at the tip of this massive phallic symbol. I tell her this and she says that I need to see trees instead of sex. She says that the Eiffel Tower is alive, a great elm. She says it breathes, it moves, it hears. She says it has heard me.
We sit longer. It is a handsome day. It is a day where you could almost feel good alone, a day where there is so much calm and beauty to the air. I tell her this and she puts her hand near mine. She never takes my hand. That would be too vulgar, too brave, too something. She calls it trop. It is her favorite word.
She speaks Chinese, speaks English, speaks French, speaks German. I hear all of these languages. We go to bars with her friends and she moves her tongue so gracefully that you can listen to a dance. You hear the symphony of countries. She insists that she balances all of her friendships with people from other nations. She is upset I only seem to want to be around the French. She says I am too French, that France is the only country in my blood, the only country in my platelets and my plasma.
We lie down. We stare at the ghost clouds. The last word she has said is blood. I think of the three hundred or four hundred suicides that have happened from the Eiffel Tower. I tell her this.
She sits up. She tells me not to talk of ghosts.
But I tell her the sky looks like ghosts.
She says it does not.
I tell her it does.
She grabs my mouth. She cups my mouth so harshly that I actually cannot speak. I see terror in her pupils, the way that they dilate when they need to take in as much information as possible, how fear seems to open up the darkness in us.
She stands, starts to walk away, tagging me along.
It’s like I can feel all of the spaces where the bodies have landed, the pavement hot where it shouldn’t be, hot in shadows.
She goes down a road, against the traffic of those approaching the building. We get far enough away so that the tower cannot hear. She tells me that if you speak of ghosts, you might just be a ghost. She asks me if I am a ghost.
I tell her no.
She studies my eyes.
We walk away from the tower.
We find a café and sit outside. She faces away from the direction where we came. Buildings hide the tower. It’s harder to find the Eiffel Tower than one might think. Buildings swallow buildings in Paris.
We drink vin rouge. She cups the bloody glass. I know not to tell her this.
She tells me that I need to find the tao. She says I need to find a new way, one where I see more good. She insists I find more grace.
She is Christian. And Buddhist. And Taoist. And Hindu. She mixes religion like a bartender. She is a long island ice tea with God.
She tells me that I need to learn to see trees instead of sex or I will lose everything.
Eight months later, she leaves me. With an almost  pregnancy. Except we had sex rarely. Sex was something that needed to be treated like a tea ceremony. There needs to be a quiet, sober restraint to it. It must feel fifteenth century.
I can hear her voice. Fading.
Until it is gone.
Ghost-like.
And now I sit in parks and I think of her lips. I think of the thin tea of her lips. And I wonder how to not see the ghosts in clouds. I think of how to see the roots of the Eiffel Tower, its branches.
I clutch a brand new Spanish-French dictionary in my hand. I look at the ceiling of the world. The French word for sky is ceil. I can only see ceiling.
I open the dictionary. I say ceilo. I look at the sky and say ceilo. I try to see the sky as a cello. It is not just a ceiling. I try to hear the sky as a cello, its grace-filled notes. It takes an hour, a meditative hour, maybe more, and finally I hear the hint of a brazilwood bow being raised.
Ceilo.

Ron Riekki’s books include U.P.: a novel, The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (a 2014 Michigan Notable Book), and Here: Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.His play “Carol” was included in The Best Ten-Minute Plays 2012 and his short story “The Family Jewel” was selected for The Best Small Fictions 2015.  Twitter: @RonRiekki.

The Rustling of the Leaves

By Adelaide Aseidu
She stared up into the sky for the millionth time that day. Well, probably not into the sky, but into the bright gold spots of light that seeped through the canopy of dark green mango leaves. The sun’s rays painted dancing patterns against the background of leaves swaying in the breeze. She felt a bit like them, these leaves that moved not of their own accord, but simply swished wherever the wind blew. Occasionally, one would fall gently to the ground, another addition to the graveyard of varying degrees of rotting leaves lying beneath her feet.
She wondered, if the leaves had voices, would they cry out when they fell? Would they resist the call of the wind or simply mouth their contentment, in humble submission to their fate? Maybe the rustling sounds they made were whispers housing the secret desires of rebel leaves, who liked her, yearned for something greater than kowtowing to some unseen, all-powerful wind, but could see no way of escape, other than the piles of decaying foliage beneath. The life of the leaf; danced to the tune of the wind, or shriveled up and died….had become her life.
Looking down at the ground now, she traced another seemingly meaningless image in the sand with her big toe. It was a shapeless, almost hideous creation, nothing like the strokes of her paint brush against canvas. There was life in her brush and it gave her paintings breath so that they would leap out of their frames, giving some silent message to whoever cared to look. Their yellows spoke of happiness and their reds of anger and their blues of a myriad of things that could only be decoded by the discerning eye. Right now, her toe carried the opposite of the blood that coursed through her brush and her sand monster spoke of death; the death of the leaves and the death of her dreams.
She stood up. Enough time had already been wasted under the mango trees- not as if there was anything important to be done at the moment. She was playing a waiting game and her time was almost up. She had merely hours left until she would be packed up and shipped out to be made into an engineer. What manner of engineer she would be, she could not fathom. But her father was the wind and she was the leaf and she would bend or fall. She had been born into a life that had already been planned out. Father had said, “Awura will go to kindergarten early” and of course she had. “Awura will be the best pupil in her primary school,” and she had obligingly complied. “Awura will get into the best High School in the country” and she had all but killed herself to do so and had done so. She had lived to please her father. She had basked in the glow of his attention and flourished under his praise. But over the sunshine of his approval, she had always honed the cloud of her art.
She would never forget her first scribbles with a crayon, in the kindergarten she had started at 1 ½ years old instead of the normal 2 ½. The colours had made her almost giddy with excitement and she had discovered from that moment that she had been imbued with the power to turn colours into spirit and that her markings on any surface, were not just ordinary, but spoke volumes. That was the birth of the cloud.
She had bent, oh how she had bent and had been blown and tossed by his stone will and steely resolve to mould her into the lead character of the script he had written even before she was born; an answer to the questions raised by his unfulfilled dreams. She had played the part well but it had been consistently adulterated by the additional lines sparked by her fire. And her father would have none of that. So for years she had painted in secret so that his conditional sunshine would never give way to a night that gave no guarantees of a moon’s guiding light.
But now the time had come when she was no longer a tender green leaf, desperate to drink in the sun’s radiance. She was dark green like the mango leaves above her head, but unlike them, she had a mouth and a will and a fire that gnawed at the seams of her soul, urging her to do more than just rustle.
So she got up and went into the house. She went to the file cabinet beneath the staircase and gathered them. There were some beneath her bed and she gathered them. The sack in the basement was full of them and she gathered them also. There were piles of them in the storeroom that her father never entered and she gathered them from there too. Then she picked up the last ones from her late mother’s locked up art gallery, whose key she kept in the locket hung around her neck.
She walked to her father’s study and entered before he could answer her knocks. She told him she was tired and she could not star in the charade anymore and that she was a time bomb about to explode and that she would not be made into an engineer. And he sat there and exploded but she stood firm and would not be blasted to bits by his dynamite. And in response to his tirade, she spoke no words but would pick them up one by one. First the painting of the happy family she had made the year before her mother had parted; the painting where the sun was a bright yellow and the sky a true blue and their smiles were more than bared teeth. Then the one from her thirteenth birthday, that depicted running blood and a broken heart, when her mother’s death snuffed out her father’s joy and grew the cloud between her husband and their daughter. Then she showed him the black hole swallowing the colours which carried her creativity. And then she picked up the shimmering gold work of art that her mother had painted for her just before the cancer had stolen her, in whose center, she had carved in the words, “Follow your dreams, then you will shine, my star.” Those words were like lyrics to the song of her heart beat. But her father was a tone deaf bomb that refused to be deactivated. She would not remain to be torn into little pieces as he detonated, she would rather evacuate.
So she turned around with the gold painting in her arms and her admission letter to the art school somewhere in Paris, which he had refused to look at, and walked, away from her rustling, up the path of her dreams, so she could shine. Before she stepped out of the compound, packed up to be made into a star, she cast a sidelong glance at the leaves of the mango trees and whispered a parting message to them, “I’m sorry my old friends, but I had to do more than rustle to the wind.” And then she flew…

Bio.
Adelaide Aseidu is student at University of Ghana. She blogs here.

The Storyteller

by   Alfred Yayra Kpodo

Things have never really been the same again. He went up north and she went down south. According to her, he has lost it. He has lost what she wanted; the very thing that energized her and brought  her alive. She didn’t remember when they last had any quality time in a world where everything was quantified. He was jarred and getting lost in his world; dealing with his devils. He was up against everything except himself. He hasn’t lost the magic that fixated  her and  the charm befitting a prince. Only that no one had told her that reality was harsh. She has shut her eyes to the occurrences around her and has given up on life. However, she clung and became friends with hope; an attribute she needed so badly in that dire moment.

Hope would come around anytime, even uninvited. Hope told her it was going to be alright. It also told her to take it easy and hang in there. Lastly, hope assured her that her man has not lost the magic of loving her the way she wanted neither has he lost the art of telling her stories. Even though she didn’t believe it, she smiled at the insight of it.

The insight of it  energized her and brought back fond memories. So she reached out for her backpack and stuffed it with a Walkman, a pen and a paper, a couple of assorted fruit bonbons from the dining table  and her phone she had switched off all day. She  headed for their favourite spot at the beach to have a quiet time. For a change, she was going to do what she hasn’t done before. She wanted her man and she was  going to do everything  just  to have him.

She was going to try her hands at penning down her feelings in simple terms. She was  no award-winning writer. She was  just a lover who wanted  things better than they were.

Just before she set out to write a sestet for him, she felt some eyes boring into her. She frantically looked around  but saw nothing so she began writing,

My bony ebony
If only I can see you
I will not be this blue
And we might just sail through
just as wishes will not be horses
I can never get over your kisses

As soon as she dotted the last sentence, the apparent feeling manifested. He has come looking for her after calling her phone all day. He hugged her from behind and a combination of fear and a clout of mixed feelings of whether to be indifferent or hug back came to the fore. But before she could actually think, her body, spirit and soul have taken over her  reasoning  and she hugged back. He then pulled a mail envelope from the back pocket of his branded Akademiks denim Jeans. While the moment was still tensed up,  he gently shoved it into her already opened hand.  “Here”, he started to walk away.

She quickly opened the envelope and shakily removed the pad  but it was tightly folded. She unfolded the first one and it was blank. Second one and it was the same. This, coupled with the fact that the distance between them was widening was not amusing. She was becoming apprehensive. The suspense heightened till the fifth one  which was coincidentally the last one. This had something scribbled on it.

I haven’t lost my story telling abilities to you  and I’m still your man. I will forever be your prince charming and I want you to now and always be mine. Call me when you are ready and let’s make up. Come see me and let’s change the world!

And now, with her lit eyes, she didn’t even know if she should just jolly after him or sit back and refine her poem for him.

 

Bio.

 Alfred Yayra Kpodo was born and bred in Accra, Ghana.  He blogs at http://www.alfredkpodo.blogspot.com.