A pretty girl, a delayed driver, and a rebuffed compliment - just another day on the city streets captured by this short story. Writers, get your work featured on the ZODML blog and in our newsletter by sending a pitch to email@example.com.
Rebecca especially did not like waiting. She had not waited a year at home before getting into university, like most of her classmates had been forced to, because even though they had passed the requisite exams, they did not know what buttons to push, or how. She had never waited her turn at the bank, not with her famous surname. She was used to getting things done her own way, in her own time. Particularly, she had never waited for a common driver in the blazing sun before, clad in a loose green t-shirt and tight-fitting blue jeans, with only an umbrella to shield her from the scorching madness of harmattan afternoons. So, it was with no small frown that she stood on the sidewalk, waiting for Chidozie, her father’s driver. He said he was close; she would soon see him. That was 20 minutes ago, when she called. She had suspected he was lying; he probably hadn’t left the house yet. Now, she was forced to wait.
As they bow their heads to say grace, Tunde’s gratefulness knows no bounds. He does not close his eyes, but traces the patterns on the table cloth, letting the benediction eddy around him like ripples of water, his eyes following the curves and flourishes. He is not happy; he is exultant.
At the final “Amen” he lifts his head and looks at his wife. He devours her neckline, the easy sweep of her hand, the approving nod at her cousin seated beside her, the smile on her lips. Her lips are very deep red, aflame with passion. Below his waistline, Tunde feels the stirrings of desire.
Even the food seems to shimmer, piping hot and steaming like a furnace. Alive with colors and bursting with nourishing goodness, the golden hue of fried plantains, lobster stew with the defiant crustacean pincers cresting the oil at the top, rice almost dazzling in its whiteness. He knows a need never before felt; more than hunger, a compulsive possessiveness. When Evelyn comes to ladle out his serving, he shakes his head.
I was bored, and in that state I am unable to write. It was two weeks to Valentine’s Day and I had promised to send a love story to my sister’s magazine to be published as part of its Valentine’s Day special issue. As the deadline neared and her ‘how far?’ text messages kept coming, I decided to ask my new friend, Bonaventure, to do the story.
I saw him walking towards his room and ran up to him. “Bonaventure I’ve been looking for you,” I said. He stopped and turned. “And now you’ve found me,” he said. “Indeed I have. Well it’s February and I am told love is in the air (or ought to be) and as you write fiction, I wonder if you've been taking deep breaths and have a love story in you that you can roll out for Folake’s magazine?”
He looked at me for a moment and then laughed. “Love in the air? What I get is dust. Besides, my stories are drawn from experience and I am weak on love.”
Torture Mike was proud of his name; he felt it weakened the resolve of anyone that was foolish enough to try to take him on. Most of the people that had had anything to do with him had some tale of woe and torment to tell, but they were thought to be the lucky ones; many did not live to tell any tales. Women suffered the most at his hands but no matter the amount of pain he inflicted, they continued to flock to him as though he piped some hypnotic tune that entranced them. He was, however, not musical and so piped nothing, but his stupendous wealth was well-known and that knowledge was music enough for most of the hapless women that became his mistresses – and then became insane. The long list of deranged ex-mistresses was matched by another list of women standing by to go mad.
Princess Aleretta-Rose was very bored. She had already rock-climbed, run, and ridden Alana (her golden horse). Now it was time to take a walk to the lagoon by her garden. She put on her dress and strolled to the lagoon, her blonde hair bouncing.
Captain Jonah MacSwizzethounder was a pirate. He wanted to be a king. A LOT. He had a plan. The law said the princess could marry anyone she wanted. If he kidnapped the princess and forced her to marry him one day he would be king. "Men," he called from below deck, "set sail for the lagoon!"
Aleretta-Rose reached the lagoon. She was about to pull a rose from a flowerbed when she heard footsteps and voices.
"Twenty-three bottles of rum on a dead man’s chest," the pirates sang.
Pirates! thought the princess, fear reflected in her golden eyes. She started to run, but she was grabbed and knocked out.
Hmm, thought Captain Jonah. She’s quite a beauty. She will do as an excellent bride. "Put her in the best chambers." The men obeyed and soon they were sailing out to sea.
African societies are renowned for their elaborate burial ceremonies full of spiritual and cultural significance and Achebe, who captured the rich traditions - both present and past - of his particular corner of the continent in his writing, does them justice in this passage from his magnum opus Things Fall Apart:
A refreshingly short story for your reading pleasure, courtesy of ZODML. Write short stories yourself? Why not enter our short story competition?
Unless you've been living under a literary rock for the past few months, you will have heard that F. Scott Fitzgerald's most famous novel The Great Gatsbyis the basis of a star-studded, 3-D extravaganza of a film which will be released in the next few days. But did you know that Fitzgerald was also a prolific short story writer?