Tag Archives: 18 to 35

The Yard by Aarati Jagdeo

Days in Antigua run the gamut from pleasantly warm, to suffocatingly humid, to scorching hot. Lorraine was accustomed to those. Today, however, was like no other. Today was the kind of day that made you believe the hole in the ozone layer was hovering above you. To make matters worse, she felt every inch of her sweat-drenched uniform clinging to her body and then, there was the issue of her knapsack; the book-laden burden on her back. It wasn’t fair. She never saw adults struggling with heavy books and they were grown.

She was getting closer to Corrine’s house now. Corrine was in fourth form and lived in the biggest house on the street. Her mother had married Mr. Neeson and moved in with him two years ago. Since then, (people said) Corrine started to act “nuff”.  Lorraine didn’t know Corrine personally but had no problem believing the rumours about Corrine’s attitude. All those butterskin girls had an attitude as far as she was concerned. Combine that with her newfound status as Mr. Neeson’s step-daughter? Hah! Nuffness will abound!

Mr. Neeson had an impressive backyard. However, it was one that Lorraine had grown to hate. If she were able to walk through it, she could shave off at least four minutes of walking time to her house.  Four minutes which, in this heat, was a matter of life and death. As she walked past their wooden fence, Lorraine noticed two planks lying in the street. The hole created by their absence was just large enough for her to squeeze through.

She looked around to see if anyone was looking then bent down and slowly went through the hole. She was careful to not rip her uniform on any nails or splinters. She looked over to the other side at the hedges and then glanced at the house. The windows were massive but so were the curtains. She would just have to walk briskly.  Lorraine began her trek across the freshly mowed lawn praying that no one would visit the backyard.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw movement. Without thinking, Lorraine hid behind a lawn chair. She saw Corrine in her room, sitting on her bed reading. Then, Mr. Neeson came in.  He closed the door and said something to her which made Corrine stand up and go close to him. He started stroking Corrine’s face.  Corrine didn’t look at him, not even once and her body stiffened. He grabbed her roughly and kissed her on her mouth. It was like those kisses Lorraine had seen in the movies except this one seemed angry and loveless.

Corrine’s body stayed stiff. Not even her hands twitched. Mr. Neeson pulled away from her and gave her a long, disapproving look. Corrine’s eyes didn’t leave the floor. He never stopped looking at her as he unzipped his pants. It was when he took Corrine’s hand and put it there that Lorraine began to run.  She wasn’t sure whether it was sweat or tears pouring down her face when she got to her house.  Once inside, she went straight to the bathroom and locked the door, ignoring her mother’s greetings.  She ran cold water in the sink and doused her whole head with it. She was sobbing loudly now.

Lorraine’s mother banged on the door concerned about her daughter’s state. She didn’t want to open it but it soon became clear that her mother was not leaving. Lorraine unlocked the door and sat on the toilet. Her mother came in and stood over her.

“Child! What happened?”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Arati Jagdeo describes herself as “a Caribbean girl living in a material world. I like chillin’ like a villain, kickin’ it old school, shootin’ the breeze and any other activity that involves an apostrophe.” Her entry, The Yard, which earned her second place in the 18 to 35 age category of the 2012 Wadadli Pen Challenge is about how a young girl, in an attempt to escape the heat, takes a shortcut through her neighbour’s yard and sees something she’ll never forget. It is, said the chief judge, “scary without going over the top”. The Yard also earned her third place overall. In her other story, Thirty-Six Hundred, which earned third place also in the 18 to  35 age category, a young woman laments her father’s indiscretion as well as the state of her now devastated family.

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION & TERMS OF USE
Copyright of the winning Wadadli Pen stories and/or art work featured on this site belongs to the creators of the individual works and are used here purely for promotional and educational purposes. Other blog content, except otherwise noted, is created and/or maintained by Joanne C. Hillhouse. Site content should not be copied, distributed, transmitted, used for commercial purposes, altered, transformed, or built upon without the consent of the copyright holders.

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Snowcone Melancholia by Daryl George

He woke up and it was snowing. He could see a heavy dusting of the white powder on the double glazed windows that peered out the roof of his cold attic apartment. He went outside, confronted with this alien, yet strangely romantic landscape. Unlike home, where the mango and dumps tree would be full of fruit, the trees here are silent, empty, with just a covering of snow to hide the nakedness of their exposed branches. The skies were grey. He walked up the hill (otherwise referred to as “Bitch Hill” by students who were less than enthused about having to walk to its’ summit) towards the school. Dubbed “Hogwarts” for its mystical appearance, the giant stone castle looked even more grandiose than usual with a layering of snow covering much of the roof. With his pair of new, cheap gloves on his hand (only a pound at Poundland! Bargain!) he dug them into the snow and came up with a handful. Curious, he brought it towards his face, examining it in minutiae, memorising the look and texture. Then he brought it towards his mouth and flicked his tongue over it. Cold, bland, nothingness. A far cry from the ducana, saltfish and chop up that would probably be on his plate at around this time back home. A bit disappointed, he dropped it back on the ground.

He looked left and right, all around, making certain that no one was in sight. Not fully convinced that there wasn’t anyone looking through the various windows, he decided to do it anyway. He flopped onto his back into one of the piles of snow, his arms and legs working their way up and down. After a few seconds he got up to admire his work. It looked different from what he had seen on the various films that aired every year around Christmas.

“When I get back to Antigua, I’ll try this in the sand” he thought to himself.

He looked out at the distance to the harbour. The sea was a glazed white sheet laid out in the distance, a far cry from the blue-green sparkling water he was accustomed to seeing and had indeed grown bored of. Just for a minute, he wanted to be back home. To breathe in the warm air and feel the sun beating down on the back of his neck. He wanted to be somewhere that he did not have to move his bed next to the radiator on the few hours he was allowed it on to stop shivering. He wanted to taste roast corn, sorrel and ginger beer, and not have to explain where “Antigua” was on the map. Just for a few minutes, to be back home!

Then he started the slow, quiet walk back down the stairs etched in the hill, back home to lie on his cold bed and stare out at the greyness while the frosted tears rolled off the cheeks of the sky.

 

AUTHOR BIO: Born and raised in Antigua and Barbuda, Daryl George has always had a passion for literature. He attended the Antigua Grammar School, the Antigua State College and the University of the West Indies, graduating with a degree in Psychology; and recently completed a course at Bangor University in Consumer Psychology with Business. He works as aYouth Officer at the Department of Youth Affairs. His story, Snowcone Melancholia, which earned Honourable Mention in the 18 to 35 age category of the Wadadli Pen 2012 Challenge is about a young man musing over the differences, both real and perceived, of his experiences both at home (Antigua) and abroad while watching his first snowfall.

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION & TERMS OF USE
Copyright of the winning Wadadli Pen stories and/or art work featured on this site belongs to the creators of the individual works and are used here purely for promotional and educational purposes. Other blog content, except otherwise noted, is created and/or maintained by Joanne C. Hillhouse. Site content should not be copied, distributed, transmitted, used for commercial purposes, altered, transformed, or built upon without the consent of the copyright holders.

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The Colour Red by Tiffany Smith

‘What’s your favourite colour?’ Benjamin asked.

Surprisingly, Kadene had not been asked that question since childhood.  Instantly, it was as if Mrs. Mason, her pre-school teacher, was standing before her again.  She remembered she was colouring in her colouring book, using one colour.  Mrs. Mason had offered several other colours to her but she was content.  Then Mrs. Mason smiled and asked ‘What’s your favourite colour?’ – That was a memory she didn’t even know she had.  Maybe it was the first time she was asked the question.  She’d always had one answer to the question, but that was a long time ago.  It was a colour she hated now; the colour lipstick her beautiful mother wore every day to work; the colour ribbon she always put in Kadene’s hair; the colour of the most beautiful flower in their garden, and the colour always smudged on her palm when her mother kissed her goodbye.

Benjamin was still awaiting her response, and so many thoughts began to race through her mind.

- ‘Red!’ was what she had told Mrs Mason.

‘Ohhh!’ Mrs. Mason replied as if surprised.  She sat and watched her a while. ‘Do you know what red means?’

Kadene looked up, curious.

‘It’s a very nice colour,’ she reassured, ‘but it has a whole lot of meaning!’

‘Red mean pretty!’

‘Yes.  Very pretty, of course!  But red can mean BOLD!’ she said theatrically, sitting beside her.

Then it switched to high school’s sports day. Kadene attended a girls high school, but it was customary for boys to sneak in. Of all the boys trying to keep a low profile, just one decided to wear a blood red T-shirt and bizarrely play yellow houses’ mascot, during the races, but that was till he was escorted off the compound.  That boy was Benjamin.  She smirked.

Mrs. Mason’s voice continued, ‘Red can also mean bad, or danger.’

The scene then changed to her mother’s house.  After spending the weekend with her father, she walked into her mother’s house to notice the floor was red.  The sheets were red too as a matter of fact, and her mother lay on top of them, beautiful and bare. It was a foul.  The policeman said she was raped and stabbed.

‘Angry,’ Mrs. Mason was listing.

Angry became her father’s favourite word.  ‘It’s OK,’ he said.  ‘I know you’re angry.’  She wouldn’t hear.   Her mind had been stained, blood red, and she hated it.

She found herself staring at her lap.   Just thinking back, had made her heartbeat quicken.   She took up the knife and continued to cut the pizza.  For a second, she thought she saw the smudge of red lipstick on her palm.

‘Man,’ Benjamin chuckled, ‘I can’t believe I never aks you that.’ He was oblivious to how much had gone through her mind in five seconds.  She looked up at him.  It seemed out of nowhere a red hibiscus appeared in the window behind him.  In her colouring book, she still remembered what she was colouring.  It was a cartoon she still loved; The little Mermaid, looking at the prince.  Benjamin was her boyfriend of five years.  They were both now in their mid-twenties, but last night was the first time he ever told her he loved her, and for the first time, she believed it.  She had never felt a feeling quite like it, not since her mother kissed her goodbye.  Mushy. She chuckled. She just realized his shirt was red.  She sucked her teeth humourously and looked down at the pizza.

‘So?  What is it?’

‘Red’ Kadene answered.

-‘Most of all’ Mrs. Mason finished, ‘It means love.’-

AUTHOR BIO: Tiffany Smith is 19 years old; she is a graduate of both the Antigua Girls High School and the Antigua State College.  Her story The Colour Red was one of two Honourable Mentions in the 18 to 35 age category of the Wadadli Pen Challenge 2012. It is a story in which a question about the favourite colour sends the main character back to the past and actually helps her make peace with it. She tied for First Place in the same category with her other entry, The Untitled, in which the character finds herself in a mental tug of war about her family situation. Smith told us “I’ve always enjoyed writing and I’m very appreciative of the persons who have encouraged me in this art form. I hope that over the years I will have the patience to stick with it and continue to learn from it.”

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION & TERMS OF USE
Copyright of the winning Wadadli Pen stories and/or art work featured on this site belongs to the creators of the individual works and are used here purely for promotional and educational purposes. Other blog content, except otherwise noted, is created and/or maintained by Joanne C. Hillhouse. Site content should not be copied, distributed, transmitted, used for commercial purposes, altered, transformed, or built upon without the consent of the copyright holders.

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The Untitled by Tiffany Smith

It was the glass vase.  I was trembling.  I’m too small.  It would be dangerous.  It was going to fall and there was nothing I could do.  It rocked back then forth.  Back then forth.  It always housed a single, fake, rose, and she kept it on that lone shelf in the hallway, too high for us to reach.  I felt disappointed.  I had swung my schoolbag carelessly- wildly around my shoulder, so, it hit the shelf.  Stupid.  This morning, my only chores were to make breakfast, and get my little brother and me ready for school.  Those were simple, routine things.  Where do you make room for a mistake?

My mother was a single mother.  She’d raised all three of us on her own.  I was the only girl, the middle child, and she relied on me a lot.  See, sometimes, she gets so sad, or angry- a lot of things happened to her when she was younger, she says, so she needed me.   I just have to take care of my little brother, and let her rest.  The drinking just makes her feel better, she says.

I glanced towards the couch.  Her head still lay there, but I knew the minute that vase fell, Jay would not contain his scream.  He stood at the end of the hallway, watching.  I shut my eyes and braced myself then there was a noise.  Maybe she was already getting up.  Don’t cry.  First, she’d give one thump.  That would send me to the floor.  Then she’d grab my hair.  The expletives were in my ears already.  She’d grab my arm maybe, and force me to stand.  Maybe, she’d shake me against the wall again, or slap me a few times.  Then, she was going to come close and stare into my face and call me a wretch but if I stay quiet, maybe she won’t have to beat me with the belt buckle again.  Last week, she bruised my arm.  The scar on my back still hadn’t healed.

That was only when she was angry.  ‘Outside people wouldn’t understand’, she said, ‘so don’t talk about it with anybody.’  When she’s ok, she always apologizes, because she loves us, and she tells us so.  Ricardo never had anything to say, he was always in his room.  We only saw him the times he felt to come out and defend us.  She used to beat him too but he was too strong now, and even when she wasn’t upset, he never wanted to be around.   Sometimes, he never even came home.  We never spoke either.  It was as if it was just me and Jay.  We didn’t need him.  ‘Ricardo just think he’s a big man!’ she says.  ‘He think he so smart.’  ‘He think he can do better.’  She was hurt.  Why can’t he just understand that bad things happened to mommy?  Drinking just made her feel better.

The tears already swelled up behind my eye lids.  I was sure I heard a sound closer to me.  This must be it.  I thought.  You wild and careless! My mind yelled.  Wretch! Just to leave her to sleep you can’t do! You schupid?  You schupid?!!!

‘Yowwwww!’  – a loud whisper.  Ricardo, out of nowhere, was somehow in time to catch the vase.  ‘Be careful!’  He scolded.

She sleeping still?  She was.  You old drunk! I hate you! I heard myself think.  No!  That’s only when she’s angry, it’s only when she’s angry.  Jay was sobbing softly.

‘Jo-oyyyy!!’ Renee stood outside, brightly smiling.  She was calling for me and her to walk to the bus stop, and go to school.

AUTHOR BIO: Tiffany Smith is 19 years old; she is a graduate of both the Antigua Girls High School and the Antigua State College.  Her story The Colour Red was one of two Honourable Mentions in the 18 to 35 age category of the Wadadli Pen Challenge 2012. It is a story in which a question about the favourite colour sends the main character back to the past and actually helps her make peace with it. She tied for First Place in the same category with her other entry, The Untitled, in which the character finds herself in a mental tug of war about her family situation. Smith told us “I’ve always enjoyed writing and I’m very appreciative of the persons who have encouraged me in this art form. I hope that over the years I will have the patience to stick with it and continue to learn from it.”

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION & TERMS OF USE
Copyright of the winning Wadadli Pen stories and/or art work featured on this site belongs to the creators of the individual works and are used here purely for promotional and educational purposes. Other blog content, except otherwise noted, is created and/or maintained by Joanne C. Hillhouse. Site content should not be copied, distributed, transmitted, used for commercial purposes, altered, transformed, or built upon without the consent of the copyright holders.

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COCOS NUCIFERA BY S A DIXON

As a girl, they told her never to play under the coconut trees. And Sarah Appleton might have listened, except yesterday her
mother had thrown a very important book across the fence.

It wasn’t the type of book that came home from school listed on a slip of paper. Its author was unknown to anyone except those who liked fluorescent pink covers that yielded pages stained with saucy words.

Sarah had tried to tell her mother the book wasn’t hers, but before she could promise to return it to its owner right away, Maggie had arched her arm like a cricketer and bowled it at the single tree stump that dominated the space next door. Sarah was out.
Today she was lying on top the square water tank overlooking her mother’s clothesline, armed with a stack of chicken bones from last night’s dinner. These would distract the dog on the other side of the enclosure. She imitated her mother, and flung the bones at one of the farthest mounds of fallen branches that feathered the ground beneath the tree.
The dog was black, with ribs as thin as Sarah’s fingers. If it had barked too much, Sarah knew her mother might have peeked through the kitchen window to find out why. Then she would have seen Sarah slipping through one of the spaces between the rusted galvanise and flattened oil drums nailed up along the board fence.
The chicken bones had sunk between the thin, flexible branches that Sarah and Denny, the boy up the street, often fashioned into miniature nooses and tried to slip around the necks of unsuspecting lizards.

The dog had buried its nose into one of the spaces in the stack when the coconut fell, without warning, pulled by gravity
from the tree that swayed above their heads like a loaded gun, in winds that hinted of unrest somewhere out in the Atlantic.

The dog tasted a pain sharper than the bones it had been trying to swallow. It ran to the street, dragging its suddenly useless back legs under a car that had been taking someone to the bread shop around the corner. The thud brought Sarah’s mother and the neighbour out to see what had happened.

“Oh lawd! Me dog dead!” Miss Thompson said, hoping the driver would at least be willing to take the carcass someplace where
she wouldn’t have to smell it when it ripened.

At first, no one noticed that Sarah was missing. And by then, she had forgotten all about the pink book that had already been spoiled by last night’s passing showers.

Sarah was leaning against the tank, trying to shake the dog’s last cries from her head. Her back was pressed against the sheet of metal that chilled her just slightly less than what had almost just happened to her.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

SA Dixon, second placed in the 18 to 35 age category (literary arts) of the Wadadli Pen 2011 Challenge, is an Antiguan-born author living in Kansas City, Missouri. She has previously focused on non-fiction, but has lately been concentrating on delving into more imaginative works.

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION & TERMS OF USE
Copyright of the winning Wadadli Pen stories and/or art work featured on this site belongs to the creators of the individual works and are used here purely for promotional and educational purposes. Other blog content, except otherwise noted, is created and/or maintained by Joanne C. Hillhouse. Site content should not be copied, distributed, transmitted, used for commercial purposes, altered, transformed, or built upon without the consent of the copyright holders.

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