The Writer – a local poet, spoken word artist, and actress currently at work on three books with plans to publish her first poetry book by the end of 2017 – says: “Shakiyah is an island girl who climbs trees and picks mangoes. While doing just that, she meets Brent, a mango hater. That should’ve been enough to tell her he was bad news.”
Judges’ Verdict: “There is a good build up between characters.”
In the 2017 Wadadli Pen Annual Writing Challenge, they ranked Jardine’s story 3rd in the 18 to 35 age category.
I should’ve known. After all, his opening line was, “I hate mangoes.”
It was the heart of the mango season and I agreed to help Mama make mango jams for Mango Fest the following week. I took a bus to Urlings, to my father’s farm, to pick the mangoes we needed.
When I arrived, my dad was in the middle of a tour. He wore a bright grin and signaled with pride towards his ackee trees and jamun berries.
I snuck by, not in the mood to make friendly, and jogged to the storage house where I retrieved a basket.
Appropriately dressed in t-shirt, jeans, and bare feet, I hoisted myself up into a mango tree and picked and threw mangoes into the basket below. In no time, I was lost in the rhythm of the work and the smell of the fruit.
“I hate mangoes,” he said.
I looked down and found a young man looking up at me, decked in fancy track pants and a fresh mohawk. He was cute.
“More for me,” I said.
“It’s mongoose food.”
“You drink milk?” I asked.
“Baby cow food.”
He threw back his head and laughed.
“I’m Brent,” he said.
“Shakiyah,” I answered.
“You look too pretty to be climbing trees, Shakiyah.”
“One does not preclude the other,” I said. “Are you looking for someone?”
He smiled. It was crooked, but cute.
“I’m looking for dums. Can you show me where they are?”
I obliged him. He helped me down from the tree. My feet landed with a heavy thump on the grassy ground.
I escorted him towards the dums and we started a conversation. I learned he was eighteen – just a year older than me, and was home on summer break from college overseas.
We spoke about Mango Fest and I told him he was missing out. He cocked his head to the side, smiled, and said I was changing his mind. I fought not to blush.
We walked, talked, and flirted, and took longer than necessary to get to the dums.
We found the big ones that resemble green apples. He bit into one with gusto.
“Now this is good!”
I laughed at his enthusiasm.
“If I promise to come see you at Mango Fest, will you give me your number?” He asked.
I gave him my cellphone. Our fingers touched and my heart sped up, just a little. He was about to –
A girl, who looked like her skinny jeans and bandeau top were painted onto her body, stomped towards us. Brent choked out the name Camille and took a step away from me.
“You carn serious,” she said. Her eyes raked over me like a detective scouring a crime scene.
Brent blurted out that I was the farmer’s daughter – Shakiyah wasn’t good enough, it seemed.
“What’s going on here?”
My father walked into the grove with his guests in tow. He stared at me. The guests stared at me. Camille glared at me. I felt like a suspect standing in front of a judge, jury, and hateful-looking prosecutor.
Moments, that felt like lifetimes, passed.
My mind was racing for something to say when a fat raindrop landed on my nose. As if on cue, a cloud burst over our heads and everyone ran towards the verandah, for cover.
Grateful for the rain’s redemption, I ran to the storage house. I was embarrassed, and glad that I could hide away until everyone left.
It was then that I patted my pocket, and remembered that Brent had my phone.
Please respect the writer’s copyright. And while we welcome feedback, please be constructive.
With thanks to our patrons, see this writer’s total prize haul below (and remember, support the businesses/individuals who support the arts):
EC$100 (contributed by Caribbean Reads Publishing)
Books – 3 AM Epiphany by Brian Kitely and This Year You write Your Novel by Edward Mosley (contributed by Brenda Lee Browne along with a scholarship to the next Just Write Writers Retreat)
Books – Thicker than Water by Cal Flyn and Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones (contributed by Harper Collins)
Certificate (sponsored by the Best of Books bookstore)