The oldest native
The dead leaves crunched under his gnarled, old feet the sun beat upon his back as a slave driver. Thirty kilometers left to walk was certainly a feat. But relentlessly he pressed on to complete his mission.
As a lie was told and he had to deliver the truth, as when reading the newsletter he found a lie.
In the headline: “Antigua mourns nation’s oldest citizen ‘Paul Green’ dead at one hundred and ten”.
Now this must be a lie as he was still alive, he had witnessed Paul’s birth with his very eyes!
“How could they” he thought, “Spread such inept deceit?” He held the title of the oldest citizen.
“I Sheldon Redfoot am the oldest there is, as my eyes witnessed the history of the island itself!” he proudly proclaimed as he continued upon his quest for truth, and began his tirade.
“How could they forget he whom contributed to history himself. I may only be a tortoise but I have walked this land so long that I am the only true citizen!”
“I was there when the Europeans landed” he proclaimed “On my back, Columbus himself rested his foot at my behest. I was there when the Caribs fought the invaders man Englishmen tripped over me and when the battle was lost and Caribs were slain, I was the first one to mark their graves. I was there when the first African came as slaves to the white man, the first to carve an escape trail; I led them through the winding brush to the hills of safety away from their master’s whip. I was the one who incited the first rebellion! I boldly bit Massa’s foot who dared to step on my lettuce and it was on my back that the crier stood and declared emancipation. I inspired the first steel pan with the pattern on my back to make such melody.
I created the first coal pot, as it was just old hardened clay tossed from my shell that made the first mold. I was the cornerstone of St. John’s Cathedral; it took me three hours to escape that mortar. My very own beautiful yellow orange and red colors inspired the first festive colors of carnival. His temper soon cooled as he realized, he could not remember when he started his quest or how far to the end.
His heart was soon marred with sadness as he remembered the darker days witnessed. The fear of hurricane Louis as he was rocked by the whirling winds that whipped against his shell and the agonizing wails of the unfortunate souls who were lost in the typhoon; The terrible quake of ‘74 akin to a bellowing behemoth rising from below, as if the devil himself had stubbed his toe. “I Sheldon carry knowledge more vast than any other islander!” he declared igniting his passion once again. “This shell has helped to shape the very culture of this nation albeit accidentally. I will not be forgotten!” As he gazed ahead he saw his destination the address was right but where should have been a thriving newspaper stood a decrepit building. The streets were unoccupied but the skies filled with wondrous vehicles flying in harmony. As a piece of history he was certainly slow. For his quest had taken him ninety years! And as he turned to leave mumbling his displeasure, he was tripped upon and a head was dashed upon a stone. As silence engulfed all he heard the cry “The dictator is dead!” He walked away knowing he had earned yet another spot in history.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born on April 1998 Andre’ Warner attended the Christian Union Junior Academy. He developed a love for reading through which he was inspired to become a part-time writer. Throughout the years he continued to dominate the field of English at the Clare Hall Secondary School where he earned an numerous awards including a distinction in English A, and English B in CXC. He also earned the Yvette Samuel award for outstanding performance in the field of English. He would also go on to further his studies at the Antigua State College where he studied Literatures in English and proudly earned passes in both units and currently is aspiring to continue his studies further afield at a university level.
ABOUT THE STORY: This short story is about a red footed tortoise native to Antigua whom upon realizing he is unrecognized as the oldest citizen sets out on a mission to report to the news editors that they have made a false report during his attempt to reach the newspaper he reminisces about roles he unwittingly played throughout history.
PRIZES WON: As with all the honourable mentions, Andre received a training session (Presenting: Telling Your Story Orally) from Barbara Arrindell & Associates, and books and a certificate from the Best of Books.
ABOUT WADADLI PEN 2018: The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize launched in 2004 with a writing Challenge that continues 14 years later. The project was launched by Joanne C. Hillhouse with D. Gisele Isaac and the Young Explorer publication. Today, its core team is Hillhouse with past finalists Devra Thomas and Margaret Irish, and writers and long time patrons and partners Floree Whyte and Barbara Arrindell. The name of each winner is emblazoned on the Alstyne Allen Memorial plaque, named for one of the project’s earliest volunteers (and sister-friend of founder, Joanne C. Hillhouse) who died in 2015. The Challenge is Wadadli Pen’s pilot project, in keeping with its mandate to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda. The Challenge has encouraged young writers in Antigua and Barbuda (35 years and younger) to write on any topic, within a Caribbean aesthetic. It doesn’t often prescribe other limitations, but this year it did request specifically historical fiction/poetry. Normally, prizes are broken down by age categories but this year it’s winner take all with only one winner and a handful of honourable mentions (Andre Warner, Rosie Pickering, Andrecia Lewis, Chloe Martin, and Ava Ralph). Congratulations to them all. Thanks to the patrons and to partners – Floree Whyte, Barbara Arrindell, Devra Thomas, and Margaret Irish. To find out how you can continue to support the work of Wadadli Pen contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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