Category Archives: Wadadli Pen 2004

About the 2004 Wadadli Pen competition

Shirley’s New Roommate by Verdanci Benta

[2004 Young Explorer Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Third Placed Overall and Best Under 12 Writer]

Verdanci accepts her prize package from Wadadli Pen coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse

Shirley was a short, fat, dark-skinned young woman in her early twenties. The thing about Shirley was that she was the village gossip. Shirley knew everybody’s private business such as where so and so was last night and who slept with whom last night. Shirley could also tell who borrowed their best friend’s tights to wear at the party last night.

But what really made Shirley the talk of the village was the fact that she always seemed to move from rented house to rented house. My grandmother used to say, “That girl Shirley for Daphne, God bless her soul, is like a rolling stone.” But Shirley never stopped moving.

I used to think that my grandmother and other villagers painted Shirley black because every time I saw Shirley she was in a jolly mood, always joking with the men and the bus-drivers. She seemed to have a lot of male friends and they all always seemed to have a message for her every time they saw her.

I used to think that since Shirley came to live in our neighbourhood that it had become much livelier. Her frequent arguments with her lovers, her quarrelling with her roommates and her cursing with her landlord, Mr. Harvey, gave me something exciting to look forward to.

Sometimes she would ask my mother to let her little son, Gavin, come to play wit me or sometimes she would ask me to stay on the gallery with Gavin when she went to town. On her return from town, she would give me sweet treats like cookies and toffees.

My mother and the other neighbours always said nasty things about Shirley behind her back. They usually remarked about the way she earned her living. Well, Shirley never went out to look for work as most of the other young women in the village. She seemed content staying home and she seemed to do well. They said that she had the habit of getting money from foolish men.

When things got hard, she would get a young woman, usually a desperate one who was in need of shelter, to live with her in order to share the rent. But when things got well with her, she would do all in her power to get her roommates out so that she could get her privacy.

So, when the Jamaican young woman, Bev, came to live with Shirley, the neighbours knew that it would not be for too long. It was nearing Christmas and Mr. Harvey, the landlord, was threatening to put Shirley out of the house because she owed him three months’ rent.

Bev moved in one Sunday night. Bev was a tall, sexy-looking, fair-skinned woman, also in her early twenties. Her hair was a good length, but I was not sure it was real or natural. Bev immediately made friends with everyone in the neighbourhood and became the focus of attention of the young men. Not long after Bev arrived, she put up a sign that said, “Get your tastee Jamaican Jerk pork and bar-b-q chicken.” From that time the Rosy Alley no longer was a quiet place, especially on Saturday evenings when Bev set up her barbecue grill. Bev sometimes teased Shirley by saying, “The way to a man’s pocket is through his belly!”

The men who used to be friendly with Shirley had now befriended Bev. My mother told my grandmother one evening, “I wonder how long that friendship going to last.”

My grandmother answered, “As long as Shirley can get money to pay her rent!”

But my mother was not too sure about that because she said that Bev was competing with Shirley for boyfriends. Everyone waited eagerly for a grand showdown between Shirley and Bev. But that did not happen soon enough. Instead, one day, Shirley put up a sign on the house that said, “Hair braiding done hair.” Nobody had expected anything like that because Shirley was not known to have done any such work before. Well, according to my grandmother, “Trouble make water go uphill.” And Shirley did not let Bev keep her down. The news of Shirley’s new job spread like wildfire and in no time, men, boys, women and children all came to Shirley to have their hair done.

So, on one house there were two signs advertising two different types of services offered by two different women who lived in that same house. Rosy Alley was a centre of activity both nigh and day as cars lined both sides of the road as clients went in and out of Shirley’s yard.

Meanwhile, Bev started behaving strangely. She stopped greeting Shirley when she woke up in the mornings and she stopped walking on Shirley’s side of the house. She started telling people that Shirley was lazy.

One morning, when Shirley came home from shopping in town, she was met in the yard by Mr. Harvey, who told her that he had come to change the locks on Bev’s bedroom door. Shirley was surprised but she could not do anything about that because it was Mr. Harvey’s house and he had the right to do anything with his house. Later that same day Shirley was again surprised to find a new girl sitting in her living room. When asked who she was and what she was doing there, the girl rudely answered that it was no business of hers. Well, Shirley flew into a rage and called the police.

When the police arrived, they met Bev at the door and made some inquiries. Shirley was advised to get Bev out to avoid any further trouble because it was Bev who had invited the girl into the house. After the police left, an argument broke out between Bev and Shirley and Mr. Harvey was called in to settle the matter. He said that he had nothing to say because he had no power to tell Shirley whom to live with. The neighbours waited for more fireworks because Bev had told Shirley that she was not going to move out.

The following day, Shirley took down her hairbraiding sign and started packing her things into boxes and bags. Bev, in the meantime, was busy seasoning up her chicken and pork for the night’s sale. As Shirley was about to leave the yard, Mr. Harvey’s pickup was coming into Rosy Alley. He did not look at nor say hello to Shirley as he used to do before. When Shirley looked back, she saw Mr. Harvey’s pickup parked at Bev’s gap. On his shoulders was a bag of charcoals and he was heading for the barbecue grill.

THE END

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 – coordinator of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, and author of The Boy from Willow Bend and Dancing Nude in the Moonlight. 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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A Nuclear Family Explosion! by Siena K. Margrie Hunt

[2004 Young Explorer Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Honourable Mention]

I was looking up family in the dictionary and I found that part of the meaning “is any group of related things or beings.” This is a perfect description of my family. We are a group of mixed up people from both black and white heritages. Most of the time it is a nuclear family consisting of my parents, my brother, my grandfather and I. And, of course, the blind dog, the fat furry one, 2 cats and a “madsick” donkey.

Sometimes we get together with the extended family in Antigua or England. This year the special occasion was my Aunt’s wedding, which took place in my backyard. They arrived after much planning between New York, London and St John’s. We had twenty odd people staying in our house, from a one-year-old cousin to a seventy-year-old Aunt with Alzheimer’s. Everyone had a role to play from the day they came to the afternoon of the wedding, whether it was clearing fridges from customs to making place settings. In the middle of all this we had our great aunt continually looking for her handbag, making cups of tea, which she then forgot about, and looking for a cab to take her back to East London.

It was happy and chaotic although the pressure seemed too much for the groom to be. An argument took place a few days before the wedding and the groom threatened to catch a plane back to England. My father, whom we never thought of as a counselor, was found having a quiet man-to-man chat with the groom. The ruffled feathers were unruffled and smoothed back in to place.

The day before the wedding the marquee was put up and the decorative finishing touches were being completed with help from the bossy American cousin with very big legs and a very short mini skirt. Suddenly it started to pour with rain and we realized that the ladies in high heels and smart dresses would be sinking into the ground if we didn’t make a safe and secure path to the marquee. Within minutes my short but strong mother and I were carrying large blocks of limestone, from the road to the marquee. This must have been an amusing sight to the big muscular London bouncers, who had come to take the groom out for his Stag night.

The next surprise was the arrival of the unexpected guests. In England “RSVP” means you let the people know whether you are coming or not. Relatives from all over the Caribbean who had not responded were arriving with their families. A look of delight, which then turned to panic, spread across my aunt’s face as she tried to calculate how far the food would spread.

On the morning of the wedding all was well until my eighteen-year-old cousin was found with his head immersed in the toilet having consumed too much alcohol on the Stag night. At this point in time we were not in our usual sympathetic mode so we dragged him out to move the tables.

Three o’clock came and the event was as romantic as we had all hoped. The food disappeared in a blink of an eye. Thankfully there was just enough for the locals to fill their takeaway containers.

The only event not planned was the romantic night between the bride and groom. Unfortunately for them it was spent in a room with their two children, my grandmother and great aunt.

Our extended family gradually departed leaving odd shoes, an extra fridge and millions of photos. Strangely whilst looking through the pictures I noticed that none of them included my cousin, who I suspect was having a very close one day relationship with the bathroom.

We are now back to our nuclear family again and are remembering what the dictionary said about a family making provision for its members, which is exactly what we did over the six weeks!

THE END

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 – coordinator of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, and author of The Boy from Willow Bend and Dancing Nude in the Moonlight. 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 Irate Beggar by Damani Tabor

[2004 Young Explorer Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Honourable Mention]

 You walk past me when you exit the vegetable market – thinking only of what delicacy you will prepare later, or when you enter the Quay, where, despite carrying a purse full of money to lavish on duty free goods, you spare me not a dime.

Wait. Don’t leave. I’ll not bite you, rest assured. Could you spare two dollars? No? I understand. Really.

I try to get a job you know. Truly! The cheap foreign labourers didn’t help me there, to be honest. And our economy done crash under hard labour. But forget such excuses. This is really about you.

You, You, YOU! Pardon me. It’s just that I can’t understand your uncaring.

No one has even thought to loan me clothes. In fact, you run me from bathrooms. What happened to civic responsibility?

I deserve it, you say? Surely not all of us survive the tossing and turnings of the sea, but if you reach out and look past that, it is of benefit for you also.

After all, you dropped the ball. Where were you when I needed you? A friend to encourage me to stay within the law, or to persevere with difficult work? You know? Where were you to comfort me when women gave me strife? To keep me from gambling myself away? Shelter would have helped.

But never worry; even now, amends can be made. 

Why do you look at me with such derision? Is it that you think to yourself, ‘oh, look how I have to struggle for everything, unlike his lazy philosophizing rass?’ Well, I assure you I would show you up in the struggle if your kind would entertain my futile efforts.

The other day, in fact, I asked for a job. I had the good fortune of receiving a batch of clothes from the Red Cross, and I managed to give myself an abbreviated  sponge bath. Contrary to what one such as yourself might expect, I was actually quite smart once, even getting into the fifth form. Now, I admit, I am merely intelligent, but I can still add and subtract, and speak — probably as well as you. And I can reason.

But what does the master porter tell me? I am not presentable.

I did not think I needed to be a walking advertisement for all that is prim and proper. In fact it would be commendable for the Department Store to give a fallen somewhat scruffy looking brother a hand. I had forgotten, however, that its staff is comprised of the same thing. People. People like you. Thinking yourself self-assured, and yet unable to even abide my presence.

You think yourself superior to me because you are an honored veteran of the struggle to move up in the world. Is it not those that have the least in the struggle that are most deserving of help, consideration or reward? But you do not see it that way, alas.

I departed yet another failed sortie and went to take refuge in the Gardens. It is a fiercely beautiful place. For me, it must be; I don’t have luxuries to place in higher esteem. That night, however, while I was on my way, I came upon some youth.

They remind me of my self when I was much younger. I approached with the intention of making conversation, maybe imparting a bit of advice. They are half you and half me. Guess which half they gave into.

Tonight as well! See here? You can tell by the swelling above my eye.

What is that you say? You will give me a task? Wonderful. I will happily lay here and guard your business place while you go and find a replacement for the broken lock.

 Ah! You’re back. As you can see, I have completed the task, even once having to actually turn an inquisitive young man away, with my diplomacy, and a little lying, heh heh! What is that you have there? A token of your appreciation? Feeling the rectangular package, I already knew it was not money. Yes, I know the shape of a small rum bottle; even the feel of the glass engraving. Thank you.

Thank you for offering me poison. It will dull the pain, at the cost of a stuporand a stereotype.

What do you care? You NEED me this way, uncaring coldhearted rass!!! So you can gawk and stare and feel good about yourself!!!

…I retire…

The man watched the beggar saunter away up the street towards the Gardens. A pitiable sight, like a battered dog standing. What did the beggar expect him to say?  Such was life. Yes. A standing dog. Except the tail was not visible, but it was between the dog’s legs all the same.

THE END

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 – coordinator of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, and author of The Boy from Willow Bend and Dancing Nude in the Moonlight. 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 Day I Saw Evil by Liscia Lawrence

[2004 Young Explorer Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Honourable Mention]


I spent some part of every summer at my grandmother’s until I was around fourteen years old. The times I spent there were full of excitement and great wonder.

My grandmother lived on the most beautiful island in the Caribbean. A place where clear water ran from mountains and hills, where fruits grew, Hot Springs formed and big green forest dominated. These natural beauties are short-lived. When the night came and all was still, that was the time to fear most. That was the time evil would show its ugly face.

I can still remember the solemn twilight, the mysteries of the nature island, the earthy smells mixed with the faint odours of wild flowers, growing somewhere in the forest behind the house, often drifted through my room window. I could hear the far-off howling of a dog and the nearby hissing of a snake, which sent shivers down my spine. From my room window, I saw only the snapshot glimpses of disturbed creatures scurrying through the tall grass and splashing through the nearby river that ran down from the back of our garden.

It so happened that one particular night, my grandmother and I had gone to bed early. This was to get an early start on the garden. It was about 4 a.m. and I had just been awakened by my grandmother so that we could leave, since we had such a long way to travel, around three miles. The cold morning air encircled me as if to lift me off of the ground. Grandma and I were both dressed in long jeans, boots and a big tee-shirt. Hugging myself tightly, I walked on behind grandma. Although it was freezing, grandma walked on strongly as if she felt nothing, but then again, I guess she really felt nothing. The big dirt road, which grandma and I walked along, was lined with huge trees, which seemed to be reaching down to grab. The place held a deafening silence, which was only broken by the continuous dragging of our feet. Even the clouds deserted the black sky, walking with the stars and leaving the moon as the only source of light. Something about the way the moon shone and its huge size sent chills down my spine. This was the time for evil.

As we continued walking, grandma told jokes and we sang songs to lessen the mile. As we neared the garden, granny inquired, to herself, about the readiness of the yams. The garden we had intended to raid of its provision belonged to one of grannie’s friends, Mr. Mandie, who had given her permission to dig yams.

As we reached to a part where the road branched off to the left, a funny feeling, which I still cannot explain, came over me. Granny and I turned left and then right. As we made our way along the narrow path that lead to the garden, a bright light suddenly appeared before us.

It was told that Mr. Mandie was a dealing man, a man who left his skin at night and travelled through the air in bright lights looking for blood. As I looked upon the light, I froze suddenly in my position. The light seemed hypnotic. I felt a force upon me, holding me and pinning me to the ground. My head became heavy, the hair on my back, neck and hands all stood up and my body felt as if it wasn’t mine because of the weight which had seized it.

As I looked on, the light seemed to be coming down the hill towards us but still it couldn’t seem to reach. All the time, my head became heavier and it became more impossible for me to move. My granny was at my side saying something, talking to the light. The more she talked, the faster the light came towards us but never quite reaching. I heard granny speaking but it was as if she spoke another language, since I couldn’t understand a single [word] she uttered. I heard her call my name but I wondered whose name it was. I wanted to scream but nothing came from my mouth. I then felt myself being drawn backwards, further from the light until I was upon the road.

Granny had turned her clothes onto the other side and had lead me out of the garden backwards. She said that if we had turned our backs upon the light, we would have surely died. As we quietly hurried home, we heard the cock crow.

THE END

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 – coordinator of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, and author of The Boy from Willow Bend and Dancing Nude in the Moonlight. 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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