I had a home in Africa – published in The Woven Tale Press

As an incipient writer, it’s a thrill to get people to read and enjoy your work, and to get it published is kind of the ultimate thrill really. You know, for us bookish types who don’t go in for the jumping off bridges sort of thrill. And so with my little heart bursting with pleasure, I can say my piece on growing up in Africa has been published in the August issue of The Woven Tale Press <sighs happily>.

You can find it on page 23 of the latest Woven Tale Press along with the mind-children of a number of other arty types, written, painted and otherwise formed.

🙂

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Evicting Mrs Pauley

Writing 101, Day Eighteen: Hone Your Point of View
Craft a story from the perspective of a twelve-year-old observing it all.

They’re sending Mrs Pauley away. The police is there, with Mr Johns, dressed in his suit and tie like it’s a wedding. He’s the landlord. He owns a lot of the houses on this road, like ours too. So I know him. I know what he’s like when rent is late. He’s there on the step next day, no waiting, frown on and hand out. It’s not like the people here wants to cheat him, but mostly they works at the factory, and sometimes there’s trouble, and it closed for a few days, and then there’s no pay. And then rent is late. Like Mrs Pauley’s.

But Mrs Pauley, I don’t think she gonna be able to pay rent ever again. Mr Pauley, he was the one who worked at the factory, and he’s dead. Died from a heart attack three months back, just collapsed there at his machine. He’s just lucky he never fell into it, that’s all. That would have been a worse way to go than he did. And a worse corpse for his wife to bury. When I grow, I want to get out of this town; I don’t want to work in that place. There’s too many accidents, and one way I don’t want to die is in a machine, or later on, all mangled and crying out for the end.

But anyway, Mr Pauley went an easier way. It’s his wife it’s gonna drag on for. I don’t know where they’re sending her, for sending her is what it is. She don’t want to leave. She been in that house across the way from us with her family all my life, and much, much longer. All her boys was born there in that house and I hardly remember the older ones. Steve, the youngest, he only left last year for the city. He got away; all her boys did. I think she made sure they did, though it made her cry when they left. She can’t go to Steve; he don’t have a place of his own yet, she says. She says Robert’s wife doesn’t want her with them, only because there’s no room or money with all their own little ones too. Nobody can blame them, neither does Mrs Pauley. I guess she’ll go to one of the others, but she hasn’t heard from any of them yet.

Mrs Pauley is crying now as she brings her brown suitcase out to the car (black like the hearse that took her husband) that’s waiting to send her away; the tears run silent down her face and drop in big drops onto her chest. Her face is puffy and pink in the wrong places; no more cheerful smiles like she used to have on, when her kitchen smelled like a bakery and she’d have a biscuit for good kids who done her some favour, back when Mr Pauley would come whistling back from factory. I think I’ll always remember those biscuits of hers, better than me own mum’s, though I’ll never say. After Mr Pauley died, she stopped smiling, but she had no time for tears then. Then she had to work real hard, baking and baking, and trying to sell to the markets where they sells to the people who got money for treats. I guess baking makes a person smile less when you got to do so much of it. That and worry over rent. And after all the baking and selling and worrying, it still weren’t enough to pay Mr Johns. I don’t know why he need the money so bad, seems like he got enough, with his new clothes and his big car, shinier than the police one. He look like he got enough to eat too, and more than enough.

But Mrs Pauley been crying probably a week straight, since Mr Johns said she gotta go. Our neighbours is standing on their stoops and in the street, watching. They don’t say nothing, even the little ones like my sister Ginny, leaning into my folded legs; we all know there’s nothing to say. The police is there, and Mrs Pauley hasn’t paid her rent. It ain’t fair, and we all knows it, but we got no voice in this world. Voices are for people like Mr Johns, who owns their own places, and other people’s too. So we just watch. And Mrs Pauley cries, but she don’t say nothing either.

 

Lost, Found… Discarded, Part 3/3

I’ve lived here for many years, but I couldn’t tell you exactly how long any more – time isn’t the same once you’re dead. I don’t completely remember how I even came to be here, I just feel a connection with the place, so I stay. The family who live here, they don’t know I also do. Probably just as well, they’d think it was spooky to have a silent, unseen watcher amongst them. So it’s best they don’t know, although the boy caught a glimpse of me once; a mistake on my behalf. I hoped they would think he had imagined it, the way children do…they seemed to have forgotten that incident anyway.

I don’t want to worry them. It’s not as creepy as it may sound, hanging around them like this, it’s only that I’m lonely. I enjoy being around the living, being near the warmth of their everyday. I vaguely recall the emotions they seem to feel so sharply. I suppose you could say it makes me feel more alive, being near the force of them.

It’s winter now, and there’s a fire in the grate. The woman is sitting before it, looking into the flames. She has a name, but it never stays in my mind. Names….they don’t mean too much to me now either. I think they mean something when the lives of the people who carry them have a continuity to you. To me, though, the existence of individuals drifts in and out of my consciousness, much as they drift in and out of rooms.

The fire would be hot on her face, she is sitting so near. I can’t feel its heat, but I still watch the writhing flames. They appear more alive than me, but it’s an illusion born of movement only. How ironic. Now, though, they’re eating letters the woman is feeding them. This is curious. I remember letters. Usually they are kept if important, and discarded if not. To burn one is symbolic, the giving of a memory, or a promise, to the flame as if it were a funeral pyre. The woman opens a letter and reads it, while others burn. I am interested enough now to wonder what she is thinking. There was a man who lived here once also. I don’t remember when I last saw him, but he was with her when they first came here. There was emotion like a tumult in those days. It blew like a wind through the rooms of this house. Oh yes, I felt almost alive then. But not happy…

She crumples the last letter, the one she has read, and she puts it into the mouth of the fire without another pause, and we watch it burn.