So, its been a minute, well a whole lot longer than a minute and I have been,
not writing doing so many things.
Here now is a story I wrote for the third edition of the Short Story Writing Competition organized by a Facebook group called The Gathering which sounds like a cult now that I think about it. This gem came in 7th.
So without further ado, here’s my winning story;
THE OTHER SIDE
It’s quiet here. I think I can hear an echo. Even when I’m whispering. Musty too. Why do all Your ‘houses’ have to be musty? Is it the sweat of the holy saints that lingers in the air days after the Sunday mass is done? Or is it the guilt making it musty? A lot of people come here to unburden themselves, but someone or something has to carry the burden, it just doesn’t disappear into thin air, right? So maybe the air takes on the burden, making it musty? I know those priests do NOT carry the burden, they are not physically and emotionally able to carry the burden of even a single human of all the penitent ones they see – or rather, hear – in those confessional rooms. They may have the power to forgive our sins but they have burdens of their own. I mean, they are human, right? They struggle like we struggle, right?
(SIGH) So, how do I start this?
Dear Lord. God. Big Man. Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent – and Every Other Good Word that starts with Omni – how are You doing, Man-Upstairs? It has been awhile. A really long while. I don’t know if You remember me? My name is Diana, daughter of Alan and Sandra Kalema? Perhaps You remember them? They are the ones that used to come visit Your house every day… well my mother still does, and my grandmother did. So surely You must know me?
I, uh, I think I stopped subscribing to the whole God-thing after the way that old nun used to torture me in primary school. I mean, surely if a person that was supposed to represent You on earth was a mean person, then You either had to be mean or not exist at all. She was the personification of evil. The snarl, the weird sulphuric smell that always accompanied her everywhere she went. The cruel, humiliating and painful punishments she used to dish out. I think she actually got off on making us, daughters of the impoverished peasantry, run around naked in the cold. Mbu punishment!
I know it is bad form to wish the dead ill and all that, but I sincerely hope that bitch is burning in hell. Even now, just reminiscing about her, I think I can smell the remains of that old nun right here in this place. Kind of ironic that she died here, in these very pews. Perhaps that’s why the air is so musty?
I digress again. I’m sorry. I am nervous. I’m on my last string here. So Lord urhm Jesus, I’m here today because that street preacher with the sweaty, smelly armpits and hoarse voice said that everyone should come talk to you for whatever they need?
“Jesus will provide you with whatever you need, just come to Him. He’s calling to you!”
Although why You, Jesus, didn’t provide him with deodorant and mint, I do not know. I mean, that guy is in severe need of these things. He really, really stinks and he’s doing your work, so why not, huh? But then again the smells are more pronounced to me now. So maybe I am over exaggerating.
I suppose I should apologize first? I am sorry for everything. I don’t know if You know this, but I’m kind of a bitch. And I suppose I should feel sorry for that. And I really am.
I am sorry for the way I have lived my life, I guess.
But then again, You made me this self-indulgent creature that subscribes to the whole YOLO thing – like I gained anything from it!
But maybe it wasn’t you, maybe it my parents that made me this way. I don’t know. I just know, I had to indulge in everything that gave me pleasure. Dancing, drinking, smoking, the occasional sniff… And him. Oh even more so him.
Why, pray tell, is it that I couldn’t resist? Couldn’t resist him? His carefully worded promises, his smile, his voice. His body, his hands (SIGH). Yeah, You really took Your time creating that sucker.
So I’m guessing that while You dawdled about, making him a physical perfection, (and whoa, is he ever!), you skimped on the real basics! Decency? Morals, huh? And brains. Those can occasionally turn out useful, even if only rarely so. Because that creep is one dumb Narcissus or maybe he’s just a scared little boy hiding in someone’s big boy pants.
I honestly thought that telling him would be the best thing. I thought I was in love. In retrospect, I was in lust shrouded in cigarette smoke masquerading as love. I suppose I don’t have to tell you how good he is with his tongue. Maybe that’s what made me feel like I loved him.
See I had it all planned out. I was going to tell him about the baby created in a night of unhinged passion. And he would be happy. He would sweep me off of my feet and divorce his wife and we would get married right away. And then I would enjoy the fact that my boobs enter a room several minutes before the rest of me and we would have a bunch of kids. Then we would live happily ever after. I had bought into the whole fairy-tale bullshit. What can I say? I am female like that.
I did not see the blow coming. I had no way of seeing it. It stung. His nights spent at the gym really did pay off. The force of the blow knocked me off the chair I was seated on. That and the sheer shock. This could not be the same Richard that had given me pleasure and infinite affirmation all those nights. I can even now still feel that smarting sensation of oh-so-deep hurt and humiliation. But am I not supposed to have numbed to it all by now?
I saw it then. The fear in his eyes. The anger. I don’t even know why he was angry.
“How did this happen?” he kept asking as he paced back and forth.
I remember the vague thought forming, ‘You see, when mummy and daddy come together they build a nest of love and the love becomes a human being in mummy’s stomach…‘
I wanted to answer him with these exact words that Mother used when I asked her where babies came from, but I could not open my mouth. The dog had hit me too hard.
I don’t know where he got the brilliant idea to start hitting my stomach. Probably from all those movies about domestic abuse where a drunken husband kicks a woman in the stomach and she loses her baby.
The pain was the bitch. Curse that gym! I do not remember much after that. It was a blur of lights, lights and then some more lights. Then the guy in the black hoodie. Toting a scythe. He is grim. He puts the grim in grim reaper, the scar in scary, the- you get the point. He is not even as funny as the character Death in the Terry Pratchet books. He ushers people into their next lives or something of the sort, since I am yet to actually move on. Why does he have to be, well, so grim? Why don’t you send a happy little girl with daisies and unicorns and all that rainbow-y stuff?
What I really need to know is: why am I still here? Death is an ever present shadow, but he won’t tell me anything. I don’t even know if he can speak. He just spends a lot of the time sharpening his scythe with his skeletal fingers and looking ominous.
Oh and no one sees me. Not even this priest who looks like he stepped out of the twenty first century Exorcist. I even went to a witch doctor, but nothing. He just shrieked like a little girl and ran out of his shrine when he saw a little flame that I managed to create. I mean this guy is supposed to be talking to the spirits, isn’t he? Or is he a fraud?
I haven’t even seen my dead loved ones, not even that old nun. I am not moving on. I am not seeing the proverbial white light. I really am at the end of my rope here. Is this what the after-life is then? Because it sucks.
Watching my poor mother hurl herself at the coffin as it was lowered in the ground was not fun. Watching people that I barely knew get all emotional about me was even more annoying.
Di was an awesome friend, she will be missed. RIP… [sad emoticon] are the posts they are writing now on their Socials. And even the ones that were my friends, watching them forget me and move on is strikingly more hurting. Watching the ones I could not stand pretend that they are broken about my passing, now that’s just outright brutal.
There was this empty sense of justice when Richard was arrested but I knew it wouldn’t stick. His wife, the pastor, would not let that happen to him and by extension, her. She is in the public eye and all that.
(SIGH) So, just checking with You, was I ever in Your books? Do I exist in Your mind? Am I an after-thought? What in the world am I still here for? Did you forget that I was supposed to be coming home? Why is Death so ominous? Oh and why is he my shadow? I don’t know how you do the things you do. I don’t know if You, like, Houdini the people that You love. I don’t know if You just raise Your wand and abracadabra something for those that You choose, because I need some answers here. Please help me.
And one other thing…