Hello my fellow Aspirers
This was my submission to Southern African Writers College Annual Short Story competition, the theme was “The Anniversary”. The setting is structured around many South African events that have occurred or are currently occurring. Hope that you like it, your comments or suggestions are welcomed.
Surrounded by complete darkness Brett opened his hazel eyes, in the dark he could pass for a dark brown eyed kid. Awakened by the sudden silence, he peeped through the air hole he had carved out for himself in the mountain of winter covers. It took a while for his eyes to adjust to the gloomy black, he could not distinguish if it was day or night but that’s the beauty of winter he decided. A sudden noise had the hairs on the back on his neck on guard. He skilfully extracted himself from the mountain of covers and crept to his bedroom door with a baseball bat in hand. Out into the gloomy passage he slowly gattered in the direction of the kitchen from which an unfamiliar sound emerged. The steady thump-thump-thump of his heart invaded his ears.
“It was now or never”, he thought armed with a baseball bat in hand ready to strike he entered the kitchen and walked towards the middle of the kitchen his eyes darting from corner to corner. From behind him a voice interrupted his heroic stature, “it’s a gas light you silly boy we have loading shedding” followed by shrieks of laughter from his mother. Relief washed over his body with an unaccustomed warmth surrounding his below the belt region, a yellowish liquid gradually seeped from the bottom of his pyjama pants.
Brett is a bright kid with the world at his fingertips. He has excelled at most of his subjects expect for PE. But we forgive him, because he is a great kid to have around both inside and outside the classroom. Congratulations Brett, you’ve passed to grade 12!
These were the words from his last year’s report, which was on repeat in Brett’s mind as he watched the fire roaring with life. He used to be like that fire, full of life and ready for a challenge even though he must admit that he was a bit of a scary cat but through everything he never gave up. His family who were barely making ends meet meant everything to him, always cheering him on through his failures and winning streaks. Trying something new was definitely what got him into this big mess. It was not as if he was addicted to smoking marijuana he was just trying something new in his spare time, that’s what he told himself.
But now a few weeks later he was singing a different tune as he sat at the make shift fire created from nothing but little bits of timber that people had dumped on the deserted field, surrounded by his friends who were in similar situations. A skinny boy who went by the name of Geoff decided to pick on Brett with a humorous yet captivating commentary sounding like something similar to a commentator at the J&B Met.
“As Brett the ex-boy genius grows impatient awaiting his next drag, the pipe slowly snakes towards him, he waits and he waits and he scores!”
Laughter exploded from every boy around the metal tin with yellowish orange flames protruding from slits in the tin. At that moment Brett spun around to find nobody, he thought he heard someone call his name. Confused, he turned back around to find everyone staring at him and again all of them exploded with laughter because of his crazy tactics that just took place. Everybody except Brett was laughing, for him the laugher left a strange after taste in his mouth that made him feel sick to his stomach. He swore that someone had called his name and it was not the result of the marijuana that he had just smoked. There was an unexplainable sadness in the pit of his stomach that had been steadily growing ever since he had smoked his first pipe. He said goodbye to his friends and made his way home on foot.
“What happened to me?”
“How did this happen?”
“How did everything go so wrong, so quickly?”
The street lights started to go on and he knew that he would be late for dinner if he didn’t get a move on. The old excuse of, sorry mom I was working on an assignment at a friend’s place would not work this time as it was winter vacation the big June break, where the possibilities of fun and games were endless all you had to do was be home in time for dinner. Being on time for dinner was determined by the switching on of the street lights unless it was load shedding in your area.
The next day was Sunday and in Brett’s household Sundays was a family day. This meant that he had to spend the whole day with his family, listening to their stories and their plans for the week ahead. With all of this happening it also meant that it would be impossible for him to slip out to visit a friend. “Church was just weird”, he thought, everybody kept looking at him or that could have just been his imagination. He had been experiencing a full body sweat throughout the service. He imagined that he could smell the scent of the plant being smoked and gradually seeping through every person’s mouth as they sang to the music. During the peace and the collection of money he thought he had heard someone call his name but he looked around and nobody was there.
Geoff was at church with his family and his mom kept scolding at him for not combing his hair to her liking, “Geoffrey, I told you to comb your hair in this direction!” and she would comb his hair with her fingers in the opposite direction to the way he had combed it. This action created a bit of a bump in his hair and everybody knew that Geoff hated this because he mentioned it every time they went for a quick smoke. This situation continued to occur until Mrs Langley huffed and shrugged and traded places with her husband. Geoff looked up and signalled Brett with that familiar yet arb finger signs that they made up to ask one another if they wanted to smoke.
Brett shook his head from side to side and mouthed a vigorous ‘No’. The mystery girl was at church too, dressed in a pretty sun dress with her brightly lit red matted lipstick. She was the girl that smiled at Brett every so often with the pretty red lips whom he had named ‘pretty red lips’.
After lunch, the family decided to take a well-deserved nap to settle their stomachs after the fest that was prepared. In the quiet of the afternoon, Brett heard the familiar voice calling his name again. He could not track down from where the voice was coming from and why it sounded so familiar. He rushed to see if it was one of his family members darting from room to room but they were all asleep. Racing to the lounge he peered through the curtain to see if there was anybody at their front door but there was nobody. Jolted by this strange phenomenon he shrugged and walked off to his room, where he decided to take a Sunday afternoon nap perhaps that would rid him on this strange phenomenon.
There he was standing at the edge of a garden surrounded with the most exotic plants and animals he had ever seen. As he walked further into the garden in the distance he spotted a familiar green heap of something with a few shiny objects alongside to the green. Intrigued he jogged in the direction of the heap as he got closer he saw what it was a heap of the greenest marijuana he had ever seen it looked as if was heavenly engineered. Alongside the heap there was a little pipe, tobacco paper and one of those fancy lighters. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a boy no older than him slowly walking towards him, the boy sat down next to him and said, “Hey man, I am Emmanuel but my friends call me Manny.” Brett greeted him by clenching his hand into a fist and extending it to Manny’s outstretched fist.
Together they made a start at the heap of marijuana, Manny suddenly stopped dead in his tracks.
Brett looked up to see what was wrong and Manny suddenly started speaking in a low voice, “Would it not be amazing if there was someone that loved you all the time no matter what you did, through the good things and the bad things. Someone who saves you, from even more trouble than what you are already in.” Stuffing some marijuana into the pipe, Brett shrugged that would be great but those types of people do not exist. Manny’s voice suddenly changed and he said in that familiar voice that Brett had been hearing, “I have been with you all this time, I am the great I AM, the prince of peace the great Emmanuel. But I also go by the name of Jesus.” This is just a dream and I am just craving marijuana. You are not real!” Brett shouted.
I was there to fend off the police after you and your friends decided to start a fire on the field in the middle of a residential area. Manny chuckled, I must admit that Geoff is quite a character. I was there in the church distracting your mother from viewing the signal fest you and Geoffrey decided to partake in. Brett wept and said, “I don’t know what happened to me?”
Manny transformed into a white robe with a purple sash draped loosely across his body from the shoulder to the opposite end of his chest as he walked towards Brett and said, “Come, Come to me I will help you feel like you once felt before and I will make you whole again. There’s only one thing I ask that you choose to turn from all of this and I will help you overcome everything that has been stopping you from being the person I intended you to be.” Brett hugged Jesus, “I love you and I’ve always loved you in this way and I will never stop loving you”.
Brett said, “Please make it stop, it’s difficult to stop and everything has been circling out of control. I try to make it work and get back to where I was before but I the more I do the less it works.” Something in the back of his mind made him do it but it wasn’t this something that made him give his heart to Jesus. It was the feeling of being loved unconditionally, it was that comfort to know that everything would once again be the way it should be. It was just a dream but it seemed so real.
It was Sunday again, the best day of the week. Pretty red lips rang the doorbell and Brett opened the door, “what are you doing here?” he said. She playfully nudged him on the arm and said, “I am here to walk with you to church silly”. As he walked into church slightly confused but still at ease the memories came flooding back to him; the torture that his body went through to deal with the addiction and the day he got saved which was also the day that he rightfully understood the phrase, ‘Jesus the same today, tomorrow and yesterday’. He realised that a year ago he had given his heart to Jesus in this very church. Today was the anniversary of that day and everything had worked out for his good, Jesus had fixed it all just like he had promised in the dream.
© 2015 Tiffany M Isaacs All Rights Reserved