My short story in Omenana

Omenana issue two is out (long may it continue!) and my story is in it. I’m sure you all remember me being so pleased when they launched that I wrote a post about it here.

Please read the magazine and support African speculative fiction by sharing your favourite stories on your various social media platforms. There is something in it for every lover of science fiction/Fantasy. Also if you’re an African SF/F writer, you’re in luck. Omenana is bi-monthly so you have two months to get your short stories and essays ready for submission. Read guidelines here.

Click on the magazine to access the index.

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100-word story: Welcome

The front door opened as I stepped out of the lift. Plumes of warmth mushroomed out into the icy landing.

Before I set my suitcases down, my wife slipped out, trailing her puffer coat like a comfort blanket. She smelled of coffee and unwashed armpits. The bags under her eyes were big enough to hold the laptop cradled in her arms. I aimed a kiss at her cheek, missed, grazed my lips on an earring.

“Will you be back tonight?” I asked. The lift pinged, swallowing my question.

Somewhere in the dark of the flat, the baby began to cry.

February 14 is around the corner.

Saturday is February 14th and as usual I am over the moon. No, not because of the queef-fest of hearts and cards and chocolates that marks Valentine’s Day but because it’s my son’s birthday! HUZZAH!

I am full of love for the universe. Seriously, if you ask me for anything today, the probability of you getting it is in the high nineties*. So in the spirit of love, sharing and being more open – especially with those of you who have been reading this blog since it was called that other thing  (who can remember?) and was just a twinkle of mischief in my eyes – I have decided to share another of my rare never-before-seen photos. This one is from our wedding preparation.

If you’re an editor, please overlook that long sentence above. 

A little back story:  After months of just being myself, the wedding week loomed and I started to panic. I bought into the bollocks that somehow, the person I was, the person who had attracted the man that would become my husband was no longer enough so I decided to do more, to try and be more so that when he saw me walking down the altar, clad in virginal white,  a great and mighty wonder would seize him and he would be struck dumb for the duration of our marriage.

Off I went to a MAC store during my lunch break.

“Excuse me?” said I.

Nobody moved. All the assistants were busy attending to people. I bumped the bumper of my Converse on the floor for five minutes. I cleared my throat.

“Excuse me,” I tried again. “Wedding.”

A girl instantly appeared, apron tied around her waist. She was blonde and had one of those asymmetric haircuts which mark people out as ‘edgy’. She reminded me of some sort of abstract painting, all angles in a tight, black, t-shirt and jeans, severe slashes of pink and purple on her face, cheekbones you could sharpen knives on. Beside her, I was a sculpture made by a two-year-old from its own excrement.

“Yes?” she said, without  appearing to move her mouth.

“Erm…yes, I was wondering…that is…I mean…I’m getting married and I rather hoped…that is to say…” I trailed off, gesturing at my face, apologetically.

The girl seemed fatigued just from listening to me.  She blinked half-open eyes slowly, pulled her hands out of the pockets of her apron. “Follow me? Sit down?” As if those were questions. I sat. My thighs spread out beneath me. She elongated the stool so that my legs dangled above the floor. I was her puppet.

“Any idea what you’re looking for?” she asked. She did not wait for my answer, but started arranging the things she would need; brushes, more brushes, brushes that looked like pencils, pencils with brushes attached, sponge applicators shaped to resemble teardrops and triangles.

“I just wanted… you know, photographs…and I have never…well, I mean,” I punctuated my explanation with the giggling of the supremely self-conscious. My university self would have slapped me. To think I used to be trendy! I gave myself a talking to in my head, cleared my throat again.

“I mean, I’d like to look fresh for the day,” I gestured to my face, leaving out the things I really wanted to say. Could you fix this? Make it glossy? Could you make me look as if I have lost 10kg? Can you make me a model? Make meeeeee beautifuuuuuul.

“Mhm,” the girl said, cleaning my face with a wet wipe. She started painting and patting stuff onto my face, narrating her actions and the products she was using. It took a while.  About five different colours went on my eyelids alone. I swung my legs happily, dreaming of Style Challenge and what I would look like when I finally looked  in the mirror.

“What about eyelashes?” she asked.

“What about them?”

“I think you will need them to bring this whole look together.” She showed me three different types; one long, one drag-queen long and a third that could only have been a joke. I chose the long. She put some white glue on the edges. “Don’t worry, it dries clear,” she said before sticking them on, tapping in place. My eyes began to water. She tsked, collecting the tears in tissues pulled hastily from the box on the counter top. “Could you hold still?” in her weary-annoyed voice. I knew what she truly wanted to ask was ‘Could you get your eyes to stop doing that?’ I was ruining the painting’s painting.

Finally, a few swipes with a mascara wand and she was done. “You can look now.”

I did.

Dear Jesus.

I guess she fixed me. She fixed me but good.

I think she might have taken my speechlessness to be one of wonder. “You have a really beautiful glow now. I used the yellow tones; copper, bronze and gold to bring this about. You’re wearing our primer, liquid foundation, mineralize in NW…”

I faded in on a girl with her heart full of pain. I wanted to look my best, but this was a different thing entirely. Was she saying I could only look my best if I had another person’s face? God. I came in for a makeover and now I was leaving with thoughts of  cosmetic surgery.

“So which products would you like?” she said, displaying about twenty-odd tubes, pots and brushes. I took all of them, handed over my card in a daze and walked back to work hoping that security would still let me into the building.

And just in case you think I am exaggerating, this is what she made me:

I have never felt so sad in my life.
I have never felt sadder in my life.
Stretching my hand out to take the pic didn't change the view...
Stretching my hand out to take the photo did nothing to improve the view…
...neither did moving my hair away from my face.
…neither did moving my hair away from my face.
I took photos for posterity – I had worn the look the rest of the day to see how it would hold up after a few hours. (Answer: It didn’t move. I felt as though I wore gauze strapped to my face). Needless to say, I ditched those eyelashes. I did borrow some of her techniques for the big day though. The groom still has not spoken since we’ve been married.
Mission accomplished.
*Fake stats.

I am giving up on writing.

Sometimes, you come across a story that makes you question everything you’re doing. Like, why are you alive? What are you doing wasting your life when you know you will never be as great? What is the point of toiling when all people want to read is ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’?

I have just come across one such story. I am in despair. This story wins all the awards ever invented and that will ever be invented in the future. I am going to hurl my laptop out of my third floor window after I put this post up because there is JUST NO POINT.

Here are eight reasons you should read this story:

1) It is a conservative Christian fanfic of Harry Potter: The author did not want her children to become witches so she decided to do her own. Hear her:  “Friends: this is exactly what I have been saying! Harry Potter has many good things about it; but it still has witchcraft; so my children cannot read it. BUT that is why I am writing this! So they can have all the adventure and good morals of the Harry Potter books without all that bad stuff that is bogging it down.”

2) Hagrid is a sexy, country evangelist .

3) For sentences such as this one: “Answer the door, Harry!” his Aunt Petunia, a career woman, barked from her armchair where she sat with her feet up.

4) For the words ‘Hogwarts School of Prayer and Miracles’.

5) Barack Obama is Voldemort.

6) No brooms or flying cars, just the awesomeness that is “Dear Lord, take us to Hogwarts!”

7) Her version of the Sorting Hat is P.R.I.C.E.L.E.S.S. You pesky Catholics and all your many sorting hats. Tsk, tsk!

8) Reverend Albus Dumbledore, his wife Minerva and Hermoine, his daughter.

9) The females, man: ‘Lovely, ladylike tears began to roll down her delicate, terrified face.’  ‘Hermione replied obediently with an innocent, girlish smile; and got to her feet; and smoothed out the skirt of her becoming, pink frock.’

10) The author randomly interjecting with her views: ‘It did not smell or taste like bacon. It missed that smokey, meaty taste that bacon is supposed to have. Instead, it tasted like vegetables blended together and died red. Yuck! Harry would take real bacon over that any day of the week.’ – And this when a character other than Harry is doing the eating. Harry has not even tasted the ‘bacon’.

BONUS

11) This image:

aattp.org
Holy Harry

Click here to read the whole story!

Like I said, I give up on this writing lark. The author takes all the biscuits.