The Girl with the Golden Smile – 1

Friday Feature1Prompt:

Rain, Rain, Rain: mail.google.com

The Girl with the Golden Smile

Thunder rumbled, dark clouds rolled in, large drops of rain drummed the iron sheet roof.
Nalia wondered if the creator was starting a band. The drops kept falling in fierce beats on the roof, like a doomsday rhythm.

She kept chopping onions, her eyes stinging. Tears slid down her cheeks.

Nalia wasn’t sure where the tears from the onions juice and the ones caused by sorrow met and melded.
Wiping her arm over her cheeks she finished chopping the onions and put them in the cooking pot. Adding oil, she turned on the fire on the gas cooker and banged the pot on the stand.

No one could hear the noise anyway.

Taking a wooden cooking spoon from a drawer, her gaze lingered over the chopped vegetables laid out in bowls on the counter. Carrots, potatoes, green pepper, cilantro and tomatoes…she sighed.

There was no meat today.

He wasn’t going to be happy.

Nalia shrugged a short elegant movement of her slender shoulders. Yet, instead of relief, a heavy weight settled in her stomach.

Malik liked his meat.

The onions started sizzling in the pot and she stirred them, her gaze barely seeing the browning onions. Her thoughts were on her husband, Malik Kanda. They married early.  She’d been eighteen, Malik twenty.

Children really, none of them had known much about life then.

Seven years going and Malik had turned into a stranger. He’d grown distrustful, edgy and over-ambitious.

It was his new job, Nalia thought.

The one he’d gotten a year ago.

Malik was managing a construction company for her uncle. The job paid good money. Her uncle had told her Malik was paid almost sixty thousand shillings every month. Twice the amount he’d gotten before.  She’d been happy for Malik then, thinking their home would grow, benefit from the good fortune.  But no, their lives were deteriorating. The money had gone to Malik’s head, making him prideful. He paid for nothing in the house.

Nalia sighed and started adding vegetables to the onions. The peppers first, then the tomatoes, followed by the carrots and potatoes.

“What to do?” she asked the sizzling vegetables.

Reaching for a container of mixed spices, Nalia sprinkled the right amount over the mix in the cooking pot.
Her thoughts returned to her latest dilemma.  Malik’s indifference to the well-being of their house worried her. He never had money to contribute to their expenses, yet he wanted to eat and sleep in comfort. He wanted neat clothes in his closet, good food and a clean house.

Her funds were stretched.

She was a primary school teacher. She taught English in class six at the local primary school. Her salary was a quarter of what Malik made. Yet she paid rent, the house bills, water and electricity as well as bought food for the house.
The end of the month was pure hell. She could barely afford things in the house yet Malik’s standards had to be met.
Covering the stew, Nalia picked up the plates and spoons she’d set aside earlier. She went to their small living room and started setting the small table they used for dinner.

There was no meat today.

Nalia’s hand shook as she placed a spoon on Malik’s plate.

Thunder rumbled in the distance and she pressed a hand to her chest.  She didn’t want a beating tonight, but the harder it rained, the more the rain rapped on the roof, the faster her hopes vanished.

Malik’s bad temper thrived on nights like these…rainy nights when no one would hear her scream.

The front door opened and she froze, her gaze flying to the man entering the house. He was soaking wet.
Malik slammed the door closed and Nalia’s heart squeezed tight in her chest. The moment his dark gaze settled on her, her blood ran cold.

****

“Damn it.”

Nicholas slapped the steering wheel and peered out the windshield of his car. He couldn’t see in the thick rain. For a moment he wondered if pulling over was better. At least then, he’d be sure of not taking a wrong turn.
The wipers on his black Isuzu pickup worked overtime, trying to keep the windshield clear.

The clock on the dashboard said it was almost nine o’clock in the evening. The map on his phone said he had thirty more minutes before he would arrive at the Villa Matiga. The sixty year old house he’d bought from a retiring expatriate. He wanted to renovate the villa and put it up for rent. His third jaunt into the real estate industry. So far, he hadn’t gone wrong, but this late night trips were murder.

“I should have started out earlier,” he murmured.

He was a lawyer by profession and worked for a successful law firm in the city of Nairobi. The pay was good the lifestyle exhausting, but he was happy. At thirty-two, his life was on the right track.  To a point, he thought when he remembered his girlfriend had gotten married a week ago to one of his wealthy clients.

The bitch, he thought.

She’d strung him a long for three whole years while she worked hard to hook a bigger fish. She was now a Runda estate housewife. Nicholas couldn’t help hoping she got fat and ugly soon. He cursed under his breath.

She’d turned him into a bitter bastard.

He drove over a bump too fast. The map on his phone said he needed to make a right turn soon, but where?  Peering outside, he frowned when all he saw were trees and bushes.

Great, Villa Martiga had to exist in the middle of nowhere.

Well, it wasn’t really nowhere; the Ngong area was turning into a prestigious area to live.

He braked hard when the dirt road he was supposed to take appeared to the right.  Thank God there were no vehicles behind him. He was driving like a maniac tonight. Taking the right turn, excitement swept through him and he pressed the gas pedal harder, eager for warmth.  A dark shadow streaked onto the road, and he hit the brakes in panic, afraid he was going to hit the woman ahead.

Read other EA Friday Feature Entries;

  1. Father’s Love
  2. The Man in the Rain

EA Friday Feature – Prompt Week #3

The EA Friday Feature:

Friday Feature1Write a story of only 1,000 words using the prompt given.  Post it on your blog on Fridays and share the posts of fellow bloggers participating in the feature.

Participating Bloggers:

  1. Nilichoandika
  2. Flashes of Vice
  3. Children of Destiny Books
  4. Love in Nairobi

Week #3 Prompt:

mail.google.com

Rain, Rain, Rain….be inspired by the rain…

The story is due on Friday, 21st August, 2015. 

This is an open entry Feature.  If you’d like to participate, simply write the 1,000 word story using the prompt, and leave a comment on this post to let us know to share your story.

Last week’s prompts responses:

  1. Sex on the beach
  2. My Favorite Place to Be
  3. It’s not all Strippers and Burritos my Friend
  4. The Changing Tide

The Changing Tide

Places:Friday Feature1

Beaches, Mountains, Forests or somewhere else you like…Write a story inspired by the place you like most.

The Changing Tide

Enya loved her hometown. She’d lived in the same stone ranch house all her life, with her mother and siblings: a nice three bedroom house that she loved to bits. Her hometown was situated in a semi-urban area, one could hardly call it Nairobi but it was; the roads were bad, the infrastructure unsexy, and any one bringing a Mercedes to this street was just inviting midnight visitors. You know, those late night callers who came to give the new Merc in town a spin while y’all slept.

Yes, her little world had once received those late night callers. She’d been eleven or twelve. She was jerked awake from a deep sleep to discover strangers prowling the house, taking the television, the radio, the cups, mugs, spoons and pots. She’d been scared, but her mother had put on a brave face through it, talking to those strangers so they wouldn’t hurt her children. Her mother had fought a big fight that night, with words, and cajoling…the memory was fading…but she couldn’t forget her mother’s valiant effort to keep her children safe that night. That week, that incident had been the talk of the town.

Enya doubted anyone would remember that incident now.

Gossip was like that in her hometown. Every week something new…the rumor mills were sleepless on Ndwaru Road. It was the one reliable intelligence source in the country. You just needed to know the right person to talk to. Find that person, and you’d never be out of the loop on the going-ons of the people living on this street.

Enya smiled. The trick was not to share the source. Peaceful living and all poke a beehive and the bees will sting you and all that…no, she’d never reveal her sources. But it was good to be in the know. Part of being in the community, one of the people…

pretty treeNow Enya stopped to purchase milk for the evening tea. Her gaze on the changing tides sweeping the street.

When she’d been young, she’d wished for more people living on Ndwaru Road. She remembered her home being isolated by forests and bushes, people hadn’t believed her family could bear to live so alone. Now, the place had changed. More people building, more people moving in. While this was a good thing, the isolation ended…the influx of the human population was taking away the charm of the street. The green was gone. The fresh air ended, replaced with trash, instances of sewer on the road and dirty water.

The neighbors were changing; no longer familiar faces from childhood. There was a time she’d walk on the path to her house and know who was coming toward her. Know where that person belonged, and if they were friend or foe.

These days, she just had no idea who was walking on that path anymore. Too many new people, one couldn’t keep up.

Enya sighed. It wasn’t a bad thing. In terms of growth, it was a good thing; she just wished the growth was happening in a moderate and elegant way. The street was changing, but she rather thought it a violent process. A clash of those who understood why moderation was needed in progress, and those who wanted a fast growth, a quick one…and in their haste, ended up with the trash, and dirty water on the road.

But she was digressing…..

Enya refused to think of these negative aspects of her home. This place she’d loved all her life. The good parts were that she remembered the familiar faces from her childhood. There was nothing more welcoming than having someone pick you out in the sea of new faces with a smile.

“Hello,” they’d say. “How are you? Greet your family.”

Small words, little words, but so full of connection, Enya understood while the conversation might not be longer, the recognition was all that mattered. It felt like she belonged.

Enya walked along the path to her house and smiled. A few days before she’d come home in the rain. She’d taken the bus from town, and it had gradually gotten dark on the way home. Her friend had worried for her.

“Are you sure you’re safe?” her friend asked.

Enya had smiled, and nodded. Getting off the bus, in the pouring rain, she’d crossed the street and felt relief as she walked along the familiar path.

Ah…I’m home, she’d thought. Once I’m here, I can’t get lost.

Like running a race and you reach that last stretch with no one able to catch up…the best feeling in the world.  Enya entered her gate, and smiled. Yes, the best part of this hometown was her home.

The old tree that grew by the gate, it was older than her and she was atleast thirty. The mango tree her grandmother hadIMG_0095 brought all the way from Nyeri, to come and plant it in their home. She’d been six years old…her grandmother was long gone now…but the tree remained. Every year, they ate mangoes and remembered their grandmother planting the tree.

The farm was where she’d played hide and seek when she’d been young. She’d also tried her hand in farming. She’d planted sixty cabbages once and all of them had died. She’d cried with disappointment, even though the season had been all wrong for cabbages.

This place where her father was buried, Enya visited his grave some days to talk about particularly bad days or very good days.

Enya paused beside a bush of lavender. She picked a branch and breathed in the scent. Before the lavender, there had been a tree growing there. When she and her siblings would do something bad, their mother would threaten to tie them to the tree and beat them on that tree. Not that their mother had ever done it but Enya had been glad when that tree was cut down. Enya smiled at the memory and entered the second gate.

Their house was lighted, her mother singing inside as she cooked dinner. Her siblings lost in their own activities. Enya stood outside and stared up at the sky. Despite the tides of change sweeping Ndwaru Road, this place would always hold a special place in her heart.

After all, it was home.

****

Please Check out other EA Friday Feature Stories:

It’s not all Strippers and Burritos my Friend

Sex on the Beach

My Favorite Place to Be

EA Friday Feature – Prompt Week #2

Friday Feature1

The EA Friday Feature:

Write a story of only 1,000 words using the prompt given.  Post it on your blog on Fridays and share the posts of fellow bloggers participating in the feature.

Participating Bloggers:

  1. Nilichoandika
  2. Flashes of Vice
  3. Children of Destiny Books
  4. Love in Nairobi

Week #2- Prompt is:

Places:

Beaches, Mountains, Forests or somewhere else you like…Write a story inspired by the place you like most.

The story is due on Friday, 14th August, 2015. 

This is an open entry Feature.  If you’d like to participate, simply write the 1,000 word story using the prompt, and leave a comment on this post to let us know to share your story.

Last week’s prompts responses:

  1. It Started with a Bump at the Busstop
  2. Holy Desire
  3. A Tail of Tissue Paper

Between Death and Heaven – Book Review

post

Exciting!

This blog now has 100 posts!

I have had a hundred things to say apparently.  I can’t wait to reach 200 posts, but for today, I celebrate the small victories.

And the Hundredth Post is…..

A book Review!

Between Death and Heaven cc17c55e97afe22d62da713a34496872607b649f

by Annemarie Musawale

What happens after we die? A vindictive ex-girlfriend (maybe, who knows?) is responsible for the death of happy lovers; Phil and Lillian. One minute they’re celebrating the possibility of a long life together, the next they’re contemplating eternity in the hospital where they die. Shenanigans ensue as they try to fit in with post-death society. What are the norms, who makes the rules and who can they ask about being taken to the leader. Can they still love each other and remain lovers in this brave new non-world? These are just some of the questions that Phil and Lillian are confronted with. Oh if only they’d appreciated contemplating their navels more when they were alive! Now there’s no choice, danger approaches and they must be in with the right people before it comes…or else.

Book Review

Between Death and Heaven is a paranormal novel tackling the afterlife.  Phil and Lillian find themselves in a new world when they end up in the hospital after having severe food poisoning. In this new world, they are ghosts without a clear path as to where they should go, who they should be, certainly what they were doesn’t matter so much anymore. 

Lillian is eager to break through the barriers she and Phil face, and her courage sends them on a wild adventure to deliver an important message.  Well, it’s certainly a challenge, consider these two are dead, and therefore they are ghosts.  The use of cell phones, email, all manner of technology becomes obsolete. But not to worry, Musawale writes a great solution.  Plunging the reader into dramatic plots to obtain ingredients for spells, and witches who know it all.

Between Death and Heaven has an innocent charm to it, even while tackling heavy issues like revenge and murder. The fact that the afterlife is unknown allows Musawale to take advantage of imagination and create a world that manages to captivate.

The novel does introduce an array of characters, each one playing a role in Lillian and Phil’s adventure.  Each one with a mysterious background, or a legacy they can’t control or escape.  One thing’s for sure, the afterlife in Between Death and Heaven is not what you expect when you imagine death.

My only complaint was that it took a bit of getting used to Lillian’s lingo.  I understand Musawale was staying true to Lillian’s roots, and after a while, reading got easier, and I expected it from Lillian.  This is an interesting complaint, as it really depends on the reader’s preference.  Lillian does turn out to be a strong, young woman who loved a man enough to make a dramatic change in her life.  I liked her for that, and her amusing perspective on people and life in general.

But it here: Between Death and Heaven

4.0 Stars

About Annemarie Musawale:

Her Blog

A Tail of Tissue Paper

A Tail of Tissue Paper

Helena adjusted her ponytail, tugging on a wayward braid to set it right. She’d slathered on lipstick today, staring into the mirror, Helena wished she’d chosen the pink instead of the cherry red.

Oh well, she shrugged her shoulders and washed her hands in the sink. Drying her hands off, she adjusted her handbag and left the bathroom, adding an extra swing to her hips, now that she felt fresh.

The Nakumatt Junction was buzzing with activity. Saturdays, Helena thought. 83898869_d385d56d18_oEvery woman, her children and man were out shopping for the week. Helena sighed and walked into the supermarket with a wide smile for the luggage carrier dudes. They smiled back, their gazes sweeping over her figure with appreciation. She grinned, and ran a hand down her hips.
She’d bought the skinny Levis at a whopping two thousand five hundred shillings. She loved them. They hugged her butt to perfection. She’d refused to mourn the use of the money. Not that she’d ever tell her friends the price. They’d call her a vanity whore, so she kept it to herself. 

Helena smiled as she got a shopping cart, rolling it down the aisle. She’d told her friends she’d gotten the jeans at a sale in the market. Yeah right, as though faded jeans would give the definition her Levis afforded her.  Shaking her head, she paused in the coffee aisle to get her stash of dark roast. Nothing could beat a good cup of dark roast coffee in the morning.

Putting the package in her cart, she continued down the aisle to the milk aisle. Her mother was coming over later. The woman lived and breathed tea with milk. If Helena didn’t have milk in the house, her mother would think it a sacrilege. Helena rolled her eyes as she grabbed two packets of milk and dumped them into the cart. She loved her mother, lord knew she did, but they differed in so many things…Helena sighed.

“She’s your mother,” Helena said under her breath, walking past a mother struggling to control three rowdy children. All of them held their own packages; they wanted their mother to add them into an already overfilled cart.

Helena shuddered at the disruption they were making. She quickly walked down the aisle to the pasta aisle, promising herself to get one kid. She’d get only one, not because she hated kids, but because one was ideal in this crazy modern world. The cost of living was too high to even contemplate three.

Her mother was eager to hold a grandchild in her arms. She’d probably mention it later when she came to visit.
Helena studied her choices, noodles, shells, elbows…suddenly she felt lost. She wasn’t sure what she wanted. Noodles bored her, the shells were okay, but the elbows, well the elbows were bland sometimes.

“This is why you’ll never get that kid,” she murmured staring at her pasta choices. “Can’t choose pasta, can’t choose a man.”

Helena sighed and decided on closing her eyes and choosing what her hand touched first. She came up with shells. She put the package into the cart with a shrug. She could always find a good recipe online for them. Mmm…she’d liked the one she’d made for that guy she’d met at the gym a month ago. The relationship had died after two dates, but the Zucchini Pasta, that had tasted good. She was suddenly hungry for it, so she made a beeline for the vegetable aisle. She didn’t want to detour to the market to get the zucchini might as well buy them here.

She got the zucchini, and got sidetracked by the sight of huge strawberries in their packages. Well, the strawberries were good looking, but the tall handsome man checking out the carrots was distracting too.

Helena picked up the strawberry package and feigned rapt interest.

Damn it what was a good line.

It would need to be perfect; he looked too refined for a comment on the weather. Her mind was blank. Her gaze followed him as he shifted to the herbs, studying cilantro as though he knew what he was doing. He had to be a keeper. A man who could cook, her insides trembled, just itching to go over and talk to him.

She couldn’t help the scowl when a pretty blonde-haired lady came up to him with a wide smile. Jealousy flooded her as returned the smile and leaned to brush her cheek with a kiss. Dumping the strawberries into the cart, Helena quickly moved on from the vegetable aisle.

She needed Parmesan cheese and chicken for the zucchini pasta recipe. This time, she kept her gaze on the chicken when a great smelling guy stopped beside her to get beef patties.

Helena wondered why it was so hard for her to approach men. The ones she did approach turned out to be married, in relationships or had commitment phobia. She chose her chicken, and decided to tell her mother that she was going to die a spinster.  A chuckle escaped as she got the Parmesan cheese, and a lady walking by gave her a confused look.

Yeah, keep wondering, sister, Helena thought. I might look great, but my heart is in a dozen pieces.

Recipe accounted for, Helena headed to the lotion section. She was running out of her favorite coconut lotion. As always the many varieties on the aisle had her salivating.  She knew the one she wanted already, but damn if she could afford one of each on the aisle, she’d buy them all.

Helena curbed her impulse buying gene and reached for the bottle she used daily in a faithful regime. Coconut butter did wonders for her skin. Putting it in her cart, she glanced up in time to see another guy standing a few feet from her. What was it today with all the handsome men?

This one though was smiling at her with interest. She blushed when he moved closer.  His smile was captivating.

Her heartbeat raced.

“Hi,” he said.

Helena smiled. “Hey.”

“I just wanted to tell you that you have a tissue stuck on the back of your jeans.”

“What?” Helena stared at him in horror.

“A piece of tissue,” the man said, pointing to her back.

Helena reached back fast, her cheeks flaming, when her fingers touched a soft paper. She tugged at it, as it was lodged in her waistband and it came off easily. Good lord, had she swaggered through this whole supermarket with a tissue for a tail?

“Lord, sink me now,” she said.

The handsome man chuckled and walked away.

****

Please check out these entries from bloggers in the EA Friday Feature:

It Started with a Bump – Nilichoandika

Holy Desire – Flash of Vice

The Bachelorette Diaries : 2012 – Book Review

The Bachelorette Diaries : 2012 frontcover

Shiri Golan has found the perfect man at last, but one day skeletons start crawling out of his closet hauling with them betrayal, a dark past and deadly secrets.

Hurt, betrayed and seeking vengeance, Shiri finds herself caught between forgiveness and justice. As she lives on, she discovers that, oblivious to her, she is a commander of some secret movement whose ultimate aim is to control the whole world.

From the sensational love poet and author of Holy Innocence and Holy Crimes, Elove Poetry, comes the story of love, hate, betrayal and secrets.

Book Review
“I’m a bachelorette, happy and enjoying it,” Shiri says at the start.

These words bring out the picture of a confident woman living in the city of Nairobi. She’s comfortable in her own skin, and knows what she wants in life. The Bachelorette Diaries: 2012 starts out as a personal recount of a woman who has it all, except for one thing. She wants to find herself a good man to love and who’ll love her. That right there brought Shiri upfront and center.

There begins the search for the ‘one’. The chapters where Shiri is combing through her social media account for that male friend that could turn into the one, were revealing…I wondered if Elove Poetry had CCTV at my area code. How many times do self-declared bachelorettes spend their nights stalking their male friends on social media, during that lonely period that strikes at low times?

Valentine’s Day draws near, and Shiri’s desperation goes in to high gear. I couldn’t help laughing when she contemplates that TV Ad….”Are you lonely? Do you want someone to talk to? SMS the word “Love” to 5454…” I know you wonder if that would work out if you tried it. So does Shiri…you know things are getting desperate if it’s come to thinking about that Ad.
Coming from that thought, Shiri jumps on to the first lifeboat that appears in the Village Market Mall. Smooth sailing ahead…not….when desperation blinds you to all but what you want, things are bound to get dicey. This moment starts a journey of a betrayal of her heart.

The adventure in The Bachelorette Diaries: 2012 came from the mysteries that crop up after months of bliss in one man’s arms. Suddenly, Shiri is confronted by questions that so often find us in real life. Do we really know the people we claim to love? How can we trust what they say about themselves? Perhaps it has become mandatory to get a friend like Gwen, as Shiri has, who is good at digging out those dirty little secrets hidden behind pretty words and intoxicating love.

Shiri finds herself in a mystery that includes murder, a secret ‘let’s take over the world’ club, and a disease she inherits from a distant relative that might shock you. She gets her heart broken, over and over, from the people she loves. In the end, I think the best relationship she had in this novel was the one she had with her three friends.

Reading through this novel, you get a glimpse into the life of an independent woman living in sunny Nairobi. The highs and the lows she goes through to carve out her position in the work environment, in business, as well as finding that partner she can accept and lean on. There are unexpected moments of impulsive behavior that lead to pleasant surprises, or rather nasty ones. And I find myself agreeing with Shiri when she seeks out an outlet for her many lows through her writing hobby.

The final chapters are filled with rapid action that at times is quite distracting as Shiri works to explain the mystery. For the most part it’s interesting trying to unwind the web, but I confess to getting bogged down just a little bit to the many twists and turns. However, I applaud Elove Poetry for having me glued to my reader for a solid three hours. The Bachelorette Diaries: 2012 is definitely a fascinating read.

Purchase it Here: The Bachelorette Diaries: 2012

4.5 Stars

For more on the author of this book: Elove Poetry books

Elove Poetry

website: https://elovepoetry.wordpress.com