The Girl with the Golden Smile – 7

7 – Choices

Nalia clutched her handbag, as she waited outside the Kilimani courthouse. Her choices led her to this moment; still divorceEA 2 wasn’t an easy choice. She’d struggled with the decision. Her hand touched her jaw, and for the first time in years marveled at the lack of pain.
Men and women alike glanced her way, as they passed her. She was glad to find the overwhelming urge to keep her head down gone. Before, with Malik, she’d found it hard to look up, afraid people would guess how she’d gotten the bruises on her jaw. God, she’d hated that feeling. That helpless feeling that she couldn’t express without tears filling her eyes, and sliding down her cheeks.

Nalia let out a soft breath and glanced at the time on her phone.

Nicholas was late.

She frowned.

Nicholas.

He remained worlds away, even though they’d spent almost everyday together for the past two months. Nicholas had turned cold toward her after he found out she was married.

As if a switch had turned off inside him, Nalia’s frown deepened.

Perhaps he judged her choices harshly. She couldn’t tell. Nicholas helped her without complaint. He wasn’t her lawyer; he’d refused that job outright, and instead, had gotten a competent woman named Christine who worked with FIDA.

Christine was a godsend.  Christine had taken her through the divorce process without asking for money first. When Malik had shown up at the new one-room house Nalia was renting, Christine helped save her from a beating. Christine had used that incident to get the law on Nalia’s side. There was nothing to fight for in court. Nalia didn’t want anything Malik owned, or his money. She was afraid that money would haunt her. She thanked God everyday that they hadn’t gotten children. It made the divorce process easier.

Nalia sighed leaning on the wall.

“Are you happy?” Malik asked and she looked up in surprise to find him standing a few feet away from her.

“I asked, are you happy Nalia?” Malik asked when she didn’t answer him right away.

Malik looked tired, his suit hanging on his shoulders, his jaw unshaven. His eyes, however, still held the same anger toward her. He refused to forgive her for making the choice to leave their home.

“I’m happy,” she said now, her voice strong.

“You’ve made us into the talk of the town. Everyone knows we’re divorced. How are you going to keep working at the school? Surely parents will shun you for being a divorcee,” he sneered.

“If they don’t want me there, I can always get a transfer to another school,” Nalia said.

She had options. Christine taught her that. Refusing to leave a bad marriage was not one of those options. Christine taught her that choosing to live a free and happy life was the most important decision to make.

“You have everything figured out,” Malik said.

Far from it, Nalia thought. Holding Malik’s gaze, she straightened her shoulders.

“No, I don’t. All I know is that I don’t want you slapping me because you don’t get what you want.”

Malik scoffed and took a step closer.

Fear arced through her, irrational fear, because they were in public. There were people passing them and the sun was out. Malik wouldn’t dare hurt her here, but still the fear grew deep inside her and she had to clench her fists to keep from running.

“You’re weak,” Malik said in a hateful tone. “You’re no beauty, and you could never fit my standards. It’s good you’ve left. I’ll find a better wife now.”

Nalia bit her inner lip wishing she could ignore his words. She knew Malik wanted to hurt her, and she shouldn’t let his words matter, yet they did. They mattered because she’d loved him. Loved him enough to marry him, and try to build a life with him.

Tears stung the back of her eyes and he smirked.

“I hope you’ll be happy,” she said in a tight voice.

She locked her knees as he stared at her for a moment, before he turned away and went into the courthouse. She fell back on the wall with a sigh once he disappeared, and took in a deep breath.

Warm hands clutched her shoulders and she looked up into Nicholas’s kind eyes.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

The tears she’d held back fought their way out, her eyes filling; she blinked fast hoping to keep them at bay.

“You did well,” Nicholas said, squeezing her shoulders. “You did very well.”

She closed her eyes and the tears fell down her cheeks. Nicholas moved closer, handing her a handkerchief, he waited for her to wipe her eyes and compose herself.

“You’re late,” she said after a while, staring at his white handkerchief.

“I’m sorry.”

She met Nicholas’s gaze.  She wasn’t sure what he was sorry about, being late, or being cold toward her.

“Well, you’re here now,” she said with a small shrug. “Christine is getting paperwork done. She wanted to talk to you.”

“I know,” Nicholas said, his gaze still holding hers. “I’m—

She frowned when he broke off.

“What?” she asked.

“I thought distance was better,” Nicholas said abruptly. “I thought it would make this easier for you. Watching you stand up to him, I think I made a mistake. Nalia—

She dropped her gaze to his shirt collar. “I thought you didn’t want anything to do with me because of him and the divorce.”

“That’s not true,” Nicholas said touching her right shoulder.

Nalia met his gaze, a soft gasp escaped at the longing in his eyes.

“It’s time,” Christine interrupted coming up to them holding a pile of files. “We should go in.”

Nicholas nodded and squeezed Nalia’s right shoulder. Christine headed into the courthouse, but Nicholas stopped Nalia.

“It’s almost over,” he said.

Nalia smiled. “I feel like its just beginning.”

Nicholas took her right hand and squeezed gently.

“I’m right here,” he said. “Right here with you.”

It was hard to ignore the wave of happiness that swept through her.

****

Other Stories from the EA Friday Feature:

The Restaurant: You’re a Waiter

Some Kind of Love – 4

Unlucky 13

The Plot it Thickens

 

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The Girl with the Golden Smile – 5

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 5

Nicholas couldn’t help stealing glances at Nalia. He drove with care, keeping to the speed limit, not overtaking at EA 2will. A smile tagged at his lips.

Eli would be proud, he thought.

Nalia sat with her hands on her lap. Her fingers were in tight fists, her gaze fixed outside the window. She hadn’t spoken much after her consultation with Eli.  Eli resisted his efforts to discover what they discussed in privacy. Instead, Eli had given Nalia his card and made her promise to call him.

Nicholas stopped the car at the first bus stop he found on the main road. Parking on the curb, he turned to Nalia.

“Do you live close?” he asked.

She nodded, but didn’t say a word.

Reaching into his jacket, Nicholas got his wallet and found a five hundred shillings note.

“Will this be enough?” he asked, holding it out to her. “It should get you home—,”

“That’s too much,” Nalia said. “Two hundred is fine.”

Nicholas sighed.

“I don’t have loose.”

She frowned at him.

He didn’t like those little frowns of hers. She probably thought him stuck-up or something worse for carrying large notes.

“Take the money, Nalia,” he urged.

She scoffed and took it with a short jerk. “I’ll pay it back.”

“Are you always this stubborn?” Nicholas asked. “You don’t want help from anyone. Who lives like that?”

“Me,” she said and reached for the door handle.

The surge of panic that flooded him was new.  Nicholas was sure he’d never see her again, but…he wanted to see her again.

“Wait,” he said when she opened the door.

“For what?” she asked jumping out of the cab.

She held the passenger door open and met his gaze.  When he didn’t say anything, she shrugged.

“Thank you,” she said. “You’ve been very kind to me.”

Nicholas nodded and watched as she closed the door and took two steps back.

She had his card, he thought.

She’d insisted on it, to be able to pay back the money she borrowed.

A matatu stopped in front of his car, and he watched Nalia hurry to board.  Nicholas smiled when she paused at the last minute to look back at his car. She gave him a short wave and he scoffed at the little flutter in his chest. The matatu took off as fast as it had shown up.

Nalia was intriguing.

She was a woman who took the time to bake to thank him for being kind. Her sense of humor made him laugh, not to mention she was beautiful in her own right. The bruise on her face brought a frown, and Nicholas wondered what it was Eli had learned about that bruise.

Domestic violence came to mind. He wondered what kind of man dared to hit a woman like Nalia. Would that bastard do it again?

Nicholas frowned, staring after the retreating matatu.

Maybe he shouldn’t have let her go.

“Come to your senses, Nick,” he murmured and started his car. “She’s a stranger you met last night.”

Turning the car around, he drove back to the villa and his renovation plans.

****

Malik wasn’t home when Nalia entered their small rental house.

floorNalia stood in their living room staring at the plates she’d dumped on the living room floor. She leaned down and righted one of the two dining room chairs they owned. She rubbed her arms looking around the little living room that could fit in the bathroom she’d used to clean up hours before.

Her home was small, but she’d once thought to be happy here, now this small space felt cold. Colder than the rain she’d ran through last night.

Ignoring the mess on the floor, Nalia went to the single bedroom she shared with Malik.

The bed was unused. Malik hadn’t slept here. She stepped over Malik’s soiled shirt on the floor and sat down on their bed. The room was messy: the clothes she fought to keep neat in their tiny closet were falling out.

Nalia shook her head.   She needed to figure out what she wanted.

****

“What kind of woman runs out in the rain?” Malik demanded later that day when he got home. “You made a mess, and then left me to clean it up. What did you think was going to happen?”

Nalia sat at the small dining table peeling potatoes for dinner. She kept her gaze on the potato peels, refusing to look at Malik.  Her husband was drunk. He had come home from one of his binges at the bar. Something was either right or terrible wrong. She didn’t dare ask. Her cheek was starting to heal. She didn’t need a fresh bruise.

“Are you just going to sit there?” Malik asked, standing over her. “All you do is cook and clean, work. You have no time for me. Why did we get married again? You don’t even try to look pretty anymore.”

Nalia closed her eyes and forced her fingers not to stiffen on the knife she held.

“Go sleep,” she said. “You must be tired.”

“Sleep here?” Malik scoffed. “This shack we call home is not comfortable, Nalia. What do you want to do about that?”

Nalia’s eyes opened and she dropped the knife on top of the potato peels.’

“What do I want to do?” she asked, her tone sharper than she’d intended.

Damn it, Malik was a spoiled man. She couldn’t stand it anymore.

Malik blinked staring at her.

“What am I to you?” she asked, pushing her chair back, Nalia got to her feet. “A punching bag? A private chef? Your cash cow?”

“Stop this foolishness,” Malik said with a wave of his hand. “You still haven’t told me where you went last night. No descent woman sleeps outside—

“Whose fault is it I went running out in the first place?” Nalia demanded. “I’m tired of this, Malik.”

“Tired of what?” Malik asked, his gaze dropping to the peeled potatoes. “Cooking?”

“No, being your slave,” Nalia snapped. “I want a divorce.”

****

Previous Chapters

The Girl with the Golden Smile – 4

Read More EA Friday Feature October Snippets

Amistad ain’t got nothing on me

The Assassin Diaries: Show me Mercy

Some Kind of Love

The Tow Away – Short Stories Week

Happy Friday. Today’s short story is courtesy of Wamathai.com. A story by the name The Tow Away.

The Tow Away
by Awuor Attyang
Hot, stinging tears trickled down her face. She put her hands behind her head and scanned the small crowd that had gathered to witness her predicament. All had been well; a serene afternoon of household shopping at the local supermarket had turned into a nightmare. After two hours of shopping, Atieno walked back to her car accompanied by one of the supermarket’s attendants, only to find it missing. She was a bit startled and maybe attributed a bad memory to the absence of her car. Where could she have left it? The guard, a tall, robust and dark man, who had been manning the vicinity, walked up to her and began to explain himself. He narrated to her how a man of Asian descent facilitated the whole process of having her car towed away. He emphasized on how he unceasingly begged them to at least contact the owner of the motor vehicle. They wouldn’t listen and he was left completely helpless.

Short Story Week Review

A woman sticks to her principles and gets punished for it. There is so much to read into this short story. She’s trying hard to live her life, but there is that one guy who wants to give her a hard time for refusing him. It brings such focus to some of the things women endure in our society. And also brings out the strength of her will.

Within An Inch of Heaven – Short Stories Week

I found this third feature through Story Zetu.  Bunmi has a website full of his short stories and as always I had a great time reading through them, in search of that one which caught my attention.  The story I chose is called: Within An Inch of Heaven.  Below, is a short excerpt;
Within An Inch of Heaven
by Bunmi

The driver had just turned the key in the ignition when a man rose at the back of the bus with a revving ‘Prrrrrrrrr-aisedaLohd!’

In response, somebody laid out a good, deep fart — this blessed fellow was kind enough to spread it, with practised flourish, over a quarter of a minute, in measured detonations.

I was hugely impressed! ‘The Lord is good,’ a madman cracked. ‘All the time!’ a few high-spirited ones chorused; while others contributed evil chuckles to the occasion.

Undeterred by the stink that had now possessed the entire bus like an evil spirit, a murmur that had to be either curses or pentecostal tongues tumbled from the preacher’s tight mouth, spilling into the bush of his big biblical beard and disappearing… He rifled through his burden of a bible — ‘In the book of Jedidiah, my bible tells me that —’

A quick mouth told him something else, ‘Book of Jedi-daya nor dey my own bible sah.’

‘Your own bible.’ The preacher looked up from his bible, and down at the offender. ‘You have a bible there?’

The reply was a wave of ‘Lolly’, a local pornographic comic-rag, which was greeted with approving guffaws.

Just as our preaching friend broke into a ‘Blessed is the man that —’, another man, determined to seek his own blessings by less tedious means, rose at the front and began handing out worn brown envelopes that read: NIGERIA SOCIETY OF DEAF & DUMBS. I NEED YOUR HELP….

Short Story Week Review

This story was amusing and it rang true for me in more ways than I can explain.  Riding on a bus not too long ago, I was treated to an encounter with one of the preachers who preach in the vehicles, most times I don’t pay them any mind, as long as they leave me alone.  But this one day, the guy who was preaching, went out of his way to make sure he got everyone’s attention.  Talking about women and how they’ve lost their way, dressing how they want, talking how they want.  Now, I know our society is riddled with those who still have traditional views, and I can take a little, okay, a tiny, tiny bit of hating for not following the traditionalist ways.  That’s okay, just don’t shove it down my throat when you’re trying to get your head in the game early in the morning.  Most likely you’ll get to town and the things you were going to do there, end being harder.  So, this preacher annoyed me, and I wanted to leave the bus, but I didn’t.  I stayed, and gave him a mean eye when he came around to get his ‘tithe’ after he preached in the bus.  I kept wondering if we’re the only ones who get treated to such crazy situations in buses.

This story gave me another perspective and the ending is quite fitting since my sentiments fit those of the passengers at the end. Which makes me wonder about myself, really….lol.

This is a great story.  Great writing Bunmi.

Drop by Bunmi’s website and leave him a comment.

 

 

Story Zetu/ Fatima- Short Stories Week

Today, I feature a blog by the name Story Zetu where I discovered a variety of short stories that left me breathless, amused, and thoughtful.  I stumbled on it when I was researching Spoken Word Events in Nairobi, and got hooked by the short stories and the views of the writers at Story Zetu.  The blog as a whole deserves a visit and exploration from you.  I chose one of the short stories available by name of Fatima for the Short Stories Week Feature.

Fatima

by Hellen Masido

Photo courtesy of story zetu
Photo courtesy of story zetu

The dusty terrain became more and more beige as the sun rose higher across the vast landscape of sand and scanty acacia. They were here. Ahmed sat up straighter, his aching back cracking in relief. They drove past the first of many white tents that stretched on either side of the bus windows. Dadaab.

Ahmed squinted as the white triangles increased and expanded and with the bus going so fast, he begun feeling dizzy so he sat back and took a deep breath. This was his destination for the second time round. He didn’t like to remember the first time. This second time however, he had everything planned to the last minute detail because there was no room for a slip.

And now here he was; executing what he had been planning for years! He should be thrilled but he felt sick. Now that he was here, the reality of what he was about to do sunk in his tummy like a blob of excess green bile.

 

Short Stories Week Review

This story caught my attention and wouldn’t let go.  Ahmed and Chris are volunteering at the Dadaab camp for three weeks, but Ahmed is also at the camp to find a young woman named Fatima.  He  promised her he’d come back for her, but he is seven years late.  The question Ahmed has is whether he can find Fatima, and if he does, will she agree to the plan he’s hatched to get her out?

I love the scenery Ms. Masido invokes in this tale, and I’d love to see what else Ahmed has been up to since he’s arrived at the camp.  And has he found Fatima?  What about Chris who has a great sense of humor in the face of Ahmed’s anxiety.  This story is unique, and refreshing, and that makes it all the more reason to keep watching out for more.  It tackles a topic currently top on everyone’s mind.  The reality of illegal immigrants, Fighting for Freedom and the reality faced by refugees from war torn regions.  I’d love to read more of the story and find out the struggles Ahmed faces in finding his Fatima.

Drop a line for Hellen Masido, tell her what you thought about her story Fatima. Or follow her on twitter @Hellenmasido

There are many more stories available at Story Zetu each one with its own unique qualities.

Visit the blog for a buffet of short stories, and Follow the Blog, show your support.

 

21 Days – Short Stories Week

21 Days

by Dora Okeyo

I found him on the first day. He was walking towards my table at the restaurant. The place was full except for the seat beside me. I cringed at the thought of sharing my table with someone, worse off a guy. What if I chewed too loudly?”

Zora met Jack on the first day.
Jack met her on the second day.

Their romance is a countdown of dates with each telling their own version of what they found from the other on each day.
Question is: Will they keep each other at the end of it all?

Short Stories Week Review

This story is written in chronological order, Day One all the way to Day Twenty-One.  Ms. Okeyo writes out a story told between two individuals who meet quite by luck at a restaurant, and who then get to know each other.  The main characters, Zora and Jack, tell the story from their perspectives, moving from the shyness and jitters of the first meet in a relationship, to hurt emotions created by misunderstandings, and then the getting to know each other better part.  However, Jack keeps a huge secret, that is subtly hinted at by Zora’s friends and those who know Zora.  When it finally comes to light, it breaks them apart, but the reasons why Zora decides to call it quits have a lot to do with trust, and not the secret itself.

This story rang true for me because of the experiences I’ve seen friends go through.  When you’re getting to know someone, it never is what he’s done in the past, but whether he trusted you enough to tell you about that past.  Giving you the chance to make your own choice, instead of making the choice for you, because of how you’ll react or what you’ll think.  It was nice to read a relationship from such a perspective.  Love can exist in different forms.

Please have a read of this story that is readily available on Smashwords on this link : 21 Days

About Dora Okeyo

Visit her blog : Dora Jodie

Dora’s facebook page: Dora Okeyo

Follow her on Twitter: @herhar