Updated: Feb 19, 2020
by Daniel Dass
2nd The Pauline Melville Prize for Junior Short Story sponsored by Banks DIH Ltd
The Guyana Annual 2019
I be a small boy. Fourteen, there about, a half dry white-wash of a number, that is fumble for it words. It be an age where certain thing start to make sense and other things begin to have effect on the way I live my life. I would have preferred it if time waltzed backward and did a two-step, a dance that could make the world spin anti- clockwise, bending moments and twisting torque. You gon see why in a moment. I learn now that the past always stays in its place, as it should. Yet it quite frightens me. I go to school at Bladen-Hall Secondary, and school is a very big place, it so big that one person can feel small in it, like a sparrow dotting the vast blue of a sun-lit sky.
It especially worse if the teacher them don’t really like you, or they don’t notice you. This be my fault a lot of the time. Is not any and everyone you can trust with the troubles in your life. My gran was a bus driver, and after my mama die, he stay alone and work like if the work was him reason for living here in this land of lots, name Georgetown. He teach me a lot of thing, but since then I don’t hear him say much anymore. And now I sort of become a loner, or I lonely, it don’t really matter at this point, because of because. I love my home, I love my family but sometimes they like pickle karela, the vinegar can’t bury the bitterness no matter how long you leave it to sit.
The problem I here telling you about is not a big one, it just is rub me the wrong way. After my mother pass from overdosing on Panadol I went to live with my father.
He was my hero for a long time, even though him have a little belly, and him hair start to drift from the frontlines of the battle since him was in him twenties. He don’t look like superman, but rather like Saitama, yall people might not know about the latter, but him is a bald man and rather normal, a man like me or you uncle, yet him stronger than superman.
My father take another woman, and she never like me. I can’t tell you if that was when he was my mother man or after, big people like to say lickle children must find them corner. And after two slap I had to settle myself.
I learn now that it a hard thing for woman to mine children that not them own. But this one have never even try. She be talking to me like I have no soul, is “Ty wash the wears or sweep the yard” and she would look at me hard hard until I do it. I eat from the same pot with her, and I drink from the same cup, but there a heaviness that as thick as the seasoning in the food, a fat contrast to the right taste though. Infact, it ruin the flavor of it, it make moving my mouth an active thing. My jaw would go stiff, or it was really my mind acting out it own reality. I can’t really tell the two apart.
After two months she start to tell my father I have no respect for her and how I want talking to her like I be big man. I never do that. I don’t answer her really, this be the God’s truth. I is do what she say in my own time. The spite is a real thing. I guilty like a thiefing cat here, because my two brother, her children them, they don’t know bout sweeping yard and washing wares and they be having help with they books, the good life. She is even haul in big fancy cricketing gears and football shoes, with spikes that shape like dog- teeth for them when they school hold tournament round the town.
I hate her now, and it really happen after she put me and my father out. My father like most fathers, sometimes he be having other women with him wife. I swear I learn to never do this thing because it scornful. I is see my stepmother face when she realize him car have old knot- off condom in the backseat and them get panty in her house that not hers. I know how all my brief is look and the woman know good what her own look like too.
One time she tell him how half year past and he ain’t sleep in her bed. He say how he don’t sleep with snake. They had a big brawl after and he pass the buckle of a belt cross her forehead and the blood spray pon the wall. She put a fork in the side of him neck and since then I have problems sleeping at night. I sleep and then my feet start to tremble, or I wake up and find that I be talking out loud or calling my mother name. I be up to see every dawn since and now I start to believe that sleep don’t make no more sense in this life.
We get put out that day and my father turn to me and tell me I bringing problem between him and his woman. I get cold after that and I is now walk where the breeze send me cause at least the breeze have time with me.
They have a teacher in school, he is talk about how being a man important and how understanding relationships is the key to success. I start to tell him bits and pieces of what is happen and he is listen to me. He be all religious and believe in Christ. I suppose to be a Christian too but really, I never was, cause God don’t come and talk to us no more, and I ain’t really want him come and fix nothing for me, cause truly as my teacher say he didn’t start none of these itations. I would just love to talk to him and know that him have the reigns of these times in him hand.
I used to go vacation bible school, I know all the stories. I hear about the wise Solomon, the mighty David, Adam and Eve, Samson the strong, endless numbers of great people I tell you. They say God used to walk with Abraham an all. It just seem sometime like he love these people more than me, and this is my struggle with God. Him words would mean a lot and a walk with a shave ice to sip while gaffing him out wouldn’t be such a bad thing either.
There have a girl that like me, she be buying lunch and so for me. Her face round and she have these deep black eyes, that fill with something calming. I can’t find a name for it. But her eyes is settle me, and give me reason to get up in the morning. I even get a kiss one lunch time, but all I really have to talk is about my family and how they be telling me I gon grow to be a good for nothing. My brother tell me how my nose big and the other one, the youngest one, start to call me ‘nose it all’ and ‘black attack’ because I be the darkest in the house.
My teacher help me to see this struggle as a teaching lesson, him remind me that my heart continue to beat even though it seem like is the apocalypse sailing and coming through on the horizon. The girl didn’t understand, she leave me and now she have a next boy, he strong and tall, and him have less problems than me.
They say when your heartbreak you is feel it in your chest, somewhere right where your heart be, but no, I be feeling this pain in my belly just on top my navel, it lingering next to my bowels and the faeces in it.
Sometimes when I in the room by myself it is turn me over and I is feel to bring up. My stepmother see me one time and she open she eye real big. Tell my father how I be making all sort of monkey motions in her house and he must handle his boy child.
It upset me, because she go on to tell him about my mother and how my mother was a good for nothing like me. My mother was a rich woman, she had her own house and car by thirty and her business used to make her stacks of bread. She rush into me like a ram goat with smoke snaking out it nose-holes.
When I tell her my mother nicer than her she hit me over the head with a pot spoon. My skin thin and so I have another bust head to add to my collection. Is not a lot of bust head, only three, the third one was my fault, I was smoking weed with a boy by the front gate and my father turn in the same time, he put a bottle cross the side of my head and well I tell you my skin thin, so it bleed bad. Him start to cry afterward, he say I make him do it and I start to cry too. I cry because we only know how to talk during fight, otherwise, we is like the ghost in Le Repentir, vaguely visible in the dark and existing only to be awkward.
I went to my teacher and tell him and he did really want to call in the welfare, him cry with me. And it seem like he care more for me than my own family, he show me the scars on him neck and him back. It was chop marks, he say his step- father was a gangster and that them used to go at it with choplass and machete. I know this gon sound bad, but I was glad for the company, I was glad that in this bottomless pit that is my life, I had someone with bigger welts than my own.
I stop him from calling in the blue boys and the social workers. Because I love my family, but in times of war a man must brave the storm, if only to turn him spine from plyboard and paste, into greenheart and farm-board.
He make sure he is ask me how I doing every day, and now he start to give me books, with all sort of situations, books that talk about rhetoric and actions.
He is teach literature and science, to him the two be one and the same, but I feel he better at the literature.
So now I take to writing. I not no boss or nothing, but putting pen to paper where it matters, is help me. I start to feel I authoring some story that God already script and the pain is get temper and box off.
This is the part I was truly fixing to tell yall, my readership, if I ever get one. Just a few days ago, I come home to my father and my stepmother going at it.
Him was found sleeping at another woman house and this I believe is my stepmother fault, she put him out again. And I wasn’t the cause, well at least so I believe, and now that I look at it in hindsight, I don’t think I be right. I was always the cause, and it is bring tears to my eyes because I now know I gon always be the blasted cause.
I digress, these people is both fire-arm holders, cause them have a lot of businesses and they decide that night, that they going to shoot one another till, I don’t know, the bullet turn them into crush, or mince-meat or dog food.
But they both draw, like cowboy in old western, the kind of thing that I never really like to watch. And they fire at each other face close to twenty time each.
Love, I believe is a cemetery, with souls that still bleed with grief.
This here is some of the magic I start to learn in my literature class. You will get that part in a little, just let it simmer. That night I watch some western, and after, I sleep good good. You see, the guns them went off…
Click click click! Bang Bang Bang! But all of this happen when them been pon safety...