“Family Friends” by Nana Owusu Bediako.

“So I’m sitting behind the counter at my Town Central boutique when Mike walks in. you know Mike, yes the-sweet-guy-who-always-shows-up-with-flowers-Mike. Don’t give me that look. You know very well there’s nothing going on between us—anymore.” I sigh.

Trust Vida to still give me the guilty feels even after all I’ve been through to prove that I’m a changed woman. A whole year has passed without my indulging in flings of any sort, you’d think I’ve earned myself a bit of respect among friends by now, yet Vida for instance never misses a chance to remind me of past crimes. Deciding that what I had to say was more important than putting Vida in her place, I go on with my narrative while overlooking the scowl on my friend’s face.

“So he walks through the front door and immediately looks to his left—towards the counter, as if to say that I’m the reason he was in the shop. He didn’t even pretend to be interested in any of the clothes on sale, he just walked right up to yours truly behind the counter and goes like ‘Hey, nice shop you’ve got here. I really love the décor’. Now I was just amazed by his presumptuous manner and need I remind you that my shop attendants are all teenage relatives of my husband so I was nervous he might let on that there was anything going on between me and him. In my haste to stop him in his tracks, I just blurted out a query, “what can I get you sir?” looking into his face with all seriousness.”

Vida has a distinct look of interest and alarm on her face now that gives me the confidence to go on with my story. I continue.

“That put him off his game for a moment, I could tell by the look on his face that he wasn’t pleased with what he’d just heard. Thankfully he realizes what I meant and goes like ‘yes ma’am I was walking on the opposite sidewalk when I happened to remember I needed a corset for a dinner I’m to attend this weekend. Looking around for a nice place where I could get what I needed, I happened to notice your shop across the street and here I am.’ He then smiled imploringly at me, as if to suggest that I personally help him with his purchase”.

Trust me, if you knew Mike as I do, you’d recognize that imploring look.

“He’s smart like that, saying one thing with his words and communicating his true meaning with subtle facial and body cues. I learnt that from him–.”

That’s when she cut me off, coming in like “You don’t expect me to believe that was his first time ever to set foot inside your boutique now, do you?” and leaving me all angry and flustered.

“Are you calling me a liar, Vee? I’m telling you it’s true. All that time we were seeing each other it was strictly at our favorite motel and nowhere too personal for both of us—well until he started acting all clingy and lovesick. Then he started suggesting stuff that would’ve made things awkward for me especially. Like more than once he threatened to mail flowers to my home address, and then he’d pester me to spend the night after our late evening rendezvous. Really awkward and cringe-worthy stuff that had me concerned about where our fling was headed.”

“Well you had to have known that things would have to end between you two sooner or later—.”

“—and I made sure it was sooner rather than later, honey! I’m not dumb.” I added with a chuckle.

“Well thank goodness for that. And you say he’d never been to the boutique before that. Why go there now? Why show up where he’d be least expected to do so after you’ve ended things with him?” Yes. Now she’s getting to the point in our conversation where I needed her to be.

“Honey, that’s the thing I can’t really figure out myself. But that was a dumb move on Mike’s part, trying to surprise me like that and expecting a warm welcome—in a shop full off witnesses!”

“Yes, really dumb, I totally agree.”

“Vee I’m telling you I told him off at once in front of everybody and watched him leave the store with a pained look on his face. I never saw him again since and it’s been a month now.”

“Hahaaaa, epic!” she cackled.

“I know right, but not as epic as mum used to do way back. Mum was carefree, but that was her undoing. I mean hear this: I found out when I was 19 that almost all our so called ‘family friends’ were actually her sexual partners over the years. And it wasn’t so hard to figure out since every night after they’d come visit, we’d hear mum and dad arguing loudly in their bedroom, and words like ‘whore’ and ‘cheat’ would be carried over by the wind to our bedroom right across the corridor…”

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“Kenkey for Ewes and Other Very Short Stories”

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It gives us great pleasure to finally publish this long-overdue anthology. To anyone who may be asking “What is flash fiction?”, you can orient yourself here.

We are grateful to all featured authors for their patience with us during the protracted editing period.

Download your copy here: Kenkey for Ewes and other very short stories

Happy Reading,
The FlashFictionGhana Team.

“The Encounters” by Richelle Fosu.

During the hour long lunch break between their Saturday classes, Esi and her friend ventured out to a nearby store at the junction to buy some snacks. The other kids had gotten into a taxi and gone off to God knows where. She envied those kids, but all she could afford was a pack of bonbon biscuits, the remnants of which she clutched in her hands.

 

What are you doing! One of her friends hissed at her, motioning frantically for Esi to move while standing her ground some meters away.

 

Esi remained frozen in place. She had unwittingly turned to the call of a stranger, and now he was making a beeline towards her. Matted hair, tattered clothes and a layer of dust had engulfed him, making him look as though he had been trekking through a desert. Esi’s eyes darted between her friend and the man. He was at an arm’s length now, and he looked even more terrible up close. His corneas were jaundiced and bloodshot. Esi could see his blackened teeth as he spoke.

 

Do you have any change to spare? I’d like to buy some food.

 

Esi’s eyes widened. His voice was strikingly different from his appearance. He spoke with a refined accent that sounded like the foreign actors in the British movies on TV Esi watched all the time.

 

Im-im sorry, i don’t have any money. Esi stuttered.

Oh, that’s okay…are your friends afraid of me?

 

Esi glanced back briefly and shook her head.

 

Our break is almost over, so we have to hurry back.

Do you go to school here? He motioned towards the building at the end of the road.

 

Esi nodded.

 

Study hard, he said encouragingly with a smile.

 

He turned to leave. Esi’s heart went out to him.

 

W-wait, Esi blurted. You can have some of my biscuits.

 

She stretched out her hand with the half empty wrapper. The man smiled again. This time, his face brightened up, and his eyes sparkled. He no longer seemed so scary.

 

Keep it. But thank you, you’re very kind.

 

Esi stared at him as he disappeared around the corner. She wondered what had happened to him, and what had gone wrong in his life. Her friend inched back to her side. A bell rang in the distance, and the duo ran back to the school.

 

***

 

Weeks later, Esi sat in the corner on the front verandah of the school, enjoying the shade with her classmates after yet another long day at school. There was a barred gate enclosing the open entry, to prevent passersby from slipping onto the premises. They were not a group she would usually hang around. Esi always felt awkward around them, but she didn’t want to go home just yet. She might as well have been invisible to them, but that didn’t matter to her because he was there too…The one who made her heart flutter whenever she was near him. After about an hour secretly fawning over him from her corner, he had to go home. Esi decided to do the same.

 

As she got ready to sneak off through the back exit, she heard frantic giggles. Esi turned to the gate to see what had caused the sudden commotion. A scruffy figure headed towards them. She recognized him immediately. Her classmates excitedly whispered and giggled as he drew closer. Some ran away, others drew back from the gate.

 

You guys should stop being so rude! Esi blurted.

 

Everyone stopped to stare at her.

 

Why are you afraid? The man, now at the gate, said to the startled group.

 

His voice and articulate speech ruptured through like a burst of fresh air.

 

I’m not here to ask you for money so tell your friends to come back. I saw you pointing and laughing at me, and your friends ran away because of how I look. Even if I asked you for money, am I not human? You shouldn’t treat people that way.

 

Her dumbfounded classmates, guiltily avoided eye contact with each other.

 

I know she wouldn’t do that, he continued, and pointed right at Esi. You should all be more respectful, like her.

 

Esi felt the blood rush to her face. Her ears burned as everyone eyes sear through her.

He gave Esi a small nod and with a sad smile, he walked away. There was a dead silence. If she was invisible to them a few minutes ago, she certainly wasn’t anymore.

 

***

 

To Esi’s surprise, no one brought up the incident the next day. Everyone avoided the topic, and Esi avoided everyone. Her parents made a rare appearance to pick her up from school that day. They were making a trip to the city center. Esi sat back, absentmindedly gazing out the window. Up in a distance, a figure stood still on the corner. Her heart froze before she knew why. A split second later, she was face to face with the disheveled man as the car slowed to a stop at the light. Her first instinct was to duck under the car seat, but she didn’t want to attract attention to herself – so she quickly placed a hand over her forehead in an attempt to cover her face. Slowly, she peeked between her fingers and found herself staring him right in the eyes.

 

That was when Esi’s heart sank. Her fears melted away, leaving behind a deep sorrow. His eyes, which were so bright and clever the day before, were glazed over. He looked right at her, but Esi knew he could no longer see her.

“The Baby Fence-mender” by Nii Moi Thompson.

On the eighth day after the birth while the moon was yet to evanesce, kinsmen thronged the now famed compound to witness the miracle baby. It was a replica of a shanty town; unplanned cluttered dwellings with very good asphalted roads flanked by open drains.

“Did you find it easy to get here. Here, taste this.” I was greeted at the wooden gate by my fiancée, Dede, offering a calabash of fresh, hot, dark corn wine she had fetched from the cauldron sitting on flaming logs, yet to boil fully.

“Oh yes,” I slurped a little. “I told the driver I was headed for Asere in Ga Mashi…Lante…”

“Lante Djan We”, we synchronized. “Yes, yes!”

By now kinsmen and friends, all clad in traditional white had carved a crescent seating formation, leaving the middle of the compound bare, where I noticed a ring of ash. I took a seat.

“That’s my Uncle Kwei Mensah and his wife, Nyɛkwɛ Kai”, Dede nodded. They were old and grey; I could say almost or a little past three-score.

“It’s indeed a marvel”, Dede explained. “She has been childless for decades, and my grandmother has given her no rest at all.”

“Your grandmother has patience the size of my baby finger”, one lady behind us interrupted our conversation, unwelcomed. I could detect an ample doze of tartness in her voice. She sounded salty.

“I know, Nyɛkwɛ Amateokor. Let’s not ruin today”, Dede, skinning her teeth, was not one to take offense at a first jab.

A towering old woman came hobbling across the compound clutching a baby wrapped in a piece of white calico safely to her bosom. The rite was set in motion. The moon was still blessing us with good light. She commanded much respect, for everybody either rose to bow or wave at her as she lurched into the ring of ash and rid the baby of its cloth.

She held the baby up towards the moon and chanted, “We present this infant to the Supreme Being”, then laid the baby down in the circle of ash, repeating the process twice.

“Oh it’s beautiful…it’s lovely. Our ears will rest henceforth”. Nyɛkwɛ Amateokor was still casting vengeful subliminals, this time echoing it across the entire compound.

A bowl of water, signifying rain was thrown unto the aluminium roofing sheet and allowed to dribble on the baby. Next, the aged woman gently tapped the back of the baby and repeated, “Never lie, steal or cheat. Take after me.”

I stared at Dede. “She is held widely as the eldest kinsman of good repute,” she explained. I nodded.

“This is water, and this is wine. Know the difference.” I saw the baby suckle on the old woman’s finger as both corn wine and water were put in her mouth. “Henceforth, you shall be called Lamile…Lamile Amoaben-ajaaku.”

The uproar which erupted was thundering.

I followed as the kinsman handed the baby over to her mother, slapped the cork of a bottle of schnapps and offered libation on behalf of the infant.

“Agoo Ataamei ke Awomei. Tswa Tswa Tswa omanye abla’o Tswa Tswa omanye abla’o. Tswa omanye aba, Osoro (Osu) Ahatiri, Obu Ahatiri, Oboro dutu wokpe, Wodsebu wodse nu, Wo ye wo nu wo kodsii adso wo, Gboni bale etse yi ana wala, Enye yi ana wala, Esee tuu, Ehee fann, Eyi aba gbodsen, Ese aba halaann, Wekumei wona faa ni wo fa le, Eba tsu eha wo ni woye, Eko atasi ni eko aba, Ganyo humile koyo tsua dani owieo, Tsua Tsua Tsua manye aba!”

“Hiao!”, the guests said Amen to that!

After the neighbours had chucked down enough meat and emptied the cauldron of its corn wine, and everybody was dancing to the E.T. Mensah’s “Abele”, I noticed Nyɛkwɛ Amateokor had locked Dede’s grandmother in a seemingly fond embrace, both swaying to good hi-life music.

“Look at them,” Dede sniggered. “This baby has made brothers of Nanumba and Konkomba.”

“Listen-” by Sedem Garr.

27th August 2011

2:03 am Hey.

2:03 am Are you awake?

2:06 am I’ve been thinking…

                                                                                                  Oh bestie. Sorry I was asleep. 8:17 am

8:17am No worries. How are you?

                                                  I’m okay. My mother and stepdad are finally talking. 10:56 am

                                                                                                                                               You? 10:56 am

10:57 am Terrible. I’m tired of this.

10:58 am It’s not worth it.

10:59 am I want to leave.

                                                                 Sigh. You really should talk to HER you know. 11:03 am

11:04 am I know, I know.

11:04 am But…

                                                                                                                                                 Brb. 11:04 am

11:04 am Would she even listen? She’ll think I’m crazy.

11:05 am Okay.

9:20 pm Hey. How was the rest of your day?

                                                                        Cool, cool. I went out with the bae. Yours? 9:23 pm

9:24 pm More of the same really.

                                                                                     You brood too much. Just be happy. 9:24 pm

9:25 pm This is all just rubbish.

                                                    Lol. You shouldn’t think like that. Cheer yourself up. 9:25 pm

                                                                                                              Go out with your guys. 9:26 pm

                                                                                                There’s a party this weekend. 9:26 pm

9:27 pm I can’t. I really can’t.

9:27 pm And crowds depress me by the way.

9:29 pm I just can’t help it. I think I’m losing my mind. Why won’t it end? I know you’re tired of hearing this and I wish I wasn’t insane. I know you’ll eventually grow tired of me. I know I cling but I try. I try really hard. It’s a never ending cycle. I just don’t get why I can’t pull everything together. I haven’t seen my dad for three years you know. And strangely, I don’t remember that last time I saw him. It’s strange. I have nothing. I wish I could find a way. It’s just so dark in my world. It all doesn’t mean anything you know. Why suffer through all this rubbish for nothing? The world, it eats us alive. I don’t think I can ever be normal like you guys. I love you so much you know. I really do. I wish I could stop all this and be the friend I should be. I owe you everything. I could lay my life down for you, you know. SHE doesn’t care about me. You’re the only thing I have. I don’t know if you understand what I’m saying.

9:31 pm I can’t even make sense.

                                                                                                                                              TL;DR 9:45 pm

                                                                                                                                                      😛 9:45 pm

9:46 pm 😦

                                                                                                                      Lol. You’re weird. 11:47 pm

                                                                                                                                                 Brb. 11:47 pm

11:48 pm Okay.

 

28th August 2011

2:03 am Hey. 

2:03 am Are you awake?

2:03 am I’ve been thinking.

                                                                                                                                                Hey. 11:24 am

                                                                                                Want to go to the mall today? 11:24 am

                                                                                                          Lol. You and your drama. 2:17 pm

                                                                                                                                       Pick up la! 2:51 pm

                                                                             Don’t tell me you’ve been cutting again. 3:15 pm

 

29th August 2011                                       

                                                                                                                                                       ?? 2:03 am

“Clarity” by Priscilla Adipa.

It happened unexpectedly. Eventually. Unlike his commitment to Augusta, the discovery took time. When he uncovered the reasons behind her phone calls and averted eyes, he saw that this point would have been reached sooner, if only he had not been overly confident in his ability to hold Augusta’s attention.

He stood in the rain, his temper rising as the raindrops on top of his head grew heavier and heavier. He opened his mouth and received the rain. The weight and saltiness of the water in his mouth brought on memories of tongues locked in passion, bodies pliant to the desires of the other. Hungry for more, he pushed out his whole tongue and held it still in space. When recalling became painful, he pulled his tongue back into his mouth.

 

Augusta returned home to find Kwasi’s drenched form stretched out on their doorstep. As soon as she saw him, she knew their journey together was over. She hesitated in the car. Somewhere deep inside her, a breath of relief and of regret came alive. Being in harmony with Kwasi had become tedious, so tedious that she had looked elsewhere for what he no longer provided. Yet Augusta wavered. She had to be sure she was ready to let go.

Slowly she turned off the engine. She opened the door and placed one foot onto the wet ground, and then the other. It had stopped raining. She walked towards Kwasi, her face filled with sorrow. She tried to read his thoughts, but this time it was impossible. The force that had connected them was broken, and his mind was shut from her probing eyes.

“Kwasi.” His name escaped quickly from her lips. She was breathless, as though she had run a marathon and was struggling to get her words out. “Kwasi,” she called again.

He said nothing. On his face was etched a hardness Augusta had never seen before.

“Say something.” She searched for absolution, a sign that all would be well between them.

In response, there was only the heavy sound of breathing and the cricket song that filled the air when the rain clouds receded.

He decided to help her out. “As long as you are happy,” he said, almost too softly for Augusta to hear.

She waited for him to say more. But these were the only words that revolved around them in the growing darkness.

They stood on the doorstep, framed by the arches of the veranda. They had stood there countless times on days they escaped outside when their small house became too hot inside. The doorstep was Augusta’s favourite spot. It was there they sat on Fridays after work to eat kelewele bought from the woman down the road. It was there they spent evenings with no power, and, with just a candle and a mosquito coil between them, cursed ECG and anyone else responsible for the unending dumsor.

Augusta walked past Kwasi towards their front door. He had anticipated what she would need. Four suitcases stood near the door. One of the suitcases was made from a synthetic beige material with red stripes. It had remained pristine over the years. It was the suitcase Kwasi’s family brought to her parents’ house the morning of their engagement. It was the one they had packed with kente and cloth she hadn’t yet taken to her seamstress. All these years she’d kept the suitcase covered with a large see-through plastic bag. Now, she had to drag the suitcase on the muddied cemented ground to her car.
Again, Kwasi thought ahead of her. He grabbed hold of the bags and packed them into the car.

“Goodbye,” he said, as he slammed the boot shut and made to walk back towards the house.

“I’m sorry,” she said, as she placed a hand on his arm. Then, encouraged by the softening in his eyes, she leaned over to trace the angry lines on his forehead. He flinched when her hand touched his face.

“Just leave,” he said, and Augusta quickly got into the car, realizing his patience would not last.

She pushed the gear into reverse when he entered the house. Her left leg shook as she lifted it off the clutch. She had all her belongings, but still it felt like she was leaving a part of herself behind. The car stalled. She put the gear again into reverse, and pulled out of their yard. She did not stop even when she looked back and thought she saw Kwasi step out onto the doorstep.

“Breaking the Silence” by Daniel Hanson Dzah.

After she had been buried, and the funeral over, and he had managed to evict all the relatives artfully ensconcing their way into permanent residency, he would sit in his wooden grandfather chair kept under the large mango tree in his compound, breathing in the tropical breeze and cooling off under the shade of the green thicket.

He would sit all day, silent. Sometimes he would daydream for hours, floating freely between patchy nostalgia and pitiful hallucination. Sometimes he would slide into a deep sleep and only be jolted awake by an unusual swoosh of air. Then his stomach would rumble for lunch and he would obediently go into the kitchen. But he would be back soon after lunch, a good deal before sunset, and resume his posture under the mango tree.

The neighbourhood children would return, heartily retailing anecdotes about school or most often, sharing mean jokes about their teachers and classmates.

They would notice him, but they would not greet him.

He wished to scold them for their lack of respect but he no longer had the strength or conviction. Sometimes, thoughts of how things had changed in the last few decades would float to his mind’s surface and spread themselves over its banks. But his body would soon wear out his mind and the two would walk hand in hand in resignation to the times. He would look up at the flower panicles. A tired wrinkly smile would plaster itself unto his face.  

 

************

 

They were late.

At first, he thought the sun was setting earlier than usual. It was nearing the cold season after all. He tried to lift himself upright but paused halfway. The laughter and chatter were not as loud as always, but they were familiar. It was the school children. He sank back into his chair.

They had just laughed off a quick round of jokes and inadvertently toned down their voices to near silence as they approached his compound. Then they heard him call.

A hoarse version of the same sukuu nkwadaa they often heard older people call them. School children, he called out to them again. They stopped, momentarily unsure of what to do. He called them over as any old man would – in a tone of cordial invitation with a tinge of authority. They bashfully moved their human caterpillar towards him.

It was nothing after all. Just old people talk as usual. What were their names? Where did they attend school? What classes were they in? Who did they want to be in future? He mentioned that he had been trying to get their attention every time they walked past his compound, but they never seemed to hear him above their racket. They respectfully apologized. He accepted their apologies and made them promise to greet him tomorrow. Then he dragged his left hand behind his chair and pulled out a black polythene bag.

As was evident on the tree, the mango season had started. He was gifting them the first ripe fruit he had plucked himself. He joked that he was an expert tree climber. They giggled, shy at his grey humour. He counted them. Four boys and two girls. There was a mango for each. They thanked him profusely as they would their own grandfather. He nodded his approval. He would see them tomorrow. His regards should be extended to their parents, he added with a wobbly wave.  

 

************   



Two of the children managed to speak before they, like the others, foamed at the mouth and danced for the last time.

When the wailing brought the entire neighbourhood together, when everybody learned what the children had said and where they had last been and what they had last done, a furious whirlwind of bewildered men and women swept towards the old man’s house. They stopped short at his compound. Silence fell on their numbers. They only gaped, the venom drying in their throats.

A street lamp shone brightly on the mango tree. Two feet like ripe fruit dangled low from its branches. Some young men straggled to the tree to bring down the body. A single loud wail pierced the dusk and broke the silence. A torrent of ululations followed.