“Candid” by Amma Konadu Anarfi.

Dear Lord,

It’s 4am. The entire neighborhood is quiet and those bloody cats are mating right outside my bedroom window, I’ve had to turn the music up although I like to listen to Pachelbel’s Canon with the volume low. Those felines sound too human, Lord, it is very disturbing! Not that I’d rather hear humans do it, but animals should sound like animals.

Anyway about the other day when I wished them dead, I wish I could say I’m sorry. However, I am sorry I am not sorry. Forgive me. It has been hard developing any love for them, those cats; they have lost their sense of decency, it makes me wonder if that is the reason why they sound human. The dogs were much better, why did they have to die when my evil intentions were all directed at those disrespectful scrawny excuses of cats?

Father, I think I need more patience. You keep them alive to test me don’t you? My patience keeps running out. Please keep refilling. I know you are constantly at it. One morning, I was so charged up, ready to poison them and not apologize for it after. When I opened the front door, the tiniest of them all was sitting right there, staring at me doe-eyed. No, it did not break me. Just irritated me!

Which reminds me yet again, I have been meaning to ask you this. If I developed a character in a story, and killed that character, will that be counted as sin? Seeing that I created that character with a real face behind it, and I killed that character so thoroughly, too thoroughly, for it to be mere fiction, and that I relished the kill. I am not a murderer am I? But if I killed those cats I would be, not so? I hate them.

Oh God, about Maurice though, I thought briefly, just a little bit, what a relief it would be if he died. When I heard he had died, I felt like you, yes like you Lord, before I felt sorry. Just a little bit. That is just wrong. I’m sorry. Is he with you in glory? I will be so surprised if he is. I mean he was an ass to his last breath. Forgive me, o forgive these thoughts, but Maurice was the devil.

At the funeral while half the family lied through their tributes and the pastor shamelessly committed him into your hands, I watched; silent, cold inside. I should have read my tribute. But James, who is still not on talking terms with me, tore it to pieces and would not allow me to say it from memory; it was all in my head, word for word. I only wanted to say the truth. Lord he is still angry with me. Is that justifiable? I forgave him a long time ago for not allowing me to vent. I’m still working on forgiving Maurice, so help me. He was after all my brother.

I think that is the only time I have felt that way towards a human, but these cats…these cats bring out the worst in me! Thinking about them has angered me so much I can’t even breathe! I really can’t breathe Father… I should breathe. Lord??? I can’t breathe!!!

Salma folded the letter and placed it back into the chest that contained other stuff that had been her daughter’s. A year gone and she still could not let go. She could still remember that morning, exactly at 6am, when she had gone to her room and found her face-down on the floor, naked, her eyes wide open.

She closed her eyes and fought back tears.

“You really are a scrawny excuse of a thing!”

She whispered, stroking the back of the black skinny cat on her lap.

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“In” by Kojo Longdon.

Monday, 10.16am

When Papa Flex looked across the marble table at Araba, it was not with the soulless, dead stare he had on the previous night. It was a smile that reflected a warm professionalism. It was the same smile he had on when he first met her, promising stardom. It was a smile that hid a morbid secret, which almost made her visibly shudder. She did not, however, shaking off the negative thoughts on her mind. She knew exactly what she was getting. She tried to forget the unpleasant events of the previous night.

The smile did not betray itself, however. Jeanine Atkins, creative director for one of the largest advertising firms in Ghana, was smiling back with approval already. From all indications, Papa Flex had already won her over. The 6th floor conference room was filled with executives. When the MD finally walked in, Araba tried to focus on the way his dark suit swished against his body as he moved. Her gaze jumped across the room towards different objects -the young intern’s spectacles, staplers at the edge of the table, even the shiny, polished tile floor. She could not, would not, look at Papa Flex.

“Well, I think we can get started.” Jeanine cut through Araba’s thoughts as the MD sat down. “Mr. Flex, why don’t you tell us about what you have?”

“Yes, so my artiste, Araba Menson…”

Sunday, 11.30pm:

Araba lay on the carpet writhing and convulsing. The studio, in her eyes had turned a glowing red, and it felt as though the embers of Hell itself had engulfed it. Engineers, backup vocalists, and everyone, led by Papa Flex, began to chant as they formed a circle around her. His pupils seemed to have completely dissolved and his eyes, glowing white, were fixed on her. The group closed in on her and the chanting grew louder. She felt a disgusting rumbling in the pit of her stomach. She doubled over and clutched her groin in agony. The feeling slithered along the walls of her abdomen. The chanting grew louder and louder. Her throat gave way from within, and she felt a disgusting rubbery creature wriggling out of her throat, ‘til the fat snake, bloodied and black, had been vomited out. Then, almost in a trance-like state, it glided into the recording booth, and she rose and followed. The chanting rose to shouting as the door slammed shut.

 

“Araba?” Jeanine, the MD and Papa Flex were looking directly at her. She did not realize how long she had been lost in her thoughts.

“I said, the company is very impressed with your new song, and we would like you to represent us.”

50,000 Ghana cedis, she thought to herself as Papa Flex led her out of the building.

She looked at him and laughed, knowing that it was all real. She had done it. She was in.