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Alone at home by Doris Ogale

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They sat together in the kitchen store, behind the carton.

The girls waited,hearts pounding from fear. Nola controlled her fear by counting objects.
On the top shelf was the red cooler. She counted the numbers silently, suddenly Ure started fidgeting, tugging at her sleeves, whispering desperately, cockroach Nola, cockroach!

Ure jumped up with the intention of switching on the lights.

Suddenly, a blood curdling scream from the neighbours apartment stopped her in her tracks and sent her right back to Nola’s side.

The terrible screams abruptly stopped with sounds of rapid gun shots and footsteps heading towards their front door.

SSDA entry by Irene Nwoye

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I walked down from the podium after the valedictory address avoiding Ugo’s eyes.

I knew they were watching me.

I knew they watched amid the proud handshakes, hurrahs and nods of approval.
His gaze alone saw the truth of my ambition, that desire to wipe out my existence.
He saw it in between the jokes and the pauses in my childish laughter.
He saw the lingering pain in the eyes of a portrait skilled at dissembling.

“You will never know me,” it seemed to say.
But I knew what his defying response was: ‘I see you. I know you

Mr Wrong…again by Lauri Kubuitsile

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Gorata peeked over the window ledge. It was him. She sat to the side of the window, listening. First- knock-knock. Wait. Then knock-knock. Wait. Then a triple. So like Richard, always thinking more was better.

She met him online and should have known, anyone who updates their FB status hourly must have issues. His good looks reeled in her frivolous side. Served her right.

He was up to two double knock-knocks, a split second between them. That was it. She took out her SIM card, broke it in two and reached for the classifieds turning to “Flats to Rent”.

Shoes by ‘Pemi Aguda

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Six-inch pumps; black glittery stones kissing the heels. I towered over Dare. How was I to know I was allergic to sweet and sour pork? He averted his head as I stumbled out of his car, thanks to the dash of puke adorning my dress.

Four-inch strappy sandals with the exaggerated buckle pretty and cool against my ankle. I’m too old for dancing in dark clubs anyway. He should’ve known. Piercing his foot with my stiletto heel had me driving him home.

Eeeniemeeniemanimo. I’ll go for the neon flats. At least they have pretty bows. Lucky number three? Maybe.

The Guidance Counsellor by Tahirah Abdulazeez

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He leaned forward, pointing his index finger downwards. It hovered inches away from the cap of a Bic biro balanced on an eraser, a make-shift see-saw.

‘You are here. Alone’

His finger migrated in the air, over the body of the pen. It came to a stop in the middle.

‘But this, here, is the centre of the universe, where the energy of the world collects’

He let his index finger drift back, to the tip of the blue cap.

‘Adebisi, you are off kilter. Understand?’

She did.

Failing chemistry was tantamount to falling off the face of the Earth.

No Shelter

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I saw the rat again tonight. I saw it two nights ago, but I had chosen to convince myself that I was just imagining things. How could a rat have gotten into the house?

*****

A.V. says I can’t write a story about a rat.
Why not? I ask.
“Because it isn’t poignant. If you’re writing, it has to be about something important. ”
“Important? Important like what?” I am genuinely puzzled.
She says, “well, for example, the rat can be a metaphor for our failed government.”

Now I’m really confused.
“Huh, what failed government?” I think as I start over.

*****

I saw the rat again tonight. I saw it two nights ago, but I had ignored it and hoped it would go away.
Tomorrow, I will buy some poison or a trap. And I will kill it.

The Dinner by Irene Nwoye

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We spend the evening drinking and trading tales in a living room that smelt of liquor and roast beef. I yell “Jackpot” before leaving the table. I am tired of the game, but I am especially tired of looking at Dele all evening and so I busy myself with pouring out more wine, carving out the chicken and dropping used dishes in the sink. I was always the good hostess but I want Dele to taste my chicken again. I dread looking at him as it inflates the lump already lodged in my chest.

I was his and yet I would never be his again. I smile wearily as husband-number-two puts his arms around me, draws me to him and plants a kiss on my lips, Dele’s lips, and I cringe inside. He speaks softly about ‘looking lovely and being unable to wait for tonight.’ I peck him and return to my dishes.

Cynthia taps me. “Need any help?”

“No. I’m good.”

But, in spite of my protest, she picks up the rinsed dishes and begins to arrange them in the cupboard. “It’s amazing that Dele showed up. I just can’t believe he did …How’re you taking this?”

Cynthia stares at me with her big, black eyes studying me and waiting for what, I wonder. I smile again, even though I’m wondering why Dele is wearing my favorite suit?!  And why husband-number-two is kissing me again? What is up with the kissing? Can he not see we have guests? I want to strangle him but I want to strangle Dele even more. My diaphragm constricts at the thought. Yes! I want us to make hot, sweet love and strangle him while he moans my name, my name and only mine.

 “What nerve?” Cynthia continues, interrupting me, “to come here and show his face after…”

“Cynthia please..” I say, unwilling to rip off bandages from old wounds.

The clinking of spoon against a wineglass and I am interrupted again. Husband number-two wants to make a toast. I return to the table retaining that dreadful smile to hear him express his gratitude to everyone for making it to our engagement party. At the sound of ‘engagement-party’ I glance at Dele, only to find that he is looking at me. The puny girl on his arm is chewing gum and frowning, in her short black dress. I hate that I am marveling at how young she is, her wrinkle-less skin and ass like melons that had more husbands’ eyes darting from side to side with the sway of her hips.

 “Kelechi! Kelechi!” I hear my name. Husband-number-two is calling. “Do you have anything you want to add?”

My cheeks hurt, but I keep smiling.  I have nothing to add.

Dele is still staring at me, willing himself into my head. Why did he always make me feel so miserable? As if no one else could love me the way he did. I remember the late nights and cold dinners, washing lip-stick stained shirts and days of denial before the papers came. What effrontery? And for the first time that night I finally agreed with Cynthia. What nerve?!

 I walk towards Dele. I see the grin on his face or is it a smirk?  What a pig! He makes ready to speak, but I cut him short, “please leave.”

“My little Kele.”

“I said you should leave.”

“I thought we could be civil about this.”

“My friend, pack your civility and leave this house!”

Silence. The guests are looking in our direction, husband-number-two is standing behind me, the doting gladiator waiting to defend my honor.  “Tunde and I would like you to leave,” I say.

Dele takes his puny girl away with him.

It is over and I know he will never be mine.

The Captive

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The Captive

As gift of darkness, I’ll give you light. The words jumble all into me. And crowd the spaces and fill the holes. There is nothing left here but the beautiful poetry of silence and pages, rustling pages lit by candles, me cornered and reading and wishing the world away. I hold the books dear because they connect me to the rest. Source of my thoughts, experiences and words. Entire landscapes, lifetimes boiled down. To pages. To pages I read. In the dark. Where they cannot find me.

It’s easier to hide here. Easier to stay here. From the buses and the trains and the sun and the world. And the hard cold ingredients of reality. Jobs and salaries and bank accounts. In this darkness is solace. In this darkness my light.

On Tuesday in Brooklyn I sat in the chair and listened. And Dayo told me, gave me the punch list, the day’s summary of tasks and tricks. Which things to do, who I should call before I closed for the day. Assignments handed to me.

But I looked into the window, the glass and beyond, and saw the snow fluttering white like damaged feathers falling on a weary world. And boys and men and women and girls moved about in dark coats through slushy streets, heads bowed beaten by the snow. And fog rose from their mouths like dragons exhaling in hell. And the snow fell and cars slowed and I saw how I did not, could not, belong there anymore. At Dayo’s office, with Funlola’s nagging, in this world, letting time bleed away, thrashing away in the fog like another dragon in hell.

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