The Call

I know, I know. I haven’t been publishing for a long time. Again. Well, I was very busy with my master – which is nearing its end – and also (drum roll, please) attending my first ever writer’s class. I am writing a novel. This is of course just the beginning and I am still a bit too preoccupied with university stuff to fully commit to it right now. But I thought I might give you guys some tidbits of the first drafts I come up with. So please enjoy and give me any feedback you would like. This following bit of story was an in-class exercise, where we were supposed to come up with a potential first page for our novel. My storyline has already changed but I like this first draft. It does represent quite well what I want to do in my novel. As always, thanks for reading!

– – –

She had been expecting it. That call that would change everything. It was bound to happen eventually, yet she was still shocked. “Is this shock?”, she asked herself. “Shouldn’t I be crying or screaming? Trashing the place? You know, something they do in the movies when a call like this comes. This would be the moment where a melodramatic melody sets in, letting the audience know: it’s okay to be sad now!” She didn’t need to let anybody know, they had all been there, they knew already. Suddenly struggling for air, she unlocked the little gateway – acting as her front door – and went outside. Usually it was stuffy there too, but not right now. It had just rained buckets as it tends to do in this country. She loved those short but forceful torrential rains. The earth turns into red mush, transforming its usual state of red dust and the air becomes so clear you can almost forget the city and its huge cloud of smog. She let herself fall into the mud. “You’ll regret this later”, a small voice piped up. The washing machine was still not hooked up to anything. But it didn’t matter. Not in that moment. Her breaths became deeper and she relaxed a little bit. “Right, what to do now?”, she thought. Looking for flights was probably the most reasonable thing to do. So she got up, went into the bedroom, where Julius was still sleeping, changed into clean pants and slowly walked back into the living room. It was the only room in the house where the internet actually worked.

As she moved for the couch she remembered that she had been about to get some juice from the fridge when her cell phone went off. “Maybe something stronger”, she thought. The kitchen was a mess. They had had guests over for dinner the night before and Julius had made her wait with the cleaning up. “Come on”, he had said, “it won’t get dirtier over night. Let’s go to bed.” So she had let him drag her into the bedroom with one last frustrated look at the dishes. Automatically, she started cleaning them now. Sinking into her thoughts, the well-known movements of scrubbing a plate almost felt like a ritual. Images popped up in her head. Images of a beautiful narrow old house she used to call home. Her sister in one of the upper windows yelling something down at her. That familiar mixture of smells from her mother’s washing powder and the crazy kitchen experiment her brother was currently conducting filled her nose. Faintly, she even detected some dog food in there. The dogs…she would see how big they had gotten. The last time she had been home Malu was still a puppy.

“I think that plate is clean now”, she suddenly heard form behind her. It was easy to startle her, all her friends teased her about it. The plate smashed into the sink but despite the noise of the impact it was unbroken. Turning, she softly said “ You scared me.” He came up and wrapped her in his arms. “Well you make it too easy”, he chuckled. “Good morning Lizzie” he said in his usual teasing tone, signalling how endearing he found her, despite all her faults, like loudly washing the dishes at 8 am. “Hey” she whispered and gave him a quick peck on the cheek already turning towards the sink again. “Something is wrong”, he stated matter-of-factly, not actually asking her but letting her know he was expecting an explanation. “All right, this is it”, she thought, “now I have to say it. If I let it into this place, my safe space, it will become real. Right now, it’s just in my head. I could wait a bit, enjoy this day.” They were supposed to meet Sophie and Michael in Jinja for lunch. They had found a fish restaurant with amazing views over Lake Victoria a few weeks ealier, on their way back from Nairobi. Would they still do that now? Shaking her head she became conscious of Julius’ expression. In those few moments she had been standing there, lost in her thoughts, he must have realised that something was really wrong. His dark brown eyes were full of anxiety. “Lizzie?”, he whispered. “My father is dead.”

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