Welcome, dear friends, to Open Mic Friday!
Today I’m happy to introduce Ja’Nese Dixon, a fiction writer from Houston, Texas! She’ll introduce today’s guest post in her own words…
I love flash fiction. Short short stories that have an impact. The story I’m sharing today led to me writing my debut novel, Black Diamond. It is an excerpt for my upcoming book of short stories entitled Black Diamond: The Prequel (Summer 2011).
Fearless Goodbye, Ja’Nese Dixon
My life started in a small village in South Africa with my family.
I do not remember much about my life prior to becoming a member of the group. Shit, it might be intentional since having ties to people outside the group can be deadly. However, over the years I have noticed that I cannot recall much of my childhood, except that day.
I was sitting on the floor at my mother’s feet. She was working on some sort of handcraft at the time—she would go into town and sell her work at the market to earn money. While she worked, she would hum. Her voice would calm me, like a wild animal tamed by a tranquillizer gun.
That was a happy time for me.
I had two sisters, Layla and Mosa, and our father would leave for months at a time, trying to find construction work. I had to be about 13 years old. That evening, members of the Imperial Dynasty, a rebel group, invaded our small village. We were defenseless with the men off working. All we had was a village full of women and children left to care for the animals and land.
My mother was closest to the fire, using the flames as a source of light to work, as my sisters ran around, playing with their shadows. The warmth from the fire fought the impending night chill since the sun was setting rather quickly. I listened as her voice carried about the crackling of the fire, saying, “stop running, stop running” but the softness of her tone and the hint of laughter in her eyes only encouraged my sisters.
Who knew that life could change so drastically?
I lie on my mat doing nothing more than fiddling with the hem of my trousers, when a piercing scream rang through the air. The members of the group crept into our village. Silence fell over our hut. I sat up, meeting my mother’s eyes, as my sisters froze mid-skip. They exchanged a look of terror that still haunts my dreams.
My mother dropped everything, scurrying to her mat. She pulled out a spear and told us to bunker down in the far corner.
Her eyes went from cheerful play to torn and settled at determination.
She scanned the hut nervously from left to right and back again. She assessed us, as if she knew something that we did not. This all occurred in a matter of minutes, but it felt like hours. A chorus of anguished weeping and the sound of a mini-stampede snapped us into action.
“Mama, please! Please let me go. You stay. Papa said I am the man of the house,” I said as I looked into my mother’s eyes, praying she would let me go.
“No,” she said as she held me in an embrace so tight that it scared me. I pulled back and watched tears roll down her face. She yanked me back into a hug. She kissed me roughly and whispered, “Take care of your sisters until I return. And if you see someone, anyone, you fight for them.” I followed her eyes to my sisters. “Do you hear me Talib? You fight!”
I nodded, not trusting my voice. I watched as she embraced my sisters. I felt an immediate sense of loss. That emptiness is still a constant reminder of what I will never have again.
My mother silently cried as she held them in her arms. She whispered her goodbyes and they nodded in response, not fighting her impending departure.
My mother stepped back releasing them to wipe the trail of moisture from her face with both hands. She pushed us into the shadows of our hut. Layla and Mosa sat on the dirt floor, their arms wrapped around each other’s necks in a grip that would have been a cause for concern in any other situation. As stood motionless as their slow rock and silent cries enfolded into the darkness.
I turned away from them and stood to block their view of our doorway. My mother stomped out the fire that once illuminated an apparition of love and play with her bare feet. I shivered as the coldness of the night filled the room. I knew then, like I know now, that our lives would never be the same.
I watched as my mother glance back at me over her shoulder and mouthed, I love you, before she ran out into the piercing sea of women and children wails, and the thunderous roar of men’s voices.
I never saw my mother again.
Ja’Nese asks: What do you think about Talib? This story took place in his youth. Reading Black Diamond will show you how his story moves into the present day.
Ja’Nese Dixon writes fiction novels for readers yearning to escape and disappear into a good book. Ja’Nese’s debut novel, Black Diamond, was released in June 2010, and is now available for purchase via its publisher or at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and for the Kindle and Nook. She resides in Houston, Texas, with her husband and their two children. For more information visit janesedixon.com, or find her on Facebook (search for “JaNese Dixon”) and Twitter (@janesedixon).
Thank you so much for sharing, Ja’Nese! And now — the comments are open. Get to it!