Salim…in Chad


After watching the film, I felt inspired…remembering the years I lived in Africa and of the children I’d met in the villages.

In the third world, things aren’t taken for granted.  What seems like a small thing to us, can be very important to a child who has nothing but the clothes on his back.  Salim, was 10 years old. He wanted to go to the village school but needed some money to buy a notebook and pencil in order to attend classes.  His family didn’t have the money.

When you drive through a village in Chad, children run out into the streets shouting: “lalay lalay.” and if you happen to stop in one of those villages you very often find yourself surrounded by young people, hands out, asking for baksheesh … most of the visitors never ask why those children are begging for a few coins.  The westerners just feel impatient and put upon, you might even hear someone comment on the lack of dignity that is part and parcel of the African people.

There is no electricity in the villages, no running water, no supermarkets or libraries.  The schools are a place under a tree where an itinerant teachers holds impromptu classes when he or she arrives in the village.  Often a government worker, the teacher is hosted by the most prominent person of the village.  If a child wants to attend class that child must have a notebook and a pencil or pen.  Only those children who are able to come up with the money for their school supplies will be educated.  The government can’t be expected to furnish those supplies, there are too many other priorities…and you don’t want to know what those priorities are.  Yet, at least, there has been some planning made for the future generations.

“Lalay lalay!” shouted Salim with his friends as the car came into his village.  The car stopped and a white woman with her African driver got out of the car.  The children ignored the driver, but surrounded the woman.  She dipped into her purse and pulled out a handful of coins which she flung into the air.  The children scrambled for the money as she walked, laughing, to the house of the village’s government representative.

The next day, under the tree, stood the white woman.  She was a Peace Corps volunteer and was going to set up school.  She had a box beside her, and inside the box were books, notebooks and pencils.  Nearby, some men were building a small mud-bricked hut for her, where she would live and work.

Salim looked at the notebook and pencil he’d bought with his baksheesh, and thought he could have bought something else with the money.  But he was happy.

Through the clarity of retrospect, the obvious conclusion surfaced: things don’t always turn out as planned.

@)—>—>—

This story is a combination of reality and fiction.  There are many Salims in the third world, far less volunteers who come to teach in the villages now days, in fact I’m not even sure if the Peace Corps still exists.  Back in the 70s they were one of the few whites who were roaming Africa without a church or big company behind them.

True, they had the United States behind them, but they never taught propaganda and there were no strings attached to the work they did in the villages…no one required them to become Americans in order to take part in classes or profit from the hand dug wells they dug or any of the other little projects they put together.  Most of these people were under 30.  They lived a little better than the local people, but not like they would have at home.

Are there any ex-Peace Corps workers reading?  If so, let me say, thanks guys and gals for your time out in the bush!

———————-

Written for Speakeasy 154

OBJECTively Speaking – The Computer

 

Sekhmet is in the lower right hand corner...very discreet, along with some of her periphericals...

The Computer

“Damn, damn, damn!  What ever is the matter with you, you stupid idiotic, computer!” James shouted at the top of his lungs.  He began to beat on his keyboard, he threw his cordless mouse across the room.  He did this at least once a day, he was not what you’d call a patient person.

“Well, if you really must know, it’s you who is stupid!” said a calm feminine voice.

James looked around.  Who’d spoken? he asked himself.  There was no one in the room.

“It’s me James, your computer.  I really have to say, I’m pretty tired of being blamed for all those stupid typos that you make.  And what about the times you give me commands that are just soooooo contradictory?  But do you sit back and think that perhaps you’re to blame for all the hassle?  Oh no, Mr. Human-being.  I should just shut down and let you get on doing things by yourself!” The voice was angry, and not a little hurt.

James had the strangest sensation…no, he thought to himself, it couldn’t be the computer.

“Ok, who’s the smart-ass?” he looked behind the kitchen door, on the terrace, in the bathroom and bedroom, but there was nobody there!

“Well, Sherlock, are you convinced?” said the computer.

He just stood there, staring, feeling a scared sort of haunted feeling in his stomach.

Across the street, Marian, his girl-friend was giggling.  Joseph and Marian were sitting in Joseph’s car.  They had hacked James’ computer and had been waiting for one of his tirades.  Marian spoke to him through a special Skype-like program, which James didn’t know had been installed on his computer!

All of a sudden, they heard a blood curdling scream! Then watched as James ran down his front steps and off down the sidewalk.  Marian and Joseph looked at each other.

“Do you think we exaggerated?” Marian asked.

The computer replied, “No, he’ll be fine.”

Written for Lilith’s Short Story Prompts

Speakeasy #141: The Christmas Play

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The Christmas Play

Everything was ready.  She’d been working on the project for three months.

The actors knew their parts, the costumes were ready.  The music had been chosen carefully, now, it was just a matter of sitting back and watching the play.

Her son smiled at her: “A Christmas Carol?  You know the only reason I watch that is because you’re obsessed with it!”

“Yeah, but this one’s different, this one I’ve put on…you’ll like it!”

The snow began to fall on the evening of the 22nd…the play was to open on the 23rd.

The gentle flurry turned into a blizzard.

The city was completely covered in snow in a matter of hours.  The power went down at dawn.

At 5:00 she somehow reached the theater, no one was there. No one came.

Her son drove up in his car.

“I thought I’d find you here.”
“Yeah…well, hope is always the last to die.”

“Let’s go get some hot chocolate…maybe you can open tomorrow night.”

“No…The Nutcracker is scheduled.” She sighed.  He gave her a hug and they both got into their cars heading for home…

There was nothing left for her to do but walk away.

———————————————————————————————————————————-

Here are the rules:

  • Your post must be dated December 22, 2013, or later.
  • Submissions must be 750 words or fewer.
  • Submissions must be fiction or poetry.
  • Your piece must include the following sentence as the LAST line: “There was nothing left for her to do but walk away.”
  • The Speakeasy is for submissions written specifically for the grid. Please don’t submit an entry if you intend to showcase it to another blog link-up. Such posts are deleted without notice.
  • Please don’t post long explanations before your post. We want your writing to be the star of the show. If you need to clarify anything, feel free to do so at the end.
  • The badge for your speakeasy #141 post is found in the sidebar. Add the code to the html view of your post before publishing.

Don’t forget to come back on Tuesday and add your link to the Inlinkz grid!

Short Fiction: The Naughty Elves

Short Fiction

The Naughty Elves

 Isabella by John Everett Millais

Isabella by John Everett Millais

“I found the tracks in the deep snow between the trees.” Jonathan said breathlessly to the sherif….That’s how the post should have begun…unfortunately some quirk in my brain had it begin:

“Pass the basil would you?”  or was it in my mind?

The other morning I was sitting in the Akashic library with Sekhmet and Bastet having a meeting to see which prompts we’d be working on this week.  Sekhmet had asked Santa’s elves to run off a few copies of the various weekly prompts. We were shuffling through them trying to decide what to write and photograph when Sekhmet shouted to get our attention.

“Ah…this one is just great!”  said Sekhmet enthusiastically. “I do so love this traditional Genoese dish!”

Sekhmet usually goes for a more action packed sort of adventure…if we do epic or wax indignant, you can be sure it’s a Sekhmet inspiration.  So I was delighted to see her interested in something as tame as “Pesto Alla Genovese”.   Since they’d pulled me out of bed at the unholy hour of 3:00 am, I just took Sekhmet’s word that indeed this post was to begin: “Pass the Basil would you?” and jotted off a sort of recipe post.

We did hear the elves tittering in the back of the reading room, but then elves are always tittering this time of year, and tippling too!   It was only after I’d actually posted the story, linked to the linky thingy and had gone on to do a couple of haiku, that we learned something was askew! Indeed, ’twas thanks to one of our visitors to our blog, a semi-goddess from Texas, Lilith Colbert who’d written a story for the same prompt for her  “5 Degrees of Inspiration” who warned us!

“Loverly write, but the sentence is wrong….

*Your piece must include the following sentence as the FIRST line: “I found the tracks in the deep snow between the trees.”*

don’t smite me!!”

With an almighty scream Sekhmet got my attention! I went to the second post indicated to me by dear Lilith and saw the true prompt!  I pulled the post immediately, that is, I changed the title and took it off the linky thingy and removed the Speakeasy badge, tags etc, then put Speakeasy on hold…that is until now.

Got to watch out for those silly Christmas Elves people…especially at this time of the year when Loki is full of Christmas cheer…you do know that he and elves often hangout together at the pub right and that they can be just a naughty as he?

A gif from Blu!

A gif from Blu! Click to see the action!

For Speakeasy #140!

This time with everything I’m at a 446 word count 😉

Short Story: Pass the Basil would you?

 Isabella by John Everett Millais

Isabella by John Everett Millais

Pass the basil, would you?” Giovanni asked as he continued to smash away with his pestle and mortar, “and a few more pine nuts too.”

I’d met Giovanni back in 2000 on the train we commuted on together.  We became good friends and eventually began to exchange recipes every Saturday evening either at my place or his.   He originally came from Genoa and was an expert traditional cook.  I too knew how to make pesto, but the way he did it, no kitchen robot, was just something completely heavenly.  Because he cared for me, he even made the version of pesto without garlic…I’m allergic to the stuff!

I’d prepared my lemon ricotta cake, a recipe I’d created a few years back and potato gnocchi to go with the pesto but we’d also boil up some spaghetti because, yes spaghetti is traditional.  We’d decided to just dine with the two first courses and dessert with a crisp green salad to accompany the pastas.

We called the rest of our families to get the table set, opened a bottle of wine and prepared the salad.  Finally we set down to dinner at 7:30.

“Giovanni! You’ve done it again!” I cried as I put the first forkful of pasta into my mouth. Everyone else sighed in ecstatic agreement.

“Thank you dear Isabel!” he replied, “would you pass me the basil pot?”

———————————————————————————————————————————-

Word count: 228

Pesto alla genovese:

We Drink Inspiration – 24 Hours: The Dream

The Dream

The angel came to visit Marion in her dreams.  Black wings and all…death dressed in a beautiful shimmering black robe, and as I said with black wings too.

“Marion!  I’ve come to inform you, that today will be your last day on Earth.  You’ve 24 hours to make peace with the world, then you will be coming away with me!”

She awoke with a start.  Marion was a prolific dreamer.  One of those persons who remembers just about everything they dream and she used them to write her poetry and stories.

The first thing she did that day, was in fact write a poem about her experience.

black wings and silk gown
she came to visit last night
angel of my death

She also wrote a short story, than she called her son and they talked for an hour, and she said, “just in case, this is my Blog’s password, put my poems and stories in order and publish them if you find something worthwhile”.

The Skype lit up with it bi bo bi…and so she talked to her Sister who happened to be at her Mom’s house.  They had a good laugh about the dream and talked about her trip home for spring.

Her two older sons delighted her too with an early call.  They were usually only available on the week ends.  She also talked to her grandkids who were home for Christmas break.

She went for a walk and stopped by her favorite café where she met up with a couple of her friends who’d stopped by fortuitously.  She then took out her camera and took some photos that she thought might go nicely for a couple of photo challenges she wanted to participate in.

When she got home, it was still pretty early in the day.  So she elaborated the photos then posted them.

Her husband got up around 11:00 that morning, later than usual.  They had hot brioche and cappuccino for breakfast and then decided to go for a drive down to the lake to take advantage of the bright sunny day.  It was interesting to see all those people she’d missed seeing over the past few months since she’d gone into retirement.

They had an early lunch at their favorite Chinese restaurant.  Then coffee at their favorite café.  The sun of course had gone down, and a chill set in, so they went home.

Their good friends John and Carol dropped by.  Marion made some pop corn and they pulled out a bottle of Chardonnay.  Then they decided to watch “Midnight in Paris” by Woody Allen.  She noticed that it had begun to snow.  She loved to look at the snow fall.

At midnight their friends went home and they went to bed, and made love.

Marion woke up with a start!  What a dream!

The angel of death smiled at her: “No Marion, not this time.  Did you enjoy your last 24 hours on Earth?”

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WDBWP Wednesday Story Prompt: if you had just 24 hours left….I’ve also chosen to use Chèvrefeuille’s gift by Adrian Von Ziegler to inspire this piece.

At the Speakeasy: A Cracked Bowl

make-up setThe Beardsley Bowl

The bowl lay overturned on the floor, a rough crack running down one side.

“Oh shit, shit, shit!” she cried looking down at her favorite Beardsley bowl. She’d put it on the edge of her glass table and choked it full of makeup to photograph the result for a publicity contest she hoped to win.  Then, the phone rang.

She always wears a flapping poncho in the winter and as she’d grabbed for the phone nearby, the poncho hit the bowl which fell with a crash.

The phone had stopped ringing but the memories started humming.

1982, Rome Italy. She passed by a lovely ceramics shop every morning going to work which was going out of business.  In the window, was a beautiful black and white Beardsley bowl.  She’d coveted it for weeks, but it was still just too expensive even if it was down 80%.

She and James sat in a café near the shop, sipping cappuccino when all of a sudden James jumped up.

“Wait here a minute will you?” he’d said and left the café.

20 minutes later, he walked back into the café with a colorfully wrapped box.

“Here…an early Christmas present!” he’d said.

She’d opened the box and there it was the bowl she’d been wanting so bad for so long.

The years had passed and so had their romance.  Each had gone their separate ways, the only thing that had remained was the bowl. She looked at it and sighed.  The crack ran right through the design completely ruining the bowl.  Somehow it seemed right though.  She picked everything up and put the bowl in the trash bin.

beardsley_450

from lines and colors

The Speakeasy writes:

Although we might be little loose with the lipstick stains, we do enforce the rules:

  • Your post must be dated December 1, 2013, or later
  • Submissions must be 750 words or fewer
  • Submissions must be fiction or poetry
  • Your piece must include the following sentence as your FIRST line: “The bowl lay overturned on the floor, a rough crack running down one side.
  • The speakeasy is designed for submissions written specifically for the grid. Please do not submit an entry if you intend to showcase it to another blog link-up. Such posts are deleted without notice, and we’ll toss you faster than a tube of dried-out mascara.
  • Please don’t post explanations before your post. We want your writing to be the star of the show. If you need to clarify anything, feel free to do so at the end.
  • The badge for your speakeasy #138 post is found in the sidebar. Add the code to the html view of your post before publishing.

Speakeasy Prompt: 137 Fiction – Thanksgiving

Speakeasy has come up with a new prompt, a video and use this line as the last line of the piece: “From that day forward, every time I drove past that street corner, I thought of her.”

Thanksgiving

That year I was hitch-hiking my way through the West.  I really didn’t have a specific goal in mind, the idea was to see what my country really looked like before I had to “grow-up” and take on life’s responsibilities.

I was somewhere in Washington state, but I couldn’t have told you where for love or money.  My last driver was a little old farmer and he’d taken me from the Oregon state line to a place near his home in Washington.  That’s all I knew.  It was cold, and the sun was beginning to set, it was a Wednesday too, but not just any Wednesday, the next day would be Thanksgiving. I guessed to myself that I’d be missing out on that particular feast this year.

I put my thumb out when I saw an old pick-up coming my way, and it immediately stopped.  A lady rolled down the window and shouted:

“Where you going?”

“Just anywhere will do, if your going towards Seattle.”  I replied.

“Ok, jump in then!”

She had some country music blasting from the CD player and she sang along with the song as she drove.  When it ended, she turned the player off.

“What are you doing hitching at this time of day.  Shouldn’t you be with family? Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving you know!?”

“Well, I’m on the last legs of my “discovering” America, before I go home which will be just as soon as I make it to Seattle.”

“So, you won’t be able to celebrate Thanksgiving, right?”

“Nope, I’ll have to miss it this year.”

“Not if you come home with me you won’t.  We ain’t got much, but there’s always a place for a little girl like you!”

I thought about it for a moment and accepted.

When we got to her house, a big sheep dog ran to the car barking it’s head off, and three children ran out the door.

“What’s your name?” the lady asked me.

“Mary Ellen, and you?”

“Gloria…that’s Shep and the kids are James, Michael and Julia.”

We walked into the house.  Had dinner, played Risiko with the kids, and then Gloria at about 10:00 said: “Everybody to bed!  We’ve got a big day ahead of us tomorrow.!

The next morning was spent making pies, bread, stuffing a turkey and peeling potatoes, all in an atmosphere of chatter and fun.  The boys began to set the table with Julia supervising.  The door bell rang at about 2:00 and people started to arrived.  I think half of the homeless of Washington must have found Gloria’s house that day.

We had a wonderful feast.  Singing and playing music was the high-light of the evening.  Seemed like everyone could play some instrument, even if only a comb and wax paper.It was about 9:00 when everyone started to leave.  Gloria sent them off with a packet of turkey sandwiches and pumpkin pie.  I don’t think I’ve ever celebrated another Thanksgiving where I could really feel like there was a meaning beyond stuffing my face before or since.

The next morning, Gloria piled the kids, the dog and myself into a battered station wagon that sat in her garage beside her old pick-up truck.  She took me all the way to the Sea-Tac airport.

“I’ve got some family here to greet, so I’ll just leave you here.  You have a nice trip home and let us hear from you, ok?” she said, then drove off, country music began to blare out of the open window, then she was gone.

I lived near a park, in the mid-west for years. It was on the corner of Washington street and Morning Glory lane.  From that day forward, every time I drove past that street corner, I thought of her.

@)—>—>—

This is also for: NaBloPoMo and PoBlaNo Day 27!

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Shailaja
Trina

Ghost Town

The October 27th prompt at the Community Storyboard this week is  ghosts!  I love ghosts…so here we go!

ghost-houjse

Courtesy of The Community Storyboard

James parked his car near the old hotel at the center of the ghost town.  The place felt the years of abandonment, the buildings were as grey as the day.

He’d heard about the town from an old friend, who knowing his passion for photographing old buildings, had given him a map so he could to find it.

“You won’t find this place on your navigator.  No one goes there anymore. It’s out in the middle of a wooded area, up the mountain road off from Gainesville.”

“And how did you come to know about it?” James asked.

“My great-grandparents used to live there back at the beginning of the last century.”

‘The place certainly looks spooky enough!’ James thought as he pulled out his camera and took his first shots.

He walked up the hotel’s steps, they creaked properly.  He tried the door and found that it was open so went in.  Cobwebs and dust were everywhere, but strangely enough, the place was still fully furnished and had a lived in air about it.   Funny it hadn’t occurred to him to ask his friend about a little history of the place. He made a mental note to do so once home.

The staircase seemed to rise up forever, but then he realized that at the top of the stairs, there was a full length mirror.  After taking more shots of the entrance way, then the dining-room and library, he decided to go up the stairs.  As he approached them, a girl came through the door.

“Oh hi!” he said surprised.

“Hi, when did you pull in?” she asked.

“Just a couple of hours ago.”

“And will you be staying long?”

“Uhm, I don’t think so, but who are you, they told me no one lives here.”

“Oh,  there are quite a few of us.” she’d answered without giving any information about herself he noticed.  “By the way, I wouldn’t go up those stairs if I were you.  Dangerous you know.  Anyway, I just saw your car and thought I’d see who you were.  I’ve got to go now though.”  Before he could say anything more, she walked out the door.

He pondered for a couple of minutes about the girl’s warning and then decided that, if he walked carefully he’d probably avoid any weak boards or falling planks; the stairs probably weren’t that dangerous.

He walked up the stairs backwards, wanting to get a few shots of the entrance way at different heights as he went up the stairs…and went up the stairs some more.

Suddenly, he realized that there were just too many stairs.  He’d been dstracted and had just kept climbing and climbing.  He turned around and saw that there were still more stairs.  Looking down he saw that they weren’t more than 20 or so steps.  He should have been on the landing and have come up against the mirror by now but there was still a whole flight of stairs to climb!

A chill ran down his spine.  He decided to retreat but found that he couldn’t, there was an invisible barrier that blocked him, he could only go up…so, he went up the stairs…

The girl sat on the porch steps, a young boy came up to her.

“Did you warn him?”

“Yep. But he went up the stairs anyway.”

They both shimmered as they became part of the air.

Wednesday Short Story Prompt #20 – As Luck Would Have It

At We Drink Because We’re Poets, Lilith Colbert has given us this prompt:

“This week, you must write a tale where the good guy doesn’t win, where his (or her) streak of luck runs dry as the Mojave, either to tragic or comedic ends.”

The last time I did this, a general outcry rocked my blog.!  At least now I can have the good guy lose and no one will protest…right?

@)—>—>—

© Georgia S. Koch

© Georgia S. Koch

Friday the 13th

“There’s no way I’m going to the market today, it’s Friday the 13th!” Mariel wailed once again.

“Oh come on you’re kidding me, you’re being stupid!  Friday the 13th is just like any other Friday!” Giacomo replied exasperated.

They’d been arguing back and forth since Giacomo had proposed to go to the Friday market in the village where they were vacationing.  He wanted to buy some gifts to take home to his sister’s kids, besides he loved open air markets.

“Well I’m not stopping you, I’m just not going!”

“Have it your way!” he said as he picked up his car keys and went out the door.

He drove down the narrow road that would take him to the parking area near where the market was being held, at that moment a guy on a bike came down the road right at him in the opposite direction, he swerved without thinking to avoid him and broke his left-wing mirror.  “Shit! Damned cyclists!” he muttered knowing that that would cost him a pretty penny when he turned in the rental car. The cyclist just made a rude gesture with his hand and kept on pumping.

He parked and began to walk the 300 meters to the market.  The walk-way was already filled with people happily jostling their way along to the town center.  It was a bright sunny day, with very few clouds.  He began to weave his way through the stalls, but didn’t see anything that he though his nieces or nephew would enjoy.  Suddenly, it began to rain.  Everyone went for shelter under a shop’s awning, Giacomo with them.

“I can’t believe it, it’s sunny and raining and I feel like a bloody sardine.” he thought to himself wondering when the rain would stop.

The rain finally did stop about ten minutes later.  Giacomo went into a caffè and ordered a cappuccino and brioche.  He picked up the paper that the caffè kept on hand for their customers and began to read the headlines.  As the waitress arrived with his order, she tripped pouring the coffee down his arm and leg.

“Shit!” he exclaimed as the coffee burnt him.

“I’m so sorry sir!  She went to grab some paper towels from behind the counter and helped him clean up the worst of the damage done to his shirt and shorts.  He then went into the bathroom to finish cleaning himself properly.

“I really am sorry sir, this one’s on us,”  She said as she served him another cappuccino with his brioche, “including the brioche.”

Giacomo was beginning to think there was something in the Friday the 13th myth, but then again, he did get a free cappuccino and brioche, he thought.  Then thought again as he looked at his reddened skin.  He finished his snack and went back out into the street, thinking maybe he’d try his luck again at some stalls further up the road.

He finally found some lovely silk scarves that he thought would make a nice gift for his eldest niece.  As he began to search his pockets to pay for the gift, he discovered that he no longer had his wallet.  He thought it had probably been stolen either along the crowded sidewalk or when he was under the awning when it had rained.

He’d no alternative but to return to the car and then the hotel without buying anything.  He was obviously in a bad mood by now.  Without realizing it, he’d been going at least 20 miles an hour over the speed limit.

The carabinieri pulled Giacomo over, but as he didn’t have his driver’s license with him, he not only got a ticket for speeding but also for driving without a license as well as driving with a broken wing mirror.  He had to wait as the police checked the car registration with the rental agency to ascertain that he hadn’t stolen the vehicle.  They also invited him to come to the police station to report the theft of his wallet, saying he should have done that in the first place instead of trying to drive a car illegally.  At the police station and reported the theft of his wallet as well as his driver’s license and credit cards.  This took him about an hour.

He finally got back to his hotel, frazzled by the terrible morning he’d passed.  Walking up the stairs he tripped as he reached his landing hurting is ankle.  So, he limped to his room and went in.  Mariel was sitting at the desk, using her laptop.

“Oh, hi dear.  I was just reading up on Friday the 13th, you know you were so right!  It’s just a silly superstition.  Let’s go swimming this afternoon after lunch.  Oh by the way, you forgot your wallet when you went out this morning.”

“I’m not moving from this room again today!” he said as he dropped himself on the bed, “Superstition or not, it’s Friday the 13th and that means bad luck to me!”  Then he began to tell her of his morning.