Thursday, October 3, 2013
I can't stand short stories. I don't like reading them - and I especially don't like writing them. I don't like having to rush an ending, abruptly putting a stop to my writing that I usually just let roam free.
I am a novelist. I write without limitations - so when my last uni assignment reared its ugly head, I found myself in a bit of a pickle.
The task was to write a short story - based on anything... and no longer than three pages long. I like a challenge. It's a fulfilling feeling once it has been conquered. So I tried my best.
Well.... after repeatedly hitting my head against my keyboard for about three days - this is what I came up with.
PS: I would just like to mention here that I do not have a feel for short stories at all.... so I don't think this story is very good. I love the story-line but I would far prefer to write an entire novel based on this where I could explain the trials my main character goes through and describe the townships and poverty in more detail but unfortunately in this instance I couldn't.
PPS: The place that this little story is based in, is actually a beach about a thirty minute drive from where I live... which is such an incredible blessing! I have even attached a photograph of the place so that you can see the beauty of it for yourself. I actually had my 'prom' or as we call it here in South Africa, 'Matric Dance' in that big castle on the right!
Written by Jade Lee Wright
The blisters beneath Akilah’s dusty feet throbbed in agony as she traipsed down the winding road. She was on her way to the car park with her five younger siblings. It was a good three hour trek to get there from the township, but regardless they did this nearly every day of their lives.
The sun beat down onto them from the African sky, showing them no mercy. Thousands of tourists would drive through the township daily to get to the white sandy shores of Noetzi Beach. It was a place adorned with neglected castles perched up on the hill tops; castles that were slowly crumbling down. Akilah could never understand why no one ever restored these majestic buildings to their former glory.
Every morning, as the big mansions came into view along her walk, Akilah promised herself that one day she would live in one of them. It was a goal she could never seem to let go of, despite all of her family and friends constant mocking.
Noetzi Beach was an absolute tourist gold-mine and the tips she made by watching over the cars was worth the walk. Sometimes, if she was lucky, the tourists would offer her the leftovers from their extravagant picnics. When that happened, it was like Christmas. Akilah would divide the bits of bread between her three brothers and two sisters, being sure to wrap some up for supper later that night.
Today had started out just like any other day. Cars flew past them; flicking dirt and dust into their faces which made them cough and splutter miserably. Half way down, Akilah’s youngest sister started to whimper.
“Akilah, my feet hurt!” she protested. Akilah sighed, hoisting her little sister up onto her shoulders. The extra weight put strain onto her aching feet, making her wince slightly, but she soon got used to it.
Throughout the morning they earned R30.00 which was good going for the ten cars that came and went. The afternoon heat brought along even more tourists, leaving Akilah with a feeling that this was definitely going to be a good day.
As the sun slowly started to dip, Akilah and her siblings counted up their makings for the day. The few remaining tourists wouldn’t be long now. Once the sun was gone it got cold fairly quickly at Noetzi Beach.
“Have you heard of CharlizeTheron?” an overfriendly American man asked inquisitively after Akilah had helped him to reverse. She shook her head and watched the mixture of disbelief and disappointment flood over him.
“Have you…” he thought about the choice of his next words carefully before continuing, “ever watched television?” Another shake of the head left him dizzy and unsure of how to move forward.
“Look, clearly you need a lot of attention to get established, but your face!” he boomed proudly.
“You could be the next big thing! And what a story! From rags to royalty – literally! I’ll make you famous!” With that, he was punching digits into his ginormous BlackBerry and making calls.
Akilah felt numb. Half of what he had said had made no sense to her.
“I don’t understand what this will mean for me?” she finally croaked.
“It means,” the man said, pocketing his phone, “that we are going to take you away from this lifestyle.” He unsubtly looked her up and down and she knew exactly what he was referring to.
“If you choose to accept my offer, you can come with me to America. I will invest so much into you because I’ve never been so sure about something. You, Akilah, are the perfect face for my agency! We will teach you to walk and talk like a model. House you, clothe you; train you to be a star!” he said this last word with so much enthusiasm, Akilah was sure he was going to start hyperventilating.
“What about my family?” Akilah asked, seemingly unfazed. To this, he was stumped. He offered Akilah a lift back up to the township and requested that she think about his offer. He introduced himself as Kurtis, saying quite simply, “It’s one thing to fly you over to America and change your life, but I cannot be responsible for your entire family. The ball is in your court.”
He told her to meet him back at the parking lot at lunch-time the following day, with her mind made up. Akilah trudged back to her shack to a boisterous bunch of kids all demanding supper. She unravelled the bread she’d kept safely tucked away and split it between them.
The eldest was Velaphi, Akilah’s brother of fifteen. She watched him tear apart the bread with his stained teeth, finding herself wonder what it would be like if he was in charge. It riddled her with guilt.
After the ravenous pack had devoured their dry meal, she called a family meeting. The sisters all protested. The elders found it unfair. Velaphi looked petrified but sat in silence as he waited to be told that he would be left in charge. Akilah commended him for how well he took the news. She made sure they knew that she was doing this for all the right reasons. Every word she told them was true. Her goal was to earn big money, to amounts she had never dreamed about holding in her own two hands, bringing it back for them. She wanted to be able to afford a house that didn’t flood whenever the rain fell, that didn’t have new cracks every day that let in the breeze; a house that would keep them all healthy.
12 Years Later
They say they ‘found’ her, found her like they found Charlize Theron. Akilah hated hearing that comparison because in all fairness, their circumstances couldn’t have been more different.
Akilah rested her head back on the plane and watching the blanket of cloud around her float peacefully in mid-air. This would be her third visit home this year, and it was only May. She sucked in a grateful breath of spicy African air and caught a taxi to Noetzi. She waved pleasantly to the small children who ran, screaming happily, alongside the car until their little legs eventually tired. She sighed sadly as she passed the goats and cattle on the roadside, the falling apart shacks and the skinny township dogs wondering aimlessly around.
At 29, Akilah now had more than she had ever thought possible. She smiled blissfully as she took the keys to her three-story castle from her handbag, watching her family all venture into the front yard to greet her.
This was when she realized for the third time this year, that all of her dreams had come true.
As I mentioned... I hate abrupt endings but when you only have three pages to play around with it has to be so basic. You can't play around with descriptions or make it truly beautiful... although, I suppose you can actually. That's one of the reasons I am taking this course, to learn how.
So this was my first attempt.
I emailed it off to the university today and will hear back from them with feedback and my mark in a few days.
I cannot wait to receive some constructive criticism and to hopefully learn the art behind short story telling. After-all... a true writer sometimes has to do things that he / she doesn't like. It's the harsh reality of the job that we love. And in the end... it only helps us grow.
Hope you liked it somewhat!!!