ninetydaystogettingpublished's Blog

A gal with a lot of cool stories. Needs to get published. Like yesterday.

The fiancée

My fate was pretty much sealed on the first day we met. As I observed
her through the side view mirror of Derek’s car, something about her
stance, the way her head was cocked, (judgmentally, I thought), should
have forewarned me that I was forever doomed to be categorized as the
‘tiresome daughter-in-law’, to be tolerated at best. I had dressed
carefully for the occasion, in my sedate polka dot dress — small polka
dots, so as not to appear tacky — accessorized with a thin red belt.
“You’ll love my mother, she’s such a fashionista, just like you.” Derek had said eyes twinkling. So, dress to impress, I had surmised,
grateful for some cue on what to expect from ‘Derek’s Mother’. Ever
since I had teased him about ‘overcompensating’ because I was
‘African’ and ‘hardly the kind of girl that he was expected to bring home to Mother,’ he had become deliberately nonchalant about his mother’s preferences and what not, and had refused to offer even the tiniest tidbit to prepare me for meeting his mother. “Nothing to prepare for, darling – you are perfect!” I loved him so much- he was so earnest and so obviously trying (a little too hard in my opinion) not
to appear to ‘compensate’. It was endearing yet quite irritating as it
left me in the dark about the ‘little unimportant details’ which we women know always turn out to be oh-so-important. Like the fiasco with the flowers — I found out later that she thought all flowers were tacky and belonged at funerals, except for white lilies and the occasional orchid. Of course. And my polka dot ‘number’ as she referred to it, was not a hit — on it’s own it was “quite frumpy’ and the patent leather belt
was dismissed as “trying too hard’.
She liked me even less as the tedious lunch wore on. “Your father is a
King?” a slight smile hovered around those perfectly lined and filled
in lips. I remember thinking how impossibly thin her lips looked, like
licorice, thin, pliable and red. “Well… not really, he’s more like a
titled chief you see…” My voice trailed off under her amused stare.
“So you’re not a princess then are you?” Face serious, eyes mocking.
“No, he’s more like a political appointee…”
“Good — cause Derek and I are just common Polish immigrants, aren’t we
darling?”
Derek tried to convince me later that she was just kidding. yeah, in a very weird, passive aggressive, upperclass Caucasian way, I imagined.
“Loosen up honey,” he said kissing my bare shoulders and rubbing my
neck. It was the irony behind her words that stung. Marcia Gold who happened to be as blueblood as they came had married Derek’s father, Aaron Gold, whose grandfather had changed his last name from Regulski to the less ‘immigrant sounding’ Gold and had proceeded to make a fortune in the hotel business. The darned woman’s forebears had probably come over on The Mayflower and she dared insinuate that I, the real immigrant here, thankyouverymuch, might be trying to put on
airs!
Though it irked me to no end, I understood to a degree why she
detested me. I was the direct antithesis of what she would consider
suitable as a wife for her precious Derek. I was so far off the mark
infact, that in the beginning I was secretly convinced that Derek was
dating me just to rebel against his upbringing. I was black — African
to be exact — neither rich nor poor — my boring middleclass status must have been a huge disappointment. How then could she ‘sell’ me? I was hardly the exotic refugee and certainly not the silver spoon bred princess of Zamunda. Aside from being black, I didn’t possess any traits or qualities that could potentially set me apart as a topic for some intriguing discussion at their country club.
I was , in her words (teach me to eavesdrop) ‘ a complete and utter disaster’.
“Give her a chance, honey, she’ll come around.” Derek made puppy dog
eyes at me from across the room. “She’s from a different era, my
mother is.” More like another planet, I thought to myself wryly. I was
meeting Mrs. Gold — it was always Mrs. Gold, by the way, never Marcie or heaven forbid-
Mom — at the dreaded country club, or as they referred to it ‘The Enclave’, to discuss the engagement party that she had insisted on throwing us.
“All white of course,” she spoke in a firm yet unhurried tone.
“The flowers, or…”
“…everything, naturally.” This was not a response, she had simply gone on speaking, as she was not asking a question, she was stating. I felt again chastised, as if somehow I should have known that at engagement parties everything was always white — naturally.
“I just felt that I could incorporate some of my heritage into the
event, with maybe more vibrant colors and maybe the décor…” My words
sounded rushed and choked almost, resentment and emotions forming a large bubble in my throat. She glanced at me for the first time, eyebrows cocked, superior smile in place.
“What, kente cloth and ostrich feathers? Somehow I don’t see that
fitting in at the enclave…” She looked down at her notebook and
adjusted her glasses.
“So, it’s settled — white then…”, she continued, speed bump steam rolled over, crisis averted. I could feel the tears well up behind my contact lenses. I was thirteen again, scared yet defiant,
facing off against school bullies.
“Why don’t you like me, Marcie?” I knew it was a mistake even as the
words rolled off my tongue. I had just called her Marcie!
“Pardon me?” You can stop this before its too late, think of Derek, I counseled myself. Yet I knew I wouldn’t stop. Couldn’t.
“You’ve never liked me or my kind from the first day you met me.”
“Your kind?” her face still expressionless, “You mean…African?” Was she
mocking me again? It was hard to tell, I was emotional and she was a pro, well versed in the art of polite warfare.
“It just kills you that Derek loves me and will marry me regardless of
what you think.” The tears had started to fall, thick and heavy.
Without looking down, she handed me a crisp white handkerchief (monogrammed, of course) from
her crocodile skin purse, still studying me with a look I couldn’t
quite decipher.
“You don’t sound too sure about that.”
“I just want to be accepted for who I am.” I was blubbering now.
“Your mascara is running.”Okay, she was definitely toying with me now.
I charged on, pent up frustration finally let loose. “I know I never
will be what you want…”
“Which is?” Face still implacable, I swear the woman had chilled Perrier water running through her veins.
“A friggin’… WASP!” She actually smiled at that, a slight upturn of her lips.
“No… it is safe to say-that – you will never be.” I stopped short,
stung by the brevity of her response and matter of fact manner in
which she said it.
“I’m not your problem dear, your issue is you.” She broke off a piece
of her croissant and delicately buttered it. “You must learn to be you
inspite of me, or anyone else for that matter.” For a minute I thought
I had glimpsed some flicker of humanity under that veneer of icy
Caucasian wealth and status.
“So…white it is then.” My outburst had never happened.

Novel Excerpt

Another excerpt of my novel. This one focuses on the other sister, Mani, who lives in Nigeria, and is a single, successful career woman. The sisters share a father and the same journey of self-actualization and emotional fulfillment.

The Book of Mani
The phone rang just as she clicked ‘send’. “Great.” She muttered to herself, “What now?” as she leaned over to grab the phone and swivel over to her ‘phone spot’, a little nook with a long bay window that overlooked the lagoon.
“This is Mani.” There was no trace of any irritation in her voice, and her cryptic speech was softened by her low, smoky voice, efficient and professional, yet without being too ‘receptionist perky’.
“Of course, it’s Mani, I bloody called you, innit?” The voice on the other end was Peter’s, doing a mock cockney accent.
“Mr. Odukoya, wonderful to hear from you,” Mani said, a slight smile tugging at the corner of her lips, perfectly glossed in a becoming shade of coral.
“Yeah, it is, isn’t it? I’m a pretty wonderful fella, they tell me…”. His voice was teasing, a flirtatious phone caress- she felt herself getting warm as she crossed the room swiftly to shut the door. “How you dey?” She asked, reverting to the more familiar pidgin English.
“Like I no dey,” came his flippant reply. ” I’ve missed you, Mani,” he was serious now, the earnest Peter that she found so endearing, all traces of the privileged playboy gone. “It’s been ages…”.
She laughed out loud at that one, throwing her head back, enjoying the deliciousness of being desired by one you in turn, desired. “Yeah, I guess three days is ages in ‘Peterland’, huh? Mister ‘iwantwhatiwantwheniwantit’!” He laughed along with her. “You better believe it. Okay, so I’m hot for you, how we wan do am?”. His tone was appropriately jocular, as befitting a ‘friend’s’ husband, but it still couldn’t mask the sexual tension between them. I’m hot for you too,she thought to herself silently.
“Abeg oh – more like you’re hot for Toma oil.” She chided him in a ‘don’t go there, I’m friends with your heavily pregnant wife kinda way’. But she made sure the undertones of flirtation were not completely erased- partly because, well, that was their thing – harmless and light. Denoting it as more would make things unnecessarily awkward and truth be told, they both enjoyed their little banter. Besides, she ratherliked Peter. So sue me. She rolled her eyes at her inner moral compass.
“Well, that too. Now that you bring it up, where are we on that?” Peter was all business now, the positioning and branding of his oil servicing company, Toma oil, once again his primary focus.
Mani switched gears along with him and scooted back to her desk, fingers flying over the keys of her laptop. “You’ve got mail, Peter. I think you’ll be pleased.”
“That’s why I pay you the big bucks, Mani.” The affectionate caress in his voice was back. Mani suddenly remembered the half finished letter she was writing to her sister, Leslie.
“So, email me with your comments when you’ve had a look-see, okay? Gotta go, love.”
“I’ll call you tomorrow. Bye.” Click. She smiled at the mild irritation in his tone. He so hated being dismissed, and this was one of their another one of their little games, who would get off the phone first. Even if the person would find an excuse to call right back.
Yawning, she gave a faint sigh and shrugged her shoulders, while glancing at her slim Piaget watch in one fluid motion. Seven thirty p.m – no sense in trying to leave the island at this hour- traffic would be madness, best get back to letter writing. She gazed longingly at the laptop on her desk. It would be so much easier just to send an email, but she and Leslie had decided after a few attempts that ‘Lols’ and ‘OMGs’ just wouldn’t cut it. Just about everything got lost in translation, and absolutely nothing felt as good as getting that envelope every week or so and reading Leslie’s cursive writing, complete with the smiley faces and doodling that almost always accompanied her letters.

Dear Sister, (it had started as a joke, this ‘sister’ thing. With Mani telling Leslie how if they’d been raised in the same household she would have been calling her sister as a mark of respect, it had been a done deal for Leslie. “Sister it is.” she’d said.)
I must love you, I really must. I just cut short my conversation with the magnetic P.O to finish this letter.

There’s much, much more, but not today. So, do we like? 🙂

Novel excerpt

From my novel – it’s a heart warming story about sisters living two totally different lives, on different continents, conveyed through letters back and forth between them. I’m really proud of this one and I want to get it just right- its my baby. Since I hope to publish it soon, I’ll only post excerpts in no particular order. You probably won’t be able to follow the story from the excerpts, but you can still appreciate the writing, I hope.

The Book of Leslie
Dear Mani,
It is midnightish and the husband is snoring – rhythmic paced vibrations, my very own white noise that I find oddly comforting, allowing me the mind space to zone out and read, no savor, your letter.

It was waiting for me, your letter, like a prize- half propped on top of all the other stuff- glossy magazines, junk mail, bills and what not. In this day of email, bbms, Facebook and all the rest, a letter from across the ocean is just what the doctor orders for your ‘literary -head’ sister.

Omigosh, the hubby actually checked the mail! You laugh, but usually, that, along with taking out the recycling and wiping down the toilet seats, sprayed with his pee, mind, are things beyond his comprehension. But I promised in my last letter that I would not bore you with my ‘ancient marrieds’ gripes anymore. Besides, Steve and I have reached the point where we’ve finally worked out all the kinks, the sex is regular if not always earth shattering, communication is better and we’ve learned to scrupulously avoid doing the things that drive each other crazy.

It may seem dull to some (read: You, Mani- ha!), but it is an enduring one – and we are both in it for the long haul, I truly believe this.

But enough about my dreary existence -let’s talk about you, Miss thang! It amuses me that it amuses you just how much I live vicariously through your exploits, Mani! Oh, that I could walk a mile in your Manolos (Louboutins?) – how do you afford it all? Oh, I forgot, you are a kept woman now ( smiley face). No judgements here, Mani, you know I love you. And want to be you. (smiles). I may not agree with all your choices but I envy you for the freedom with which you choose. And choose you do, sister.
Where I spent months agonizing as to whether to get my MBA or pursue my writing, you left your great paying bank job and fearlessly pursued your business venture – “buying and selling” you called it, until you got anothergreat job in advertising. And I tell you, this new gig was made for you.
I can see you now, with your three or four cell phones going off, while you are on the computer, clad in some terribly expensive, impossibly chic outfit, that is probably totally inappropriate for work, but you make it work for you, somehow. I pity the unschooled lesser mortals that try to follow suit, ha!

The Trip

Writing class, o writing class, wherefore art thou writing class? I’d forgotten about this one and I must say, I quite enjoyed retreading it after all these years.

It was early evening as they both watched the sun creep beneath the
clouds, slowly, magnified it seemed by the large airport window. Lost
in their seperate thoughts, they held hands, unified in their
reluctance to have the conversation that they knew was inevitable.
“I will miss this,” he said, stooping to drop a kiss at the top of her
head. She smiled, a slight tug of her lips, and snuggled closer to
him. Me too, she thought, but said instead “Even with those beautiful
american girls?” Her tone sounded jealous and needy even to her own
ears. She winced inwardly as she anticipated his withdrawal.
“We’ve been over this a thousand times,” He spoke in that patient, yet
condescending manner that he knew she detested. “Mugo, don’t…it came
out wrong…” She plucked at his sleeve, avoiding the anger that she
knew would be in his eyes.” I just don’t want us to be like…” She
paused, as a sob caught in her throat.
“Like your ex-boyfiend.” He had firmly and cooly removed her hand from
his sleeve, facing her squarely now. “I don’t know what to say – what
do I have to do to show you that I am not Daniel? This is why I didn’t
want to accept any money from yu – in fact here…” He tried to place
the crisp dollars in her limp hands, turning away as they fell like
leaves to the floor.
She watched him walk away, her heart breaking with every step he took.
Mugo had walked further down to the almost empty airport seating
lounge, and was staring out the window, brooding. Through the corner
of her eye, she watched him retrace his steps, trailing his hand on
the side of the window, in a childlike manner, as he walked.
She knew what he would do before he reached her. Don’t pick it up, she
pleadede silently, please don’t, let this be different, lord. She
watched him stoop to one knee, showing a flash of his navy blue socks
as he nonchalantly picked up the money that lay splayed out, fanlike
on the filthy airport carpet. She couldn’t stop the tears as he came
towards her, the sickenening dejavu seeming more tangible. What was it
about her, she had often wondered that attracted these type of men?
She was nice to look at, smart, with a good head on her shoulders, but
it semed like every man she had ever dated took advantage of whatever
she had to offer at the time, leaving her emotionally and sometimes
financially drained. Like Dan. She remembered how sick to her stomach
she had been when she found out that there had never been any
scholarship, never been any plans to return. And here she was, five
years later, doing it all over again. “look honey,” He was being
indulgent she knew, “in about an hour, I’m going to get on that plane.
Let us enjoy this time and see it as a celebration of our future and
not this..”he gestured towards her face that was still damp with
tears.
“Give it back.” She had barely spoken above a whisper, but from his
expression, she knew he heard her. “My money, I want it back.” Her
voice was firm, made louder by her confidence in her decsion, abrupt
as it was. “You said yoiu never wanted it- you love me for me, right?”
She faced him squarely, watching him as he swallowed and nodded, yet
still remaining frozen, staring at her outstretched hand. She slid his
wallet from his coat pocket and deliberately counted out the thousand
dollars she had given him, ten crisp hundred dollar notes. Her smile
was genuine this time when she saw the slackened ‘O’ that was his
mouth. “Good bye and good luck, sweetie.” She paused for emphasis,
“I’ll wait for you.” She turned and walked away from him, confident
and sure footed, out of the dreary airport and into the warm night
air.

Untitled

This is a lil teaser 😉
The beginning and maybe end (or at least part) of a short story that I might be turning into a novel. Enjoy.

INTRO:
Our people say that when the sun shines and the heavens leak water, a
light persistent drizzle, simultaneously, a baby leopard somewhere has
been born. And many years ago, when the eclipse came, they said a
great man had died, he was one of the heavenly bodies, thus the sun
would not-nay, could not- in deference to the passing of so great a
man, shine its light. I often wondered but never spoke it out loud,
what happens when a great woman dies? There was no precedent of such a
foretelling as if the phrase itself were a contradiction in terms.

CONCLUSION
And that was how it came to pass, that the daughter of a fish seller,
of uncertain paternity, dined with kings from places far and wide, and
bathed with queens, fair and noble, but none as fair or as noble as
she.

The Dance

Another writing class one. I like it because this is me trying to be the great Chinua Achebe,(a girl can dream, right?) and also I skipped 3 posts, so I’m doing my best to make good.

She shook her waist to the beat, head down, waist beads jangling in
rythm with her feet as they navigated the intricate footwork. She knew
Emenike was watching but she studiously avoided his gaze. This dance
was for Dike and she was furious that she had not yet spotted him in
the throng of people around them. Everyone was out at the village
square this afternoon, as was customary, to watch the young maidens become women. After the ceremony, when they had danced and received the ‘blessing’ from the Chief they would slip away with their chosen
‘iko’, beneath trees and behind buildings, mother’s warning unheeded,
ready to satisfy and be satisfied in a way that only the young and
eager can.

“Uzo.” Her smile faded when she saw Emenike before her with the necklace of cowrie shells, ready to put them around her neck. She could not shun him, not in fornt of his father and her parents, everyone watching. She lowered her lashes and bent her head without breaking her rhythm, hips moving faster and faster, chest heaving,
longing for Dike. Where was he? She knew that she had not
misinterpreted his feelings towards her. Especially not after yesterday when he had grabbed her on her way to the stream with the other girls. They had run off mock screaming, like silly sheep, more from pleasure that one of their own had been ‘accosted’ than anything
else. She had feigned displeasure as he had ground against her, not speaking, not needing to. She had given in momentarily to the feeling, but had pushed him away, for decorums sake. Though she had dreamed of this day, she still knew how the game was played. “Tomorrow.” He had said, eyes following her as he ran after her friends, looking over her shoulder at him.

She fixed a brilliant smile on her face as she adjusted her beads and
looked around the crowd for him once more. She would dance and he
would come.

Novel excerpt

I am writing a novel- or several novels- that’s the whole point of this blog, to help me on my way. I’ll post excerpts in random order, depending on my mood. Yes, artistic temperament in full swing here. The woman in this piece is a housewife with a yen to write (original, I know) and this is her first writing class.

I walked into class today, my stomach in knots, erupting butterflies. White button down shirt, respectably dark denim. ‘Writer’ slash nerdy glasses carefully perched on top of head, securing my artfully messy bun.

New iPad ensconced in artdecoish, pucciesque sleeve( on sale at Marshall’s, thankyouverymuch)! Aspiring writers exterior- check. Writers inner confidence, however? Double uncheck.

What am I doing here? The class is such a writing class cliche I can barely stand it. Of course, I’m contributing majorly to the situation with my perfect ‘writers ensemble’, but come on.

I look around me and I’m convinced for a second that it is all staged. A deliberate prancing of wanna-be writers. There is a girl in a pink cheongsam and (I kid you not) slippers, your standard mix of writer ‘extra’ so and so’s- people of all sexes and ethnicities with dress, turbans, holey jeans, harem pants and tunics. Every iteration of bangle, bracelet, piercing and tattoo is represented here. Wanna be writers puke-soup.

Unnerved, I am just about to plot my exit, when I hear a deep chuckle right next to me. “Scary, isn’t it?” He is easy on the eyes, this one. “I mean, that we would have anything in common with anyone here.” Coming from anyone else it would’ve seemed familiar and a tad bit arrogant, but somehow when he said it, it worked.
“I’m Alex, by the way.” his eyes crinkled nicely as he extended his hand. My belly did a little flip flop. Whoa. Easy girl. “Les.” My voice sounded like it was coming from far away.

The naked wife

One of my random pieces, written originally as part of my novel, but I’ve decided to take my book in a different direction. I will say though, I am obsessed with writing about sisters and other family relationships. Hmm. 🙂

Panting heavily, mud, leaves and twigs plastered to my body like indecent, filthy, macramé art – I run through the forest, heart pounding, chest heaving, thighs slippery with my own juices, no longer contained by my underwear, my panty liner.

I pause and incline my ear to the sound of my own fear, my rapidly beating heart. Afraid to breathe, my body twisted at an insane angle, like some lithe, feral animal. Prey. I am being hunted – survival instinct in full gear, dignity a thing of the past, I clamber up a tree as quietly as I can, in the pitch black night- the bark, the ants, make short work of my delicate nether regions.
I do not budge for hours, having schooled myself to breathe in an irregular pattern, as if my pursuers are armed with breath-tracking devices. But it is the only thing I have control over, and it calms me in some strange, almost yogic way. Deep breaths, through my nostrils, small, silent releases through my mouth, two short puffs in quick succession. Over and over again, until I am lulled to sleep by my own breathy lullaby.

Crackle.I am awakened by a noise. An animal? A footstep, maybe?
I freeze- ready to kill or be killed.
“Sister.” It is a whisper, that of one who wishes to be heard by only the person she wishes to be heard by. Me. I wait, to make sure that she has not been followed by them. After a beat or two, I allow the relief to flood my body and my breathing to return to normal.
“Sister,” I respond, my voice is husky with emotion, lack of use, with thirst. Instantly, a light is shone on me. “She’s here,” sister says, her voice emotionless and flat, “I found her, she’s here.” Our eyes meet, identical almost, except one holds fear, the other extreme loathing. All at once, I am falling and falling and falling, a silent scream in my head, eyes shut. How could I have climbed that high? I do not remember. Ah, forgive me, sister…

I wake up in a cold sweat. Another night, another dream.

Hello world!

Hello. I am a storyteller and writer. You respond (in AA refrain) “Hello, storyteller!” I’ve been writing since I was maybe five or six. Some good, some bad, some cheesy, some sad. I lost my writing mojo a while back, but I am ready now. Is the world ready though? Ha!
So- I’m gonna write every day for ninety days. Some of it will be crap. A couple posts may be mediocre. A lot of it will be old stuff that I will work at fine tuning. But it will be my voice. And I will be honing my craft and getting better. From time to time, I will share excerpts from my novel in progress. A book will be birthed from this process- not sure how or when, but this is where you come in. Follow my blog. Comment on posts that resonate with you. Tell your friends.
‘Tweet’, ‘Like’, do the social media thingy. The journey has begun, people. The stories have been told and I cannot ‘untell’ them. Nor would I want to. Ninety days.