Tam was 14 years, and 11 months when she heard that strange voice. It was in a lonely park along Southsea, on that cold Thursday evening. That day had been one of the most awful days of her life… not because it was any different from all the other days when the famous twins in her class bullied her. It was in the who, not the what. Kelvin had been around that afternoon when Jack and Jill started on her at lunch, enjoying the sight and laughing– but she was too pained to decide whether he was laughing at her helplessness or their choice of words. They had pulled on her long black silk hair, which her sister Margaret did in a ponytail that morning, and promised she would do better if she had more inch in height than in the length of her hair. They were the same words they said everyday– no more, no less– but they carried a different meaning because he was there.
So, it was that different that carried her through the rest of the day and away from the path that led home, to the one that led there, the lonely old park. It started out as a soft whisper brushing across her ear lobes, the voice that startled her from her self- righteous indignation. Then it came on stronger, from everywhere– the autumn wind, the bare tree branches, the chirping birds. It was loud but barely audible, yet she knew it was saying something she needed to hear. She shook, but would not move– the fear that overtook her was one that was prepared to help her find that voice, or die searching. Or maybe it was fear of the future– the very immediate future which began with every next step she would take towards home. Towards Mo’. From the pile of littered leaves that left trails along the footpath, to the big supermarket that hosted a thousand pair of piercing eyes, to the T- junction just before the train station, and the final curve that led straight there. Straight into Mo’s trap of troubles. So she closed her eyes instead, welcoming the dreadful voice as it closed in on and about her. Tick Tock. Tick Tock. And her tears poured on, an ocean in itself, as she waited. For the hour of destruct.
It roared now, ripping her ears apart. It was angry. The voice was angry. It pushed against the wind, violently and tore up everything in its path but her. Break. Crash. Pour. Crush. The voice went on, mindless of the tension that welled up within her. “What about me! What about me!” she yelled. Unable to wait a second longer, craving the soothing arms of death or whatever else it had to offer. Now, the voice seemed to hush, as if now just aware of her existence. Everything became still, as perfect calm claimed the park for a flimsy second… and then, she felt it. Tam felt it, like a kiss of breath upon her being. The voice was before her now. And in one swift, blurring, ephemeral movement, the voice found and happened upon her with a heavy swat across the face.
Now she woke up. It was a dream. And she was very afraid. More afraid than she was in the dream, but afraid enough to want to run for her life if she could. She squinted through the space of light that peeped from the corners about the figure that stood before her in her hiding place that was her closet. It was Mo’.
“Tamara Anyanwu! So this is where Yaff be hiding! Ngwa, who spoil the TV in the parlour?”
That. That was the voice in her dream. Very crisp and clear now. It was the sound of doom.
© The Short Black Girl, 2015.