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Spoils of the Death Road by Sefi Atta

Kai!” I exclaim and spit out the Bazooka Joe on the ground.


“What’s wrong?” he asks.


“I bit my tongue…”


“The pain will pass.”


“I can’t talk again.”


“Is it that bad?”


I cover my face with my hands. How can Farouk do this to me? He merely pretends to be a woman. He doesn’t know what it means to be one. He will never know what it means to be promised.


“My husband died.”


“Are you upset over that?”




“But you never knew him.”




At least I have respect for the dead. I get up and tighten my scarf. I can’t spend time with him today or ever.


“Where are you going?” he asks.


Where does he think? When certain friends go running off to capitals and certain sisters can’t keep their big mouths shut, and certain chaperones, who ought to know better, try and lead you astray, where else can I go?


“Home,” I say politely.


I don’t look left or right as I approach the road. Farouk has warned me several times not to do that.


“Be careful,” he calls out, “This is a dangerous curve we’re on and there’s no telling what can come out of nowhere and knock you over.”


Some people think he has the gift of prophecy. The way I see it, I’m no longer sure he does. The man does not even know what is happening now.








Per Contra Fiction - Fall 2006