The Race To The Finish Line
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A 400-word story on “SURVIVAL”
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The clouds darkened, the trees danced to the rhythm of the wind as it threatened to rain. I was tired of waiting for my mother and sister as they usually swam after offloading the fishes caught during fishing, they always swam close to the riverbank but today they were really excited so they decided to cross to the mangroves. I waited for what seemed like hours but they didn’t return, it started drizzling. I could not swim but I was troubled, I had to search for them so I went inside the freezing cold water.
My eyes fluttered open and I winced as I took in my surrounding.
“This one is alive” the man close to me shouted and everyone ran towards me. I saw the lifeless bodies of my only family. That sight always haunted me.
Few years after the death of my mom and sister, I had already lived with four relatives. They always maltreated me but I never rebelled. Last week my aunt called me to her room, she made sexual advances at me which I refused and earned the beating of my life, she threw me out of the house.
I wandered like a vagabond which I was for hours until I found a place I could lay my head. I did not need malicious relatives, I was determined to be better. I hawked different merchandise, I mowed lawns, washed cars and even babysat once.
I developed tremor from handling heavy objects, my feet were sore from running around, my eyes were swollen from insomnia. Dying was not an option, it was too easy.
Life in the city of Port Harcourt was difficult but I never gave up. Even if it meant working for eighteen hours daily, I would.
And again the clouds were dark, the trees danced to the rhythm of the wind, papers and dirt flew and scattered everywhere.
This time I have consciously blocked the rain, all I saw was what I wanted to see, calm after the storm. I saw a silver lining.
I am Obele, a teenage boy from the South. I believe the struggle is worth it because I’m on my way to better days.
Quarter Minutes To Dying…
I am the clown in our Orphanage, the go-to girl. Every other child in the home wants to be like me. My life to them is perfect.
But it’s all a fascade. If only they knew the demons I constantly wrestled.
My heart is always heavy and my world, always crashing. Nothing works for me, and the more I look, the less I see.
I smile on the surface but cry myself to sleep. Don’t blame me, you only know half of my story.
‘Dadem… Your dad just had an accident!’
That was the beginning of my sorrows… My dad didn’t die alone, he took with him, my mother and little sister. It was a death spree.
Everyone I ever loved, everything I ever stood for, fell at my feet. Life showed me pepper.
I felt like ending the pain but the more I tried, the more I cheated death. There was a time I was presumed to have run mad. I woke up every morning chanting-
‘Death, where is thy sting?’
I would go on and on till I pass out. My father’s people made attempts to help but the day I got to know of their motive, I ran away from the psychiatrist home I was lodged.
I ran as fast as my legs could carry me. I kept running for days, maybe weeks – I wouldn’t know, then I met Yaounde.
Yaounde, my temporary life saver…
She was on her way from the market when she drove past and saw me. She told her driver to stop and ordered that I hop into the vehicle. Like a person in a trance, I followed her orders.
That was how I found myself in Yaounde Home for Girls – oh, I forgot to mention, I am thirteen years old.
Yaounde made me feel at home and I was grateful. Grateful to have a place to call home, though my heart was already shredded.
‘Dadem, you are a Survivor. After all, you’ve gone through as a teenager, you still exude so much joy. I am proud of you.’ Yaounde tells me…
How do I tell Yaounde that I am no Survivor?
How do I tell her of my pains, the sleepless nights and the demonic torments?
I cannot tell!
So tomorrow, I end it all.
The time is far spent.
I am quarter minutes to dying.
TOUGH OR LUCKY?
The disaster everyone had awaited finally came as a surprise. They all knew it’d take years to end once it had begun if it ever did end.
Obinna had felt the bone chilling cold in his sleep but was alarmed only when tossed his hand to the other side of the bed and felt something wet.
‘Mama, Chuka has bed wetted again’, he scrambled to one side of the bed and opened his lethargic eyes to the sight of a shuddering figure. He stood up to light the kerosene lamp but slips and falls hearing someone gasp.
‘Take Chuka with you and find a place warm and safe to stay. The natives couldn’t hold up the rain much lon..’ She was cut off by the harsh and deafening sound of thunder.
‘Mama, won’t you go with us?’ After the rumbling subsided, Obinna tugged at her loose buba, an attempt at keeping herself warm.
‘I can’t, my waist pain is unbearable and I’ll end up slowing you down’ she tried to stand up but her knees buckled making her fall to the ground. ‘I’ll wait for the safety patrol team’ she said this with little faith knowing that they’ll never come until morning.
With teary eyes, moans, and sniffles, Obinna carried his younger brother, Chuka and head out of the flooded house. The rain was unending and the flood was now reaching inconsistently between his knee and his calves. He lurched into the darkness, the oblivion of survival.
The frog croaks and frost bites became more dominant to him as he swept his way through the flood getting closer and closer to nowhere. The water now reached his thigh waking Chuka up. Chuka sneezes and begins to wail and Obinna finds out that his legs are beginning to touch the freezing water despite how high he has carried him.
He continues the journey hoping to see a car that would agree to help them but quickly discards the thought knowing that any car in the flood wouldn’t even be able to move. Finally, it seems like the flood is actually getting shallower as he moves eastwards.
He thinks it’s more of a mirage but moves in that direction following his gut instinct. Soon enough, he realises that the water is now reaching his ankle but the rain is still as fierce as ever. He also notices that it is becoming more difficult to walk. He is moving uphill and warmth was closer.
Like his father always did say, people who survive are either tough….or lucky.
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