She has no name…

In this week’s episode of “Do you even blog anymore?” I present to you a character sketch I wrote as part of a homework assignment for my fiction workshop. The challenge was to create a composite character based on traits from two real people, pulling together traits that may be contradictory in order to create a complicated “three-dimensional”  portrait of a person. (So many workshop buzzwords…) I am also glad to announce that I will be posting every Monday evening. As in weekly. As in not when “the muse” falls over me and I feel compelled to post something here. Putting this in writing is the only way for me to hold myself accountable. New year, new me and what not…

***

She used a constant stream of chants and impassioned speeches denouncing “the toxic system” and all those who benefitted from it as the perfect disguise for the hollowness that was expanding inside her chest daily. It would have been almost impossible to know that her outward passion for one social cause after another was actually shallow because she never shared more than useless morsels of information about her personal life, especially when she suspected that her listener would handle her truth roughly and with disdain. The defiance she carried with her at all times fell to her feet and cracked when she realized she was pregnant by a husband she could tolerate only some of the time, not including the times when he would heave and grunt on top of her in the murky darkness of their room. She had been so preoccupied marching and drinking in overdoses of the sun during all-day protests on State Street or in front of Flagstaff house when she returned to what she thought to be the correct side of the Atlantic. So immersed in her activism was she that she didn’t realize when her life began to veer off down a broken track with mind-numbing scenery rushing repetitively past the window. She had been betrayed, by all the disapproving friends who squinted mistrusting eyes at her, “How can you be depressed? Abeg! People have been looking for babies since!” a statement that usually ended with snapping fingers to indicate just how long some women had to wait for the supposedly good fortune that had befallen her. She tried to train a pair of lips that had been more accustomed to political debates and rapid comebacks for baby talk and benign smiles, but found that the biggest betrayal of all was from inside of herself. She was staring in the face of her newborn child, but all that she could make out was imminent transformation into the kind of woman she had always scorned when she walked past them in the streets of Accra. Those women who seemed nothing more than empty shells click-clacking with the latest gossip of whose husband was in debt and whose child was heading towards an American college. There was no one with whom she could share these portions of fading self-recognition, so instead she smile emptily: “Oh don’t mind me! You’re right, I’m probably just tired.”

 

 

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