Fiction: Empty

December 2, 2015 Fiction , POETRY / FICTION

By

Seun Ajijala

 

You lift the red coffee mug from the table. It’s empty. You frown at the little crystals of sugar at its bottom.

You stare at your laptop screen. A blank page. You look up towards the ceiling and you notice that the fan has stopped. The power is out again. Prudently, your eyes move to the bottom of the screen. Your laptop battery indicator shows ‘30%’. You shut it down.

You take your pen and journal. ‘Maybe holding a real pen and paper would work’, you think, yet you can’t form the words. You draw a circle, then a line – you’re doodling stick figures. You drop your pen.

You reach for your Blackberry. Rasheedah sent you a BBM message. You open, type ‘LOL’ and send promptly. You open your email. Adichie and Selasi have written an article each in the past 8 hours. Another review of Beukes’ Broken Monsters, was published, this timein The Guardian. You receive a text – its your aunt, from New York. It reads, “I couldn’t find those books, dear.” She’s coming to Nigeria next Thursday, and you had asked her to get Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Beloved for you. You know she is lying – she thinks her hard-earned kobo should not be ‘wasted’ on non-educational literature, but you choose to reply, ”Thanks, aunt, No problem.”

You get up to refill your mug with fresh coffee. In your mind’s eye, you see the thick brown liquid slowly turn into letters and words and sentences and you sip gratefully. Your eyes are drawn towards the painting on the wall – you bought it when you had your first book published five years ago. Eleventh Hour’s reception was good, and it was nominated for two different international book prizes. But five years is a long time, and the buzz seems to have died down since then.

You hear slight twangs of guitar strings coming from your neighbour, Collins’ house. The strings are out of tune. You wish Collins would get a tutor instead of playing off-key songs every Sunday morning.

The heat is bad. Maybe you can put on the power generator for a bit. You get up, but you sink back into the couch – fuel is costly these days.

You pick up your phone and call your editor. He picks up the call immediately, still uttering half-sentences to whoever he was talking with before you called. After several seconds, you hear a “Hello?”with a question mark, in the way some people answer their calls like they were asking a question.

“Hello Mr Godwin. I’m calling about the manuscripts I submitted to you two months ago,” you say

“Who is this?”

“Its Kevwe Bright, your company publishes my work.”

“What manuscripts?”

“The short story collection titled One Day, You Will Understand.

“Oh that! See, madam, we have to see. This manuscript……there are many challenges. Even the title is a problem. In my own opinion, I think you should just rewrite the last three stories or remove them altogether.”

“There are only seven stories in that collection! How can you suggest that?”

“Come to my office on Monday at noon.”

“But I have a job….”

“You know what? Come for your manuscripts when you are free. Your work is giving me too much of a headache. Maybe you should take it somewhere else.”

The line goes dead.

You stare blankly at the painting, then you focus and you really see the colours – bright, garish, empty. You take the coffee mug and pour its remnants down the sink.

You pick up your computer, journal and pen and put them on the reading table – time for church.

Maybe tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

Seun Ajijala

Seun was born in Lagos, Nigeria in the nineties. She graduated with a deg?ree in Mass Communication in 2015.

She has interned with reputable home-based media organisations over the past few years and dreams of being an international reporter.

She is also a natural-born art-lover with interests in different forms of art ranging from music to photography and film and dreams of touring the world with her guitar.

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