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Coming of Age Black Fiction

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

I woke up around 2:30 am in a foul mood. I wasn't even aware of the time, I had thought it was 5 am till I eyed the bedside clock. There wasn't a struggle of any kind in that dream, nothing like sweat, screaming, or a sign of any struggle. 

    Just the kind of dream that leaves one annoyed with things and people around him. The kind that takes one by force down memory lane. What the trigger for heading that lane in a dream instead of physical was, I don’t know. 

Nothing in my physical warranted such at least in the manner that jerking has to be the boot on ass to do something. The town I spent two plus years and did my two years of primary schooling in I left donkey years ago suddenly start surfacing in my dreams and occupying the better half of my sleeping hours for three days last week. 

I am not a believer in dreams and am not the type that stays awake to mull over any image that appears in it. For a particular place to remain unchanged in a dream for three days and images in them kept changing without anything triggering it physical, requires paying attentionn to. 

     I am not a prayerful person or the kind regarded as a Christian. I belong to that type referred to as churchgoers. Sunday, Sunday Christians. A Christian, if am not mistaken is those kinds that live their daily lives with the dictate of how the world wants them or believes a Christian should be living, right?

I mean, you should not drink, not should not get drunk. You should not smoke even a half stick a day whether you are suffering from pneumonia or not. Should not eat anything to excess whether the excess of those judging you and your excess is never the same. You should not sit or walk in the company of those regarded as sinners or earthly whether your excuses hold more water than that given by Christ for associating with them or not. You are not Christ and you are sinning more for even comparing your excuses to his. Did you get my point?

   Above all, you don’t need to explain yourself to anyone for no one has accused you openly as they did to Christ that warranted his explanations. 21st century Christians pass judgment in their minds and their homes behind closed doors. We are more civilized now than 1st century Christians who talk anyhow. Homes are where that kind of attitude you exhibit has its place. Behind closed doors not in public, away from prying eyes and in doubt whether God is looking your way or not. 

That is the type of Christian I think I belong to their category. Those that do it all in public, that is also how I believe that all those public holy innocent Christians see me. I drink in public, I smoke in public, I read everything, and watch everything, listen to everything and that is the reason I view myself as a church goer, not a Christian. 

      Why then is this type of dream kept intruding into my sleep for three days stretched last week? To think that I left the town and the school in the early 80s and had not been back there since made the dream even more surprising. Do your calculation, almost 40 years ago. On day one of that dream, it was a force I was struggling with pulling me magnet-like into the hall that served as my year three classroom that doubles as a meeting hall for the school. It was filled up with adults that were blurry I couldn’t make out the people in it but I noticed that I saw some that were on uniforms. 

 I was inquisitive. In my characteristic way of dismissing things from dreams wondering if any of my past classmates or acquaintances were into the uniformed professions and if there was a kind of reunion going on nature wanted to bring to my knowledge. I ignored it. In the second that followed the first up, it was a football match going on and I was one of the adults watching the kids play a soccer game on the same pitch I made my name in the school in the same game. Soccer. I dumped it into the dustbin of no importance where most of my dreams usually end up.

      But on the third day, it was the image of a woman's head on the left side of a cross mounted adjacent to the goal post that I saw myself heading towards it straight to the head before the image faded. On the first two, I never jerked awake as I did to that head image. I decided that this time around, that image isn't ending up like others in the dustbin. Time to see what is happening in that school. Not even as if I was sweating on that dream day but I believed that it is time to do the opposite of what I had been doing to my dreams for long. 

Two days ago, after all my morning rituals, I took a shower, put on jean, and snickers like one going hiking. I equipped myself physically and financially and off I went to the bus station.

      The town wasn't even up to one hour drive from my present abode yet, I felt as if I was traveling across the country's borders. I must confess that it was the cross involved in the dream that prompted my decision. The school had been a missionary school but for decades, the government has taken back all schools. 

        Why the woman and the cross and above all, why me?

On the bus, I kept reminding the conductor of where I was heading to not for security's sake in case my head ends up in a cross too, Nah, but to make sure I was dropped at the right place to avoid time and money wasting. It had been long and the town is an interior one. Funny at times how time renders one a fresh “Johnny just come” in a time he knows every nook and cranny of before. At the junction of the town, I was dropped, I paid my fee and entered a cyclist that sighted me from afar and made a move. 

    I engaged him in small talk. I was surprised how the town have changed. Money expands things and people for sure. Where used to be forests have been taken over by modern houses. I was even surprised that the secondary school I attended once their inter-house sports games with other kids I thought was on the left side of the road were actually on the right if you are coming from the town center. I took that as an indicator that my brain must have articulated other things wrongly too. 

Along the way to the school, I saw a face washing a car that I believed was familiar even though older now but I can't just place it anymore. The way he stopped what he was doing and was watching me made me believe that he must have recognized me too from the good old days. I waved. 

     I landed at the school and to my chagrin, the whole school has changed. Knocked down and rebuilt from the foundation and well painted too. Where used to be a part way of entering the school have been built on and half of the field that was nearly Fifa standard was gone too and center of the pitch was now the route of entering the school. There was no goal post anymore and I saw no cross.

I saw one woman eyeing me and the cyclist that brought me. I approached her and introduced myself. I started little talks that revealed that it was almost two decades since the school had been as it is now. The post went for that duration too. The place people filled in was still a Hall and my intrusion revealed that one social club uses it as their meeting hall during mass returns. I became interested. It was my intrusion into a woman with Mark on the face that piqued the teacher's interest. She stopped everything she was doing and turned fully to me.

  She told me that the woman was a shopkeeper that disappeared about five years ago. She had been having problems with her husband in the city and packed her things back to the village and started a provision shop not far from the school. One morning, she just vanished into thin air without a trace to this day.

  I was still mulling over the woman's story when I noticed she was eyeing me with trepidation.

   “ Why do you ask of the lady, do you know her then?”

“No”

I went ahead to tell her the main reason for my being there. I noticed that her mouth dropped open while I narrated my dream stories without her realizing it. When she finally recovered, she took me by hand, nearly dragging me to show her the exact spot I saw the cross. 

We went to the pitch and I used my knowledge of the place from the good old days to pinpoint exactly where the cross had been in that dream. She dragged me from there to the headmaster’s office by now, the whole teachers were circling like vultures to know what was going on. From the headmaster's office to the town union's office and the station.

    45 minutes later, the exact spot was being dug up. Not even up to four feet, there was the headless rotted body of a woman with her slippers still partially intact and her clothes which had been done justice to a large extent by the termites and other interested parties. 

Orders were given to go and brought the two security persons that were part of those that held a meeting there yearly. I was surprised to see the man that had been washing the car when I was coming on a handcuff and another that works in the community bank in the town center there. The one watching the car works as a security man at the church not far from the school. Plans on how to get the leaders of the social club were still on when I took my leave.

today, I am still wondering whose messenger I am. God or the dead woman? 

August 27, 2022 07:50

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2 comments

Tommy Goround
02:17 Sep 01, 2022

Deep. Hmmmm.... Writing good... You made 15 English mistakes and I love it. (This is a compliment because it makes your writing fresh and interesting)... In fact it was easy to finish reading your story because I was enjoying the way in which you told the story. Now to the story... I like this. Kill...maybe 3 paragraphs before the school. You do an excellent job of making the dream important... You do an excellent job of deciding to follow God though you admit you are not the perfect Christian.. This is the actual humanity of the story....

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Philip Ebuluofor
12:25 Sep 02, 2022

Tom, your analysis is always in a class of its own. It is almost a short story of its own. Shit, I am touched. Thanks a million times for your in-depth analysis. Highly appreciated.

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