Archive for the ‘Short Story’ Category

“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality”

– Lucius Annaeus Seneca

He turned off the alarm, pushed his black Egyptian-silk sheets to the side and sat at the edge of his custom made mahogany king-sized bed. He looked back to the other side of the bed, it was rough too. He tries to sleep on both sides now. He looked up to the ceiling

“Get out of bed

Brush your teeth

Take a shower

Get dressed and go to work

It’s a beautiful day!”

Those were the words written on the poster his therapist had advised he have made. He glued it top the ceiling above his bed so it would be the first thing he saw when he woke up. That was his mantra. He lifted himself off the bed, at least it took less time now. He walked into the bathroom, turned on the hot shower and tried to scrub the nightmares away.  He dressed up in his navy blue Armani suit, and as he fastened his tie in front of the mirror, he felt the loneliness start to creep in.

“Not today, not today, not today” he mumbled to himself repeatedly and quickly walked to his sock drawer. He can’t stop moving, helps to shut out the voices in his head. He has a quick breakfast, leaves instructions for his housekeeper and gardener on the platinum double door fridge and walks out to the garage, gets into his black, Audi Q7, opens the garage door and drives out. He is grateful for the buzz of traffic and a city awake.

Before, just a few years ago actually, he couldn’t wait to get home, now he worked overtime every day and spends the better part of the night having drinks or barbecue with his boys. They were his rock. Without them, he would have jumped off that bridge a while ago.  Therapy was working well and he had found faith somehow.  He prayed a lot. He still thought about her. Four years of history is hard to let go especially because of how she left and the mess she left behind. The mess he had been cleaning up for a whole year now.

Theirs wasn’t a story with happy ending but it had a beautiful albeit quick beginning. They had met in college where they were both pursuing master’s degrees in different fields.  It wasn’t love at first sight, far from it actually. He hated her, well hate is a strong word though that is what he felt for her now, back then it was more dislike. He should have stuck to his gut feeling but he was in a dark place back then which probably wasn’t the right time to get into any relationship but especially not with her.

He had lost his mother a few months before they met. She had died in her sleep. The autopsy said it was a brain aneurysm. There was nothing anyone could have done. At the funeral, Shaka had stayed back as everyone left for home. He fell to his knees beside the freshly filled grave and wailed. She was a mean soul but he loved her to her dying breath. His father had run off with another woman when Shaka was just 11 years old. He had left Shaka, his baby sister then only 3 years old and their mother alone. They weren’t destitute; she was a career nurse, doing well at a local private hospital. They lived in a nice house which they owned and lacked nothing, nothing but the warmth of love. His father had left him something, something Shaka wished he could scrape off; his face. Since he was a baby, everyone knew who his father was. He had his eyes, his nose, his jaw even his hairline. He truly was his father’s son. At the beginning this was something he drove great pride from because even as a child because everyone around him would make such a big fuss of it. But then that night came when an eleven year old boy’s life was turned upside down.

It was late but Shaka had always been a light sleeper. He heard his parents arguing, it was loud and pretty heated. As a curious kid of course he went out of his room to eavesdrop. His sister was asleep in her room. He walked to the staircase and sat on the top step. He could see both of them in the hall way downstairs. They were both very angry, screaming over each other like they were competing who could scream loudest. He had never seen either of them this angry.  At the time, he couldn’t really understand what was going on exactly. They would always fight in their bedroom if ever and even then, it would be in hush hush tones.

“Wacha iishe basi! (Let this end then!)” He heard his father say.

“ Sawa! (Fine!) Kwani wafikiri tutakufa ukienda kwa huyo malaya wako?!(You think we will die if you ran off with that prostitute?) his mother shouted back.

Shaka saw his father walk toward the staircase. It was too late to run to his room. His father stared at him for a few seconds at the bottom step, sighed then rushed up the stairs to their bedroom. Shaka ran to his room. A few minutes later, he heard a door bang shut, someone going down the stairs and the front door open and bang shut. He ran to the window and looked outside. As his father walked up to his car, Shaka silently willed him to turn around. Maybe if he saw his grief-stricken son’s face he would come back. He did turn around, their eyes did meet, he did see the tears fall down Shaka’s face but he did not come back. Shaka never saw his father again and his mother, well, any specks of gentleness she had left walked right out the door with that man. Shaka knew she tried so hard to shield them from the darkness that slowly crept over her over the years that were to follow and so he always tried to be a good boy. His sister tried too. They both did exceptionally well in school, did all their chores on time and essentially just stayed out of their mothers way. The hugs, the ‘I love yous’, they all stopped soon enough and all that remained when a little boy and a little girl hugged their mother was a quick pat on the back and instructions for the next day’s chores. After a while, they all just stopped trying.

Now as Shaka watched his woman walk away, he racked his brain trying to figure out what he had done to make her leave. It must have been his fault somehow. People don’t just leave, right?

End of part one…..

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“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality”

– Lucius Annaeus Seneca

He turned off the alarm, pushed his black Egyptian-silk sheets to the side and sat at the edge of his custom made mahogany king-sized bed. He looked back to the other side of the bed, it was rough too. He tries to sleep on both sides now. He looked up to the ceiling

“Get out of bed

Brush your teeth

Take a shower

Get dressed and go to work

It’s a beautiful day!”

Those were the words written on the poster his therapist had advised he have made. He glued it top the ceiling above his bed so it would be the first thing he saw when he woke up. That was his mantra. He lifted himself off the bed, at least it took less time now. He walked into the bathroom, turned on the hot shower and tried to scrub the nightmares away.  He dressed up in his navy blue Armani suit, and as he fastened his tie in front of the mirror, he felt the loneliness start to creep in.

“Not today, not today, not today” he mumbled to himself repeatedly and quickly walked to his sock drawer. He can’t stop moving, helps to shut out the voices in his head. He has a quick breakfast, leaves instructions for his housekeeper and gardener on the platinum double door fridge and walks out to the garage, gets into his black, Audi Q7, opens the garage door and drives out. He is grateful for the buzz of traffic and a city awake.

Before, just a few years ago actually, he couldn’t wait to get home, now he worked overtime every day and spends the better part of the night having drinks or barbecue with his boys. They were his rock. Without them, he would have jumped off that bridge a while ago.  Therapy was working well and he had found faith somehow.  He prayed a lot. He still thought about her. Four years of history is hard to let go especially because of how she left and the mess she left behind. The mess he had been cleaning up for a whole year now.

Theirs wasn’t a story with happy ending but it had a beautiful albeit quick beginning. They had met in college where they were both pursuing master’s degrees in different fields.  It wasn’t love at first sight, far from it actually. He hated her, well hate is a strong word though that is what he felt for her now, back then it was more dislike. He should have stuck to his gut feeling but he was in a dark place back then which probably wasn’t the right time to get into any relationship but especially not with her.

He had lost his mother a few months before they met. She had died in her sleep. The autopsy said it was a brain aneurysm. There was nothing anyone could have done. At the funeral, Shaka had stayed back as everyone left for home. He fell to his knees beside the freshly filled grave and wailed. She was a mean soul but he loved her to her dying breath. His father had run off with another woman when Shaka was just 11 years old. He had left Shaka, his baby sister then only 3 years old and their mother alone. They weren’t destitute; she was a career nurse, doing well at a local private hospital. They lived in a nice house which they owned and lacked nothing, nothing but the warmth of love. His father had left him something, something Shaka wished he could scrape off; his face. Since he was a baby, everyone knew who his father was. He had his eyes, his nose, his jaw even his hairline. He truly was his father’s son. At the beginning this was something he drove great pride from because even as a child because everyone around him would make such a big fuss of it. But then that night came when an eleven year old boy’s life was turned upside down.

It was late but Shaka had always been a light sleeper. He heard his parents arguing, it was loud and pretty heated. As a curious kid of course he went out of his room to eavesdrop. His sister was asleep in her room. He walked to the staircase and sat on the top step. He could see both of them in the hall way downstairs. They were both very angry, screaming over each other like they were competing who could scream loudest. He had never seen either of them this angry.  At the time, he couldn’t really understand what was going on exactly. They would always fight in their bedroom if ever and even then, it would be in hush hush tones.

“Wacha iishe basi! (Let this end then!)” He heard his father say.

“ Sawa! (Fine!) Kwani wafikiri tutakufa ukienda kwa huyo malaya wako?!(You think we will die if you ran off with that prostitute?) his mother shouted back.

Shaka saw his father walk toward the staircase. It was too late to run to his room. His father stared at him for a few seconds at the bottom step, sighed then rushed up the stairs to their bedroom. Shaka ran to his room. A few minutes later, he heard a door bang shut, someone going down the stairs and the front door open and bang shut. He ran to the window and looked outside. As his father walked up to his car, Shaka silently willed him to turn around. Maybe if he saw his grief-stricken son’s face he would come back. He did turn around, their eyes did meet, he did see the tears fall down Shaka’s face but he did not come back. Shaka never saw his father again and his mother, well, any specks of gentleness she had left walked right out the door with that man. Shaka knew she tried so hard to shield them from the darkness that slowly crept over her over the years that were to follow and so he always tried to be a good boy. His sister tried too. They both did exceptionally well in school, did all their chores on time and essentially just stayed out of their mothers way. The hugs, the ‘I love yous’, they all stopped soon enough and all that remained when a little boy and a little girl hugged their mother was a quick pat on the back and instructions for the next day’s chores. After a while, they all just stopped trying.

Now as Shaka watched his woman walk away, he racked his brain trying to figure out what he had done to make her leave. It must have been his fault somehow. People don’t just leave, right?

End of part one…..

 

 

I’ve never been to outer space but I knew this one girl whose head Was always in the clouds. She had the weirdest explanations for everything. She hated how much time we wasted doing simple ordinary things. Waking up, washing your face,brushing your teeth,taking a shower, eating. Yeah, she loathed the whole culture around eating; specifically the very act of chewing. I know, who would take an actual stand against chewing? Well, she did And would take the time to explain it to each and every one of her friends. She was a lawyer by profession and an astrologist by passion. She had studied for both and I feel somehow,one world had merged into the other. Suited up during the day;killing it in court. Sweat pants and comic character tees at night holding stargazing sessions from her balcony. She had one of those huge telescopes.
I never climbed mount everest but I knew this one guy who did. He used to say he’s never seen a view so breathtakingly beautiful. He’s into extreme sports. He was saving up to go to space. He said he had conquered all of the world’s wonders and that he was ready for the galaxy. 
I never sailed the open seas but one day I sat next to this old man on a bus and he told me that it was the greatest feeling ever. He used to be a fisherman, a really good one at that. The bus ride was 8 hours long, I didn’t sleep a wink, I just listened to the old man. His silver gray hair glistened in the moonlight peering through the window. He noticed me gazing and said the salt water gives it that shine. Is there anything sea water cannot do? He said he had had several close calls at sea. Showed me a few scars. Shark bites. Rope burns. Fish hooks gone rogue. Run in with pirates. I mean I fear driving on dry land, I even dropped out of driving school if you can believe that. I can’t even imagine being at sea; captain of a fishing boat. I never got his name but his face is permanently etched in my brain.

I have never been to Disneyland but I have a friend, her name is Ivy. She has some kind of personality disorder,I forget the name. Anyway, one time she mixed her meds with ecstasy and weed. I dont know what she was thinking. So for three days, she was convinced she was an evil queen in search of the ‘fountain of immortality’. Everyone at the hospital had to play along. There were knights, maidens of the court, there was a prince (she said the king died at war), there was even a court jester. The poor orderly had to tell her jokes and perform magic tricks whenever she called. She had had the previous one hung for defiance. Haha! That was funny. I had gone to visit her at the hospital and I found a gathering in her room of a few nurses and hospital staff. I actually thought something was wrong with Ivy so I Panicked only to be told they were having a mock hanging. They actually had to get some tubing, put it around the guy’s neck and he had to make it look like he was actually choking then they brought in a gurney and carried him out. the drugs passed through her system in a few days and when she came back to her senses she could actually remember everything she had done. We still laugh about it to date. She still says those were the best days of her life.
Reality sucks sometimes, yet we can’t exactly live in fantasy land; not for too long anyway. What to do ey?

 

*No disclaimer for this one; just open up your mind and enjoy. *

My uterus came to visit me last night. She walked right through the glass door. I really should put markings on it. I just heard the thud then the crash. It was a few minutes after 9pm but I was already in bed. I was feeling a bit feverish that night so I decided to retire early with a damp cloth over my forehead and the bitter aftertaste of ginger on my tongue. A friend had suggested chewing on raw ginger may ease the fever and it actually did for a few hours. She came into my room, leaving a trail of blood in her step. She sat down on a stool next to my bed. I handed her the towel I hang on my headboard, it was my favorite towel and also the most absorbent. She soaked right through it in minutes. Typical. Sorry about your door. She said with a shrug. It’s fine. I answered. If anyone was to come crashing into my house in the middle of the night, it would be you. It looked like she wanted to talk so I sat up and listened.

“I know I don’t usually do these pre-visits with you; ours is not a regular relationship but I just thought I should come over and give you a sense of what’s coming this month. It’s going to be a tough one. Remember how a few days ago you suddenly started thinking about that lovely young man you are kind of still hang up on? Yeah the one you, against my advice confessed your love to and he told you, you are not even in his top ten priorities at the time? You almost lost the whole friendship with that one move. Anyhow, so a few days ago you start thinking hard about him and you even reach out to him but didn’t hear back. You even thought of maybe just getting on a bus and going out to visit him in Kericho. Thankfully you were too broke to go so you just stayed home and cried about how your whole love life is a mess. Yeah, that was me. I thought this month I’d start early by sprinkling a bit of nostalgia on your mushy heart. Let’s not forget the meat craving you’ve had all month. Though you should probably get that checked, it’s not all me. Could be a deficiency of some kind. You can thank me later.

So here’s the low down. You’ll have a fever for 2 days, hotter than any you’ve had before. It will come with muscle and joint pains and a slight headache. You will also be feeling very wet in your special place prompting you to check check several times only to find nothing. So you’ll opt to sleep in a pad because you’ll be at your friend’s place and you wouldn’t want her waking up in a pool of your blood and for a millisecond think she may have just killed you in her sleep. Ha-ha! It’s funny, no? Anyway, you’ll wake up dry as can be but still feverish and weak, oh and also there will be slight pain on one side of your throat which will grow gradually to a point where you will have a lot of trouble swallowing. Oh and also because the whole system is connected, it will be a combo of a throat ache, a jaw ache, a toothache, an ear ache and a headache all on one side. You should probably get really strong pain meds before rushing home from your friend’s place which is what I know you will do. You are such a big baby when you get sick, that’s why you prefer dealing with it by yourself, whining and crying into your pillow, cursing at the heavens and calling out the depths of hell. Remember that one time you actually begged God to supernaturally remove me and place me on your nightstand for four days and then put me back into you when it was done. The big guy and I had such a laugh that day. Lucky for you this time you’ll be so full of antibiotics and pain meds, you won’t feel the slightest cramp.

I’ll have a surprise for you though. You know how you still bite the sides of your fingers and sometimes your nails?  You are always fiddling with those things against medical and social advice. Remember that bacterial infection you had when you were younger because of it? Well, guess who’s coming back over ten years later with a vengeance? Yup, Cynthia, meet your long lost nemesis, Miss. Acute Paronychia. She’ll just be living in one finger this time but she’ll come with all her toys; redness, swelling, pain, pus. She’ll even threaten to jump into another finger so you’ll feel the urge to walk around with your fingers spread like you have jiggers crawling under your skin. Thankfully with the antibiotics you’ll be taking for your inflamed throat, you will be able to kill two birds with one stone. Miss. Acute and I will leave at around the same time but the nastiness she will have unleashed on your finger; that will linger on for another week or so. The cold symptoms will never develop into a full blown cold but it will definitely feel like one. You’ll be chilly from the cold and have heat flashes at the same time courtesy of me of course. You’ll perform the ‘blanket off- blanket on’ routine like a ritual in your sleep (if any). A nightmare of you and your best friend (whom you have conveniently syncronised with) being shot and bleeding out on the ground might make its debut. Now that’s going to be scary. A few more weird dreams might be screening but you can blame that on your own wild imagination. The flow shall be thick and heavy as usual so no surprises there. It will only be made worse by the coughing and sneezing because any time you do either, you’ll feel like someone just blew up a dam in your panties. You might feel the urge to punch a few people especially the smiley ones and those who insist on sharing the same air-space  with you but you know how to smile through that or look so gangster that no one dares to speak to you so you’ll be fine. Taking public transportation will be a nightmare in itself. First of all it’s the rainy season so no one wants to open up the windows even when it is clearly NOT raining at that specific moment!!! So it will be stuffy and stinky then you’ll be seated next to an obnoxious man-spreader who will insist on hitting on you because you are ‘just so beautiful’. Let’s just say that there may be a lot of psychological trauma that might result from this particular period so to speak so here’s my suggestion. Call, text, dm, and messenger your whole inner circle of closeness; spread the whining around. Then call that one male friend and without warning; tell him everything! Every. Single. Horrific. Detail. Here’s the logic; with your female friends, sure you can get empathy but they have their own horror stories so in the end “take it like woman!” is the advice  you’ll get. But with a man, you’ll get so much pity and ‘woiyes’ and ‘oh my gosh are you ok’, and ‘is there anything I can do’ and maybe even a ‘you have received xxxkshs’ to go buy yourself something nice so you can feel better. I’m telling you, this technique works like a freakin’ charm.

My jaw was all the way to the ground with every detail she threw at me. I wasn’t sure if I should thank her for the warning or just go to a hospital and have them knock me out for the next five to seven days. She must have seen the horror in my face because she put the towel down, walked up and got into bed with me, wrapped her tubes around me gently and sang me to sleep. I woke up the next day, she was gone. I found the towel soaked in water in the bathroom. I went to the kitchen and found my roommate making breakfast. She had called fundis to fix the door.

Your uterus came over for a visit last night huh? She asked. Yeah. I said. You need a hug huh? She asked as she grabbed me and held me tightly. Yeah, and keep them coming. It’s going to be one hell of a week. I replied. She was slender, but she gave the tightest and warmest hugs.

Acute paronychia: an infection of the skin right next to the nail (nail fold) . the affected area may appear swollen, inflamed and may be tender.

 

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The incredible hulk saved my life yesterday. He took the syringe from my hands and threw it out through the open window. You know those were for the dog right? I asked him in shock. The doctor says I have to give him injections thrice a day. I hate doing it because he always looks at me dead in the eye with those sad puppy eyes, like you are right now. I said to him and sat him on the edge of my bed. It’s ok, you’ve had a long day, why don’t you go watch some TV as I get dinner ready and prepare for the guests. I told him as I led him into the living room area and turned on the TV. He just sat there flipping through the channels, I think it relaxes him. We all know we need him relaxed; no one wants a giant green thingy terrorizing the neighbours. My relationship with the landlord was already dicey after a few incidents I would rather not get into right now. I took out more medication for Papi, my puppy. I had to inject him through the neck. The vet said that the medicine would get into his system quicker that way. Just three more days of it and the poor thing would be in the clear. I found the little guy abandoned down the street, next to the overflowing county garbage bin. No one really emptied it anymore after the last workers’ strike. Every last civil servant and county staff were fired and new ones quickly shipped in from the neighbouring countries in the region to take over. Of course they were paid as expats and the country was practically oozing dollars all because the government refused to yield. This ego business was soon going to bring us to our knees. I wish I could say it wasn’t my circus but the bin was a few hundred metres away from our apartment building, I had to go by it to get to my place. I would always rush by to get minimum whiff of the stench. There was a rundown settlement right next to it. I wondered how people lived there with the smell from the bin and busted sewer lines that sent waste flowing in the shallow trenches that ran beside the shacks. They had to keep digging them regularly or they would have the black gunk flowing into their houses.

On that day I slowed down because I heard a muffled sound coming from the other side of the bin. I moved in closer to check after I picked up a rock just in case. It was a tiny rock, the size of my fist; not really the kind of thing that could protect you from say, a rabid dog but hey, it did give me a false sense of security. The tiny thing was lying in a box covered in black goo. I teared up soon as I saw it. I didn’t even know if it was a cat, a dog, a rat or some mutated animal thingy. I took off my scarf and scooped it up. I managed to wipe of most of the gunk and that’s when it opened up its eyes and looked right into mine. I can’t explain what I felt in that moment exactly but I think I saw a glimpse of myself in the wretched animal. It fell right asleep in my arms like it somehow knew it had found a home. I took it home, bathed it, fed it, called him Papi and I guess the rest is history. Papi fell sick often for the next few months but the vet said that was because of all the filth he had been exposed to and also because he never really breastfed at all. I wondered if his mother ever looked for him.

Catwoman saved my life last night. She came in through the fire escape on my balcony. I didn’t even hear her come in. She knocked the bottle of pills from my hand and held me for what felt like hours. You don’t have to do this Anike. You’ll be fine. She said in a whisper. Ummm, I just had a headache and needed Panadol and I kind of mixed everything together in one bottle so I had a lot pf pills in my hand because I was trying to get the right ones. She let go of me quickly; I could see the embarrassment in her eyes. What’s for dinner? She asked quickly desperate to put that awkward mushy moment behind us. I followed her cue and gave her a breakdown of the menu. Right, so I will need to borrow your pants, the ones with an elastic band at the waist because this leather costume will not be able to handle what’s about to happen. She said and went straight to rummaging through my closet. They are right where you left them last time woman! I said as I pulled them out of a drawer and handed them to her. She proceeded to undress down to her underwear. Well that escalated quickly, I said with a chuckle and briskly walked to the kitchen. I mean who wants to see their superheroes naked? Don’t answer that.

So what’s up with the little-big guy? Catwoman asked pointing toward the hulk on the sofa. I didn’t even hear her come into the kitchen. Maybe we should put a bell around you? I said jokingly. She wasn’t amused. He had a really bad day at work at the lab. I started to tell her the story. This other scientist had been using the lab’s funding and equipment to create some kind of freaky robots. They looked like human-sized dolls made of silicon but with a computer brain (I was simplifying it because I didn’t understand the science jargon he used but I got the gist). Anyway, this mad-scientist had them in some bunker not too far from the lab and claimed they were the ‘greatest breakthrough in artificial intelligence applications in warfare’. Soon the robots could talk like humans, walk like humans and even hold real conversations. He would have them watch all kinds or war movies and train in war scenarios. A few broke loose and slaughtered the guards and a couple of doctors that were there but thankfully did not escape from the bunker. Violence was all they knew after all. They had to shut down the project and destroy the robots. It was gruesome. They also screamed like humans. Hulk or rather Bruce Banner (his human alter-ego, the brilliant scientist) was there for all of it as lead supervisor. It took a lot out of him; I have no idea how he managed to keep calm. I finished. Cat woman looked at me and winked. I knew what it meant. The rizzlers and grinder are on that shelf and you know where to find the rest. Do you need a pen or something to help roll it? I asked her. She rolled her eyes at me and sighed. Do I look like an amateur Anike? She asked. Relax, my bad. I told her and blew her a kiss. She’s so touchy that one.

I heard the bell ring and went to open the door for the rest of the dinner guests. My younger sister Amina and her boyfriend Batman, who had to introduce himself every time he walked into a room even though we could all see the costume and he would always forget to put the bat-mobile in stealth mode. We could hear him coming from a mile away.  Shoes on the rack, drinks are on the table and no one talk to Bruce till he’s had his fix. I announced as I ushered them in. The landlord had come too with Mrs. Maanake nonetheless. They both tried to hide the fact that they came together but I got a knowing look from Mrs. Maanake. I couldn’t wait for that story. A couple more people from the apartment building came too even though I do not remember inviting anyone else. It must have been one of those polite ‘I’m inviting you but hoping you won’t come’ situations. There was more than enough food and drinks though so, the more the merrier I guess.

Soon the room was filled with music and chatter. Batman was showing off his latest tech and bragging about how not even Ironman could come up with half the things he did. Oh, how I wished Ironman was here, and then we’d have a ‘tech’-measuring contest right in my living room. And I only say ‘tech’ because this is supposed to be a PG story. Ha-ha!

Catwoman busted me staring at the hulk. Stop drooling and just tell the man how you feel. She nudged. Yeah, well you couldn’t tell Batman how you felt five years ago and now he’s engaged to my sister so you are one to talk. I nudged back and quickly regretted it when I saw the sadness that had crept into her eyes. Sorry love; I guess some wounds never heal. I said and gave her a pat on the back. I’ve never been much of a hugger. Whatever; here’s to past ‘what ifs’ and women in love with angry green giants (he’s never been a monster for me and even he was, I’d still be madly in-love with him)! She said as she handed me a glass filled with a mix of everything. Here! Here! I said and downed whatever that was. It didn’t taste good at all.

Like he knew we were talking about him, the hulk looked up straight at me and smiled. I lost the feeling in my legs and almost dropped the salad bowl. Cat woman just burst out laughing and took the bowl from my hands. I really should get new friends; superheroes can be mean.

Superman saved me that night; he came in through the window. I didn’t even know I had left it open.I knew it was him because I heard a slight whoosh when he glided in. Plus,he had a cape and I don’t think those are in fashion yet. I live on the fifth floor, the house in the corner with the red door. All other houses had black doors. I painted it myself. The landlord threw a fit when he saw the *wet paint,do not touch*sign I had stuck on the wall but I think it was the smell of freshly baked brownies that really made him ring the door bell. By the time we were on the fifth piece of chocolate goodness it was all laughs from the bad puns. He asked for a wet wipe for his red finger tips, ‘next time,read the sign man’ I said as I ushered him out of my big red door. That was the last time I ever spoke to him face to face but I’d always get the usual monthly email reminder when rent was due. I preferred it that way, no need to get too social with people who you are in business agreements with.

When his wife was sick, I baked brownies and made cheesy shrimp pasta and took it over. He wasn’t home. That month I didn’t receive the email, he probably wrote it and forgot to hit send. I paid my rent on time either way.

Superman came into my bedroom; well, the space that is my bedroom in my dainty studio apartment. He took the knife from my hand and bent it halfway. He looked in shock at the blood dripping from my hands. I will save you,he said and whipped his cape to the side. Another whoosh.  I’m making blood sausage (mutura), you can stay for some if you want. I had just gone into the bedroom to check on the window, just in time too. Sorry about the knife, let me just bend it back,yes? He said as he got cozy on my couch, took the remote and flipped the channels. Guess what program he lands on; Justice league; narcissistic much?

Wonder Woman saved my life that night. I had left my kitchen window open. I really should put a child lock on those things. She took the rope from my hand and threw it out the window. The goat was watching silently in the corner and jolted past us soon as the rope hit the ground. Thankfully the red door was locked so it just sat downdown infront of it dejectedly . I’ve never heard a goat sigh but I’m sure that was the sound the poor thing made. We’ll have to use your lasso to tie him up or he’ll get poop everywhere. My bad, didn’t know the rope was for him, WonderWoman said sadly. She carried the goat with such ease and walked to the balcony. She took the lasso off her belt and tied the goat onto the rails. She stood there for a bit and just gazed at the clear sky. I never thought superheroes got sad. I think you could use a hug. I whispered as I took her in my arms and squeezed. She cried on my shoulder, her tears stung like hot acid. Ok that’s enough, I only have the one layer of skin. I make bad jokes in uncomfortable emotionally intense situations. Go keep superman company on the couch, the blood sausage will be ready in no time. I told her and ushered her into the living room.She walked to the living room space, said a flat hello to Superman and sat down on a pillow farthest from the alien man. I wondered what that was about. I divided the mutura; half for me and half for the barbecue the tonight. The Home Owners Association in my apartment building throw a party biannually. That’s when you get to meet the big wigs; private developers,real estate gurus,the kind that own half of the ground you walk on; corner office CEOs and other forms of gold toothed business moguls. They hand you their glossy matte-laminated cards and flash empty smiles, there is no soul in those eyes,just tinted windows. We are together you know, tuko pamoja, they say as they whiff past you to the open bar.

I prefer staying behind the grill,feeding their thirsty stomachs; shoving juicy,meaty goodness down their hungry throats. The blood sausage is divine Anike,they tell me as they go for another piece. I take a few plates and serve the watchmen, I give them the best cuts. After all they let me bring in the goats and chicken for the barbecue among other things. They even help me tie them onto the rails on my balcony and feed them if I’m not around. They also water my precious herbs when I’m away.

Superman and Wonder Woman make an entrance. Together. I guess they made up. Superman in a black tuxedo and wonder woman in a long cocktail dress. A bit much for a barbecue but you know aliens and their big gestures. They immediately become the life of the party telling and retelling the story of how they saved the girl in the apartment with the red door. The one who makes the brownies? The barbecue expert? I let them have their moment,they probably really need it. Time for dessert! I move to the dessert table. There are a few cakes, truffles,a three layer pie and my signature brownies. I have to make sure everyone takes just one otherwise there was going to be a riot. I put in extra chocolate and more than just a dash of my secret ingredient.I grow my own herbs. Everyone always asks what herb I use specifically. If I tell you it won’t be a secret anymore would it? I say with a chuckle. I served every piece with a generous pouring of hot fudge, a scoop of French vanilla ice cream and a spray whipped cream around it. I get a knowing smile from each person as they leave the dessert table. They’ve all tasted my brownies before but it’s always a new experience each time. That should hold them over for a while. I say to the other servers and walk back to the grill.

2am and the party was still lit. Second round of meat, drinks and dessert was underway. Superman and Wonder Woman were seated by the bonfire. Wonder woman’s legs stretched out towards the fire, the slit on her dress coming up to her ample thighs. She had a curious tatoo running from her left ankle up and disappearing graciously into her dress. Focus! Don’t burn the meat Anike! She smiles my way, I wink and smile back. Your rack of ribs is almost ready! I shout to her. Don’t forget your special barbecue sauce! She shouts back. She drinks that stuff like juice. That woman can eat. I love it!

The Green Lantern saved my life that night. When I heard the whoosh, at first I thought maybe superman had gone up to use the bathroom. He never just walks anywhere that one. The green, glowing alien knocked the lighter fluid out of my hands and took the lighter from my other hand. Fine then, you can light the fire yourself. I snapped at him and walked away. He came after me, swooshed in front of me on a green skateboard. Sorry Anike, I lit your fire,better get to it before it goes out again. Sorry for snapping at you, I told him and pointed to where the other aliens were seated. He turned the skateboard into green roller blades and rolled over to them. This guy with his antics, sha!

Dawn crept up on us like a teenager sneaking back home from a party she/he was forbidden to attend. As the first rays of the sun hit the ground, everyone kind of paired up with whomever was closer and headed for whoever’s home was closest. I called cabs for a few,including Mrs. Maanake.I was wrapping up the last of the meat for one of the guests to take home when her and her partner for the night walked up to the grill. Would you mind holding on to these and calling one of your cab guys for me please. She smiled as she handed me the man’s car keys. Mrs. Maanake lived on the fourth floor with her husband. Sometimes before he took his usual long business trips,he’d come up and ask if I could check up on her once in a while. She gets lonely you know,he’d say. Of course,tell her she can come over anytime. We’ll bake brownies,share recipes,you know,girl stuff. I’d tell him and somehow that gave him peace of mind. Convinced him that his wife would still be his and his alone when he got back. Let me know when you’ll be coming to pick them,I tell Mrs. Maanake as I put the keys in my jeans pocket. You are such a gem Anike. She smiles and goes back to smooching the gentleman by her side.I know I’ll get the full lowdown when she gets back. I don’t know why she shares stories of her escapades with me or why I look forward to hearing them every time. I guess I like to live vicariously through her.

The aliens waved from a distance signalling that they were about to take off too. Are you sure you can fly in that, Wonder Woman? I ask her pointing to her beautiful dress and stilettos. You are a funny woman Anike. She shouts back and whoosh! All three of the them disappear into the night’s sky.

The watch-men help me clear up what’s left and carry the grill to my place. Thanks guys and good day. Good day Miss. Anike. I go into the kitchen, get a tub of pistachio ice cream, a large spoon and collapse on the couch. I was still riled up from the excitement of the night so I knew I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep for a while. So I just sat down, music playing in the background and fantasized about all the superheroes in my life; saving me even when I’d never admit I need saving.

Once there was a family of pretty worms, well as far as worms can be pretty. They all lived in an abandoned anthill. Each had their own room of course and slept on a soft bed of ant exoskeletons left behind by the former tenants. No one knew why the ants left just that now a family of pretty worms had a big home.

East wing, West wing, North and South wing, 1200 bedrooms in all to share among six, seven, ten worms currently. Mommy kept popping them out so who knew how many they were really. Some were long 20, 30,100mm long. Some were short 5,10,15mm or thereabouts and among the shortest ones was Boo, well that wasn’t his name, worms don’t have names but this one always thought he did. He was like the rest in every way, he was brown and slimy on the outside and gooey on the inside. But everyone said he had a weird twinkle in his eyes. See Boo was born during a strange season. They had just moved into their new home. Everything was so cold and eerie and not even because there were broken pieces of dead-ant scattered all over, I mean that only meant free furniture for the worms. There was an easy explanation too; rain and wind must have simply unearthed the ants’ burial grounds and spread it around. But there was an odd feeling in the anthill at that time but Mommy chucked it up to ‘new house heebie jeebies’. It was during this season that Boo was born. It’s a funny story really. Mommy wasn’t due for another few days and despite Doc urging her to complete bed rest, she decided to take a walk around the home, down to the North wing, up the steps, down the shoot and around the pool, well it was more like a puddle with the sides reinforced with mostly ant skeletons cemented with ant poop. While gazing into the pool, suddenly Mommy saw ant eyes staring back at her; hollow, dark eyes looking up at her from afar. As she gazed deeper she saw them coming closer and closer and,

“Praat!!” a heap of ant skeletons splashed into the pool. Mommy got such a scare.

“Are you ok down there?!”A voice came from above.

‘Aargh! Construction worms!’Mommy thought as she looked up to the frightened worm holding a shovel. In the midst of the thought she thought she heard the faintest cry and felt something slither beneath her. She looked down only to see the cutest little worm staring up at her with the biggest gleaming eyes she had ever seen on a baby worm. And that was how the name ‘Boo’ came up as in “Peek-a-boo, I just came out of you”, at least according to Boo himself.

Boo was an odd little fellow growing up as if he was born on his head or something but everyone loved everyone in the worm family. They put extra cushions on his seat at the dining table so he could reach the top. Every time he was happy, the twinkle in his eye would somehow get brighter.

One day during a family outing, Boo got a little lost, well as much as worms can get lost.  All he had to do was follow the slimy trail or the trail of slime back home. So let’s just say Boo intentionally got lost or lost himself because through the twinkle in his eye he had seen something magical. Right in the middle of the forest stood a tall tree. A tree so magnificent, it towered above all others that seemed to form a sort of protective ring around it. It looked like a ballerina, I think, with a bright spot light shone on her; beautiful and handsome at the same time. Boo was drawn to it.

“Boo!Boo!” he heard  Mommy calling.

“Time to go home my weird little baby,” Mommy was always saying funny things like that.

But from that moment, he little worm was obsessed by the ‘Ballerina tree’ as he called it or rather as I call it. Home they went, had dinner, washed up, kissed Mommy goodnight and went to bed.

In the days to come, Boo dreamt only of the tree. He wondered what it must be like to be the tree; tall, handsome, beautiful, the envy of all. Don’t get him wrong, Boo loved his life, his home, his family, he wouldn’t trade it for anything. But for some reason he felt sad for the trees that weren’t so tall, so magnificent, and so shiny. “Were they sad too?”He wondered. He wondered if in some way, maybe he could help them grow tall. I don’t know why a tiny worm would think that but this one did. Day in, day out he watched, he planned, 3 days in all.

He had seen how the dead leaves would seem to give life to the trees and the vegetation on the ground. He asked Mommy. She said;

“Look at our home Boo, there used to be a big colony of ants living here. What they left behind, the dead little things, that is what has given our family life.”

And right then, Boo knew what to do. He set out, slimy trail following. He found the smallest tree among them that surrounded the ‘Ballerina tree’ and lo and behold, right at the heart of the tree’s trunk was a hole carved out. Boo didn’t know who had carved it out, maybe it was the same person who put everything in place because how else could a little worm explain how everything in his small world came to be and how so very perfect it all was. He didn’t have 3 more days to fathom it all, time was running out and he was on a mission.

So the little brave worm slithered all the way to the tiny tree just a few feet away, got into the cave like curve-out, coiled himself into it ever so gently and fell fast asleep.

“Please grow tall and strong tiny tree, you can become a ballerina too,” whispered Boo to the tree as his eyes grew heavy, his body tired and sleep carried him off into forever-land.