DEATH BY HEARTBREAK

Fiction by Briana Korletey

“Amma, take the chicken out of the freezer and let it thaw,” My mother barked as she wrapped the cloth around her waist.

“Don’t forget or I will drown you in the water with it when I return.”

“Yes Ma.”

She pushed her basket against the front door.
“We are cooking stew this evening so prepare the ingredients. I am going to buy the other things we need.”

“Yes ma.”

“Your face, what is wrong with it?”

“Ma?” My hands flew to my mouth. Did I forget to wipe away the crumbs from the bread we ate for breakfast? Didn’t I check the mirror a few minutes ago?

“You are smiling too much today. What is wrong with you?”
She moved away from the door, her market basket still propped against it. She peered into my face, her breath hot against my eyes.

“Nothing.” I tugged the ends of my lips down, straightening them into a thin line.

“No, your face is too happy. What is going on?” She raised her eyebrows. Her fingers climbed down to the knot at her waist as she began to untie her wrapper. I choked on my saliva as I watched her. If I did not do something she would not leave this house today.

“It is the joy of the Lord.” I mumbled it in the same way that Pastor Jude said it at church on Sundays-my voice low and thick with emotion, my eyes raised to the ceiling as if communing with God on His throne.

She nodded, satisfied. To my mother, God was always the answer to the unexplainable. Besides, she knew I had been spending more time at the church lately.

She turned to my twin brothers splayed out on the floor, an oware board between them.

Waving her plump fingers in their round faces, she warned,“ I am going to the market. Don’t give your older sister any trouble.”

The oware pieces nestled in their palms, they blinked up at her and whispered in unison, “Not at all Ma. We will be very quiet.”

After yelling out more instructions she finally slammed the door behind her, her basket balanced at the top of her head and her money stuffed into her safe space-underneath her left brassiere cup.

I did not change my clothes immediately. Ma might turn back at any moment.

I waited, gazing through the window as her blurred image disappeared into the thicket of forest that led to the nearest bus station. I hurried into the kitchen and placed the chickens in the water watching as the two pieces swam apart, the ice that held them together melting away.

I could prepare for his arrival now. I sprinted to my room, peeping into the sitting room as I rushed past it.

The oware board had been flipped over, the pieces now scattered on the floorboards. My brothers were nowhere in sight. I scowled at the mess and continued to my room. I had more important things to think about.

I changed into my dress, the material hugging my curves in the right places. Pouting my lips, I searched for the red lipstick mother kept hidden in the cabinets for special occasions. I plastered the red chalkiness on my mouth, my tongue sliding over my lips.

My fingers pressed down the creases forming in the cotton of my pink dress as I tapped my feet. The scarlet flower petals I had pinned to the nape of my braids itched against my scalp but I resisted the urge to pull them off. I had to look perfect today. He would be here soon.

I squinted past the two palm trees in the centre of our compound searching for a glimpse of him as I settled into the bench in front of the house. The trees nestled into the other’s embrace like lovers swept up in a dance. Two white birds soared from the rustling palm fronds into the horizon, their wings flapping in sync.

The howls of my brothers spliced the silence as they sprinted past me to the neighbour’s house. Ma’s other brassiere was clutched in their fists, a train of boys lined up behind them. They liked to sneak into our neighbour Kofi’s room with the other boys in the village and gossip about women body parts in its corners. I knew this because they had tried the same foolishness with my favourite cotton underpants last month.

On another day I would have chased my brothers and boxed their ears till they were bleeding red. I would have marched them back into their rooms, handing out hard slaps until their laughs stilled into whimpers.

But today was not an ordinary day. Today I did not have time for them.

Today I was waiting for my love.

I beamed as I glimpsed a blurred image in the distance. I rubbed my eyes as the sunlight danced along the treetops, nestling me in its warmth. I wished Mama had listened to my teacher when she told us that I needed glasses, instead of sending me to herbalists who gave me white concoctions that made my tongue burn and did nothing for my eyes.

As the image neared, I realised there were two people approaching me.

The woman fit into the hollows of his body like a puzzle piece. They moved together as one, the rhythm of his feet matching the gracefulness in her pace. Her hips danced with the breeze, the beads cupped in the grooves of her waists shimmering against the colourful patterns on the fabric of her skirt.

They stopped in front of me, their fingers woven together.

I swallowed the lump in my throat as shadows danced behind my eyes, knowing the words before they escaped his lips.

“Amma, this is my girlfriend Adwoa.” He said, his eyes caressing the blush on her round cheeks with their warm hues. He lowered his eyes to the sand, avoiding my gaze.

The rough callouses of the palms that held me in the dimmed glow of the church’s streetlights when Mama was at work and my siblings asleep, now cradled this girl’s palms.

“Nice to meet you.” She smirked, her razor shaped teeth glaring at me. The tresses of her black hair fluttered in the breeze as her dark eyes pierced through me.

They spun around and left me in their dust, her ebony hands twining like vines across the muscles of his back.

I tore the petals from my hair and smashed them against the ground. The red hearts disappeared into the dirt as I crushed them beneath my heel. Tears swam against my vision as I swiped at the wetness of my cheeks.

All beautiful things die.

Bio
Briana Korletey is a medical student during the day and a writer at night.She is a student at University of Ghana and is based in Accra.She writes to explore the minds and the worlds of the characters she creates.In her free time,she strives to improve on her writing skills in poetry,short stories and novels.

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About Tampered Press

Tampered press started out as a conversation on creating more platform and visibility for writers and visual artists in Ghana and Africa. While blackness has become more noticeable now than in the past, and more space is gradually being created at the table 

black as an identity is heavily nuanced and has to be dissected and carefully documented. African artists in particular have fewer platforms. Our experiences, mannerisms and culture often have similarities, but our style, design, creation and content are different.