Mercy Was A Little Girl – A Short Story

 My Own Prison by sophiaazhou
My Own Prison by sophiaazhou

Mercy hid the small satchel under the bed and dusted her dirty fingers on the front of her plaid skirt.

Her knees were scuffed and there was an assortment of coloured hair on her once white tights. With a merry skip she hopped out of the alcove and back onto the trail she really shouldn’t have left.

She thought about that satchel as Aunt Mima whipped her with a cane for ruining her nice tights and staining her beautiful dress. The satchel got her through Aunt Mima’s rage and she barely even registered the sting on her skin when she had her evening bath.

Daddy got home late, again. She watched him remove his jacket and Aunt Mima fuss over how tired he must have been. He didnt speak to Aunt Mima or Mercy. Aunt Mima served dinner for the two of them and Mercy silently ate her butternut soup while Daddy stared at his plate. Aunt Mima, quickly brought out his main course and Mercy hid her smile, even she knew Daddy wouldnt eat soup. He ate his steak as it bled on his plate and when he was almost done noticed that Mercy didnt have her main.

“Why isnt the girl eating?” He asked and Aunt Mima held her hands together as she narrated the butchery of Mercy’s beautiful clothes and this was a lesson in wasteful behaviour. “Wasteful only exists for those who cant afford not to, let the child eat.” Mercy raised her eyes to Aunt Mima and didnt hid this smile.

As she slowly ate her steak that Aunt Mima had to slice for her, her mind went back to that satchel. Soon, that satchel would rid her of Aunt Mima but not tonight.

Her father allowed her to sit at his feet while he smoked his pipe and she painted his latest train set. They spoke no words but the mood was comfortable and Mercy enjoyed having him in the room with her. Just the two of them. Like it used to be.

Aunt Mima came in on time as usual and shuttled Mercy off to bed. There were no late night stories like Aunt Helga used to read. Aunt Helga always smelt of rum and vanilla and if only Daddy hadnt started visiting her bedroom she would have stayed longer. Mercy rolled over and waited for Aunt Mima to leave the room. She heard her humming her usual lullaby as she brushed and braided her hair. She couldnt see her but Aunt Mima left the door between them open so that she could hear Mercy, it didnt help that Aunt Mima slept very deeply.

Mercy did not have to wait long before she heard Aunt Mima’s deep throaty snoring. She crept out of bed and pulled on her winter boots and Aunt Helga’s old heavy shawl before walking down the stairs, she peeked in on her father asleep and stepped outside. The satchel was where she left it. She smiled and walked back into the house.

Mercy walked confidently into Aunt Mima’s room and poured a bit of the brown powder into the water by her bed. She watched the particles sink and took a pencil to stir them till they were all gone, she was careful not to touch the sides of the glass. Soon Aunt Mima would be gone soon, the same way Mummy was.

 

Final Correction – A Poem

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So…

I have no idea where this poem is from, I was editing some older work and thought… well… I could share it… Sometimes my mind regurgitates some pretty morbid things.

Enjoy!

O&O.

*******************************************************************************

Final Correction

I will not speak of things I do not know.
I shall not hide what needs to be shown
I’ve blazed a trail, I alone must follow

You’ve been by my side, of that I am glad
You can accompany me no more
Your time in my life has run its course

Sadness has no place here
Sorrow even less
My love my dear,
Let me have my final embrace

Still your mind, my heart races
Today it ends, what began too long ago
I’ll kiss your cheek, wont allow you to kiss mine

Hold my memories, that’s all I am leaving
Tomorrow you shall awake and alone will you be
I heed the voices in my head and troubled no longer will you be

My blade reflects the serenity of tonight
Company it has been but our last conversation we will have
My love you tried, you kept me sane but my memories come when you aren’t there

I shed a tear that no one will ever see
My last bath I shall run, it is a small treat for me
My toes feel the warmth that my heart longed for
I should be calm, I knew this day would have to come

The water around my ankles reminds me
Of a time when the sun bared down on sandy shores
And my smile was enough to make you happy

Long have those days gone by and my bruised body
Cannot repent on behalf of the sins your hands commit
My love, my dear I cannot forgive one last correction

I sit in my final resting place
There is the serenity I have been seeking
I look up and gaze at your unsmiling face

Did I wake you? I know I shouldn’t have
Cant bare this weight anymore.
Come keep me company

We say no words, what needs to be spoken
Has already been said
I cant leave I need your help

Your hands hold mine, mine tremble no more
I know what must happen. Shocked I am that it didn’t happen sooner
This is the most tender thing you have ever done to me

Right above the bruises you gave me last night
Lay a metallic silver kiss where your lips no longer wander
This is not as hard as when I told you about the child I am carrying

Neither of us do U want,
Neither of us will you have.
I gave you myself and only you can return it to me

The lights getting darker now,
Our baby kicks. When I meet him
I’ll tell him that daddy didn’t want him
But mummy couldn’t let him go

So together we shall be
Where your corrections no longer are
I shall hold the son
You gave to me

As your final goodbye

When You Are No Longer An Immigrant

Credit: Paramount Digital Entertainment and LXD Ventures
Credit: Paramount Digital Entertainment and LXD Ventures

A while ago I came across this video (Coming Out of Your Shell) and my heart did weird things in my chest (like it could do them anywhere else) because I GET IT! You should check it out. If only I had talent with the rest of my limbs and REAL co-ordination, I could create such beautiful visual things… *sigh*.

For a lot of my childhood, I was an immigrant in various places. And language has always been a “problem” for me. Apparently I used to speak Portuguese before “proper” school (lived in Mozambique at the time) but my mum would pinch me (or atleast I think that happened… but it may have been something I made up to make my loss of something so beautiful mean something) because she wanted me to speak English so I lost that right quick. I have an ear for languages but my tongue sits in my mouth like gum at the bottom of a shoe when I try and make it obey other linguistic rules. I cant even do slang properly. I am terrible at trying to sound “street”. Terrible… but I am running off the rails again. Lets get back to topic.

I have generally always had a good “command of English” and it made my mother proud but it didn’t really make me fit in (and what child trying to be normal, doesn’t want that.. or rather, that was the norm at the time, attempting to stand out didn’t really make you special). Among my own countrymen I couldn’t be a part of their private jokes and stories because I could not speak my own mother tongue or any other language from my home country (technically, English is my mother tongue because that’s what my mother used “on me” but “biologically”, my father is Tonga and my mother is Lala, both from Zambia) . My mother didn’t want my siblings and I to be “polluted” by the local languages we were bombarded with because that affected the sound of our English so we were a purely English household except when my parents wanted to share something between the two of them.

“Why didn’t you just teach yourself?” Might be a logical question and to that I would respond “Have you met other children?” They are brutal. Trying to speak a local language when you “look like it should be easy” but sound like a well meaning although ill mannered tourist is torturous and if you do not have the self esteem to ride through the bullying, you give up. Which is what happened to me, I gave up trying to learn my own languages and tried to ace “exotic” sexy languages like French and make sure no one else could “out-English” me, this was of course ridiculous.

I love the sounds of different languages and while I don’t have the same kind of negativity towards my parents languages, there is still too much residual failure in there for me to seek out teaching my tongue to move in that way at this point in my life. If its something my children want to learn in the future, I will not block them and will do everything I can to provide the tools necessary.

The problem with being an immigrant for so long is that even when you return home, it doesn’t quite settle on the bones in a way that truly fits. It may be comfortable but its not entirely “made to measure”. I know I found it easier being an immigrant when it was obvious that I didn’t belong than justifying why I didn’t belong because I looked just like everyone else.

I hope you find your own tongues and come out of your shells. You can only be the best version of you, you choose whether that best version is a watered down version of someone else’s expectations.

O&O

365 Days Later

 The Views We Dream Of
The Views We Dream Of

So…

This blog has been up for a year…

Happy Anniversary to me!

And yet, for all kinds of crazy reasons I have made up reasons to not be happy and not acknowledge my little victories.

Last month was a bit of a hard month emotionally for me, February generally is.

My sister died in February and the whole month turns into a countdown to that day and then after that I descend into “why the hell is nothing really different? Something should change!”. I don’t entirely have all the words for the feelings that her death gives me but hopefully one day I will.

New post coming up shortly!

O&O!

A Poem – Beside the Murky Stream (WIP)

So…

I have been gone a while, haven’t I?

Life has been keeping me more occupied than I care to admit and very little of it has been constructive but some things have been pretty damn good. I will go into the deets in a later post but for now here is a project I am working on.

It doesn’t feel “complete”. I am not sure why but I will be tweaking it in the future I imagine.

Enjoy!

O&O.

Along the Shore
Along the Shore

Beside the Murky Stream

Upon a stream of memories,
You road a float of hope.
I watched you sail away from me,
Without a backward glance.

You took a sliver of yesterday
Wrapped it in a cocoon of tomorrow
And nestled it into today
Tied in a bow I didn’t know

I kept on my sandy path,
Loyal to torture and solitude.
Under the shade of remorse,
I tried to sing but only sat.

You took a sliver of yesterday
Wrapped it in a cocoon of tomorrow
And nestled it into today
Tied in a bow of wispy string

You watched me from afar
As my fingers danced on sunlight
I didn’t feel your stare
And dug deeper into yesterday

You took a sliver of yesterday
Wrapped it in a cocoon of tomorrow
And nestled it into today
Tied in a bow I couldn’t see

The stream began to overflow
Carrying you back with it,
The sun blocked my view
But you rode it all the same to me

You took a sliver of yesterday
Wrapped it in a cocoon of tomorrow
And nestled it into today
Tied in a bow of forever

We took our time wiping the mud off
I’m sure there is still some left
And sitting under that tree of remorse
I finally noticed some fruit

Getting Distracted by Shiny “Newness”

The Voodoo Snowman
The Voodoo Snowman Lives!

So…

Ever since I was a little girl I have glamourised new places, not really “things” because they didn’t stay new for very long and I had to share which I didn’t find fun at all. There was always something very private about discovering new corners knowing only I could see them in the way I was. I created stories for people and things with less to go on than stereotypical movie quips (South Africa was nothing like Sarafina when I moved there but in my head it was but in a happy way, like The Sound of Music in Brown Skin (in my head)). Beginnings give me hope that what I have had is not the best I will ever experience and fascinate me more than endings. This can be a problem when you are trying to be a writer because your stories need to end at some point or in some way. So how do you give endings to things when you are enamoured with starting new ones? Haven’t the foggiest but I need to figure it out soon because beginnings don’t really help me if that’s all they remain.

For as long as I can remember I have been in LOVE with Japan, not enough to learn the language (I have a concrete tongue that cant grasp the tones that my ears can) but I have wanted to “go” there and even declared that once I saw Japan I could die because there would simply be nothing else to live for… I may have been 13 or 23. I can’t remember. I planned on moving there to teach English after graduating but my graduating took longer than planned and by then I was a ‘responsible adult’ and that was nothing more than a longing of a little girl that didn’t exist anymore. Or so I thought.

A little before my 28th birthday, however, I took the plunge. Work was frustrating and draining me, I felt unaccomplished and miserable in my personal life and couldn’t appreciate the good I had because I felt I was swirling in miseries. The good moments seemed so few and far between that they became a punishment of their own. So, I convinced a friend of mine (from university) to go with me to a country neither of us could communicate in for an adventure that only we could share and since it wasn’t going to be cheap, we should do it in winter. Now… as the headline above says. I am an African… I had never crossed an ocean before and I get goosebumps at temperatures below 24 degrees centigrade and here I was saying we should frolic in below freezing weather because I needed a beginning (and my loon of a friend was cheering me on!). I needed something that said that what I had wasn’t the best I was ever going to have but I also wanted to know if Japan could still be the escape I had romanticised in my naïveté. I needed a whisper saying there was more to life than my daily toll.

Plus I needed to learn to give myself permission to give birth to schemes that defied my own personal logic. Responsible girls didn’t do such things and I was very responsible.

Again, as an African, I do not have the luxury of ‘getting up and leaving’ when the mood strikes me, it starts with the visa requirements and then the cost of the plane tickets (Oh my word! They should sooooo put better seats on planes for what they charge for long hauls), plus the whole not knowing anyone or the language made the whole thing rather daunting. But mostly I had to look at my own finances. A few of my previous posts point to me being somewhat of a people pleaser, so selfish trips that gave me no ‘direct benefit’ definitely are not the norm. My father was a civil servant and my mother was a teacher, they are retired now and have a very productive farm that keeps their greys at bay and when I told my father, he did not understand why I would spend my hard earned money on a trip ‘with no purpose’ when there were more responsible things to do with it and he was right. There is always something I could do that would benefit the family more than it would help me but that obligation was adding to me need for some kind of ‘fresh air’. But my Dad is awesome and didn’t try to stop me, and my mum quietly said I should do what I could because eventually I would not be able to, not in a miserable way but I am still young and there is nothing stopping me was more her line of thought.

Those two weeks in Japan were the best two weeks. Ever. On divulging my crazy plan to another friend, she gave me details of some of her friends and they were gracious enough to spend some time with me (and helped my friend and I birth that atrocious snowman in the picture above). I will be forever grateful to everyone who helped me out with that trip and I have tried to hold on to the memories of it because I want them to remain safe, inside me and pure, not tainted by life. That trip to Japan is my personal Patronus Charm, it defeats my personal dementers. It also helped me answer a very important question. Could I still move away if I wanted to? If I decided I wanted to live in Japan, could I settle there? Or atleast stay there long enough to study something while deciding. The answer was an un-resounding ‘YES’. I once had a Chinese maths teacher who felt I must have been Chinese in a past life and I can safely say she was wrong. Its more likely I was Japanese (oooh, or maybe I was a Chinese spy in Japan…that’s an interesting premise for a story… and African-Japanese spy on the Chinese mainland with a time warp element… ooooh! I like! See? Beginnings).

I cant ignore that after that trip, my savings were not the same but I do not regret it. Not the getting lost and wandering for hours looking for a sight we just could not see, or accidentally wandering into a ‘naughty’ store or heaving our baggage in the piddling rain not knowing where our apartment was because I read the map wrong (my friend did not know what she was signing up for when she agreed to go with me). Those experiences showed me that as restrained and sensible as I am, my imagination needs fuel and perhaps I don’t need to fly to the other side of the globe (but that’s immense fun) but when you know that doing something allows you to be the best version of you there is, why not dive in?.

If you don’t feed who YOU are, YOU will starve, you will wither away. I sat on trains in Tokyo watching people around me and gave them stories and imagined histories, saw a hot fella with a guitar on a platform in Kyoto and cursed my luck for being on the wrong platform (everyone knows that all musicians have stories and I was after stories, you pervs!), I watched families in museums in Osaka and wondered which kid was the favourite or what was the last argument between the parents about. I walked always looking up to take in as much as possible, its probably the tallest I have walked in a while. I ate way more than I should have of ‘cheap’ food that tasted divine. My relationship with God is not very solid at the moment but I felt at peace at the temples (except this one time, another guy took a picture with a ginormous camera so I thought it was allowed and whipped mine out, only to be finger stabbed but a very stern guard/policeman in a very smart white coat) and in those streets in general. I don’t know how much of that trip I will share, because it didn’t last very long and my friend is extremely private and may not approve me blabbing about our odd happenings but I am making a few of my own personal discoveries offline and I guess I should share them here. The fella in my life gives me odd looks when I mention the joy you get from being immersed somewhere new and he thinks I romanticise adventure; if you said there was free accommodation somewhere and all I needed to do was ‘be there’, you’d hear me knocking, he is a ‘purpose traveller’ my fella. I probably do romanticise it and I hope the next time I am planning a Japanese escape I lug him along and will refrain from reading maps as that served with incredibly negative results.

I hope you take the time to feed your inner cogs because if you don’t grease them, you cant do or be you.

O&O!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

 

Happy New Year Folks!

I hope your transition into the new year hasn’t already dashed your hopes of a positive start to those new year resolutions. I am generally terrible with resolutions so I wont even bother trying but I usually start making vision boards around my birthday (which is less than two weeks away) and finalise them sometime in April… That’s not an awesome track record but we can say that I have jet lag from moving into the new year and getting a year older so quickly 😉

For those of you that got pummelled by 2013, here’s hoping 2014 is kinder and gentler and those of you that swam in all kinds of awesomeness, My hat off to you and I hope you don’t even notice that time is moving!

Take care of yourselves!

O&O

God’s Girl – A Poem

 The story isn't at the beginning
The story isn’t at the beginning

God’s Girl

There was a girl God gave the world to
But she had no eyes to see that she had it
For while her hands held it all
Her heart held none and beat for even less.

He gave her a smile to light the darkest days
Hoping she could ignite her dying spirit
The body of a Goddess encased in satin mocha wrapping
That danced in the sun and swam through the fields.

 

She had it all I tell you, but she never knew.
Her smile never shone in her reflection,
Her body, she allowed others to desecrate
Never finding the solace she sought

The darkness crept in as she watched.
Her eyes saw what her heart told her was there.
Her few flaws that made her perfect
Became the definition she had of herself

But God had a plan for her you see
He saw that while her road was smooth
She would never stumble and look within instead of without
She would need to fall before she could rise.

He wondered whether he had given her enough strength,
It does no good to break a doll that had no chance at all
When he doubted whether her will was enough to survive the coming storm
He decided that a broken doll was better than a perfect one that never saw itself

He sent a monsoon of horrors that left her beaten and weathered
Her teeth fell out and she could only smile for herself
Her body was bruised and beaten and scars marked her life
Her figure no longer as firm as it once was, became the foundation to her renewed spirit

Life happened, and took away what she once was
Finally she saw that she was greater than no one would ever make her
She saw that she needed only herself to draw strength
She had fallen many times and had risen just once more

Her bruised, weathered skin told a story
A story of a young tree that grew, at first in the shade
Then endured the harshest sunlight
To emerge the strongest trunk that ever stood

I tell you, God’s girl knew how to fall
But more than that she knew how to rise
She learned that without falling to her knees
She’d never have known how to walk on her own feet

And it was her hard feet that taught her to fly.

When Your Reflection Hates You

So…

Getting out of the darkness

 

November kinda kicked my glutes!

In my last post I spoke about all the things I was working on and had this massive surge of positivity that was kind of the decline but I wanted to trap it before the well ran dry. And then things happened that I had no control over and I crashed. Everything just “stopped”. I couldn’t function other than to do the bare minimum and then you do that little bit extra to “show” that you’re all right. You know that extra ‘show’ that takes people off your back about how you are or what’s wrong? Aced that.

Disclaimer: Please not that I am not a psychologist and am in no way qualified to impart advice. I am merely expelling my thoughts but they have no scientific justification and are biased based on my own experiences.

This was especially strong in the final two weeks of November and I am still trying to shake it off. There is no need to go into what happened but I lost my faith in certain things (that I guess I have taken for granted), and it forced me into a negative space. Now negative spaces (by their very nature) are not fun, and people in them are not fun to be around in general but if you have smidges of “people pleasing tendencies” it is likely that then you will fight your own urges to obey what your mind and body are telling you so that other people can be happy. This is counter productive, highly counter-productive! Because all you do is make everyone (especially yourself) irritable and unhappy.

Now, you should not make any decisions when you are drowning in negativity (some may argue the same rule applies for positivity) but generally, you are not likely to be as informed as you should be if you’re about to do something that will “bind” you and your vision is obscured by feelings that taint the possible outcomes beyond what is actually feasible. Your quiet inner voice that whispers on the edges of your dreams, will often guide you on a certain path but you need to balance that with the loud one yelling in the heat of the afternoon sun. Those two need to, if not agree, then “balance”.

Usually the quiet voice directs your intent and the quiet one gives you actions (or inactions depending on your circumstances), and when those two are out of alignment your head can really screw with you and the longer you let it do that and that “divide” widen, the unhappier you will be, well, the unhappier I am because I try to ignore that inner dialogue… it always screws me in the end.

My selfish needs require me to spend quite a bit of time alone and I have not been able to do that nearly as much as I would like to and I understand that this is a pretty strong need yet, that people pleasing bit of me forces me not to and when you’re already aware that you’re not in a mental space you want to be and then you put yourself right in the path to cement that unhappiness where it can mulch and spawn other trampolines for mutated dissatisfaction… you end up with generally varying levels of unhappiness which clouds your whole perception of EVERYTHING. You pollute your own life.

Eventually, you will lose your ability to “spark” at anything because you are being “dimmed” by all this negative energy that just warps in on itself and multiplies and before you completely lose yourself you have to STOP.

Stop.

Really.

Just stop.

Breathe.

And try and claw your way out. I’d love to hear what your methods are, some people need to do something physically strenuous and I think I belong in this camp, I need to sweat the feelings out then I can find the words I need to get back to being me.

So, I’m shortening my ambitions and goals list, getting more physical and spending more alone time.

Be honest with that you need for you to be content.

Live in the moment in the best way that allows you to see all the colours out there.

Then maybe, your reflection wont hate you so much.

Over and Out!

Level Up – Another Message from Anna Akana

I cant remember the source but tis inspiration for an abandoned project. If the pic looks familiar, let me know so I can update this post.

So,

Firstly, I have no direct affiliation with Anna Akana. I am featuring a number of her videos so I need to put that out there, our only connection is in my mind and her cat collection freaks me out but I think we would have awesome conversations over stuff… non Batman related stuff, that’d be a black hole into nothingness… but I feel like I am running away from topic here.

Own up to what you really can do. That’s today’s video.

Sometimes it is bloody hard to keep a grip on what you know is important because so many other things keep getting in the way, do you know the feeling? You set off roaring at the start of something and before you even get to the first bend, you lose all steam and it seems like everyone you left in the dust took over while you blinked… or as you stood holding your aching sides expelling what you think is a lot of effort?

What have I imaginarily (its a word in my head) held onto lately? That I am more productive than I actually am. And I come to the crushing realization that I am not in fact an organising machine even though I tout myself to be (in my head).

When it comes to the work I am paid to do, you bet your kushy toushies that I will be on top of everything! What I need to know is rarely more than 10 minutes away and if it is, then I was probably the wrong person to ask in the first place but when it comes to my personal stuff, I feel like I am losing a spark. I am Smeagol searching for My Precious and even though I know it was stolen I wont stop looking where I know I wont find it. Does that make sense?

This is my positive space so I will not mope or have a pity party (people I know in real life have that pleasure, weep for them). I believe once you realise that you are getting in the way of you not being your absolute best, your own fabulousness, you need to do something about it. And that’s it at the end of the day. You have to be the person that says, “Yeah… what I did back there? I know I said I would go full throttle but I didn’t really dig deep enough to even fire off a cylinder and I am going to do something about that now.” Whether that now is a day, a year or a decade later than when you intended on doing it, once you own up, put yourself in a position to actually claim your awesomeness!

And that’s the hard part, actually accepting that the person you want to be is who you can be. In my part of the world, maybe even in yours, as liberating as the idea of following your dreams and doing what you love is, you need to remember to “be responsible”. Your pay cheque means a lot more than your happiness because your pay cheque is going to help out a lot more people than your happiness will. And I don’t mean in a metaphorical, do good with a donation here and there kinda way, I mean you’re going to see a chunk of your salary going to some cause in the family that will help other people out, sometimes its people you don’t mind, like your parents or siblings, other times, its a cousin in a remote village that you never speak to but calls you to ask you to buy a phone and you cant remember if she even has electricity to charge the phone! In such moments, you cant help but lose sight of those lofty goals that could make you impoverished but happy because other people rely on you to stay where you are for them to be comfortable, and if you are like me, that pull at being needed is a pretty binding tug.

But how long can you sustain living for responsibilities you never asked for? People treat us how we allow them to treat us (and I know this is a deviation from the video but I am already so far ahead, where else am I gonna go?) and you need to decide when you want to stop making other people comfortable with and in your misery. Then, organisation will be your best friend. You need to plan how you will make yourself proud of you and that will be work, deep, “gouge your eyes out in frustration” work at times.

Get to the finish line you want to hit, but know that there is one heck of a climb between now and then, and part of that may mean alienating the same people keeping you where you are now, and when you think of it that way, maybe it isn’t so bad after all.

Over and Out!