Monday 18 February 2019

#WEP/IWSG Challenge - 28 Days. My #flash fiction, Steps to Freedom.

Welcome to my blog! Today I'm posting a little early for the February WEP (Write...Edit...Publish) challenge, 28 Days.

I struggled to come up with an idea for this prompt. 

Finally, it hit me and I began to write faster than I've ever written before. 

I began to imagine this refugee trudging through Africa heading for an imagined freedom. I come from a country where the boats are turned back, not a good look. Nor my belief. My argument is - what did I do to be lucky enough to be born in Australia? Nothing. 

Image result for australia turn back the boats images

I want to share the fictional Abioye's story. But I'm not sure how fictional it is...

Image result for refugees walking from sudan to ocean

Steps to Freedom

He took another step.

Abioye looked down. He saw red dirt, swollen, ripped feet, and his lengthening shadow. Miles behind him was his village, burned and looted, everyone he loved, dead. Ahead of him lay freedom.

He took another step. 

As he walked, he kept his eyes on the roadside. Already he'd been lucky enough to find a rolled-up mattress, a cringing dog, a goatskin of water to add to his swag. He'd been getting his swag together for weeks - a few tins of supplies the warlords dropped when they swooped into his village and drove off into the hills, automatic rifles over their shoulders. They stole the UN dried milk tins from the mothers’ tents, taking from the babies' mouths. They stole all the rice, showing not a whit of conscience for the starving villagers.

Then they took more than supplies.

When there was nothing left to steal, one day they returned and took the lives of everyone - all the old men, all the women, all the children. The only survivors were the young men like him, young men who roamed the sparse land, looking for edible herbs and grasses in the desert-like landscape. He'd returned at nightfall to the devastation. He ran. If they found him, he'd be forced to become a boy soldier like so many others who'd disappeared.

He took another step. 

Abioye felt the sob in his throat. But he was a man. He refused to cry despite what he'd lost.

He took another step. Then another. And another.

It was the only way forward to the north. To the boats. To the sea. To freedom.

He'd heard stories of boats that left from Tangier in Morocco. Boats to take him across the water to another land. A free land. A land with food. A land with jobs. He'd work in Tangier until he saved enough to board the boat. He'd heard stories of a man who hired young men to escort tourists through the medinas*. He'd heard it took 28 days of working 7 days a week to save enough for his trip to the new land. To Utopia.

He took another step. His feet pained so much he was surprised when they moved. One step. Then another agonizing step. 

The sun beat down mercilessly. He sipped from his meager water supply. He must make it last. He might walk for months and find no village, no water, no food. 

The dog cried. What could Abioye do? He carefully poured a mouthful of water into his palm and the dog lapped, not wasting a drop. It licked his leg in gratitude. Abioye reached down and patted the mutt’s head.

He took another step. 

Every few steps he had to adjust his belt. He'd lost so much weight in the past few days, the belt kept slipping down over his hips. Once he'd forgotten and the next thing he knew his trousers were flapping around his ankles. He laughed at the ridiculous situation, then stopped, afraid he was hysterical from the horror he’d seen. But it didn't matter if he laughed, cried or screamed. There was no one to hear him. He was crossing the Sahara Desert. Alone.

The road became rocky. He stumbled. Landed on his knees. He was sobbing now. He couldn’t help it even though he was wasting moisture. The sun. The rough road. The hunger. The thirst. The vision of his parents' burned bodies. His young sisters. His beloved -- How could he go on?

The dog licked his face. Abioye dragged himself to his feet. He had to go on. In memory of his father, his mother, his two sweet sisters, his Candis who’d been promised to him when they were both three years old. They were all alive in his head.

Abioye took another step.

He felt like he was falling, not walking. Falling, falling, falling, but never hitting the ground. 

How long had he been on the road? Was it 28 days already? Surely, soon, he must pass by the green plants that leaked water. Then he and the dog could drink their fill. He felt the moisture on the tip of his tongue as he dreamed of it.

I'm so tired. I need to sleep. On my mattress. Just for a little while. 

He took another step.

Toward the edge of the road.

He mustn't stop. To stop was death. Then there'd be no one to remember his family. No one to remember his Candis. He saw her in his mind – her wide smile, her red lips, her teeth pearly white, dazzling him, her short black hair cropped close to her scalp, her graceful long limbs, her colourful dresses that brushed the ground when she walked.

I will never forget you, my eternal love.

He took another step.

Whether it took 28 days or a year, he would press on. He would make a new life. Away from his cursed land. The land that God forgot. Maybe God had turned his back on Africa but still lived in that new land where the boat would take him. Maybe God would welcome him to its shores and surround him with love and plenty. Instead of sobbing, he smiled.

He'd seen mirages in the desert many times. A mirage was coming toward him. A big green tank shimmering through the waves. Surely it was full of water.

He took another step.

The mirage came closer. No! It was a jeep. Soldiers in the back. Soldiers in the front. Guns pointed. At him.

He spun around and took another step. Away. Away from the killers. Away from bondage. Away from death.

He heard the dog yelp. His throat closed over. Turning, he saw its head a bloody mess and its eyes stared sightless into the searing sky. 

'Stop or you're next!' One of the soldiers waved his gun, then shot a round into the air. Crack! Crack! Crack! 

'Don't take another step, boy. Or you're dead.'


* Medina - the old walled part of a North African town.


Thank you for reading. Please join us if you have an entry that would fit 28 Days. If not, please consider joining us for April's WEP challenge - JEWEL BOX.

Wednesday 6 February 2019

#IWSG February post - Wake me when I'm famous - self-publishing.

Welcome to my blog for 2019. Hope your holidays were awesome if you had some and that you're all fired up for the new year. Well, one month gone already!

I couldn't find the question for the month when I sat down to write this, or the co-hosts. Now I'll have to do my own thing. I'm off traveling to Vietnam from next week into February, so I've no time to lose.

Thank you to Alex and his team  for the opportunity to post about my insecurities. I'm sure I'm talking about something every writer feels insecure about at least once. You're probably way ahead of me here.

I've been busy writing, editing, getting critiques, edits, re-writing, putting together a nice little pile of titles so when I start publishing I have a backlist in my paranormal series, my Paris novel, some yet-to-be-collated flash fiction...

Image result for self publishing vs traditional publishing 2018 images

I haven't even considered traditional publishing (except for my Paris novel which still languishes with Avon). I've been completely sucked into the self-publishing groups with their positive spin on writing as a business such as Joanna Penn et al. I'm really into research and I'm no longer convinced traditional publishing is the way to go. Or maybe I just can't handle rejection. Feel free to disabuse me if you don't agree. I've read so many pros and cons articles my eyes feel crossed.

But of course, with self-publishing, we sink or swim by our own efforts. Which is where the doubt comes in. What if my story isn't good enough? What if my cover isn't good enough? What if I don't have the puff for constant promotion? What if? What if?

Ah, well, that is the writer's life.

  • How about you? Self-publishing or Traditional? Tell me your opinion/story...

The first WEP challenge for 2019 went live on Feb 1st. Go HERE to sign up for posting around Feb 20th. Flash fiction, non-fiction, photo essays, 1,000 words.

Thanks for coming by...