Fiction, issue 7: apr 2016
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One… Two… Three… Four… by Oyinda


Mama’s hips sway to the rhythm of the beat in her head and my fingers tap to the rhythm of the beat of the breeze. It’s an unconscious movement – left to right, right to left – a movement our bodies are accustomed to even when our mind is not.


With my head on your chest, I can hear the soft-drumming of your beating heart lulling my heart-rate slow, and as the gentle wind sweeps her way through your lashes, I look up and your eyelids flutter. It reminds me of the middle of March with her hazy spring emerging slowly from the winter-blue sky. Honey, it seems, your delicate beauty is the estranged daughter of Mother Nature. I can feel it when your fingers linger on the back of my arms. Your touch makes me tingle, like there are astral blue sparks at your fingertips charging my blood electric: the current flows in continuous waves –


The party starts at eight, me and you, we’re there at ten already dazed and confused; our vibrating arms and legs bent on moving to the rhythm and blues roaring from the white speakers. The lights are loud and the music is bright; why are your eyes silver disco balls? Booming, the walls are shaking – in and out – and feet are leaping while a mass of hands push at the grey ceiling. I don’t know the girl who is hosting the party, but her room is pulsating. Is it mad to think that all our hearts are beating as one? Maybe. A lady billows softly, her words are full of passion but the tangerine thunder of the music drowns out the meaning and our bodies begin to melt into each other, too buzzed to stand still, too buzzed to move coherent and alone. The alcohol on your breath smells sticky-sweet. Me and you, the starry-eyed sentiment is bittersweet.


On the bus the curly lady soothes her son to sleep with a tender lullaby. Her voice is hushed, but seated by the window above, the words are easy to recognize. It is one I have never heard, but the rhythm is familiar. The flow of her voice elicits a memory of my mother humming a nursery rhyme to my sister and I. The memory never falters, it is as clear as morning sky, and in the curly lady’s voice I see the pale yellow wallpaper of my childhood. The steady dripping – one two, one two, one two – of rain water leaking from above, the pitiful rhythm of poverty. There is one window, single glazed, so it is always cold and I’m always cold. At night, my nose drips … my nose used to drip … in time to the leaky rain water. In the curly lady’s voice, in the rhythm of her lullaby, she reminds of me of the abnormal togetherness of my childhood. Where the flat was falling apart, my body was falling apart, and we sang the same tune of early adolescent misery and alienation. Suddenly, her voice wavers. Red and blue sirens glide past the bus and I’m pulled out of the memory. Unconscious, my fingers are tapping the window to the tempo of her song.


Oyinda is a 17 year old Nigerian girl living in London, England. She is a writer and part of Sula Collective’s staff. You can find her on tumblr and instagram


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