Tag: fiction

Claudette – Kate LaDew

Claudette

In 1955, nine months prior to Rosa Parks, 15 year-old Claudette Colvin was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama for refusing to give up her seat on a bus. When the federal court case Browder v. Gayle, which aimed to prove state and local laws requiring bus segregation were unconstitutional, went to the Supreme Court, Colvin was the last to testify.  Three days later the Supreme Court issued an order to the state of Alabama to end bus segregation.

She remembered the little white boy her entire life.  Cutting in front of her and her mother at the general store.  Chanting ‘let me see, let me see,’  holding up his hands.  Her palms were the same color as his.  If they had taken off their shoes, the soles of their feet would be the same, too.  She noted this but didn’t dwell.  If it did not matter to him it could not matter to her.  When the other little white boys and white girls laughed, her mother turned and slapped her across the face in one motion.  ‘Don’t you know you’re not supposed to touch them?’ The little white boy’s mother agreed.

Every year, she and her mother drew outlines of their feet on brown paper bags and handed it to the white shoe salesmen.  Every year, he took the brown paper bags by their corner with his thumb and index finger, letting no other part of him touch where her mother’s thumb might have touched.  Where her index finger might have touched.  Where the sole of her foot was diagrammed like a bad luck charm.  A broken mirror, a hanging picture falling from the wall, spilling salt, opening an umbrella indoors, a cat the same color as her crossing your path.

Every year they watched from the front of the store by the window.  Waiting as the white mothers with their little white boys and little white girls all wiggled their little white toes, sliding little white feet into black patent shoes.  She and her mother waited until every white face left the store.  Waited until her mother was late for work, left to explain that this was ‘shoe day’ as the white lady her mother worked for nodded sympathetically and took two dollars from her wages.  Every year when the white shoe salesman walked out and noticed them still waiting, he slowly walked back and removed two boxes from a stack by the exit.  The shoes always fit.  That’s what her mother told her.  But the shoes always fit.

Every year the imprint of her mother’s slap grew darker.  She could see it even if no one else could.  It grew darker and spread, making her darker.  She went alone now to buy her shoes, holding out the brown paper bag to the white shoe salesman, watching as his white palms almost touched her white palms.  Almost, but not quite.  She was now darker than the brown paper bag and wondered if that was the difference.  A hanging picture falling from the wall, a black cat crossing your path.  Something dangerous.  Claudette watched and waited.  The white shoe salesman held the brown paper bag as if it were alive.  It was empty and she had a whole world inside her, but it didn’t matter.  Not now.  Not yet.

Kate LaDew is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in Studio Art.  She resides in Graham, NC with her cats, Charlie Chaplin and Janis Joplin.

 

 

Silent Communications – Anita Goveas

The flowering cherry tree outside Sarpana’s room in the pebble-dashed house in Wimbledon was a mistake. A dwarf ‘Pink Perfection’ tree that grew too big until its canopy shaded the front garden and its branches almost stretched to her window. The music of the wind in the leaves blew her to sleep most nights, as she lay awake counting her mistakes.

The eldest child is the leader, everyone knows that. The middle child is neglected and the youngest is spoilt by everyone. But what happens when the eldest is tone deaf and the middle child is a boy who’s born singing? When the eldest daughter has arms skinnier than the green shoots of over-shadowed crocuses, and the youngest daughter’s cri-du-chat means she only listens to people who can lift her over their heads?

No one ever asked anything of Sarpana but she felt silent expectation pool in the base of her neck. It wouldn’t rub away. She gave up going to the library to take Tarla to the park, and winced every time she ate dandelions. She stopped playing chess after school to take Jinesh shopping, and shrank every time he came home with pockets full of stolen CD’s. The only thing she knew for sure was sometimes the breeze sighing through cracked bark sounded like secret comfort. She whispered back in gasps in the dark and listened for changes in the code.

The cherry tree replied the day of the Great Storm. The wind intensified all day, swirled over the porch and ripped through the lavender. The tap-tap-tap on the window came at exactly midnight on her digital clock. Sarpana moved forward, pressed her face on the cool glass, blinked into the gloom.  The heavy branch crashed through the top of the window and spiked through her pillow. She slept on the floor as if stunned.

It split itself in half with the effort of communication, limbs still pointing. A hybrid, twisted thing. Crocuses grew back under the dead part, Tarla hugged the half that still flowered every morning. It never gave fruit again. The crowds who gathered to stare at the wreckage and point at the miracle girl made her mother bite her lip and her father rub the base of his neck. Sarpana pleaded for the tree every evening, but her passionate gasps dispersed like seeds sucked from a dandelion head.

They chopped it down the day she left home. The tap-tap-tap of the suitcase on the pavement told her not to go back.

Anita Goveas is British-Asian, based in London, and fueled by strong coffee and paneer jalfrezi. Her stories are published and forthcoming in the 2016 London Short Story Prize anthology, The Word Factory website, Dodging the Rain, Rigorous, Pocket Change, Haverthorn and Riggwelter Press. She tweets erratically @coffeeandpaneer.

Women Writers We Love: Aileen Santos

This week we are thrilled to be featuring Aileen Santos, author of Someone Like You (Two Wolves Press, 2016). This past year she was published in two anthologies, Wherever I Find Myself: Stories by Canadian Immigrant Women published by Caitlin Press and Currents published by Ricepaper Magazine. Aileen’s flash fiction story, Work of Art, was featured on Dying Dahlia in April 2016.

AileenSantos

What inspires you the most?

Listening to music and the constant struggle of the human condition inspire me most. I’m fascinated with the struggle within us to do good, to choose good, though people are often broken inside. It’s interesting for me to observe how this brokenness can affect our actions.

Who are your favorite women writers?

I tend toward Asian writers. Two are Evelyn Lau and Jhumpa Lahiri but I especially enjoy reading emerging or new authors who write through the lens of diverse realities.

What does your writing process look like?

I journal every day to exercise the writing muscle. As for stories, I write snippets in the notes section on my phone but do not write linear stories. I may start something and then a year or a few years later, while I’m working on something new, I will dig it up to see if it fits with what I’m currently working on. A huge part of my writing process is reading every day. Even if I’m not writing, I’m always reading and I find this helps my craft immensely.

What advice do you have for fellow women writers?

Support each other, whether that means meeting up for coffee to talk about what you’re working on, showing up for readings or posting when a fellow writer has an event or accomplishment. I’m not very good at using Twitter but I try to do these things on Facebook and Instagram.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on many things at once. Just like my novel, it did not take shape until the very last year prior to publication so I’m not sure what it is yet. It has no shape or form. I’m simply writing.