“Mon sé mèt ou! (I am your master!)” by Delroy Nesta Williams
Akashic Books is proud to introduce a new flash fiction series, Duppy Thursday. Though we’re based in Brooklyn, our location envy of the Caribbean is evident throughout our catalog. One aspect of Caribbean literature that appeals to us is the integration of folklore into contemporary stories—a perfect example being Jamaican author Marlon James’s debut novel John Crow’s Devil, which we published to great critical acclaim in 2005. Whether it be the spider Anansi, the devil woman La Diablesse, the Soucouyant, Mama Dlo, or Papa Bois, these mythical beings have injected life (and death) into the literature of the region. As with our other flash fiction series, we challenge you to tell your story in 750 words or less.
This week, Delroy Nesta Williams tells the story of a man seeking revenge in Dominica.
Mon sé mèt ou! (I am your master!)
by Delroy Nesta Williams
Commonwealth of Dominica
Eddie had always been a quiet man. Living on the outskirts of the village meant he was always met with a curious but hesitant eye. The village children were always warned to stay away from him.
That stereotype suited Eddie just fine as he never meddled much and didn’t like any disturbance. He spent most of his days going from Tanetane to Marie-Galante or Les Saintes—islands just north of Dominica—to sell produce from his five-acre farm.
When he wasn’t farming or selling his produce in the French islands, Eddie took his small boat just west of the Cabrits, let down his anchor and his fishing line, and drank the day away. He never worried about his catch, but he always came home with dolphin fish or tuna. It was enough to feed him for a week or two.
Eddie had kept to himself ever since Mary, his girlfriend, had left him for a police officer in the next village. He had tried his best to get her back, but she had preferred to stay with the officer, even though he was a married man, who had his own family in Roseau.
Eddie, who couldn’t understand her behavior, simply explained that she was under a jumbie. Once something was unexplained to Eddie, it was attributed to a jumbie. It was simpler for him to understand it that way. Mary’s exodus had been the genesis of his drinking, and she would probably have been the revelation too if she had paid him any mind. But she no longer showed any emotion toward him.
Every time they crossed paths, Eddie was reduced to tears. She had a hold on him. He said it was because of a jumbie too. He would sit down anywhere and cry like a baby with no care for the occasion or the audience. It had become the village spectacle, and many people looked forward to their meetings. It wasn’t often, but whenever it happened, the village would be talking about it for days.
But now, Eddie had a plan. He had visited the gardé zafé in Marie-Galante during his last trip there on the advice from one of his French customers, who had heard about his dilemma from one of the other farmers who also made the journey across the choppy waters to sell produce.
Géwa, the gardé zafé, gave Eddie specific instructions to follow. He woke up before sunrise on Good Friday, rushed to his fowl pen, grabbed the first egg that he saw, and ran back into the house. He washed the egg in lukewarm water, dried it off with a clean cloth that he later threw away, and placed the egg under his left arm. Although he felt uncomfortable, Eddie left the egg there for three days as instructed by Géwa.
He did everything with the egg under his arm—eat, even sleep, but he wasn’t supposed to bathe. Although his fetid smell troubled him, he was determined to do everything in his power to rid himself of Mary’s hold. He had bad nightmares for the three nights though and jumped up from his sleep, sweating and panting for breath. He still kept the egg firmly under his left armpit, careful not to break it.
Early Easter Monday, before the sun was up from behind the mountain, Eddie rushed out of bed, got dressed quickly, and left the house. He ran all the way to the seashore and hid behind a huge boulder that had been deposited there by a hurricane. It shielded him from the sun and the rest of the village.
As Eddie knelt down, he removed the egg from under his arm. The first crack was apparent on the shell. Eddie wasted no time and dug a small hole on the beach floor. He placed the egg into the hole and awaited the appearance of the moss. Froth from inside the egg pushed open the small cracks, and Eddie saw a small boy-like creature emerge. He marveled at its likeness and almost got lost in thought, but he remembered the directions of the gardé zafé.
He recited quickly, before the moss opened its eyes, “Mon sé mèt ou! Mon sé mèt ou! Mon sé mèt ou!”
“Ki sa ou vlé mon fè?” the moss asked, slowly and deliberately.
“Kill Mary!” Eddie coldly responded, with a devilish grin on his face that exposed his spaced teeth and the fire in his eyes.
DELROY NESTA WILLIAMS is a poet/writer from the Commonwealth of Dominica. His short stories can be found in the Caribbean anthology Jewels of the Caribbean (Hair On My Chest) and in the twenty-ninth volume of The Caribbean Writer (The Bond) which was shortlisted for the David Hough Prize. He is currently a member of the Nature Island Literary Festival management committee and co-manages a poetry/music showcase called Lyrics Under The Stars.
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a Caribbean location and incorporate some aspect of folklore, whether centrally or tangentially.
—Include the location and the referenced folk tale or figure of the story with your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Please include a short bio with your submission.
—Accepted submissions to Duppy Thursday are typically posted 2–4 months after the notification date, and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to [email protected]. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Apr 7, 2016
Category: Duppy Thursday | Tags: Caribbean, flash fiction, short story, Caribbean Literature, short fiction, Duppy Thursday, Dominica, Mon sé mèt ou! (I am your master!), Delroy Nesta Williams, Commonwealth of Dominica
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