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News & Features » July 2020 » “The Wish” by Simone Clunie

“The Wish” by Simone Clunie

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, a wish and witchcraft do not have the desired results.

The Wish
by Simone Clunie
Modda Dora (witch)

The witch had seen this same look in a mother’s eye before when such a request was made. In her long lifetime she’d seen it two times and each time a knifing shiver crawled up her spine. Such a request she knew would not go according to what was wished for. 

As a young initiate witch in training, she’d sat quietly at Modda Dora’s left side listening when a young mother, twenty years earlier, made her request known. She watched Modda Dora’s aura shimmer when she shook her head. Modda Dora seriously cautioned the young mother, but the mother remained adamant despite every rational and not so rational argument. Binding one child’s ache to another, in part or whole, was touchy dangerous work that had more detrimental effects than good. Finally, Modda Dora told the woman to wait three days and sent her away to contemplate the repercussions of what she wanted done. Unfortunately, this placation did not sit well with the requesting mother.

They were making their way to town on foot the next day when Modda Dora stopped and stared towards the rising flagpole in Maas Prentice’s yard. It was a dry, hot day and when they saw the car parked close to the house, they knew the mother was seeing Mis Nova instead. Being Mass Prentice’s wife earned her respect for his positive deeds as the area obeah man. But Mis Nova, on the other hand, though most people knew, did not mind what side your wish fell on. Money on the table meant any spiritual request was possible.

Modda Dora shook her head and said, “Hmmph . . . hard ears.”

From a distance they watched the young mother go through the motions of wedded, family life with her three young children, two girls and a boy, only one of which looked like her husband. The young mother ignored Modda Dora in public and even sought to quietly bad mouth her. But those who were able to see the endeavor for what it was let the young mother have the stage. “Time longa dan rope” was the prevailing mindset. Over time, the intent the young mother put in motion unfolded, but not in any way she hoped. To the outside world she was the model mother of three children and a proper wife. Even to close friends and intimate family members her behavior could not be faulted. Only those who had lived similar situations were able to see the nuances and knew truths didn’t reveal until long after.

When the older daughter, the one born with a caul, began to bleed, a week before she started, she would be covered in scratches gained during sleep. The mother took to saying it was the family cat’s fault, even after it died. The mother dressed the child in long sleeves and high collars in the 90-degree weather that pervaded their environment, while the favored daughter grew with freedom, and under her mother’s eye was an angel who could do no wrong. On the older girl’s sixteenth birthday, things changed.

From nowhere, the quiet comfort of success gave way when the girl woke one morning with a deep gash across her stomach and scratches all over her chest. The girl’s grandmother was visiting and immediately knew what the mother had done. Secreted away by the grandmother, the older daughter’s contact with her mother, her father, and siblings was permanently cut.

Untethered, the younger daughter’s luck changed. Accidents and bad news followed and her favored grace in public gave way to disapproval. The mother’s husband joined the company of the popular local clan spending time and money on leisurely pursuits fit for the idle rich. Unfortunately, the husband was not of the same financial standing and that soon became a problem. Next were the phone calls to the mother at her place of employment from a woman who was known to favor only the company of married men. The calls started earlier at their home, but the mother assumed a stoic, public mask was the way to deal with such betrayal. The last straw was the younger girl’s pregnancy by her brother; the mother’s mind snapped. A year later she could be seen wandering around town, tattered, decrying fate and bad min’ as the reasons for her fall from grace.

Modda Dora just shook her head and said, “…sometimes yu actually sow what yu reap.”

***

SIMONE CLUNIE was born in Mandeville, Jamaica and now lives and works in Pennsylvania. She has floated around the arts and academia for a long time. As a new librarian with a meandering past in the visual arts (ceramics) and museums studies, she writes when she can. She is currently working on a detective novella set in 1980s Miami.

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Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Duppy Thursday flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:

—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 info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Jul 16, 2020

Category: Original Fiction, Duppy Thursday | Tags: , , , , , ,



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