Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

||| |||

News & Features » January 2014 » “the story daddy never know” by elisha efua bartels

“the story daddy never know” by elisha efua bartels

Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.

This week, Trinidad Noir contributor elisha efua bartels takes us to Trinidad for the story of one girl’s deadly path. Next week, Eric Boyd returns to tell us about a fine catch.

elisha efua bartelsthe story daddy never know
by elisha efua bartels
st. james, trinidad(+tobago), west indies

What sweet in goat mouth does sour in he bambam . . . her mother’s words seem an echo but come from inside, making the chorus of a song (something she cyah remember doing since reaching double-digits) with verses of mondayjanuarysixthtwentyfourteen and eighteenthbirthdayfirstdayofmylife—sometimes she hearing first-day, sometimes last, but mostly first; annoying, even so. She turn and snap, “shut up, ma!” more to break the singsongy internal refrain than for lack of comprehending the futility of her words.

Light disappearing almost too fast to mark the spot while the ground under the trees still visible, she put away hammer and chisel and gather the tools for the next part of this new ritual. She leave what she need by her galoshes at the door, not with the box she place by her mattress after putting her sadness inside it.

She turn again to her mother; again her voice play in her head. Like you feel you’s woman inside of this house! She turn back to the gallery, walks away from her mother to its furthest corner to look out, past Fort George Road’s union with the Western Main Road, over the main road and the grassy embankment separating its flyover from the Foreshore, across the Foreshore to the coast, to the placid brown water of the Gulf of Paria, where she plan to take her.

Later, moon high, providing enough light she cyah deny this act, she put on the galoshes, and shovel in one hand, box hugged tight to her other hip, step into the night and to the back of the wood+galvanize shack by where the fig trees huddle.

She dig for what feel like hours; too shallow a grave might allow secrets to escape. She hears the sadness inside the box over the panside practicing Shanti Om a block away, and know it will stay with her even with its body locked in its tiny coffin. She stop digging when she cyah listen to the box no more.

Later still, panyard quiet, earth patted back into a small mound she presses her unused rosary into, baby girl’s name breathed over it and sealed with a kiss, the only protection she can offer against the eternity of douens for one who never properly knew mortality, her mother’s voice cut through her again, so you big now, eh . . .

Big enough to birth baby, dirty her hands, bury her dead . . .

Before the sun fully rise on Tuesday, avoiding the few cars whooshing through the wetness of the wee hours along the Foreshore, she will dispose of the crumpled pile that had been her mother. And she go survive.


Before escaping the unnecessary hazards of winter for home, elisha efua bartels spent her time in Washington, DC teaching, stage-managing and performing with several theatres from Bowen Macaulay Dance to the Washington Shakespeare Company and Folger Shakespeare Library, and freelancing as an associate producer/writer for The Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU, 88.5fm. Since returning to Trinidad+Tobago she’s had a piece published in Akashic’s Trinidad Noir, and continues to write/edit, teach, perform, stage-manage and direct with griot productions, continuum dance project, lilliput theatre and 3canal, strongly committed to raising the standard and the profile of the arts in sweet T+T.


Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:

—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—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: Jan 6, 2014

Category: Original Fiction, Mondays Are Murder | Tags: , , , , , ,