CREATIVE SPACE #15 of 2021 (uploaded July 21st 2021)
CREATIVE SPACE is a series spotlighting local (Antiguan and Barbudan/Caribbean) art and culture. As a brand, it dates back to 2009, published in LIAT’s inflight magazine. It was revamped in 2018 and ran to 2019 on Antiguanice.com. Its publishing partner, as of 2020, is the Daily Observer newspaper. It continues to expand across other media platforms (e.g. AntiguanWriter on YouTube). CREATIVE SPACE is created, owned, and written by Joanne C. Hillhouse – Antiguan-Barbudan/Caribbean author, journalist, producer, and freelance writer, editor, and trainer.
This week’s column is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Also, respect copyright.
Here’s a link to the issue as it appeared on July 21st 2021 in the Daily Observer:
Below is the extended online edition (not a duplicate of the edition with publishing partner Observer Media) with extras.
If you would like to be featured in a future CREATIVE SPACE or to pay for a (web only) sponsored post (on jhohadli.wordpress.com exclusively), BOOSTing your BRAND while boosting Antigua-Barbuda Art and Culture, contact Joanne.
CREATIVE SPACE: Times A-Changing
The already narrow road was made narrower by the line of cars. There were always cars there, even when the bars up and down both sides of the road were officially closed due to Lockdown.
There were families there, as in any community, even with the bars and the men perpetually liming on the roadside. Alice’s family couldn’t afford to move. She usually cut through one of the side roads to go to school but when sent to the shop on the main road, she had no choice but to walk through the Carnival. Her feet would drag and her head hang.
Their leers and laughter would follow her, unless one of the older ones was there and sober enough to remind the others, “hey, hey, hey, that’s Ms. Arthurs girl. She only 10. She still in primary school. Watch yourself.”
Alice was on her way to the shop, up the narrow road, when she stepped to the side to let cars pass down the single remaining lane. One of the cars, a pick-up, stopped, blocking the lane. No horns blasted in protest. She looked up. It was a police truck.
Something had shifted this past year, and Alice had gotten used to how everything and everyone seemed locked in even when they were out and about. And she had gotten used to the sight of police and guns.
Seven men poured out of the truck – out of the doors and the open back. They wore heavy colours and their masks made them look like ninjas. One of them had a long gun swung over his shoulder. They approached some men, idling. She couldn’t hear what they were saying but the usually boisterous men were quiet as school boys and one of them stood.
Alice felt tension in her belly. She was an Empath. She could feel the casual malice coming off the one with the long gun, he wanted to use it, even if just to butt something with the heavy end. The others had a general godlike sense of power. It was a thick musty scent, like unwashed bodies.
She swallowed to stop herself from gagging and drawing their attention.
They made the man lift his shirt, patted him down. He turned away, and right away one of them hooked him by the back of his pants so that it rode up like a wedgy. It made him look like a school boy and Alice felt embarrassed for him.
Between one blink of her eyes and the next, it seemed that the man disappeared. She had heard of this but never seen it. The most powerful of the gods in heavy blue could teleport someone far far away. People who were disappeared in this way were never heard of again.
The world had turned so slowly and yet so fast at the same time this past year. Alice was finding that when things moved like that you didn’t even notice it, you just looked up one day to find yourself far from where you started with no sense of how you got there. It was what had happened to her ancestors who had been transported across the ocean far far from home, never able to fly the long distance back, falling and drowning when their wings tired. Their ghosts still haunted the water.
She measured the change only in how quiet the adults had become, as if afraid of each other. Men like these, men romancing the bottle and too careless to be easily crushed, were the outliers. And as the police took their time climbing back in to their truck and finally clearing the way for traffic to resume, the remaining men let off puffs of rage like dragon fire, but it was weak and directionless.
And as Alice passed, continuing on her way to the shop, they didn’t even seem to notice her.
What can I say except I’m low key anxious about sharing this one, as I am sharing any of my creative work. And I didn’t plan for this to be this week’s column (nor for it to be without art) but writing is how I process life and this is where my pen went.
If you want to read more of my creative writing, see some of my published short fiction here and my books here, and if you missed earlier editions of CREATIVE SPACE, they are linked below, plus every one since the column became platformed in the Daily Observer newspaper is linked here.
All Rights Reserved. Sharing or excerpting with link and credit is okay. But for re-publication of CREATIVE SPACE or any other content on this site contact Joanne – also use this link to contact Joanne for appearances (reading, speaking, discussions), workshops/courses, writing, editing, or other offered service.
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