Monday, August 5, 2013
1st 5 Pages August Workshop - Mell
Name: Mckenzie Mell
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Title: The Civilization of Light and Dark
Outside the Nairobi Airport Terminal, Skylar shielded her eyes from the sun’s glare as she tried to find her grandfather amidst the busy bodies. According to her watch, she’d been standing there now about twenty minutes.
Someone waved at her, but she wasn’t sure it was him. The glare from the Kenyan sun became an obstacle. When it cleared, she saw a smile she couldn’t dismiss. It was Alan Edoje, her grandfather. She walked to him, noticing he wore a T-shirt with the family-owned lodge logo. Definitely him and not a creepy stranger.
“Skylar, my dear, how are you,” he squeezed her shoulders when she reached him. She should let him know he hated when people squeezed her, but she forced a smile. “You finally came home.”
"Yep," she answered shyly.
Grandpa Alan didn’t say much to her on the ride. She was fine with it, since she didn’t know what to say to him at all, really. She didn’t know him that well, because she hadn’t been to Kenya since she was six years old and had little contact with her father’s family throughout the years.
At the one-story house, sitting across the yard from the family owned lodge, Grandpa Alan let her know she’d share boarding with her father, Ishmael, and his new wife, whom she had yet to meet.
“Aren’t we going to tour the place a little?” She asked, coolly when she saw Grandpa Alan getting ready to leave.
Grandpa Alan frowned, looking at his watch, “Too late now. Another day. I have some errands to run first.”
“Alright,” she nodded.
He watched her with a smile. “We’ll spend plenty of time together later.”
She nodded. After he left, she moved toward the small window, admiring the view if the plains from the window of her small room. She was excited about Kenya. Her main reason for coming to Kenya was adventure, and she intended to get into it right away.
In Toronto, she and her mother, Lorraine Labelle, lived in a small, two-bedroom apartment, away from nature. She had never been outside the city, and when she got the invite from Ishmael and Grandpa Alan, she really jumped on the chance to leave the city. Now that she was in Kenya, she planned to make the most of her trip, exploring the country and culture of her father.
After a few minutes of looking around, she found a phone in the sitting room and dialed her mother’s number. Lorraine sounded relieved to hear her voice. “Did Ishmael pick you up?”
“No, Grandpa Alan did,” she admitted. She could hear the cynicism in her mother’s tone.
“He’s not still into voodoo is he?”
She rolled her eyes. “Mom, I don’t know,” she answered coolly.
“I bet he is,” Lorraine hissed bitterly.
Skylar winced, listening to her mother.
"Don't let that man drag you into anything," Lorraine scolded her, as if she hadn’t given her plenty of warning before she got on the plane. “All he cares about is that African spirit nonsense. He has nothing better to do."
“He’s not forcing me into anything,” Skylar assured Lorraine. Her mother didn’t listen, and continued to bash Grandpa Alan. “Mom, I have to go now. Dinner is ready," she lied. "I’ll call you tomorrow.” She hung up the phone quickly, thanking her lucky stars that she’d be away from Lorraine for the rest of the summer.
Her mother met her father, Ishmael Edoje, at university and married right after graduation. After she was born, they moved to Kenya, where Ishmael’s Luo traditions clashed with her mother's free-spiritedness. Around the time she was six-years-old, the marriage crumbled, prompting her and Lorraine back to Toronto. Since, Lorraine badmouthed the continent, all of it. Because her mother didn’t want her to come to Kenya, she stepped up the badmouthing of her father and grandfather. Ironically, it only made her want to come to Kenya even more. It was only to get away from her mother.
As soon as she began unpacking, she heard rumblings outside her door; moving toward the doorway, she spotted Ishmael in the living room. He looked slimmer than she remembered him. He wore a business suit. Skylar lunged herself into his arms, “Daddy!”
Ishmael Edoje grabbed her by the waist, wielding her to face him. "Skylar," he said, coolly. “My goodness, look at you.”
Ishmael's wife came into view then. She was short, and curvy, and she stared at Skylar with shy curiosity, but didn’t say hello.
"When did you get here?" Ishmael asked.
"Earlier in the evening," she admitted. “I was unpacking…”
"And your grandfather didn't say to me outside," he spoke unbelievingly. "Look at you; you’re a young lady now."
“No, I am not,” she squirmed. She was no lady. She lacked style and grace, and much of any lady-like characteristics for that matter. Her mother, and Michelle Holmes, her friend back home, had spent exhausting time trying to feminize her. It hadn’t worked. As long as she was clean, fed and healthy, little bothered her.
"Skylar, this is my wife, Maja," Ishmael introduced, speaking a few words to Maja in Luo. "This is my daughter, Skylar. She’s from Toronto."
“In Canada,” Ishmael corrected.
“Oh,” Maja said, clearly having never heard of Canada.
"It’s so nice to meet you," Maja smiled, coming to hug her. "You are eighteen?" Maja asked, releasing her.
"I’ll be in about a week, yes. July nineteenth.”
Maja shrugged, not having anything else to say.
Skylar didn't know much about Maja, except that her father had married her in the past two years. Maja was pretty and nice enough. Skylar took a mental note to avoid saying much about her to Lorraine; despite what Lorraine said about Ishmael, Skylar knew her mother still cared about him. Once, when Skylar had asked her why she had married Ishmael in the first place, if she didn't like Africa or his cultural traditions, Lorraine had quietly said:
“He was different."
In later conversations, she'd say she was a naive young girl looking to connect with her African roots. Either way, Skylar always concluded that she still loved Ishmael, and would've wished for the marriage to work out.
Dinner in the small house was quiet. A few times, Ishmael pondered the whereabouts of Grandpa Alan, but didn't dwell on it. After dinner, when his wife had retired to bed, Ishmael invited her to sit with him on the veranda, and there, he asked about how Lorraine was doing. She was surprised. Lorraine had taken great care in not discussing Ishmael at all.
"Has she remarried?"
"Nope," she answered too honestly. When Skylar thought about it, she realized it was a good idea to say as little about Lorraine to Ishmael as possible. Her mother repeatedly told friends she had no time for a man. Her only husband was her job, as the managing director of an independent radio station in North York, all her free time was spent working.
Skylar and Ishmael fell quiet for some time, because like her, he didn’t seem to know what to say. He was a man of few words. She knew that, but not much else about her father. Her only vivid memory was of him sitting by a baobab tree, holding her and smiling. It was the memory stored in her most treasured photograph of them.
“Why did you come?” he asked suddenly interested.