- Cross+Gen 2018
- Two Novels and a Memoir
- Separation - Becoming Whole
- In the Radical Middle
- Is It OK for a White to Write about Black or Brown Characters?
EVE'S STORY - unpublished novel
When I was born the rain stopped falling from the sky. Back then, people hardly noticed, except for Mama’s sister. She pointed her finger. “See that child. See how she has grown. That’s how long since it rained!” When I grew to understand it, I cried. Mama asked Auntie to stop pointing. She did, but by that time everybody pointed at me. I was too little to grasp how they worried about the jungle dying around us. I put it together this way: the no rain curse had to do with my growing. I would stop growing. It didn’t work. I didn’t know how to save us from the no rain curse. I didn’t know then how much worse than seeing lifeless trees was holding a baby who lay in my arms, too weak to grow.
We lived under the shady trees of Eden, still green beside Long Lake. The grandpas of our grandpas dug our fire pit between the lake and the foothills of the mountain where the sun woke. Old stories said the waking sun touched Eden. In the shadow of the mountain under shady trees, we said it was the evening sun, red at the edge of the world beyond Long Lake, that touched Eden. The lake gave us water to drink and we ate fishes that moved below the surface. But people worried. Hunters put on loincloths and took their spears to go find meat. They came back with a skinny antelope, not enough to satisfy everybody’s hunger. They said when they left the lake, trees stood leafless, and beyond the dead jungle the grassland was yellow. Even Long Lake shriveled like a piece of mango left in the sun. The people of Wessen lived at the other end of the lake, but the lake moved away from them, and they came to live close to us. When all the fishes in the lake were gone, people said it was the end of the world.
I felt sure that I made the rain stop when I was born. Some said trouble started earlier with Grandpa Adam. He seemed like a normal baby in the days when rain still fell from the sky. But, when he started talking, people wondered what was wrong. He jumbled words together, not in the plain way of talking like everybody else back then. His mate had children before she died, and his next mate had more children. All his children chattered to each other in their own way of talking. They grew up and found normal people for mates All their babies grew into Fast-Talkers. So, among our people some were Slow-Talkers in the old way, and some of us were Fast-Talkers. Adam was born on the day that Grandpa died. When they named him Adam, people complained that he would talk a lot like Grandpa Adam. They said that Eden was noisy with so many Fast-Talkers.
Our Old Chief stood tall when he came to men like Papa and asked for bits of food that he gave to an injured man or a woman with a baby in her belly. His bushy, white hair bounced when he prayed for rain. He prayed to the Lion-god, the Leopard-god, the Eagle-god. He prayed himself to death, and still it didn’t rain.