Maria’s Fortress



Winds howl,

Moons pass by, overshadowed by clouds

Of parting rains and shimmering rays

Of unseen lights.

On a hill stood a house.

A fortress from

Whence the rule presided.

The sun rose, the sun set

Mist stole over,

The glass frosted,

Stone cold, the ice claimed its grip.

The cold crept into

The threshold, seeped into

The essence of

The home. It was never the same.

But the sun rose again.

Cast golden rays of hope,

Thawed the ice,

Silenced the cries, dried the tears.

The house stood on the hill.

All could see it, feel it.

There it stood,

For generations come and gone.



Transition: The Beginning

An opinion is unique. Everybody has one. Some converge, others don’t. Some walk the same path but on a different journey. An opinion is, however, just that. An opinion. And that’s what people don’t get. It may follow you around, maybe even transform into a reputation. But it is seldom the truth. And that’s how simple it really is.

I sighed in frustration as I slammed the bonnet down. Soon after, a jet of steam escaped the confines of my car’s bonnet. I was usually a resourceful girl, but my husband wouldn’t let me anywhere the mechanics of the car. I tried calling Dudu, but of course I had no reception. I was resigned to walking up the hill to our new place. The heat was over bearing and exhausting. My first day in Glen Nyanza was not looking promising. Glen Nyanza was an idyllic valley, in the heart of Zambia. The town was so small; it did not even appear on the map. The only facilities it had were a church, a market and an itsy bitsy school. Of course, as the norm goes, it was a farming community. And absolutely everyone knew each other. Putting on sunglasses, I begun to walk resolutely up the hill. Despite the heat and the overwhelming distance, the walk was somewhat enjoyable. The road was surrounded by lush greenery on each side, teeming with all sorts of bright and colourful birds. Occasionally, the bushes on the side of the road would rustle ominously. More often than not small animals like lizards would dart onto the dusty road, see me and dart back into the bushes. I even saw a squirrel at one point. however, the more I walked, the more I begun to fear animals of a larger kind. The slithering of the leaves, reminded me of snakes or bears or whatever else was hiding in these woods. Suddenly, I heard the sound of breaking twigs and the heavy deliberate steps of a very large animal. Questions were racing through my mind, could I out run it? Did it think I was edible? Would I reach home in one piece? As I tried to find a solution, hopelessly transfixed to my spot, a child suddenly emerged from the dense bushes. He was wheeling a blue bicycle and had dirt smudged on his chubby cheeks.

“h-hey there.” I stuttered nervously.

“hello ma’am,” he smiled toothily, “I hope I didn’t scare you.” He was as polite as anything.

I laughed and shook my head, and continued walking.

“was that your car I saw down the road?” he asked. I gave him a side long look, not wanting to show my suspicions.

“my brother can fix cars. we could ask him to look at it for you.” He continued with a smile.

“that won’t be a problem, my husband is a mechanic.” I said, smiling at the child. He was almost angelic. He had chubby cheeks and beautiful thick curly black hair. He was a bit fat, but I could tell he would probably grow out of it.

“Ma’am, can I help you carry your bags?” he asked out of the blue. Without waiting for my response, he lifted the bags out of my hands and put the groceries in the bicycle’s basket. Rather than actually riding the bike, he wheeled it along to keep my company.

We didn’t talk too much as we walked along, just took in the scenery. Presently we reached the top of the hill, and I could see the house looming before us. Something about that house just tugged at my heart, like there was something going on, something deeper, larger, bigger than me. I turned to my companion, and found him stationery, staring blankly at the house.

“okay, sweetie, let’s go inside and I’ll give you a treat.” I smiled at him.

His hands shook, as he pointed at the house.

“you live in there?” his voice shook, and his chubby little fingers were shaking from fear.

I stepped forward, and tried to put an assuring arm around him. All of a sudden, he was screaming wildly, flailing in my arms and fighting me off. I was getting scared, why was he so scared? I tried to calm him down to but to no avail. His screams rent through the air, shattering the idyllic peace that surrounded the little valley. Before I knew it, out of nowhere, a whole troop of children on bikes had encircled me. At the helm of the kids was a young boy, with the same thick hair as the little boy.

“Ezra!” he called out sharply.

The chubby boy in my arms settled down suddenly. He wiped his eyes on the back of his hands, smudging even more dirt over his face. Out of nowhere, he ran towards the older boy, and crashed into him with a hug allowing his bike to fall to the ground too. The boy put his arms limply around Ezra, and looked up at me searchingly. He had intense brown eyes, and honed features. He was quite tall, certainly taller than me and had lean muscle. I tore my eyes away from the youth, and begun to pick up my forgotten groceries.

“Everyone time to go home,” the youth commanded. His voice was silky and deep, giving me goose bumps.

I snuck a glance at the children, who all dutifully rode off into the distance leaving a cloud of dust. Ezra came to collect his bicycle fearfully; tear tracks still etched onto his face. He looked downcast, and picked the blue bicycle up forlornly. As he sped off into the distance, the youth stepped closer to me.

“I apologise for that.” He said, holding his hand out. “My name is Myles, I’m Ezra’s older brother.”

I looked stiffly at his hand, and smiled coldly. “No worries. He’s clearly got an overactive imagination.”

He narrowed his eyes at me and put his hands in his pockets, nonchalantly. “you look exactly like Maria.”

I pulled my sunglasses off, and stared at Myles. He smiled cockily.

“Maria was definitely the prettiest woman in the glen though.” He smirked.

I laughed. “I’m married Myles.”

His eyebrows went up the slightest, “I’m sorry ma’am, I didn’t realise.”

“I’m 21.” I said flatly.

“Oh. I see. How come?”

I answered with an incredulous look.

“I mean how come you married young?” he chuckled.

“It was a personal choice I made.” I said bluntly. I wasn’t quite ready to have my story dissected on the tongues of the village gossip. “Have a good day.” I walked up to the driveway of the house, leaving Myles standing there, looking somewhat perplexed. I already knew I shouldn’t have lashed out at him, but I wasn’t very remorseful. I was walked to the front door, I saw my husband watching me through the window, straight-faced and grim-looking. I heaved a heavy sigh, thinking wistfully of the long bubble bath I would have enjoyed but probably wouldn’t have. A wave of cold washed over me as I entered the house, it was sinister, old and still smelt dusty. As hard as I tried to make the house seem warm and light, the dark atmosphere still clung resiliently to the air, swallowing my happiness and suffocating the light. I walked over to the window and looked out. Our house stood on the highest hill, giving me a good vantage point to see the whole town. A heat wave settled over the roofs of the houses, blurring the edges of everything. Occasionally, brightly coloured birds would dart out the foliage on one side of the road and settle themselves in the thick bushes of the other side. As I was about to turn away, I spotted Myles, surveying the house under a tree, barely attempting to hide himself. I clicked my tongue in irritation and turned away. Like I said, Glen Nyanza didn’t look promising.