Black Birds

Black Birds

It was a cold and misty harmattan morning as he walked down the familiar bushy path. He trudged along like a man with a heavy weight on his back. If your son was dying and you were not sure what to do, the weight of the world would be little compared. He ignored the dark shadows gathered around Mama Ngozi’s house. They didn’t seem to disappear with the rising sun. He did not acknowledge the grieving wails coming from the house, piercing the silent still air. They echoed his own inside.

His son had fainted on the way back from the farm with his mother. Chendu, himself had witnessed it. He had been on his way from a neighbouring village: a relation of his friend seemed to be dying and he, Chendu, had been called for a ‘confirmation’. He remembered Mama Nnamdi holding onto the boy, he had been laughing; and then on seeing his father, he had screamed and lost consciousness. Seven days later he still hadn’t being revived, but his heart was still beating. He wasn’t dying as far as Chendu could tell because there were no shadows around the house.

As he walked he recalled what the herbalist had said. “You, who has the gift of sight from the gods themselves, why consult me? If you say they are to die, they do. Who am I, to try to change fate?”

Chendu had being perplexed. Nnamdi was not dying, there were no shadows. “As in the case of when you DO see death, I am powerless to reverse your son’s condition. I have told you, his sleep is from the gods.”

Chendu tried to reason with him; if he was not dying then the herbalist could do something to revive his son, anything at all. He pictured Mama Nnamdi crying by her son’s side, wiping his brow, her only child. “Chendu, if the gods are silent, they are.” Then softening the herbalist tried reasoning with him as well. “If he were dying you would see it, afterall your sight has seen death in your family before.”

It was true, he had first seen the shadows when his father, whose head had been ‘touched by the gods’, had been dying. He had felt what it meant and 3 days later his father was dead. Since then he saw and warned his townspeople of their imminent death. And no matter what these people did; runaway to another village or appease the gods with rare and expensive gifts, death still came. The town saw it as a ‘gift’ and if anyone fell ill he was called first to see if it was the last battle or not.

He left the herbalist after extracting a promise to consult with the gods one more time. When he got home, he carefully looked over and around the house in the now risen sun, no unusual shadows. He steeled his nerves to face his wife.

As expected she harassed him asking if he saw shadows around their son. Such was her faith in his ‘gift’ that she did not even ask what the herbalist said. “Nnamdi is alive and will live to an age to see a thousand full moons. That is what the chief priest said, so don’t worry.” He said.

“Does he look alive to you? My son has been sleeping for 1 week and his flesh is wasting! Is that alive to you?!” She cried.

“The gods are just talking to him.” Helplessly he noticed Chinyere their niece was not in the room, she was probably cooking. Still young, her cooking was amateur, giving Chendu running stomach from time to time. He decided to go outside to inform her he had no appetite. He couldn’t wait for his wife to resume the cooking. Nnamdi was not dying so the herbalist had to open a channel to the gods; he would do anything at all they asked.

“Papa! Papa!” He heard screaming in his son’s familiar voice. He had woken up –“ Papa! Papa! I see birds, I see black birds flying!” The boy is delirious, was he seeing shadows floating in his eyes? He was instantly reminded of his father’s madness. He had talked about birds when he was really upset. Could his son now be afflicted with it?

“Papa I see them flying! – flying lower around your head!” That was the last Chendu heard. He felt a sting on his leg. He understood a moment before he lost consciousness from the scorpion bite. His poor father. . .

30 thoughts on “Black Birds” by AnnaBella (@annabella)

  1. I don’t know If it was the writing style, but the beginning of the story confused me a bit…the end I totally understood though, his son inherited his father’s gift of seeing death shadows…Great job!

    1. Well, this is my first time venturing out of chick-lit/romance. I was a bit uncertain where the story was going when I started. I thought I had worked the kinks out but I guess over-editting brought it back. Will try my best next time.

      1. I echo Mercy on this, too – I was a bit confused about what the story was about. I’m not sure why I was confused; maybe it was because there were two competing strands in the story that weren’t well separated – Nnamdi’s sleeping, and Chendu’s talent.

        But it all came together in the end. And what a great premise you had for the story, too. Good debut, @AnnaBella!

  2. nice story
    well told

  3. hola!
    nice…didn’t know you had it in you! we should talk more, oh!

    1. I agree we should! I also know you are a great writer so am anxious to read siena (my boss is nearby so i’ll have to it later)

  4. Great for a first post Anabella! I quite liked it.
    I think you need to correct these:
    “he still hadn’t ‘been’ revived”.

    “You who ‘have’ the gift of sight”.

    “Chendu had ‘been’ perplexed”.

    Well done!

    1. Thanks scopeman! I cant believe all that escaped my attention! When’s YOUR next offering? Am waiting…

      1. ‘Offering’, lol… I started a series here on NS, ‘IT’s A LOVE STORY’, you might want to check that out; and there are a couple others that were posted while you were away.
        Meanwhile, sorry about ur health, glad u r better now.

        1. How did u know….? Oh… on omoboja. *cough-cough* am almost better. And my to-do list is getting longer. I’ll get to yours too as soon as I can.

          1. ‘How did I know?’ I’m Scopeman remember, lol…
            Remember our story on the group, add that to ur to do list as well o, you have given that story potential, thanks!

  5. Yeah, i echo Mercy. But i totally got it!
    Nice one here AnnaBella!

  6. Thank you Remi.

  7. Nice one…like it…Its getting better I’ll say….trying ur hands on different writings….

  8. THough-provoking.

    1. Yes! Thats what i was going for!

  9. This is really nice, AnnaBella. I like the way you took us through the story before revealing the boy’s ‘sight’ at the end.
    Good work.

  10. The seer has been seen.

    Nice again.

  11. The seer has not seen. Good stuff. Really liked the ‘planting’ in the beginning. Really worked. Good one girl.

  12. Really love the end. For me, that’s by far the best part. You can just sense that something…chilling is about to happen, but you can’t tell what it is until the end. Well done.

  13. This was a nice story. I enjoyed the beginning a lot, but I got a bit confused by the last two paragraphs. I don’t know if it was the change in tense at the beginning of the section I’ve copied, but to me it took away a little bit from the story:

    “The boy is delirious, was he seeing shadows floating in his eyes? He was instantly reminded of his father’s madness. He had talked about birds when he was really upset. Could his son now be afflicted with it?”

  14. I like the premise of this story, and the way it was told was gripping. However, the editing leaves a lot to be desired. Someone already pointed out the been/being and tense confusion. Another thing to watch out for is point of view. Most of the story is told from the man’s POV, so the few times an omniscient voice speaks, it draws us out of the story, like, “If your son was dying and you were not sure what to do, the weight of the world would be little compared.” Also I think you should have told us his name in that first paragragh. Where it was mentioned in the second, I was a bit confused, thinking it was someone else.

  15. Very brilliant story! and I’m glad that most of those errors have been pointed out already.

  16. never suspected you could write so well,
    heard abt it, saw some scribblings of it, but the finished product was worth the wait………….big yourself up! Big up!

  17. Mazi Nwonwu (@Fredrick-chiagozie-Nwonwu)

    I like it. I think you have a lot of promise, just heed them stressed points. More grease

  18. A lot has been said already.

    Good story anyway.

    Well done!!!

  19. Reading this months after it was posted, I won’t repeat the editing advice. I’ll repeat the compliments…I loved the suspense and the end. Good job! .

  20. Eeeya! Sad end to the story.

    I got here late…very late. But it’s all good. I am enjoying u.

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