• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 01
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The Driveway

When I reached the gate, I saw Mother talking to a man I had never met before. She stood under the porch outside the front door and speaking with her hands raised in the air, busy explaining something. His hands stayed in his pockets.

He had a round belly and hair slicked back with oil. He wore a maroon shirt with two top buttons undone, exposing a gold chain with a jade pendant around his neck. His sun-browned face gleamed with sweat and he looked like a gangster in a movie.

Next to him Mother was a small woman in a grey dress, her hair unkempt and face thin and clear of makeup. A slice of the sun fell on her and she looked about a hundred in the light. In the same light, the man was terrifying.

When I unlatched the gate, the heat in the metal stung my hand. Rubbing it with my other hand, I stepped into the driveway cautiously, as though I was entering a shrine. The rusty hinges turned noisily and announced my presence.

But they didn’t turn around to stare at me. I took a deep breath and let the scalding air rush through my lungs. I coughed into my fist. Still they ignored me. I hesitated about venturing into the driveway because I was nervous. I was not sure whether I should walk up to them or not, worried I might disturb their conversation.


The Driveway

But something didn’t feel right. The driveway had become an inhospitable space. I felt like an intruder and I wanted to leave the place immediately. Despite my hesitation I took a step forward, as if in a trance, and another, with the sun in my eyes and the heat on my face. The dried leaves crackled under my shoes as they took me further down the driveway. What I wanted to do was to turn around and run out of the house.

Halfway the dog next door lunged at me and barked from behind the chain-link fence. The fence rattled as he slammed his body against it repeatedly. ‘Not today,’ I said to him, telepathically. ‘I’m not in the mood.’ When I didn’t react, it confused him. He stopped barking and stared hard at me with his tongue hanging out. We glared at each other for a second or so before he whined and lay down with his chin on his paws.

Hearing the dog, Mother and the man turned to stare at me. She looked at me with puffy eyes, like she didn’t get enough sleep. He scanned me head to toe with blank eyes, and quickly looked away, like he was guilty of something. But when they didn’t say anything, I felt like I was nothing.