the UNCATEGORISED: Daily Prompt: History of Language

Write a piece of fiction describing the incident that gave rise to the phrase, “third time’s the charm.”

Kweku had decided that there were 5 things he definitely didn’t like, in the short time he had been alive.

1. Being 10

2. Being  4 foot tall

3. Being “a skinny beanpole” as his aunts called him.

4. Being called Kweku

5. Talking to girls

Number 1 was about to change in two months and nine days, and numbers 2 to 3 were undoubtedly temporary issues that he would overcome. One old picture in particular assured him of this. It was propped up on the fireplace, between a dusty bowl Pot-Pourri and a fat candle wick still wrapped in cellophane. His dad and uncles had once been ‘skinny beanpoles’ all above 5 foot 7;  looking at them standing side by side he was reminded of 6 microphones. They all had large perfectly shaped Afros that glinted against the flash of the camera. That was way back in the olden days though the  1970s – now their bellies were round and their Afros were gone.  They looked like puma yams.

He was sure he would one day get used to number 4, but right now, as a 10-year-old growing up in England, with a funny Ghanaian name left him open to all sorts of stupid questions and silly insults. He remembered once being cornered in the art room by Kitty Porter and her usual group of eager to please friends. Her alarming steel-blue eyes honed in on him from under her dark thick fringe; she asked why he had such a weird sounding name and if his mum and dad could even speak British. He couldn’t take her seriously, one because she was a girl, two because  she was called Kitty and three: despite English being the number spoken language in most parts of West Africa, she, as the child of British parents, grandparent’s and so forth, was unable to speak English properly full stop. No, he was most certain that he would never get used to talking to girls, or even want to. 

What is a 10-year-old (almost 11-year-old) supposed to know about girls anyway? He had no sisters, the only girls he had ever spoken to were two of his cousins both under the ages of three and even that had been challenging. Mum didn’t count. In the end he had come to the conclusion that this problem was one he would really ever have to consider in the far-off future – like if he had to work with girls when he was older.

Little did he know that all of this was about to change sooner than expected. 

Kweku had been cycling through his estate on his friend Jomo’s new mountain bike. It had belonged to Jomo’s big brother but  he had since left the family home for the States. As the youngest of three (the second, a sister) Jomo was a spoilt child. He had nearly every xbox game in the shop or so he claimed, and he was always turning up to the playground with the best trainers and newest clothes. He also liked talking to girls, in fact he just liked to talk full stop. The only reason Kweku played with him was because he knew how to shut him up.  As he finished circulating the estate Kweku made his way back to the starting point, where his friend was waiting. As he approached he saw Jomo talking to someone he didn’t recognise. It was a girl. He hopped off the bike and pushed it the rest of the way, taking his time to observe the scene before him and how he was going to tackle it. Jomo’s eyes were large, his soft loose curls jounced with every excited nod of his head; his large two front teeth protruded as he smiled broadly, licked his lips and took a sharp intake of breath before proceeding to talk.

Jomo’s mouth ran at least 10 miles per hour and Kweku could see the girl was mesmerised by this. He couldn’t make out what Jomo was actually talking about, but that wasn’t anything new. His attention fell upon the girl instead. He couldn’t understand it at the time, but his stomach felt light and heavy all at once. Her hair was a perfect halo of black tight curls, similar to the hair his mum’s had whenever she removed her wig before bedtime.  She was smiling, but not goofy like Jomo’s or snarling like Kitty. This was a magnificent smile, her teeth were all accounted for and in perfect alignment, and her eyes, oh her eyes! Like dark brown orbs under the longest lashes he had ever seen. Her skin was smooth and rich, she must have been a fond user of coco-butter. However her shoulders were tense and her hands were clasped tight as Jomo rattled on about nothing in particular.

The girl tried her best to join in, not once but twice, both times Jomo’s voice had engulfed her own. Kweku knew what he had to do.

“Jomo Rasheed Nadia Mustafa!”

As if by magic Jomo’s large mouth snapped shut reduced to a very, very tight pout. The girl’s attention was now transfixed on Kweku, he in turn felt sick. Jomo snatched his bike back and without a single word cycled off.

Just like that they were two, and he had no idea what to say. “You saved me !” the girl stepped closer, “thank you, my name is Mona, we have just moved to the third floor, what is your name?” Kweku couldn’t move. Mona chuckled and stepped closer, using his rigidness to her advantage, then she said ” Nadia? what sort of name is that for a boy”  before giggling uncontrollably. This made Kweku feel at ease, he could feel his own laughter rise as he watched her  hold her stomach and double over. Maybe girl’s were not all bad. Perhaps she was in this instance ok to be around, tomorrow who knew, she could be a complete witch. He watched her laugh, her smile so wonderful, the sound infectious. Then before he knew it the words came “My name is Kweku, and you’re welcome” .

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