A TOUCH OF LIGHTNING
Lightning shot across the highway, the Thunder nipping at her heels. If she could just make it to the junction of CFAO and Cadbury, she would be safe. Suddenly, she screeched to a halt. The Thunder, it appeared, was made up of more than the three boys that had been chasing her down Accra’s High Street: Two new members, having anticipated her direction, stood in front of the old Cadbury building, blocking off the most direct route to her home.
She was trapped.
With three at her back and two in front, Lightning scrambled sideways to the only unoccupied spot: The corner between the winding steps of Osekan Pub and the crumbling wall that separated Accra from rocky sea. She could not scream for help: she was a mute. And she could not bluster her way through them: They were five strong. But she was fast and she could think. With that, Lightning jumped the bulwark and vanished.
Her pursuers however had been born, bred and would most likely die along the fifteen mile stretch of coast that made up nshorna. Even on this cloudy night, virtually blind, their blood thrummed to the song of nimble feet sprinting against the weathered rocks below. Their catch was getting away.
As she ran, Lightning’s eyes desperately scanned the skies for her only other mute friend. He was painfully absent, obscured by the thick woolen clouds that hugged the night. If she had just left the streets at 4pm like she was supposed to. But today was Easter Sunday - The one Sunday when both Christ and street sales were known to rise from the dead: Leaving at four had not seemed like option... until now.
Lightning reached the foot of Papa Nii, a large humanoid rock she’d affectionately named, and began hauling up its stony face. The thunder clapped. Her heart dove. She did not need to look back. She could hear them coming.
Thirteen years of avoiding predators only to get caught on a dirty rock in a dirtier sea. She reached the summit and turned to face them. If death was here she wanted to look it squarely in the eyes. After all, she had been a worthy adversary. She was the mute, lightning fast orphan that kept on living. A smile crept up to the corners of her quivering lips and rested there defiantly.
The boys were approximately eight pacesfrom the foot of her rock now. Their booming howls heightened at the thought of the pleasures that awaited them once they reached her. Seven paces… the things they would do: Six… the things that that made the other girls scream: Five… only she wouldn’t be able to: Four… a touch of Lightning.
A fine spray hissed through the air. On the girl, it slipped undetected into her running stream of sweat and tears. Worthy adversary or not, she was still afraid. But the party of Thunder felt it and hesitated. Four… one does not become a seasoned fisherman without being able to read the sea and— Four — that spray did not bode well. Three - the clouds parted. Two - the moon swung free. One - a gaping maw crashed down on Lightning and Thunder and everything in between.
Then it receded, leaving behind a sputtering little girl and not a boy in sight.
A shivering Lightning righted herself up and began the disciplined regime of expelling salt water from her lungs. The bodies would wash up along the coast in three days. Once her breath returned to its regular pattern, she got to her feet, climbed gingerly down the rocky face and leaned into the trapped puddle at its base. How many times had she, when all seemed lost, been touched by the moonHer only other mute friend. She placed her lips against the water’s clear surface, lovingly disfiguring the reflection of the brilliant, round pearl that smiled back at her. One day, she’d find a way to kiss the moon properly, she thought to herself. But little did Lightning knowthat the moment she did, everything would change. Because to kiss the moon was to control it. And to control the moon was to control the tides. And in that instant, the world would have its first Maame Water: Not those drunken fishermen tales of otters caught in flattering shadows.
Nshorna / in.shor.nah / [Ga] : Beach