To close out the year, I'm thrilled that the lovely people at Aesthetica Magazine have included a story of mine in their anthology. Featuring all the finalists from the annual Creative Writing Award, it's good company to be in - and a high note to end 2015 on.
Also, simply as an object d'art, the Anthology is quite a thing.
Emily Nxumalo does not see the house for herself until the day of the auction. Her husband Walter had returned to their two-room in Orlando West one evening clutching the papers, and she had known from the paling of his knuckles that some manner of decision in her life had already been taken.
– This is it, Walter had said, his face fiercely vulnerable.
He had worked it out for her in soft pencil on the back of one of her Grade Ten copybooks. What they could gather together from family, their savings, the bank. What some of the repairs might cost. How much they could put away in the first five years, if they were careful, if they took in a student, if she went back to work after the baby was born.
– We could have your mama come to stay, he had said, and Emily had understood that he was offering her this as a proof of faith.
So she goes. She stands in the shade of a twisted tree in the front garden, the soil beneath it burnt bare, and works on emptying her face.
– Come, Walter calls from the dark rectangle of the doorway.
The agent is a softly plump woman with brittle hair. Emily watches her hands while she talks. They pull at each other, like small animals cooped up together. There are few others at the auction: a suited man, a desultory couple.
– A bargain, Walter says as they sign the deeds. – Our own house in a good area.
Which means, in this city, a white area.
If you'd like to hold in your own grubby little hands - and read the rest of my story - order the 2016 Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology here for just £7.95.