In The Woods Somewhere (or Stories Never Leave)
by Victor Forna
Gods Slap Those Who Summon Them.
We shouldn’t have been there — but we were, hiding behind the kola-nut tree, peering into the silver night, parents worried over our empty beds back home, and that’s why we can tell you today, beside this fire, how the old god was summoned from underneath the earth. Pa Yamba, who had changed his name to Peter —
Don’t interrupt me.
But we’re both telling the story.
Whatever. Pa Yamba, who had changed his name to Ruben, was the only one who opposed the invocation. “These things always go bad,” he said. Bai Masim, chief of traditions, gave Pa Yamba a reply: “We prayed to the god that those priests brought from their lands, we prayed to his son, we even used their shotguns. Has any of that helped us against these – these – what’s the word?” The catholic stayed quiet, blinking too many times. During his silence, we sighted Thara coming out of a nearby hut. Thara wasn’t even a —
You don’t know that. What does it even matter to the story? And, if she wasn’t a virgin, tell me, would her blood have accomplished the summoning? Tell what needs to be told, or I will take it from here.
You could never tell this story better than me. I only mentioned that so they’d understand why the god slapped Thara when he arose. Anyway, before all that, Thara walked naked, hugging herself to cover her breasts from the cold and the lustful eyes of the elders —
They didn’t look at her that way. Come on.
Whatever. The elders led Thara to a small, rectangular pit. Bai Masim showed her how she must stand over it: feet apart, and resting on the longer sides of the opening. Thara stood so for a while, then her blood, streaking down her legs, began dripping into the pit. One. Two. At the third drop, Bai Masim started chanting an uncanny tune, flinging his feet before him like a rabbit in want of freedom from a snare — (Continue Reading…)