Celebrating East African Writing!

The Ledge by Stephen Mwangi Ichungwa.

The wind is biting. It whips across my chest, changing direction every second; like a maniacal surgeon running razor blades across my torso. It’s dark and the promise of rain hangs heavy in the sky. My feet are getting numb from the cold. I’m glad it’s my feet. I’ll get worried when my fingers follow suit because the notion of plummeting from this ledge, thirteen floors into tarmac, is not appealing. But right now, my hands are still warm from all the adrenaline that is still coursing through my veins. They’re still arguing in there. I can hear them.

It started out well enough. We work together, see.  So after all the office flirtation shit was over and we decide to just do it, we didn’t know it would go this far. What was intended as a, er, friends with benefits thing, went and became a full blown affair all on its own. I had never met a woman like her. I mean, hey, I have had my fair share of ass. This is Nairobi, man. But this one. Dude, I lost my head. I used to laugh at chicks in high school who were so enthralled by the plastic romance in teen romance novels. I scoffed at those annoying romantic comedies starring all pretty white people anytime the current snack wanted to out for a movie. I didn’t think romance was for me. I didn’t believe in it. Then there was this woman! Argh! I hate her. Kinda. Well, not really.

So we snuck around, doing it in the office, the lifts, her car, my cars, my house, her house and so on. You get the idea, right? The one thing was, she was married. She was fucking married to some guy who works for national intelligence. Funny to think we have that. Anyway, so she didn’t tell me she was married. And no one, surprisingly, at the office knew she was either. She did not wear a ring. She kept to herself; politely of course, she was in no way aloof and her office was directly opposite mine. So we said hi in the mornings and shared lunch on the balcony as we were the only people who ate in the office. Everyone else couldn’t wait for lunchtime to dash out and go somewhere.

So we started talking and I found out what an intelligent and witty person she was. From there the requisite bullshit flirtation began. I say requisite because it’s there everywhere. Why is that by the way? Anyway, so we bullshitted for a while and then this one day, we were working like really late and the third person in the office decided to take a nap in the boardroom. She was in my office and said she was oh so tired. So I offered to rub her neck. The rubbing went beyond the neck. Afterwards, we decided it should not happen again and we’ll stay friends. OKs all round, shake hands, fine. But it never happens that way, does it?

The image of a raging whirlpool, tree limbs and drowning wildlife viciously swirling into an eternal abyss is what comes to mind when I try to frame what exactly happened. I was an insect, she was a carnivorous flower. Her essence, scintillating it was, drew me into her poisonous petals where I partook and got hooked. Like heroin, she occupied every fibre of my being and made me crave and drool and I knew I’d never get enough of her. So did she, by the way.

Anyway –hmm, need to stop saying that. OK, so we shagged a whole lot in a whole lot of places and soon enough, she told me she was pregnant. Shit. Now, my usual way of dealing with this is to give the woman cash and tell her to get rid of it. If she prefers to keep the little bastard, then she can count me out of the equation. There’s like six women who really loathe me somewhere. What? It’s a free country. But I couldn’t do that to her. I loved her. There, I said it. I did. I also felt a responsibility towards her welfare and so I was all for keeping the kid. It was she who told me we had to get rid of it. I was stupefied. The woman of my dreams wanted to kill our kid? No! Absolutely fucking not! And I told her as much. She told me that it was for our lives’ sake. I asked her what the hell that meant and that is when she mentioned the husband.

It’s bloody cold out here. I’ve been clinging to this ledge for about twenty five minutes now. The voices inside have quieted down and all I can hear now is the wind whistling in my ears. It’s also quite dark. My teeth are starting to chatter. Maybe he will go away and I can climb back in and dress and leave. I never want to see her again. This shit is not worth it at all. If I stay out here, my fingers will freeze and when I can’t hold on, I’ll fall to my death. If I go in there, a man with a legal firearm and a government mandate will put another hole in my head, probably after castrating me first. My options are just great. Wait a minute, was that a bang I heard?

The husband knew. He knew from the start and had his boys following us around from the third week of our little liaison. There were pictures, audio and all that other evidence stuff that makes denial pointless.  He confronted her, was apparently very reasonable and she promised to end it. We stayed apart for another month after that before we started jumping each other again. She told me she was leaving him. That she couldn’t stand his control anymore. I was over the moon. But she lied, man. She lied like an African politician.

So that’s how I have come to be on a ledge in the middle of the night, literally clinging to life. To sanity and all the other good things therein. I came over to her place tonight because the man was in Mombasa. Or so he said. He was here. He knows I’m here because I can hear heavy footsteps approaching the window which is not fully closed. I can glimpse, from the very corner of my right eye, a hand reaching to part the light mesh curtain. The gun and angry face are not too far behind.


© Stephen Mwangi Ichungwa 2009

If you would like this piece to be the Story of the Week, please vote below on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being weak, and 10 being excellent. The numbers will be tallied on Friday and the story with the highest figure shall be Crowned Story of the Week. Be sure to fill in your name and verifiable email. You can include your critique/comment after the vote.


7 comments on “The Ledge by Stephen Mwangi Ichungwa.

  1. Samurai Ich
    June 2, 2009

    Bravo!! “The image of a raging whirlpool, tree limbs and drowning wildlife viciously swirling into an eternal abyss is what comes to mind…”. I liked that potrait.


  2. deniskabi
    June 4, 2009

    There’s hardly any grammatical or typographical errors in The Ledge.

    Stephen is arguably on of the most gifted writers to have graced the Storymoja blog.

    Brilliant short story.

    I vote a 9.


  3. Peterson
    June 11, 2009

    too good and very real i give it a 9 its some of the things that happen everyday and land in the newspapers as ” an irate policeman kills wife, the lover the self over a love triangle” keep it up my guy.


  4. Eddie Karisa
    June 11, 2009

    A good story but the dirty language kills the literature. It reads like a hollywood script and he would nt be able to write a whole novella with that kind of prose. It would get boring.


  5. Cthulthu
    June 19, 2009

    Eddie, you nitwit. what have you been reading my good man? the paper? its not about the language, its the story. if you had half a brain, you’d realise that the language reflects the jadedness of the narrator.

    stick to ladybird classics.


  6. Chiira
    July 6, 2009

    So bad of me to be commenting so late but i only discovered Storymoja about a week ago.
    The story is a pure classic with all the emotions of the characters captured in a good manner.


  7. Stella
    July 6, 2009

    WOW!I am blown away. This is marvellous. So realistically told and the way we are left in suspense is masterful.Keep it up Stephen. this story is an 11!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: