Faith For Fools

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story on faith.

Submitted: June 27, 2016

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Submitted: June 27, 2016

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She was the only one that did not cough. The smoke had risen past the tallest of heads. Their brown skin faded in its thick darkness. There was a heat. Not from the now fading embers of the dark dirt. The heat rested in the chests of the young boys of the village. It rested in the frowned wrinkles of the young children. The heat, like the embers sizzled. It sizzled on their tongues as they coughed. Across their eyes as they cried. The wind did not come either. So the smoke and the ashes rested as well. They rested so long that they became the people. The ashes rested on their faces, slowly. There they stood with the black ash war paint on their faces, defeated.

She was the only one that did not yell. “Have we even fought!” the young boys would yell. They would yell facing the sky. They could not face their mothers. They did not look at each other. And they turned their backs towards fathers. The elders would stare at the scorched land. “That was the last of our crop.” They then resigned their tears.  The mothers would stare at the barren land and lose sight of their children. The children played in the hot ash. Their faces were clean though their palms were burnt like the ground. They built castles with the black dirt. The children would mount their castles high, then the ash would fall. They smiled and resumed their helpless game again.

She was the only one in the village that had a smile. Her and the children. They played the same game. She stood there in the ashes, yet her face was clean. She picked up soot from the ground. She ran the hot dirt through her fingers and felt it burn at her tips.

One of the elders asked her. “Chidinma, will you talk to them again?”

The boys yelled into the air, “This is not the time for talk!”

Chidinma continued to play in the dirt. She had filled her hands with ash. She padded it on the ground and built a tower. A child came near and added more dirt to the pile. She smiled as she watched.

The villagers began to plead, “Will you speak for us?”

She watched as the child added more dirt to her tower. A sudden wind blew. The black dirt fell and covered the child’s face. There was a sharp cry. The child’s face was stained black, he ran and hid under the legs of his mother. Chidinma looked towards the villagers. They squinted to see her since the dust had settled around their eyes. The black soot from the smoke had stained their view. It was hard to see her through the darkness.

Chidinma spoke, “I will speak to them. But you all must have faith. Faith in their plan. They know what they are doing. Just have faith.”

With that she left. The villagers stood there in the smoke. They stood there in the darkness and waited for her return.

 

Chidinma sat on a trunk outside the foreman’s office as she waited for him. The trunk of the palm tree was coarse and scratched her bum as she sat. The tree, like others in the area, had been cut down to expand operations for the facility. Chidinma looked around at the concrete cube houses lined with mosquito nets. She watched the workers move in and out the cubes in lines to their positions. She watched their pale faces as they moved. Palm leaves were scattered across the floor from the dead trees. She watched as the workers stepped over the dead leaves, the green hues fading into the swollen sand. Then she watched as the foreman exited his cube.

He looked at her and grinned “Chidinma it is always so funny to see you. What’s the problem?”

She smiled. “Yes sir. I just want to ask. You have burned all our crops. I don’t see the plan.”

He snickered and with a few words and smiles he made her see.

Chidinma began to reason “To clear space to dig a hole. I just don’t understand why?”

The foreman looked at her deeply. He mirrored her smile. And with a few assuring words he showed her why.

Chidinma spoke once more before leaving. “I will tell them all that you have told me. I have faith that they will understand.”

The foreman laughed. “I do too.”

And with that she left.

The village gathered in the Chief’s house. Everyone sat on the dirt floor. Some of the boastful young boys stood. The elders at near the walls of the hut. Chidinma stood in the center as she spoke. “I have spoken to the foreman and what they have done with the crops is for our benefit.”

One of the boys yelled “How?”

Chidinma snickered and began to make him see. “When is the last time the village stood together. Even the crops. Only the women farmed them. When we come together and do something united it will make us all stronger. You must have faith in their plan.”

The same boy spoke again. “So we are supposed to come together as a village by breaking apart the land that made us. My grandfather was buried where our crops once were. Will we now uproot his soul where they uprooted our crops.”

Chidinma looked at the boy deeply. She smiled. “What is your name.”

“Arinze.”

She began to show him why. “In the ground there are precious materials, the foreman knows, and we can dig these materials for ourselves. These gems are rich. You say your grandfather rests in this ground. His soul is present and it is precious. You must have faith.”

The villagers grew silent. They nodded their heads in approval.

She continued. “So let us start digging tomorrow. We will begin— “

“No!” Arinze interrupted. “These people took our crops. We cannot let this happen. We must fight.”

An elder stepped in to challenge the boy “Shut up your mouth!”

“Do not argue with Chidinma. Do you not have faith? I still remember when this girl was taken from us. The foreman before this one was ruthless. He had tried to eliminate the entire village. Her father was killed in the battles. The foreman failed. But he still harassed. He sent his workers to kidnap children. None of which ever came back. When Chidinma was taken her mother always believed she would come back. She would tell everyone ‘she had faith her child would return.’ After her mother’s death, Chidinma returned. She was set free, there was a new foreman. Ever since she has been our messenger. So do not ever doubt her faith.”

Arinze listened to the elder then sat on the dirt floor.

 

The first day of digging was rough. The smoke and the ash had settled and formed a dark crust over the earth. The villagers came together. With provided shovels they provided labor. They struck the earth with their steel yet broke the dirt with their will. Arinze watched from afar, head too high to dig. He watched as they worked. They worked under the cover of the dust deep into dusk. They cast a trench into the dark solid sea. They struggled as they moved about the hole. Arinze watched from afar as the villagers toiled in their graves.

There was a shortage of the food supply yet there was a surplus of work. There was also a surplus of death. It was worst with the children. They carried their swollen bellies with bony fingers, running. Running around the village, around the pit, then they ran no more. The village had lost most of its members and the bottom of their pit was becoming less and less visible.

“Do not worry,” Chidinma spoke. She stood tall over them. Their backs hunched and their lips dry from hunger. “The foreman will come and he will pull the gems and that money will feed us. Just have faith.”

Not even Arinze bothered to argue. He watched them under the dirt in dismay. The villagers worked under the dirt, they no longer felt the heat. Only shade from their dark pit. Only their sorrow. They coughed as they worked, to free the dirt from their lungs. Chidinma worked as well. She was the only one that did not cough. For she had the courage to make cowards.

The foreman came. He came with his workers. And they came with their guns. They came at night and took the villagers before starvation did. Most of the villagers slept in the pit so they made easy for the workers. All they had to do was aim down. Chidinma and Arinze were the only ones that remained.

“Chidinma it is always funny to see you. Did you find any ores?”

“No. But I have faith we will”

“Go look in now.”

She looked. I was hard to see but she managed to make out the still bodies drowned in the black pool. She knelt by the pit and cried.

“Now I’ll tell you this. I’ll have my workers test the area for oil. If there is oil, I will let you and Arinze free. If there isn’t…” He smiled.

A soil worker went and bent down near the pit. He began to take readings of the soil beside the pit. As he worked, Arinze slowly motioned towards a shovel on the ground. The soil worker continued taking samples from the ground. Arinze attacked one of the other workers. They quickly beat him down. They threw him down besides Chidinma. His muscles twitched as he tried to resist. He slowly became weaker, then docile. He turned towards Chidinma with a defeated smile. “All’s that’s left to do now is to have faith.”

The soil worker finished his analysis

 

The land was dry.

 

 

 

 


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