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I see Mama in de cemetery when dey put de white casket in de ground. She was crying so hard she was shaking like when grandma died and Tanty, Mama’s aunt, had to hug Mama up tight, tight, to keep Mama from falling down.

At grandma’s funeral, Tanty say, “Doux doux Shalini, yuh have to hold up yuhself. Yuh have yuh daughter Samantha to bring up. Yuh must be strong fuh she.” Mama wipe she own tears and stop crying den. But she smile was spoil. I try to come first in school and eat all de rice and provision I hate when she cook dem for dinner, but Mama say she heart was broken. Fuh true she eyes didn’t shine full happy like dey did before.

Dis time in de cemetery Tanty didn’t say anything because even she was bawlin’ like a cow with everybody else. Mama was de loudest. She voice was like a cutlass chopping straight through de noise. Daddy stand up stiff next to she and was silent, like a stone.

I know why nobody tell Mama to hold up sheself dis time. It was because it was me dead in de casket in de bottom of de hole. It was my funeral.

Except I wasn’t in de box.

I was standing behind one of de concrete headstone watching Mama and all meh aunties and uncles bawl. I cry too, because I didn’t remember how I get there and I didn’t want to be dead.

I remember I was playing in de yard. I run to get meh ball and den bam, something hit meh. Pain, pain so sharp in meh chest, like a knife when I breathe in. Mama was screaming but she voice did get farther and farther away.

Come back, Mama, I thought. Where yuh goin?

Den everything gone black and I wake up in dis dead people place by de sea. No more pain. No screaming. I put meh hand on meh chest to check what happen. I wasn’t wearing de pink frill dress Daddy buy meh for meh seventh birthday. I was naked from meh belly up, wearing a long grass skirt and a hat shape like a cone. I try to pull de hat off but it was stuck to meh head.

Meh whole body was wrong. From meh ankles, meh feet was twisted with meh toes pointing behind me. I sit on de grass and try to turn meh right foot around to face de correct way but it wouldn’t go straight. When I walk around de gravestones, meh heels went in front of me but meh feet look backwards.


Tanty and meh cousins, Shivani and David and dem used to say dead children’s spirits, douens, have backwards foot. When I ask Mama if what dey did tell me was true, she say, “I can’t tell yuh dat, chile.”

I wanted to show Mama meh feet when I see she in front of meh grave and tell she douens was real and I was frighten. But no one could see meh and it had too many people around Mama saying she was going to be alright. Everything happen for a reason.

“Am I all right?” I ask. Meh voice came out as a whistle and I couldn’t stretch my mouth open. My backwards feet pull and I run to Daddy’s car in de parking lot and watch meh face in de tinted window. Ah sharp pain hit meh chest again because wen I look at meh face, meh mouth was a tiny hole de size of a black tamarind seed and I had no nose or eyes! Meh face was smooth like a mango skin. How could I see with no eyes? I had jumbie face. I scream but it come out as ah angry whistle on de wind.

“I sorry, Sam. It was ah accident,” Uncle Ram was saying by meh grave. He choked up crying and gon back to sit in he van alone after. Everybody else was watching de ground. Nobody talk for a long time and den Daddy hold Mama by she shoulders, turn she around and walk she to we car.

I didn’t know if I could follow dem. They didn’t call meh to come. They didn’t even look back fuh meh standing in de cemetery beside de hole. I was frozen where I was while I watch every car and van drive away.

Den it was quiet except for de sound of de shush, shush of de waves from de sea nearby. I liked when we whole family use to go to de beach. We used to play cricket and eat hot fry rice. Now de sound of de sea fill up meh ears and head like it was inside meh skull. I didn’t dare go near it. I didn’t trust meh backwards feet not to run on dey own. What if they walk me into de ocean and kept walking until I was covered?

Later, two man drive up in ah noisy backhoe so loud it drown out de ocean inside meh head. They start to fill up de hole I was suppose to be in with meh casket. All dat dirt woulda been dump on meh. I would have never climb outta dat.

They was almost finish filling up de hole but I didn’t want dem to leave. So when dey turn off de backhoe engine and get two shovel to smooth over de dirt on meh grave, I went and stand behind de man who look younger and didn’t have a beard.

“Excuse me, Mista,” I whistle. He shake up at meh voice like a cold breeze touch he.

“Ey boy.” He cross heself and say to de next man. “Let we hurry up and done here. I don’t like to stay by child grave.”

“What yuh think? She go come an haunt yuh?” De older man laugh.

“Yuh think I joking?” De young man suck he teeth. “Yuh go see.”

“Okay, okay. I want to done, too,” de older man say. He went back in de backhoe with he shovel an turn on de engine.

“Rest, chile,” de young man whisper to my grave with he eyes closed. Den he went in de machine next to de old man and dey drive away like Mama and Daddy.

I sit back on meh grave and cry. I cry so loud de whole cemetery fill up with a ringing whistle. People who was visiting other graves cover dey ears and run back to dey cars. I was sure Mama would hear me back home in de house and she would come and get me and hug meh up and give meh a sweet and sour prunes like she did when she used to collect me from school. Mama never ever use to let meh cry.

She didn’t come back.

Den, it start to get dark. I watch de sea swallow up de sun. De air change. It touch meh skin like a bunch of cold hands and fingers all over meh chest. I wanted meh white and pink bed and a cup of milk. I wanted to be inside. If douens was real, den de soucouyants and loop garous and jumbies dat come out at night to bite you and take yuh soul was true, too. I didn’t want to meet dat kind of jumbie. I stay awake and watch to make sure none come for meh.

In de middle of de night a lady drive up to de cemetery. She had long straight hair and was wearing a black dress dat reach she foot and a black veil dat covered she face. Tanty did explain after grandma funeral, that if yuh go to de cemetery at night yuh must walk through de front door of yuh own house backwards when yuh go back home or de ghost and dem go follow yuh inside. Dis lady didn’t look like she was scared of ghost at night following she inside she house.

When I get closer, she smelled like de sandalwood incense grandma used to light when she say she prayers. I creep up quiet beside de lady.

“I go kill dem fuh let yuh dead,” she whisper. “I did tell dem, doctor. I did tell dem. Yuh wasn’t well and dey insist, an insist I was crazy. I was, what dey say? Overprotective. De lady’s voice did shake like Mama’s at meh funeral but softer like de sound of slippers on de wood floor. “But I know someone give yuh bad eye. Dem curse yuh. Dat’s why yuh get sick.” De lady wipe she face. “Come back and see meh, Alyssa,” she say. She take out a bottle of liquid and pour it on the grave.

“Don’t be sad Aunty.” I whistle softly. She turn she head slowly and stare at meh in de dark.

“Yuh not Alyssa.”

“Yuh could hear me?” I jump back.

“Yes, Douen, I could hear yuh. What is yuh name?”


She nod. “Yuh see meh daughter, Alyssa round here? She was four. Smaller than you. So, so little she was.”

“No, Aunty. I get here today and nobody else here like me.” De lady’s shoulders drop.

“Do you miss yuh mama?” She was looking at me but her voice change like she was talking to a baby.

“Yes. I do. I want to go home. But meh Mama can’t see me like yuh.”

She rub she arms and shiver like de man in de backhoe earlier dat day.

“Where yuh family living? Yuh know dey address? I go drop yuh by dey yard so yuh wouldn’t be lonely.” I think for a minute, I go get to see Mama and nod meh head.

“Okay, let we go.” She touch she daughter’s grave stone. “Mommy love yuh plenty, Alyssa.”

De lady let me sit up front in the car next to she while she drive. I give she meh address. She say it wasn’t too far drive from where by she live. We didn’t talk but I could see tears wetting up she face. She car was full with little colourful crosses and charms on de dash and hanging from de mirror. I try to behave and be quiet, like I used to do for Mama but I had so many questions.

“How come you could see and hear meh and no one else can, Aunty?”

“When yuh is a chile, yuh can see everything,” she say. “An when people get big some of dem can still see spirits and energy but others lose dat forever.” I didn’t ask she anything else after dat because she face get hard like she was finish talking. When she turn de car onto de trace where meh house was, she stop and turn off de headlights.

“Yuh could walk de rest of de way? I don’t want to drive up in people yard and wake dem.”

“Yes, Aunty, I can walk. Thank you.”

“Good luck little, Douen. I sorry. I sorry, yuh never get a chance to live and grow up and experience life.”

I didn’t know what to say. So I tell she, “thank you,” again and watch she turn she car around and drive away. Den my backwards feet point meh towards de house. Just down de hill and around de turn and I would reach home.

When I reach de yard of we big old house on poles, Lenny meh dog start to bark hard at me. He rush up like he was going to bite me.

“Lenny, doux, doux, is me, Samantha, puppy!” I whistle and pat him on de head. Mama never let Lenny in de house but everybody know he was my best friend next to meh cousin Shivani. He calm down when he hear meh voice and lick meh face. I laugh because it tickle de same as before I died.

All de lights in de house was off except for de one in Mama and Daddy’s bedroom. I try to climb up the concrete steps into de gallery but a force stop meh and I bounce back on de ground and fall on my backside like when I get hit before I died. I try de back step and I capsize again. I couldn’t even stay under de house in de hammock Daddy hang up for meh.”

Dey must be went inside de house backwards to keep meh out!” I say.

I sit under we plum tree in de yard, scared that a jumbie would come out of de cocoa bushes behind me. I cry that Mama didn’t want meh in de house like de dog. But Lenny come and cuddled up next to meh and I get nice and warm. I closed meh eyes and went to sleep.

De next morning Tanty come to de house early with Uncle Ram and Shivani. Shivani wasn’t at meh funeral. Today she had on a new blue dress and she bring a doll with she. Tanty say Shivani was de cutest right in front of meh one time. Mama tell me later she thought I was de cutest. I still like Shivani even though Tanty thought she was prettier than me. I wanted to wear a fancy blue dress too and not dis scratchy hat and grass skirt.

“Shivani!” I call. She head move like she hear me but she didn’t turn around. She follow Uncle Ram in de house.

People kept passing by de whole day. All we family and cousins carrying containers of food and den leaving with nothing. Twice, I hear Mama bawling from where I was under de plum tree. It hook into me and pull me towards de house but every time I put meh foot on de step I bounce back.

Dat’s when I see de dent on Uncle Ram blue van and remember how I died. I ran into de yard to get meh ball after Shivani threw it dey. I didn’t even see de blue van. Mama tell meh not to run in de yard like dat. It was my fault I died. I went back to meh plum tree and sat in de shade and cry quiet so I didn’t scare anybody.

Daddy and Mama didn’t come out de house dat day. I wait and wait. Lenny sit with me de whole time and only went by de back step when Daddy call to give him he food.

Everybody get to talk to Mama, even Shivani. Everybody, except me.

Daddy start to go to work. He look even more serious den before. Tanty come by in de afternoons and stay with Mama. De whole time I sit in de same place watching Mama’s window wishing she would come to it and see meh. I wanted she to tell me a rhyme or a story like she used to when she brush meh hair. Would she know me if she see meh? She used to tell meh she would never ever let anything happen to meh.

De days were so lonely and long. I walk up and down de trace, scaring de cats and de neighbour’s goats. Other animals could see me just like Lenny.

A next neighbour, Mr. Max, come to quarrel with Daddy one afternoon about how Daddy didn’t cut de grass coming up de trace for a long time. He say de road look a mess. Daddy didn’t even yell back at he like I see before. He just say, “okay” and went to cut de grass.

De next night, I went to Mr. Max house and climb up de pomerac tree in he yard. He always used to brag about how he tree had de sweetest fruit. I went and bite each an every pomerac so dey all spoil and he would have none. Den I chased he two dogs round and round he house until dey barking wake everybody in he house up and he wife start screaming, “Call de police!”

I run back to we house to de plum tree and laugh and laugh. Lenny was happy, too and he lick meh face. Mama come to de window and move de curtains. She look out, almost like was looking right at meh, and then close de drapes fast. I close meh eyes and dream of she singing meh to sleep.

De next morning, Mama came down de front steps. She didn’t look like meh Mama. She was so thin and around she eyes was dark, like holes. She clothes was hanging off she like she was a stick and she had some grey hair.

“Ma! Ma! It’s me!” I wave and whistle. She shake she head and get in she car and drive away fast. When she come back home she was wearing a red string tie around she wrist. She didn’t look at de tree where I was at all.

A week later, Uncle Ram come over with Shivani by themself.

“I want to play with Lenny, Daddy,” Shivani said to Uncle Ram while he was taking some bags out of de van.

“Okay, Shivani. Stay in de yard,” he say and went up de steps.

“Yes, Daddy.” Shivani wait until he was inside and walk straight up to meh.

“What you doing in Aunty Shalini yard?” she ask. “And why yuh dress like that? Don’t yuh have any proper clothes?”

“Shivani, is me! Samantha!” I say, happy she could see meh. But this time meh voice wasn’t a whistle. It come out exactly like Uncle Ram’s voice saying, “Shivani, Shivani, Shivani,” over and over. Where was meh voice? Meh whistle? I cover meh tiny mouth and back away from she. Yelling, “No! No! Go Away!” But again it come out as “Shivani, Shivani,” and she was following me. I couldn’t control meh backwards feet. Dey keep walking towards de cocoa bush leading Shivani away from de house.

Meh chest went hot and hard. Why Shivani couldn’t hear meh properly? Shivani could talk to Mama and wear pretty dresses and was cute and I have to sit outside half naked under a tree when she father, Uncle Ram, hit meh with he car. I focus and call to Shivani louder backing up into the edge of de cocoa bushes. “Shivani, Shivani, Shivani!”

“Shivani! Where yuh goin, gyal?” Uncle Ram call from de top of de steps. Shivani stop and stare at meh.

“Nowhere, Daddy,” she say and run back to de house.

“Lucky,” I scream, scaring a cobeaux in a nearby tree. Shivani look back at me but Uncle Ran didn’t when they went inside de house. I sit down under meh plum tree and stare at Mama’s window, so vex I was shaking.

Dat evening Daddy come out de house carrying part of meh bed with Uncle Ram.

“Where all yuh taking meh bed?” I shout. I run up to de van and try to grab Daddy’s arm but he didn’t feel meh. “Stop! Don’t give it away. Don’t let Shivani have it.” Dey went back in and come out with more pieces. I stomp back to meh tree and hug up Lenny. It was dark and de back of dey truck was full of my things. Mama come out. She looked so pretty. Not so tired any more.

“I hope yuh like de bed set,” she say. Mama hug Shivani up tight, tight. I don’t know if I had a heart anymore but if so, it break. That hug was fuh me. Before she get in de back seat, Shivani look back at me. I give she de worst cut eye I could from under dis stupid hat. Den Mama turn around and went back inside.

“How could yuh give Shivani meh bed?” I ask before I cry all night.

Days later, Mama put on de black long sleeve dress she had on at meh funeral and get in she car. De air feel heavy and I get pull to de car. Before she start to drive away, I climb up on de trunk and sit down. I wasn’t scared of falling off. What could happen to meh? I was already dead!

De road she take went through de whole town. Pass de market and de chemist. She was going back to de cemetery. When she reach, she park de car and sit in it for a long, long time. I see she through de back window. She shoulders was shaking. Watching she made meh sad. I jump off de car and went to meh grave. It was different now. Grass did grow over de hole. Yuh would never know meh body should be under de ground.

“Hi!” a little voice say. A kid dressed like meh, with a hat and grass skirt but smaller was standing next to meh.

“You is Alyssa?” I ask she, touching she shoulder.

“How yuh know meh name?” she say, bouncing on one backwards foot.

“Yuh Mama help me get back home. She was looking fuh yuh. Where yuh was de night she come to look fuh yuh?”

“I doesn’t stay here during de night! It have a scary bad ol’ man jumbie with bright red eyes. If he see yuh, he take off de top of he head and ask yuh to touch he brain.”

“Fuh true? Den I was lucky yuh Mama bring meh back home!”

“I see all kinda weird people here. Is dat yuh mama coming now?” She point towards de car park. Mama was walking over to meh grave wringing she hands. When she was in front of it she sit down and put she hands flat on de grass. She didn’t move or say anything.

“I want to see my Mama, too,” Alyssa say.

“Eh. You could wait till she come back to see yuh here or yuh could get a ride with we back to town and look fuh she. She say all yuh living close by we.”

Alyssa clap. “I want to come with all yuh.” Mama look in we direction but shake she head and look away.

“Ok den. Go and sit on we car trunk,” I tell Alyssa. “Dis is de first time I get to sit with meh Mama since I dead.”

Alyssa run off on she heels towards de car. I sit right next to Mama. She wasn’t crying.

“Samantha,” she say in she nice soft voice she used to use when she wake meh up for school. “I hope yuh know I love yuh. So much. I go never be de same.” She stop like something catch in she throat. “I know yuh not at rest, baby. Me, too. But tings is going to start to change.” She wipe she face. “I want to tell yuh dat, so yuh know dat I love yuh.” Den she was quiet a long time. De whole time she talk it did feel like pieces inside meh chest was breaking apart. It wasn’t a sharp pain at all. It was a deep ache. Den she blow meh grave a kiss and stand up.

I follow she back to de car and sit next to Alyssa on de trunk. Alyssa put she arm around me. Dat was nice because I don’t know when was de last time somebody hug me up. When we reached de village, Alyssa say she have to jump off de trunk by de chemist.

“How yuh go find yuh Mama house if yuh don’t know yuh address?” I asked she before she jump off at de main junction.

“I go, go to de market and wait fuh she dey.”

“Okay den, bye!” I call as de car drive off fast and left little Alyssa behind in de dark.

People start to come less to de house. Mama would sit on de gallery steps everyday and talk on de phone to Tanty or she cousins. At first she voice was heavy, heavy and she didn’t talk much but slowly, she start to talk more. She sound better and dat make me happy. One day, on de phone she laugh and it make meh jump. It was a quick bubbling thing that shake meh chest. I laugh with she and dat make Lenny start to howl and howl. Mama laugh at him howl and de sound fill up de air and fill meh up, too.

Mama’s clothes start to get tight. She face get rounder, same as she belly. One day Uncle Ram drop Tanty and Shivani by de house. Shivani was holding a balloon in she hand dat say Baby on it. Den all de aunties and cousins come. De aunties was laughing and talking and dancing to soca while de kids play with Lenny below de house.

“Lenny, puppy!” I call but he wouldn’t come. He was busy jumping with Shivani and David and de other cousins having fun. “Lenny!” I scream at him. All de kids look at me under de tree. Lenny didn’t move and Shivani grab he collar.

“No! No, Lenny. Don’t go by she. Dat is a jumbie!” De other little kids scream when she say jumbie and run up de gallery steps.

“Dat is a Douen. Look how it dress and look at it foot.” David pick up a stone and pelt it at meh. He miss and I laugh so hard all de kids had to cover dey ears. Den David throw another rock. Dis time it hit me right in de center of meh chest. It hurt meh. Not de same way like when I was alive but more inside like ah burn. Den de other cousins all start to throw rocks at meh, hitting meh everywhere and I had to run in de cocoa bush to hide.

“What happen all yuh?” I hear Tanty voice from meh hiding spot.

“It have a Douen, Tanty!” Shivani say. Everybody was quiet.

“All yuh come inside de house,” Tanty say. I stay in de bush with de bugs and lizard and worms until it reach night and everybody gone home.

“Lenny, Lenny puppy, come!” He come over and whimper and lick meh face. “Now yuh want meh, ent? Before when Shivani was dey, you didn’t want to come by meh.” Meh face get hot like ah flambeau. I stand up and whistle at Lenny to come. Den I lead Lenny into de bush. We walk and walk in de dark, deep, deep into de forest. I whistle and whistle and soon I could hear wild dogs barking so crisp and vex.

“Come, puppies, come,” I call as I climb up a tree. I look away when Lenny growl and de wild dogs tear him apart. I wasn’t so bad dat I could watch that.

Two days later, Daddy and Uncle Ram went in de bush to look for Lenny. I could hear dem call he all day. Shivani cry when dey come back and tell she Lenny was gone. I cry too because I shouldn’t have kill meh puppy.

Mama had de baby, meh brother. Daddy was happy. He smile and laugh when people come to visit. Shivani and David and all de little cousins came to see de baby. Dey name he Rajiv. Sometimes, Mama would put Rajiv in a basket on de gallery and talk and sing to he. I would listen and pretend she was singing to me but then she would take Rajiv inside and I’d be alone again with no one. Not even Lenny.

Soon, Rajiv was talking all kinda silly words and trying to walk. When Uncle Ram and Shivani or Tanty come over they did blow kisses and laugh at every noise he make. He was cute. Maybe he looked like me! But den Shivani start to call Rajiv “brother.”

One day on de gallery Mama said, “Dat’s right, he is yuh brother!” My chest went red hot and hard again. I wanted to drag Shivani into de bush by she hair but I couldn’t because she never came near de plum tree anymore.

I wasn’t going to get bigger. Nobody talk to meh and anyone who could see meh left meh or pelted meh with rocks like Shivani or David. Mama never let Rajiv come on de grass. Daddy was busy with work and now right in front of meh Shivani was calling Rajiv brother.

“He’s not yuh brother, yuh jackass!” I scream. Meh voice come out like de growl Lenny make before he died. Everyone look at de plum tree, even Rajiv and Mama. Mama scrunch up she face like she was going to cry.

“Let we go inside, everybody,” she say and she pick up Rajiv from de gallery.

De next day, a familiar car come up in de yard. It was Alyssa’s mother, de Aunty who brought me home from de cemetery. Aunty went inside de house. Alyssa slip out de car and come to sit with me under de tree. I put meh arm around she and stare at Mama’s window.

“How come all yuh come here?” I ask she.

“Yuh don’t know?” Alyssa say, picking up one of de almost yellow plums dat had fall off de tree. “Meh mother is de village obeah woman.”

“Fuh true?”

“Yeah.” She nod. “An yuh mother call she and say it have a bad spirit in de plum tree and ask meh mother to get rid of it!”

“Mama ask she to get rid of meh?” I held meh self back from screaming. Dis was worse den when Mama left meh at de cemetery. I hug up Alyssa so tight I would have crush she bones if she was alive. She didn’t complain. Den Alyssa’s mother come down de steps and walk up to us under de tree. In de daylight I could see she was pretty and had beautiful dark skin. All de air around she smell like sandalwood again.

“Little Douen,” she say. “Yuh mother ask meh to get rid of de bad spirit by dis tree. I don’t know all what she could see and hear but she say if it have anything to do with yuh, to put a protection spell to keep yuh from hurting yuh self and de other chil’ren.” She mouth turn down after she tell meh dat.

“What yuh go do Aunty?” I ask she, still hug up Alyssa.

“Is me who bring yuh here and I won’t do anything to hurt yuh. I go wok a spell so yuh can’t come in de yard at all. But I cannot control de bush and yuh could have free reign of dat.” She nod she head at meh.

I was quiet fuh a long time. Watching Mama with Shivani and de baby didn’t make meh happy but I didn’t want to never see Mama at all. Aunty wasn’t givin’ me a choice.

“Ok Aunty. I go, go an stay in de bush.”

Aunty nod. She bend over and kiss meh cheek and I almost start to cry. I squeeze Alyssa goodbye and walk backwards into de cocoa bush. I couldn’t see de house or Mama’s window any more. I cried so hard all de animals near me run away to hide. Aunty splash water around de yard and chant quietly. I hear she get in she car. I was so hot and vex I thought I would set de whole forest on fire.

How could Mama do dis? How she could forget meh? I bang my fist against a tree. But it wasn’t Mama’s fault. It was Shivani showing off that get meh upset on purpose and make Mama scared for she self and Rajiv.

“I go fix she,” I say out loud to de trees in de dark.

I wait patient until I hear Uncle Ram’s car one day.

“I could play in de yard, Daddy?” Stupid Shivani ask. I stay quiet until I was sure Uncle Ram was inside de house and I could hear Shivani bouncing ah ball. My old ball.

I whimper like Lenny, as loud as I could from de bush. De bouncing stop. Den, start again. I remember all de times I help Daddy feed Lenny. I whine so hard it echo in meh head and Shivani stop again.

“Lenny?” Shivani call. I answer she with Lenny’s excited yelp, yelp. A few minutes, later I had footsteps in de dead leaves at de edge of de bush. I did bark like Lenny when Shivani and meh used to throw a ball for he to fetch. “Len-ney?” Shivani call again.

Into de jungle farther, backing up over fallen trees and through branches, I whimper like Lenny hurt. I miss him. Poor puppy. It wasn’t he fault either, like Mama. It was Shivani. It was always Shivani. She make meh howl like Lenny was in pain again and again. Shivani start to run and crash through de trees.

“Lenny! Lenny! Where are you puppy?” She scream. She was scared. Good.


She trip over de rocks and start to cry about bugs and tearing she dress.

Bark. Bark.

“Where are you? Lenny. You can’t be far!” She stop moving. “Where am I?” She ask, crying. I laugh and she scream loud because she hear me.

“Shivani?” Uncle Ram called. They’d come from de house to look for she.

I copy he voice. “Shivani!” I yell. “Shivani!” She footsteps pace back and forth. She wasn’t sure which direction to go. “Shivani!!” I call again and she move towards me. I start to back away towards de place where de wild dogs kill Lenny. I wouldn’t look away dis time. It should have been she instead of meh puppy.


Meh feet stop. “Samantha!” It was Mama’s voice. It hook into me like a scythe. Why she was out here? She must be looking for Shivani. She didn’t need meh anymore. I wanted to back away, but I couldn’t. She spoke and meh feet went towards she voice.

“Samantha,” she call like when she woke me in de morning for school; “Samantha,” she said like when she laugh at meh jokes; “Samantha,” she sang like when she put meh to bed when I was little; “Samantha,” she cry like de day she left meh at de cemetery. I couldn’t stop meh self from going to she. I pass Shivani scratch up and bloody, sitting on an old rotten tree. She get up and follow meh back de way I lead she towards de house. When she could see de yard, she run past meh out of de bush.

“Shivani!” I hear Uncle Ram say. He was choke up again, crying. Mama’s voice stop.

“Daddy!” Shivani sob.

I sit down and wish I never come back here because all dey want was Shivani and not me anymore. I belong with de dead not with meh living Mama. Dey would call de aunty to do something to meh again for sure. I stand up to go back deeper into de bush.

“Samantha?” I hear Mama again close to me. I turn around. She was standing there, in front of meh, tears on she face. De red string from she wrist was gone and I could see Alyssa’s mother, de Aunty, behind she.

“Dat’s she,” de Aunty say.

Mama come towards meh and put she hand on my cheek. She stared at meh tiny mouth and no eye face and smiled with she tears. She voice shook when she talk.

”I can see yuh now, Samatha, baby.” She hugged me up tight, tight. “There yuh is.”

About the Author

Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Suzan Palumbo is a writer, active member of the HWA, co administrator of the Ignyte Awards and a member of the Hugo nominated FIYAHCON team. She is also a former associate editor of Shimmer. Her work has been published in The Deadlands, The Dark Magazine, PseudoPod, Fireside Fiction Quarterly, PodCastle, Anathema: Spec Fic from the Margins and other venues. She is officially represented by Michael Curry of the Donald Maass Literary Agency and tweets at @sillysyntax. When she isn’t writing, she can be found sketching, listening to new wave or wandering her local misty forests.