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‘The first time the girl falls in love’, a short by Oyinda Yemi-Omowumi

“it feels like a wildfire, untamed, blazing through a forest of orange, browns and greens…”

The first time the girl falls in love, it feels like a wildfire, untamed, blazing through a forest of orange, browns and greens, sees it stripped bare and dry till it becomes silent and desolate. The first time she falls in love, it’s with a girl from church with treacle black eyes and Janet Jackson braids. It hurts like a knife being dragged through her flesh, raw, red and bloodied, because she knows, gets the sense that how she feels is sinful, that love like that is some kind of Western fantasy, is not for people like her … people like her … invisible or non-existent?

It came out of the walls, it was a ghost draped in white floating across the room. It came from somewhere, not nowhere, rising and falling, it had been drifting aimlessly waiting for a purpose. It was a cry that roused the ghost, muffled, a girl in pain, scratching at the surface of another world begging to be let in, to escape the one that had its hands around her throat, its hands over her mouth. The ghost sat on the bed and watched the girl as her eyelids flickered.

In her dream she sees a community of mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles, a pastor presiding over a marriage, a church sermon, a sea of black voices commanding thunder, a woman healed, someone made whole again. In her dream there is a church sermon where the pastor speaks of love, a unity in Christ, where the pastor talks of a man loving a man, a woman loving a woman, she sees hatred followed by disgust followed by laughter. She watches the crowd nod in agreement, hears voices of alliance and feels the vomit bubble up, feels the ground begin to shake, looks down and sees that the world is still, that she is the one trembling. It forces her to split herself in two, it becomes a crack in her core. She is one thing and she is another thing, she is a lot of things, but these two things have swords up in the air, there is a battle cry and a line she is afraid to cross. The look on her mother’s face indicates a betrayal, whilst her father has his eyes on the wall behind her. Her girlfriend doesn’t like the shame painted on her face, it negates owning your truth, calls the closet a safe space rather than a place of oppression. Everyone is disappointed, and now she is standing on the outskirts of a life that once belonged to her, feels the world turn blue every time a family member adds a brick to the wall that separates the dirty from the holy.

The girl wakes and sees the ghost in white hovering across her room. It emits an orange glow, like the flicker of a candlelight in a dark room. The ghost stills and begins to project words on the walls and the ceilings, it’s a message that needs piecing together, sentences to be grappled with, a song or maybe a poem to be spoken aloud. There is the sound of a heart beating, being rattled around a cage, the fluttering of eyelashes still sticky with sleep; the girl opens her mouth and whispers “do you see me?” The words disappear and the room is once again dark, once again blank, apart from a fire that pulsates in the place the ghost once was … the ghost is. It says “yes, I do”. The girl whispers “do you hear me?”. It says “yes, I do”. The girl lays back down and feels the world at her fingertips, dark and sweet, bitter in the places that bite, that creates wounds, some skin-deep, and some like a knife whittling her insides hollow. But, something soft her way comes, the ghost dripping honey, a trail of warm golden light like the sun peeking through melting clouds, she feels certainty like its adrenaline like its dopamine, feels her blackness settle, sees the words converge on the ceiling and hears the swords fall down.

“I remember how being young and black and gay and lonely felt. A lot of it was fine, feeling I had the truth and the light and the key, but a lot of it was purely hell.”
Audre Lorde

Image by Mali Michaela 

One reply on “‘The first time the girl falls in love’, a short by Oyinda Yemi-Omowumi”

i’m reading this on a bus and caught my breath a couple times because of how beautifully this is written. thank you!

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