Since it’s inception, my character Amachi and her story have gone through some changes. All of which have made the story better. Here’s an excerpt from Amachi’s Hope!
I can feel it. A bone-deep weariness that signals the approach of a dream. Not the sort that is filled with whimsy, and wonder mind you. But one that is tainted by foreboding. It is minutes before midnight, moments before my ojo ibi. Another birthday whose significance now holds little meaning except for one reason. Every year I receive a warning of what is yet to come. I try to fight off this feeling. Fed up with the complete control it has over me. But I know it is a waste of time.
The Orisa, my gods, illuminated the path before me in a humid, opaque jungle. I lean heavily on the Iroko trees as I move closer to home. Their strong, copper-brown trunks support my fatigue-ridden body. As I stumble through the threshold of my dwelling, I barely make it to my beedi before my legs give out, and I fall into a restless slumber.
I awoke and found myself sprawled out in the middle of a forest floor. At first, I could not get my bearings. Overloaded by the sounds and scents around me, I sat up quickly and looked about in a frantic attempt to gain some equilibrium. Nightjars churred for their mates, and the musky scent of a family of civets permeated the air. As they partook of their repast, a growl carried itself to my ears, causing tiny bumps to raise up on the back of my neck.
I slowly stood up and urged myself forward. The light of the moon barely touched the forest floor, which made walking hazardous, and though the soil beneath my feet felt damp, I walked with the familiarity of someone who knew this land. But that did not weaken the fear.
To comfort myself, I rubbed my hands along my slender arms. The tiny hairs upon my skin raised up as sentinel-like trees peered down at me from their great height. Suddenly, my confusion lifted like a mist, and all became clear. I was dreaming, but I was not alone.
I could hear it, a voice in my head telling me,
As my pace quickened, the dense foliage before me parted. At the end of the path stood a small hut whose smooth, red-clayed walls and palm-thatched roof was illuminated by moonlight. Compelled to move on, my belly churned with trepidation. An ear-piercing scream tore through the night, causing me to stumble in my haste. I felt something or someone steady me.
“Look,” the voice whispered.
Through an oval-shaped window, I watched as a woman struggled to give birth.
Sweat trickled down her young face, and her body shook from the strain of labor. An atijọ obirin with charcoal-grey hair, and papery skin wiped the woman’s forehead with a cloth and held her hand tightly between her own. The old woman shouted, “Ti!” With a deep groan and a final push, the spent female used the last of her strength to bring forth the beginning of a new life. The elder lifted the tiny figure into the air, and it pulsed from an inner light.
With his first breath, I could feel a shift in the divine energy that surrounded me. The new iye cried with joy as she looked at the babe in her arms. She kissed his nose and stared at the tiny features that mirrored her own, mahogany skin and dark hair tightly coiled. What began as a beautiful moment immediately turned grim. A chill journeyed down my back, and nocturnal creatures fell silent as a sinister presence emerged from the mouth of the forest.
My breath had become short, and my heartbeat a rapid tempo. I reminded myself that I was only a bystander. However, I felt the need to shift my body out of sight. In this place, I was not an adult, but a child, and what I saw terrified me. The soil blackened, and flora withered and died as the wraith-like creature moved forward. Its shadowy figure lurked outside the hut, angrily searching for a way in. Like an angry rhino, it charged at the home only to be repelled at every turn. An aura surrounded the refuge. It vibrated and released a deep sound when the creature came too close.
Then I heard a rumble in the distance. As I looked up, black, ominous clouds rushed towards me and brought with them a storm of immense power. I shivered as sheets of rain fell to the ground. They felt like needles upon my tender skin. I watched as the entity vibrated with glee. Doubling in size, the creature’s upstretched limbs trembled as it drew power from the storm itself. But that was short-lived. As it raised its arms to deliver a mighty blow, a blinding light burst forth from the hut, casting the screeching creature, and raging storm away.