By Mokutima Ekong
A young girl’s father attempts to help her remember her mother’s voice.
I couldn’t remember my mother’s voice. Daddy kept a box filled with her things: cassette tapes, photos, and jewelry. He removed the box’s contents, settling on Mama’s favorite album, Anita Baker’s Rapture. I placed Ma’s bulky headphones over my ears and prepared myself as if her voice awaited me. “Sweet Love,” my parent’s wedding song, entered my ears. Mama and Daddy would sing “Sweet Love” to each other while cleaning the house on Sundays.
Daddy raised his eyebrows, waiting for a response.
“Nothing,” I said.
“Nothing?” he asked, scratching his head.
I nodded my head. My father sighed, and he stopped the player before the song could reach the chorus. I kept the headphones on, embracing the silence and my father’s heavy breathing. He grabbed a Polaroid photo from my fifth birthday.
In the photo, I rest on my mother’s hip, chocolate icing smeared on my cheeks. She has one arm wrapped around my body and one hand on her belly. Head tilted back. Eyes shut. Her smile wide.
My father lifted the photo closer to my face as if the action would jog my memory.
“Nothing,” I said.
“Nothing?” he asked.
“Nothing,” I said, my voice firm.
He threw the photo into the box like he was tossing a coin into the mall fountain. Daddy raised his index finger, and I waited as he examined my mother’s things. He came across her locket. It sat in his palm. I closed his hand, curling his fingers to cover the necklace.
I wanted to challenge myself by writing a flash fiction piece in which the dialogue is one word only. To achieve this, I focused on how I could convey the characters’ feelings through their actions. While writing my flash fiction piece, I tried to figure out different ways to move the plot in a short amount of time while still conveying a compelling narrative.
Mokutima Ekong is a Writing Works mentee, writer and arts advocate. She is currently a student studying business and creative writing at New York University.