Rodric Anthony is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. Creating new stories and seeing where they take him is his passion.
This is the fourth installment of Woza Moya. The previous chapters are linked below.
- Woza Moya Ongcwele Chapter One
Woza Moya Ongcwele, translation from Xhosa to English, Come Holy Spirit. This story is about, Hiram. a boy who finds a girl but not the way you would expect. This is the first of a number of stories about how God works to help Hiram do some good.
- Woza Moya Ongcwele Chapter Two
His brother gave up his dream, temporarily, to serve the Lord. If Hiram is to follow in Hib's footsteps, why is it so hard to get an answer?
- Woza Moya Ongcwele Chapter Three
Is it the Jane Doe in the hospital room that Hiram should focus on or the missionary papers on his dresser at home. One seems to be calling, while the other seems...
In chapter three, Hiram discovers lost parts of his past while searching for answers affecting his future. This chapter brings to memory a few hours of one day he almost forgot,
“You’re the only boy that makes sense,” Mahogany exhales in frustration as she and Hiram sit on their favorite rock at the pond.
“Huh," comes the confused response from the half-clothed kid.
Hiram, shirtless with breeches rolled up and wet used ten-year-old boy logic that he would not get wet if he did so. It didn't work. He’s wet.
Of course, Mahogany’s not ADHD enough to jump full-on into the water like Hiram. ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is no behavioral issue to take lightly. All the pediatricians seem to dole out the diagnosis every time a kid moves, mostly at school, sometimes at Church!
Both Hiram and Mahogany received a half-handed diagnosis from a doctor in their ward, but it wasn't official. It's right, though. There are four wards at their Church building, congregations. Hiram and Mahogany's ward meets last, 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm. Getting away's a breeze with so many people coming and going, roughly a thousand people in that one building for the course of the day.
Being so happy to leave Church in a Church town’s not very Church of these kids! The pretty Mahogany sits on the rock only letting her ankles feel the pond, still deciding if she wants to jump in putting logic aside.
“We like the same stuff and that’s what we do,” Mahogany attempts elaboration, bored on the second attempt. “Those things.”
Skipping Primary’s what they have in common, the second hour of Church--one of the things. Age 11 turns Primary into a snooze-fest for older kids having to sit in with the young nine-year-olds!
Being so happy to leave Church in a Church town’s not very Church of these kids!
Primary is this place at Church where the kids go for the second hour to give the adults a break. At least, that’s how Hiram and Mahogany see it.
“How was Primary,” asked Hiram’s dad after Church last week.
“Besides the singing and songs,” Hiram offered, “snacks sometimes, more singing and songs, a lesson about sharing, more singing and songs, a painting of Jesus, more singing and songs, and a quick talk about doing good, the Church is true, Primary is boring.”
Hiram's answer had all four passengers, Mom, Dad, Heber, and Hiram rolling! Primary consists of quite a few singing activities. Try keeping the attention of 100 kids for an hour without it--with not intimidating force, mind you!
Another interesting thing, both Hiram and Mahogany have the same birthday, June 29th. That’s another thing they have in common. One more year until freedom from Primary, they’re going to be 11 later this month, six more months until regular Sunday school with the big kids!
With so many things in common, they are bound. Of all the kids in Primary, they are the coolest--looking old for their age. Hiram can pass for a 12-year-old already! Mahogany can push a youngish 13! They've tried to attend older kids' Sunday school too many times to number--successfully blending in until parents involved them! Parents and Primary are good things, sometimes. Hiram figures that much, anyway.
Primary is this place at Church where the kids go for the second hour to give the adults a break.
I Belong to the Church!
The conversation fractures here. If the conversation represents a bone, a fracture of that bone is happening right now.
Breaking fourth wall here, as thespians say when someone addresses the audience, as I plan to do often, nothing salacious happens in this chapter. With that said…
There are those kids that look like they’re mature for their ages. Mahogany and Hiram are those kids. Ten-year-olds are not supposed to have muscular bodies, right? Hiram does! It’s genetic. He’s bigger and stronger than the other kids his age. Mahogany is tall for her age, that’s it. She's barely in a sports bra! It makes them popular at Church. Hiram’s popular at school. Mahogany’s homeschooled.
“I know, stupid,” Mahogany feigns offense. “I know you like me--since the first time we saw each other because your stupid face told me with your own lips.”
“Anyway,” She continues, “It won’t be when we get bigger, older. You da only boy who is cool and looks half decent.”
“Uh, why we talking about this,” grunts the lad trying to mask emotions, which he does easily. “This is stupid.”
It’s hard to pretend not to notice that you have abs when everyone else looks like little kids when you go swimming, he thinks. Trying not to notice the other boys still looking like babies in comparison’s hard. The parents notice. The oldish girls notice. Some boys too...
“Cause I wanna say things, but I cain’t,” reveals Mahogany all secret-like.
“Well, don’t say nothin’ then.” Hiram’s trying to dry his wet everything before having to head back up the dirt road, past the graveyard, and to the church building. “We already gonna get in trouble for skipping Primary and lying.”
“Technically, I ain't lie. Daddy did call you to the office before. ...just not today.”
“Mahogany, we both gonna get in real trouble for all this lying.”
“You didn’t lie! You just came with me to the pond,” teased the girl climbing to the rock, her hair the only evidence she entered the water. “We should’ve got naked instead of getting in with clothes.”
“I AM NOT taking ALL my clothes off,” came the shout of a cool boy pressed beyond comfort, but showing none of it figuring she plays a game they do, teasing him about how buff he looks.
“We’re practically naked now,” she returns donning her dry-ish dress and Hiram, his dry-ish shirt and tie. “Don’t you get tired of all these rules and stuff? You have to wear a ribbon for this, these shoes for that, this pin for that...”
“Don’t nobody make me wear bows and ribbons,” Hiram adds jokingly hoping to change the tone of their affair at the pond called a lake sometimes.
Dressed and ready to go, they sit on the rock, better a stone, in silence for just a few moments.
“You know what I’m talking about, Hiram? Her question's sincerity radiating with seriousness Hiram doesn't anticipate.
Still cool as summer, as cool as anyone can be in humid Georgia summer, he simply replies, “We gonna be grounded for life.”
Mahogany pushes Hiram playfully shouting, “Tag!”
The two run back and forth tagging each other avoiding what they call stickabugs, cocklebur plants, unsuccessfully getting them on their clothing before retreating back to the stone, or rock to get them off them. Laughing, smiling hugely at the game.
I really like being with her, Hiram thinks. She’s weird but I like her a lot. I could grow up and be her boyfriend, Hiram confesses to himself imagining playing tag and going swimming every day.
“I’m getting married,” Mahogany blurts out slapping the cool out of Hiram for a tiny moment. For that tiny moment, it feels like stickabugs rub across his eyeball!
“Not to me,” Hiram sirens losing the cool exterior he usually maintains for only a hint of a second before returning to the cool kid without effort or notice. The marriage word sends a few stickabugs into his throat, too. coughing them out--these emotional stickabugs--managed.
“No, stupid. It’s a secret,” she whispers almost as if it’s a fanciful tale. “It is a whole man! When I get 12, next year, I am going to be married--but you cain’t tell nobody!”
“Well, I’ll be damned,” finally coughs out his throat to his astonishment.
“You can’t say that,” Mahogany flushes in embarrassment. “It’s a bad word! You cain’t say…”
“Daddy says it when he surprised about stuff,” defends the cool boy looking only slightly unsure of his actions.
“You ain’t a daddy yet, boy!”
“You too little to get married,” Hiram ignores her words. “Does your daddy know? He the Bishop!” Alarm bells sound in Hirams ears. Intense feelings well inside not understandable to his little body!
“He says only he and the husband should know about it,” Mahogany forcefully flirts showing signs of stress Hiram hardly notices, but he notices.
“Don’t be tryin’ to say it’s a joke now. I saw that look, Mahogany. I remember that it is not right, legal is the word, for kids like us to do that!”
Protective urges swell within Hiram’s chest and a cloudy determination forms at his eyes. Mahogany sees him clench his fists and puff out his chest ready to fight.
“How we supposed to be boyfriend and girlfriend," he states more than questions, voice quivering slightly, "if you married?”
“What if God says so?”
“What if God says so?”
Confusion grasps Hiram’s soul, making him dizzy for a spell. The question does not sit well with him. He believes in God. There has to be a God with all the Church going on in the city, the whole city! Prayers answered that he prayed proved to him there’s a God. Sincerely and intently last Spring he asked God if He truly exists and felt a good feeling, still feels! That’s it. Nothing else. A good feeling is all. That's enough for him.
“I suppose it is right then,” finally leaves the mouth of this confused lad. “Did you ask Him?” It doesn't feel right repeats in his mind.
“No,” she confesses. “I just really started to think about God being real and stuff, but Daddy says God wants me to marry a man and go live with him as another wife--make babies.”
The conversation fractures here. If the conversation represents a bone, a fracture of that bone is happening right now. It could break! Kids talking about how to make babies always get awkward, but neither one of them wants to admit it’s awkward. That is, usually, all parties are awkward. Mahogany seems fine with the subject but Hiram flusters without showing it! Cool under pressure, this boy wins the prize. Even with the fractured feeling in the air, they continue!
What Did You Say, Now?
“You know how to make babies,” questions Hiram in surprise as if he'sasking her if she had a new bike! Inside he's buzzing like hive full of yellow jackets ready to attack the issue! Should I sing a hymn or say a prayer, flash through his mind. He's staying cool, though.
“Yes. I am going on 11. Don’t you?”
“Yeah,” he tells a partial truth. Never having an interest in finding out, he assumes that once married, the husband and wife somehow end up pregnant. Dad told him to ask questions when he’s ready. A sperm and an egg come together to make a baby. How it got into the mamma never came to mind. He plans to google it! “You can find anything online. I talked to Daddy about it.”
“What’d he say?”
“Well, I’ll be damned!”
“You just wanted to cuss.”
“Naw. That’s what he said when I asked him,” he truthfully admitted. Wanting to change the subject. "I was eight when asked. It never came up again.' Google will solve this problem for me, comes the mental comfort of his brain's mouth. Swearing is how I get out of this!
“Just do it, Mahogany! Say damned!”
“No! I ain’t trying to pray for forgiveness.”
“All that happens is Mamma yells Daddy’s name like he’s one of us kids when he cusses. There ain't no mamma out here!"
“Can dads even get in trouble? And God's out here, right?”
“Mine sure does," Hiram ignores the God question. "A lot. ...all night on the sofa sometimes.”
Roaring voices sound through the graveyard over the dirt road as a warning siren. Church is out, and these kids will have some explaining to do, why they’d missed class. They had the sense to get out of the water before the distant roar of voices came over the hill and down to the pond, sometimes called a lake.
“Least you had enough sense not to get in with your dress. My shirt ain’t wet, but my pants are! Shoot!” Weird conversation over. Fortunately, they left their mobile devices at the church building in the Primary class so the parents can't track them.
True, genuine friendship, the kind that lasts for years for no reason at all...
“I don’t want to go home,” confesses Mahogany. “I really don’t want to go home today.”
“You say that all the time,” Hiram reports in truth, but something is different this time. Their houses are not far apart, a short three-minute walk or one-minute run at full throttle! “Come to my house. Maybe Mamma won’t ground me if you with me.”
“See,” Mahogany throws her hands up in resignation, “you make sense.”
“If you say so,” he blushes without her knowing because of his coolness. “You think you gonna be able to come over? I can walk you home.”
“We in trouble for not being at Church,” she confesses. “I can hear yo momma hollering already--or is that mine?”
“Let’s just see if we can blend into the crowd of kids running around like we always do, first. We can then see if we can hang out.”
“Okay. Hiram,” instantly her speech turns gravely. “I was telling the truth. You the best friend I have since I can remember.”
“You mine too. I'm gonna protect you no matter what!“ escapes the words fleeing the prison of cool, as if someone else speaks for him, Naruto, maybe. They’re his words. Gently grabbing her shoulders, he owns them staring into Mahogany’s eyes.
True, genuine friendship, the kind that lasts for years for no reason at all, describes their connection. An eternity passes between them.
“You promise?”Mahogany asks the question knowing the answer.
“Hey, I’m your future boyfriend. ...best to start now.”
Mahogany kisses him on the lips quickly, running away screaming, “I was going to tell you but you would have dodged it.”
“You’re right,” he says wiping it off. “I’m gonna get you! Yuk!”
You only kiss in movies, he thunders inside. He had to think of an appropriate place to hit her without leaving a bruise or hitting her since he was taught not to hit girls.
Fortunately, for them, it’s the only time they escape parental retribution since no one finds out about their little excursion to the lake. The Smarts and the Wilcox family enjoyed dinner together that night before Mahogany Wilcox went missing. Hiram remembered her yelling to him last, “Remember, you promised.”
Woza Moya Ongcwele Chapter Five
- Woza Moya Ongcwele Chapter Five
Dim light from the glare of a paraffin lamp casts shadowy figures dancing in the glow around the room as soft thumps of rainfall filter in through the slightly raised window...
Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on June 25, 2021:
Thanks, Bill. I thought that I overdid it with the conversation. I know you don't do criticism without an invitation so, I invite you to critique my writing publicly if you have the time. I use your writing style as an example when I can. I also extend an invitation to all who are willing to suggest changes or better ways to express an idea. It is good to know areas to work towards improvement.
Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on June 25, 2021:
Pamela, thanks for the compliment! I hoped I did a good job capturing kid-speak. I have an 11-year-old at home. I overhear her talking to her friends, but she is a Westcoast girl. I had to dig deep in my past to see if I could remember what it was like speaking as a kid in the South with the twist of a Latter-day Saint culture--something that does not exist the way it does in my Woza Moya world. I plan to add more chapters.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 25, 2021:
That was a serious cliffhanger. I love the conversations. They are really and they crack with originality. Well done!
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 25, 2021:
This is a very interesting story, Rodric. I wonder what happened to Mahogany. You left us hanging with that ending, so I assume there will be another chapter. I think you captured the wy children talk at that age very well. Thank you for sharing a good story.