Falling. Slipping. Descending.
You awoke to a lukewarm gnawing at your stiff memory. You knew you were on air, falling, perhaps to hell. But when you placed your palms down, you felt solid cold floor. You did not know if your eyes were open, or closed. That discomforted you.
You knew that by now Aunty Jidenna would be standing by the corridor, glass of water, undrunk in her hand, asking Mohammed for the hundredth time if he had seen you. Uncle Mezie would be propped on the sofa, eyes blazing furiously, snapping at Aunty Jidenna, "How extravagant! A girl of sixteen! You couldn't even watch her." And Aunty Jidenna would say, "But she was upstairs chatting with her laptop when I last checked."
You felt a being beside you. The person had a strong stench of semen and smoke. She spoke : “They are coming for you, sister."
You bit your lip until you could taste the saltiness of your blood. You wanted to cry. You turned to her to speak but stopped. You did not need to ask her to know that she, like you, had been told by the smooth-voiced John on Facebook to meet him somewhere. John, the good boy. Or so people said.
The 2nd person voice in Chukwuebuka's dark short about the web was unexpected and gripped the judges. We had to know more about the precocious young talent behind it
You are Managing Editor of Bougainvillea Magazine. Could you tell us more about the project and your role in bringing it forward?
IBEH: Yes, I am. Bougainvillea Magazine is an online literary magazine. We’re starting on the web and hoping to expand our horizon as time goes on). It is dedicated to publishing fiction, art, poetry, creative non-fiction etc. from any part of the world, although our main focus is Africa. The magazine, actually, is not fully launched yet. We are kind of taking our time because we want to come out great. It was totally my idea, supported by a few remarkable people who share this dream with me. So, when it is fully launched, I'll serve as the Managing Editor.
Do you find it easier or harder trying to shape an idea for a micro short rather than a novel? Why?
IBEH: Um, It depends on the story itself. Sometimes I find it easier trying to shape an idea in a short story and sometimes a novel. Micro fiction is something else. Most times, it's not more than 300 words, and trying to shape a meaningful story within these limited words can be extremely difficult.
What African writers motivate you to raise your writing game?
IBEH: I think I'd have to say [Chimamanda Ngozi] Adichie. I absolutely adore her, really. And then Helon Habila, Chika Unigwe, NoViolet Bulawayo, the amazing Pettina Gappah and E. C. Osondu. I could go on and on but these are authors whose stories have a kind of connection to me.
Chukwuebuka Leonard Ibeh was born in Nigeria in 2000. His short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in Tuck Magazine, Dwart Online, Jotters United, PenEgg etc. He won the inaugural JohnVic Short Story Prize in 2011.
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Interview by Tiah Beautement a.k.a. @ms_tiahmarie