“Magai!” he shouted exultantly. The affectionate abbreviation of my ‘home-name’ soared above and bent its way around and between the breadfruit trees, startling their feathered inhabitants into flight. I looked up quickly, and through a clearing between the trees, espied my brother David waving enthusiastically at me.

As he bounded down the bald, narrow clearing between the breadfruit trees on the left and Mister Cooper’s house on the right, energy-sapping relief coursed through me like a depressant. I waited with knotted forehead and still-troubled spirit for him to come to me. When he did, his face lit up with a smile that stretched from ear to ear. My spirit quickly rebounded and I luxuriated in the pleasure of our reunion.

While he related some of the circumstances that had forced us apart for nearly three hours, I watched his face, trying to assess the impact of what must have been a very frightening ordeal. In an almost matter-of-fact tone, David continued to narrate the events that had befallen him after my escape and our separation, and I was transported back into time—to that dreadful encounter with Stanford.

It was about nine-thirty in the morning and David and I were hungry. Breakfast was a distant memory and lunch was still three or four hours away. As usual, there were no snacks in our house to dull the knife-edge of hunger between meals; our parents were too poor to afford that kind of luxury. So we did as we had been routinely doing for what seemed like an eternity—we went over the barbed wire fence at the back of our house and onto Mister Francois’s land.


Author’s note: The preceding is an excerpt from the story “Caught” from the novella “House of Tears” now available on Amazon kindle.


2 thoughts on “Caught”

  1. I’ve never heard the expression “home name” before. I gather it must be like what we call a nickname, or, more probably, a name used only among family members: a “pet” name.

    That move across the barbed wire, combined with hunger, suggests that someone’s mangoes, melons, or whatever might be at risk. In my growing up years, it would have been apples or pears.

  2. “Pet” name is more like it – except that, when friends visited, the name was no longer confined to my immediate family. Before long, everyone in the community called me by my “home name”.

    Mangoes and coconuts, mainly. But, there were berries, plums, and several other fruits on Mr. Francois’s property. That place was a veritable fruit garden, and I still remember it with a great deal of fondness.

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