Play Pretend

by | Apr 11, 2023 | Fiction, Issue Thirty-Two

Fiona has a pretend family no one can snatch out of her hands. She has an older brother, Kojo who once drove them all the way to Aburi for a picnic in the botanical gardens; and this other time Fiona made believe he gave her a piggy back ride up Mount Afadjato. Her pretend brother has got a baby mama; her name’s Anna but she is married to someone else. When Fiona thought up their son she made him six like her; Corinth is her favourite person ever.

Fiona’s real parents don’t know about Kojo. In all the photographs in the living room it’s only the two of them and Fiona beaming in front of them. They think they are her only option. Maybe that’s why they are irresponsible with her. Her parents are arguing again, this time it’s about her mother’s drinking. Fiona doesn’t mind the drinking. Empty beer cans are useful, Fiona likes to arrange the cans in a triangle formation and knock them over with a tennis  ball then lets Corinth have a go.

 Once, after it rained she pulled on her red wellington boots and ran into the yard, hopping from puddle to puddle. She pretended Corinth was next to her, laughing. But her parents got angry at all the mud and they started yelling at her then at each other.

They are always yelling. She remembers when the yelling began because it was the first time she heard that word. No one wants to explain what divorce means even Auntie Yaa who always tells Fiona things she shouldn’t. She says all that matters is it didn’t happen. Fiona thinks it does matter because her parents throw the word around like knives.

 Fiona is pretending her and Corinth are at the beach when she hears a new word. She sneaks out of her room, pulls the landline into her lap and dials the only number she knows. When Auntie Yaa picks up Fiona asks;

“What is sole custody?”

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