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The Bed Book of Short Stories

Lauri Kubuitsile, Joanne Hichens

Publication Year: 2010

The bed, dressed in hand sewn quilt or threadbare blanket, may in and of itself be memorable, but it is what happens in the bed ñ the sex and lovemaking, the dreams, the reading, the nightmares, the rest, giving birth and dying ñ which give ëbedí special meaning. Whether a bed is shared with a book, a child, a pet or a partner, whether lovers lie in ecstasy or indifference, whether ëbedí relates to intimacy or betrayal, it is memories and recollections of ëbedí, in whatever form, which have triggered the writing of these thirty stories by women from southern Africa. Well known writers Joanne Fedler, Sarah Lotz, Arja Salafranca, Rosemund Handler and Liesl Jobson will delight, but you will discover here new writers from Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Namibia and Zambia, each with a unique voice as they cast light on the intimate lives of women living in this part of the world and the possibilities that are both available to and denied them. The BED BOOK of short stories ñ some quirky and tender, others traumatic or macabre ñ is the perfect companion to take to bed with you, to keep you reading long into the night.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 5-8

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Introduction: Making the Bed

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pp. 9-13

'Bed’, for me, is synonymous with respite, relief, with peace at the end of a hectic day; in bed I can rest and fade from reality, and though I celebrate life, I can take a break from all the responsibilities which come part and parcel with it. ...

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pp. 14-22

‘No you’re not,’ her husband chides, slapping her on her bottom. The gesture almost jolts Virginia to a standstill, but there are people walking behind her and James the tour guide in his khaki uniform has instructed, ‘keep moving.’ The slap is one of such playful certainty, hinting at a shared history of anniversaries and ablutions, ...

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In the Spirit of McPhineas Lata

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pp. 23-31

Th is tale begins at the end; McPhineas Lata, the perennial bachelor who made a vocation of troubling married women, is dead. The air above Nokanyana village quivers with grief and rage, and not a small amount of joy because the troubling of married women, by its very definition, involved a lot of trouble. ...

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Desire, with Borders

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pp. 32-39

If you shut your eyes it could be any man, no names, just a man, fulfilling what a man is supposed to do. It was a hot February night in Johannesburg and the windows couldn’t be opened wide or the cat would get out. She didn’t want the cat to get out, her female tabby was a shy frightened thing, ...

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Stains Like a Map

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pp. 40-50

We bought our bed in Maputo just before we were married. I suppose it was really a mattress, but it was all we would have to sleep on, so we called it our bed. I was glad it was still safely sealed into its plastic bag for the long and dusty bus ride back to our village. I wanted it to be perfect the first time we shared it. ...

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Sleeping through Heartbreak

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pp. 51-58

I lie in my dimly lit bedroom, with just the evening sky for light. Marcus sits delicately on the foot of the bed, and as I watch his silent form, he speaks, ‘Do you remember …?’ I want to snap at him and say of course I remember, but I can’t help but smile. ‘I remember,’ I calmly reply. ...

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A Natural Combination

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pp. 59-71

How typical! You didn’t write back agreeing – or more likely disagreeing – with what I had to say, you wrote me a poem. How is that supposed to solve anything? All it did was remind me that during the eight months we’ve been apart you have not changed despite what your/our friends say. ...

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The Artful Craft of Quilting

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pp. 72-85

Robert’s face receded, his symmetrical features – watchful dark eyes, straight nose, mouth with its full upper lip – became indistinct, shifted into a stranger’s hate-filled mask. His open hand, with eighty-eight kilos of force behind it, cracked across her face. Pain teared her eyes; her nose, cheek and mouth stung and throbbed. ...

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The Capable Wife

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pp. 86-91

Wailing sirens and flashing lights were a rare and uncommon sight in our village. As I rushed out the front door, into the street, I could see the emergency services, police, and the local undertaker, Blackie Swartz’s ‘Black Maria’ parked in front of Nora’s house. ...

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Lie Still Heart: Scenes from a Girlhood Devoured

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pp. 92-100

It was the floor. It was the coldness of the floor that jarred her into remembering. Not Leano’s hands that tentatively squeezed her behind, nor his breath that came raggedly at her ear. It was the coldness of the untiled, cement floor that sent Realeboga right back to the years of her childhood. ...

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Every Picture Tells …

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pp. 101-109

Waking, Herold lay flat on the bed, his head on Lizzie’s favourite silky mohair cushion. Out across the bay the Hottentots Holland mountains were etched clear against the dawn sky, red, tinged with gold, while the Helderberg, set at its particular angle, seemed to be moving slightly forward, seawards. ...

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To Own a Bed

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pp. 110-116

He was good-looking in a sly, cruel, smarmy salesman sort of way, with his dark hair smothered in hairdressing cream. Th e way his shiny curls clung to his forehead and scalp disgusted her. At the same time she felt a perverse desire to run her fingers through his hair, to feel and taste the stickiness of him. ...

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A Requiem for Daniel

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pp. 117-128

Daniel will die when he is thirty-nine years old. In the months leading up to his death, Sophie visits a psychic for the second time, a medium for the first time, and uses a Ouija board for the third time in her life. Not taking chances she also asks old man Chao to tell her fortune by reading tea leaves and also looking at her palm. ...

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Lena My Lovely

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pp. 129-140

When I was a boy I would often have vivid dreams of falling: down steps, off my bike, tripping and rolling under a moving car. Always, the visible parts were my head and neck; the rest of me had been somehow painlessly removed. In these dreams, in which I was both actor and spectator, ...

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Heaven (or Something Like It)

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pp. 141-151

Adele opened her eyes and stared up at the familiar banana-shaped stain on the ceiling above her bed. Idly wondering if she should ask Manu, the caretaker, to take a look at the grubby paintwork, it struck her in a moment of startling clarity that this would be pointless, as she was, in fact, quite dead. ...

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pp. 152-159

It’s 5am and the boy with the breaking bones has just come in. I will have to pretend I’m not chain-smoking, and I won’t be able to just sit, twirling my hair in my fingers, being lulled by the stutter of the heater beneath the yellowed-out window. He makes me feel like a fraud, with his scars and stitches and slings. ...

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Hunters and Lovers

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pp. 160-172

I don’t like that. Seizing the moment is pretty unthought out as an excuse. It’s too me-generation. Too locked in the 80’s. University. Talking Heads. Black Ray-Bans. Dagga smoke and mirrors and Sociology I. No, I suppose for him it was Business Admin and Depeche Mode. ...

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On a Broomstick

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pp. 173-182

Rina stares at the liver spots on the back of her hands. The darkened patches are the same chocolatey colour as the thread she is using to adjust her husband’s cummerbund. The brown is not ideal against the black fabric, but she doesn’t have time to buy more black thread now and she reasons that the stitches will be concealed. ...

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Nompumelelo Sinxoto’s Bed

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pp. 183-189

Forty-eight hours ago, my uncle and the Gingerbeer Man had been waiting outside for my aunt and me. He was a tall man with broad shoulders, big hands and a stern look on his face. My uncle was talking non-stop. He had a bottle of brandy under his arm and a brown envelope in his the top pocket of his jacket ...

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Imagining Monsters

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pp. 190-196

What was that? You startle. The wind rustling? Lightning crashing. A car chasing? A gun shooting? You nod off again, perhaps for as many as ten minutes this time. You gasp. You sit up straight, awake. A dog’s bark. A police siren. You breathe deep and snuggle back down into the bed. ...

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The Outsider

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pp. 197-205

In the feeble light of the bathroom Lorinda smeared the last blob of Coral Shimmer onto her lips and squeezed them together to spread the lipstick. She tiptoed down the narrow passage, so that the clickety-clack of her high heels didn’t alert Pa, but when she crossed into the kitchen Pa was already sitting in his wheelchair next to the fire, ...

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Chickens and the Clinking of Glass

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pp. 206-214

Philosopher Merleau-Ponty, a Frenchman quite enamoured with the science of existential phenomenology, said that the world is ‘an inalienable presence’. It must be that people are the alienable presence then, I thought, because never before have I felt so disconnected from the goings on around me. ...

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Fool’s Gold

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pp. 215-220

Somewhere, in a dilapidated wooden shack in the town of Mbare, a young man in his mid-twenties slowly came to wake in the semidarkness of the early hours of morning. He enjoyed the chirping of birds as part of his luxurious dream until the thud of a heavy object, the noise coming from somewhere outside, ...

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In Sickness

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pp. 221-228

Ma’s body was soaked in sweat – pooling under her armpits, soaking her pyjamas with half-moons, and dripping off the end of her wide nose. She could not eat, and would only drink powdery shakes Pa mixed for her twice a day. She would lift her soggy head from the pillow as Pa walked into their bedroom, kept dimly lit, ...

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Wings on Indi’s Pillow

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pp. 229-235

‘I can’t sleep. The bat in my brain keeps flapping its wings. People should stop selling books that claim to help you still your mind. They’re all unhelpful. They’re like books on public speaking … Here I go again, I’m supposed to be calming down and here I am thinking of arbitrary things …André isn’t having any trouble sleeping. He’s really asleep. ...

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How to Write a Good Romance

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pp. 236-244

The carved legs curled elegantly beneath it and the contoured headrest hinted at whiling away languid afternoons reading romantic books. Wearing one of those low necked, flowered-sprigged dresses with puffed sleeves. Emma. Elizabeth Bennett. Lying back and flirting with Regency beaus in flared riding coats and ruffled shirts ...

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In Bed with Ikeji

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pp. 245-258

I met Ikeji at the Women’s Agenda Forum, on one of those sweltering summer days with the clouds making empty threats and the air thick with the smell of rain. A plump woman blazoned in African attire with a high perm on her head was addressing the crowd. ...

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Portrait of a Woman in Bed

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pp. 259-268

The colours are all wrong. He puts down his paintbrush and steps back from the easel, studies the canvas, then her. Perhaps it is the light. In the late-winter afternoon, the room with its heavy furnishings is dark and gloomy, like an unrestored Dutch still-life. ...

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Mary, Mary

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pp. 269-279

You say you’re a reporter? The Burtons didn’t send you, did they? Who? Oh, the Burtons, my neighbours on the right. Come in then, but don’t let them see you. They’re always poking their noses into other people’s business and if they hear I’ve had a reporter here, they’ll think something’s going on. What? No, of course it’s not. ...

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Made of Mukwa

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pp. 280-287

At the time Master Andrew died, in 1990, I hadn’t seen him in twenty-one years. But the moment I stepped into the house, once ours, I felt him. I smelt him, I heard him. I saw the chickenpox scars that perforated his flat wide nose. His presence was so strong; Master Andrew might as well have been there. ...

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Goodnight, Sleep Tight

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pp. 288-295

‘It’s time to wean Luke from our bed, Angela,’ Paul says. ‘Move him into his own room. We’ve got to do something. Reclaim our space. Good time to do it now, with things so up in the air with the move.’ ...

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Divine Possibilities, Rewards Uncertain

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pp. 296-305

Donna loved self-help books. She kept a pile of them on her bedside table, right under the lamp, so that she could grasp one at a moment’s notice when an unexpected passage wanted to speak to her soul. On the day that Donna took to her bed, her pile of bedside books included titles like …

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Author Biographies

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pp. 306-311

Ellen Banda-Aaku’s first book for children, Wandi’s Little Voice, won the 2004 Macmillan Writers’ prize for Africa, New Children’s Writer Award. In 2007 she won the Commonwealth Short Story Competition for her story, ‘Sozi’s Box’. ...

Further Reading, Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781920397777
Print-ISBN-13: 9781920397319

Page Count: 314
Publication Year: 2010