Open 2021 Open Stories - Chantelle Chiwetalu


In the End
By Chantelle Chiwetalu


In the end there is a dying old man on a springy bed, a half-full cup of water, a dead clock, a threadbare blanket, a half-finished bowl of akamu, water marks on a pale blue wall, a phone that will not ring.

Before this: a middle-aged man with a cold bed and a cold house, accustomed to a gracious forgiveness for expressed emotions:

I know you’re this way because no one has touched you in a long time;

a gracious understanding of prevailing circumstances:

It’s a shame you have no children to pick up your arthritis medicine, not even one;

a gracious omission from matters of importance:

You know we cannot let you speak first because then what about the real men?

Before this: a thirtyish man with a loud woman who fumbles in her purse when the bill comes, a woman who will not stop staring at his chest and rubbing his thigh, a woman whose husband sends him vile text messages in the night and pleading text messages in the morning, a woman who does not open the car door for him, a woman who opens the car door for him but dictates his weight and gives him new colours to like, a woman who grasps his hand tightly as they pray that they be forgiven for her pinning him to a wall and having her way with him on a Sunday morning.

Before this: a ripe young man with a perky prostate, an impressive university degree and perfect homemaking skills, a father advising on the perishableness of men, a host of friends striving to get married and make babies because of said perishableness, a breaking and adjusting of self to be more appealing, a consortium of fat, big-bellied uncles asking, do you want to die all alone with no child to give a funeral that will make the town pause, an invisible clock ticking loudly.

And even before this: a dutiful teenager in a smoky kitchen, half-chopped onions on a tray, shiny greens, plump tomatoes, parboiled rice, a cupboard of condiments, a waiting fridge, chuckling sisters, a demure plea to not be groped, a respectful refusal to be raped, a constant unsureness of the meaning of sure words, a constant unsureness of the meaning of sure gestures, an ingrained fear of confrontation, a conscious reverence for the bundles of rights and capabilities locked exclusively in vaginas.

In the beginning: a small hospital room, baby girl clothes in the maternity bag, an anxious parent, a plump baby, a crushing sadness, a parent saying a teary sorry, a parent saying it’s fine, we will have a girl next time; we will have two girls next time.



Chantelle Chiwetalu lives in Lagos, Nigeria. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming in Smokelong Quarterly, After the Pause, Kalahari Review, Pride Magazine and elsewhere..


Our Contributors !!

Some of our writers!

  • We occassionally invite writers to send their musings. Do send in your work, and we will host it here.
  • Do visit the Submit page to submit your work.