Stand Up Straight Child, You’re Not a Question Mark.

by Oct 12, 2017Short Stories, Uncategorized11 comments

Tanya walked in after a long day at school, shoulders slumped and legs feeling like she’d been running a marathon. She threw down her bag laden with books that she hardly ever opened and shuffled towards the kitchen. Her aunt watched her for a while then said,

“Nhai Tanya, mafambiro erudzii iwayo? Simudza tsoka idzo, uri kundinyaudza!” (Tanya what kind of walking is that? Lift your feet up, you’re making noise for me!)

“Tete! I didn’t see you there. You scared me. Maswera sei?”

” How did you expect to see me here when your eyes haven’t left the floor since you got in? You look like you’re carrying the weight of the universe on your bony shoulders.”

Tanya only chuckled as she proceeded to the kitchen. Her aunt always made fun of how skinny she was, especially since everyone else in her family was fleshed out and curvy. What surprised her was that she ate a whole lot more than anyone else in the family (with the exception of her brother, who played rugby for his school) and yet she never seemed to gain any weight. Thank Heavens for her pretty face, otherwise these Zimbo boys wouldn’t notice her at all.

She gulped down a glass of Mazoe Orange Crush, made a chicken-mayo sandwich (with a very generous helping of the mayonnaise) and went back to the lounge. She stood next to her aunt’s sofa and stared blankly at the TV. As soon as I’m done with this sandwich I’m gonna do my homework. I have to finish it before Munashe comes to play chess, otherwise Tete won’t let me play.”

“Iwe Tanya, did you hear what I said?”

“Sorry Tete, my mind was somewhere else.”

“Clearly. No one in their right mind would opt to stand and watch TV when there are so many comfortable sofas in the room. And the way you’re standing all hunched up like that I swear you look like a question mark. But then again that’s just how you carry yourself.”

Tanya burst out laughing as she said, “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means exactly that. You walk like you’re so unsure of where you’re going and you stand as though you lack confidence. If you weren’t the chatterbox that you are I just wonder what would happen to you. Let me tell you something. People are going to judge you way before you start talking, and with the way you carry yourself I’m sure they see you as someone they can just trample on and move on with life. You said you wanted to be a doctor, right? Well I’m going to tell you this now: There is no way on God’s green earth that I’m going to entrust my life in the hands of someone who looks like the tiny version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Might as well consider another career. That would be a shame though, because Lord knows you’re the smartest girl I know.”

“Tete, did just compliment me?”

“Of all the things I said, you got that part. Well, don’t let it get to your head and ruin it with all those question marks floating around in there.”

“Okay, okay I get it. You can stop with that question mark analogy already.”

“Stand up straight, child. That’s all I’m saying.”

She made her way to her room to change into something more comfortable. As she was changing she thought about everything her aunt had said. Although Tete had been teasing her half the time, she had to admit she was right. People always seemed to be surprised by how confident she was. They said she didn’t look it, and it annoyed her so much.

She’d just slipped into her shorts when she caught her reflection in the mirror. She couldn’t keep herself from laughing. Dang, Tete was right. I do look like a question mark.



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