TITLE: Souls in the House of Tomorrow
GENRE: Literary Fiction
The blood red plains baked under the blistering Ethiopian sun, the air shimmering with heat and screams.
In a small mud hut, goats placidly resting outside, the owner of the screams writhed on a woven reed mat. Not more than fourteen or fifteen years old, her stomach swelled ominously as sweat created glistening rivers down her dust encrusted face. Her hair, once meticulously styled in an intricate, woven mass of braids, frizzed in a wiry halo. She clutched at her stomach with arms of sinew and bone. Large, dark eyes pleaded with those watching her, begging for them to do something.
Two elderly women squatted at the stone hearth in the centre of the hut and tended the fire. Boiling cloths in a large clay pot, darkened from years of use. Their placid faces told the stories of the many women they had watched struggle before; they had seen it all.
One of the women stood, pulling a cloth from the boiling water with a stick. She let it drip, steaming in the murky light, before taking it into her leathery hands. Walking over to the girl, she dripped water into her swollen, cracked lips. When the water stopped dripping she laid the still steaming cloth on the girl's stomach before returning to her position at the fire.
A tall gentleman, dressed in traditional hand-woven cotton pants and shirt, stepped into the hut. He moved slowly but without hesitation as he crossed the dark space of the hut towards the girl.