Best of Wadadli Pen: Cocos Nucifera

by SA Dixon

Second place winner, 18 to 35 category, Wadadli Pen 2011.

As a girl, they told her never to play under the coconut trees. And Sarah Appleton might have listened, except yesterday her mother had thrown a very important book across the fence.

It wasn’t the type of book that came home from school listed on a slip of paper. Its author was unknown to anyone except those who liked fluorescent pink covers that yielded pages stained with saucy words.

Sarah had tried to tell her mother the book wasn't hers, but before she could promise to return it to its owner right away, Maggie had arched her arm like a cricketer and bowled it at the single tree stump that dominated the space next door. Sarah was out.

Today she was lying on top the square water tank overlooking her mother's clothesline, armed with a stack of chicken bones from last night's dinner. These would distract the dog on the other side of the enclosure. She imitated her mother, and flung the bones at one of the farthest mounds of fallen branches that feathered the ground beneath the tree.

The dog was black, with ribs as thin as Sarah's fingers. If it had barked too much, Sarah knew her mother might have peeked through the kitchen window to find out why. Then she would have seen Sarah slipping through one of the spaces between the rusted galvanise and flattened oil drums nailed up along the board fence.

The chicken bones had sunk between the thin, flexible branches that Sarah and Denny, the boy up the street, often fashioned into miniature nooses and tried to slip around the necks of unsuspecting lizards.

The dog had buried its nose into one of the spaces in the stack when the coconut fell, without warning, pulled by gravity from the tree that swayed above their heads like a loaded gun, in winds that hinted of unrest somewhere out in the Atlantic.

The dog tasted a pain sharper than the bones it had been trying to swallow. It ran to the street, dragging its suddenly useless back legs under a car that had been taking someone to the bread shop around the corner. The thud brought Sarah's mother and the neighbour out to see what had happened.

“Oh lawd! Me dog dead!” Miss Thompson said, hoping the driver would at least be willing to take the carcass someplace where she wouldn’t have to smell it when it ripened.

At first, no one noticed that Sarah was missing. And by then, she had forgotten all about the pink book that had already been spoiled by last night's passing showers.

Sarah was leaning against the tank, trying to shake the dog’s last cries from her head. Her back was pressed against the sheet of metal that chilled her just slightly less than what had almost just happened to her.


SA Dixon is an Antiguan-born author living in Kansas City, Missouri. She has previously focused on non-fiction, but has lately been concentrating on delving into more imaginative works

Copyright of the winning Wadadli Youth Pen Prize stories and/or art work featured on this site belongs to the creators of the individual works. Anansesem's editors played no part in the Wadadli Pen judging process. Anansesem's editors have not edited or adjusted the stories or artwork in any way.

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About Anansesem

Anansesem is an online magazine of Caribbean children's and young adult literature by adults and children. We strive to bring you the best in news, reviews and creative content from the world of Caribbean children's publishing.
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