A short story…

The Nigerian study-abroad student sat facing her laptop, somewhat hypnotized by the cursor’s blinking metronome. Beginning an essay was always the most difficult step, she thought.

Outside her shared dorm room, down the hallway, a coed screamed playfully. Nkoyo turned away from the blank document toward the shut door. Maybe she would be able to concentrate better if she got away from the dormitory? But she knew that would only be an excuse; she was procrastinating. Another boisterous cry from somewhere in the corridor, however, finally convinced her otherwise.

Closing her notebook, she deposited the device and the three Chinua Achebe novels that her paper was supposed to critique into her Texas Tech backpack. Nkoyo entered the hallway and walked towards the lift.

The elevator carried her to the top floor where she exited. To get to the rooftop though, one had to forego the lift and walk the last flight of unadorned stairs. No students were allowed on the roof, but Nkoyo guessed no one would be out monitoring. No one would fret about a lonely female literature major salting herself away for the afternoon on an unused rooftop.

An autumn zephyr welcomed her immediately as she stepped out onto the barren rooftop of the twelve-story high structure. She unfurled the arms of her red hoodie to block the wind. Nkoyo quickly found her normal writing spot near the building’s industrial-sized air ducts. Comfortable, she removed her books and laptop. Another gust of wind blew westerly, rustling the highlighted pages of the topmost stack of used books.

She picked up her copy of Things Fall Apart and thumbed through the pages listlessly, blankly until she came to last page with Achebe’s black-and-white portrait.

Nkoyo sighed.

Admitting that she thought Achebe’s prose not worth analyzing in depth had surprised her professor. The frail lecturer could not understand why… [click here to continue to read full text]


*Originally published in Black Heart Magazine by T. F. Rhoden; photo credit for re-post via Texas Tech. Rooftop is now part of the Texaners short story collection. Unless otherwise stated, all posts on this website are under Creative Commons licence.