rowan tree blossom

Flash fiction is so good for making a quick point. Alas, under the current rather overly sensitive, almost precious, PC situation, this story is not acceptable to editors in New Zealand because I am not Samoan. I always wonder about this. Surely it's not racist to have a character of a different culture in one's story? Should we Pakeha insist that non-Pakeha people must not write about Pakeha people? My flash fiction piece is about human relationships not race! The fact that one character is Samoan is incidental to the main point. Fortunately editors outside New Zealand have been happy to accept the piece.

PASSING THE WORD

The townhouse is built, on our lovely large front garden. We’re a back section now. My young orchard is moved, squeezed beside the house. Not a good place, but Malohi was right. We’ve almost paid the mortgage and life’s much easier with only that small sum going out each month, especially since I’m the wage earner. Malohi’s knee never recovered so he’s out of provincial rugby, and can’t find much in the way of work yet, though he is trying. Some employers don't like brown skins.

We’ve been sneaking up to the fence, hiding under our covered barbecue area, to eavesdrop on the real estate agents showing their clients the townhouse. We have to muffle our mouths, sniggering over the outright lies the agents tell as they walk the clients round.

“It’s more twisting the truth,” Malohi said after I protested when one spoke of quiet living and no parties. “There aren’t any right now.”

I grinned. We’d be having our usual family do over the weekend, a Samoan feast with Malohi’s brothers, nieces and all. We aren't deliberately noisy but there a lot of us all chatting and enjoying a beer or two.

This lunch time it’s the poncey lady from the local agency. We sneak up to listen. She’s a badly dyed blond, with a spikey voice and clicketty-tap high heels. She’s yattering to another agent.  “We’re having trouble selling this place.”

“Why?”

I nudge Malohi. He grins. 

“The neighbours.”

Malohi pokes me, pulls a face. ‘Racist’ he mouths.

“Oh?” It’s a tell-me-more voice.

“Islanders. Samoans this lot, apart from her. Him and two cousins came over for rugby. All live together. She works. Who knows who fathered the kids. It’s a real ménage a trois.”

I grab Malohi’s arm before he can leap up and yell. He's furious. I can feel his muscles quivering. I raise two fingers, jab them in her direction. He manages a wobbly grin.

The agent carries on. “He only married her to get his New Zealand citizenship.”

Still holding his arm and about to mouth ‘effing bitch’ I catch Malohi’s expression. He’s quick to pull a disgusted face, but…

I saw…I thought I saw…guilt.