Hatched by Fiona Snyckers

41057120.jpg~Family bonds were stronger than anything.~

~The truth is that Rochelle was a bitch. I know you’re not supposed to to speak ill of the dead, or whatever, but it’s true.~

~We used to fantasize about running away to America to live out our dreams.~

~It just went to show that an ordinary middle-class child who had never been physically harmed in her life could still be emotionally abused.~



Happiness, Maybe by Tiah Marie Beautement

Happiness, Maybe, my YA short story, has been published by FunDza.


Meet Ayesha: a netball playing, “The Blessed Girl” reading, motorcycle “borrowing” teen who just wants to be happy. Doesn’t everyone?

Chapter 1:

I wanted to be happy. That was all. Everybody wants to be happy, right? It isn’t like wanting to be happy is a crime. And everybody knows that Friday nights are the nights where the adults get to be so happy! happy! happy! that they’re throwing bottles and yelling and breaking things and making everyone crazy.

If they get to be happy, the kids should get to be happy, too.

Tjo, are you hearing me?

Because until recently, Friday nights were for hiding.

Tjo, I hear you. You’re probably saying, “Ag, Ayesha, what’s so bad that you got to hide on Friday nights? You’ve got two parents. They’ve both got jobs. What’s the problem?”

Did you miss the part where I said the adults were throwing bottles? That’s some scary stuff. Because my parents, like everyone else on the street, have a jol each and every Friday night. They drink and drink and drink and drink until they are all angry or pass out. I’ve come back in the mornings to find my mother laying on the floor in a puddle of her own piss. Believe me when I tell you, it stank.

Believe me when I tell you that when she finally woke up—“Ay-EEEE-sha! Get me my tablets,”­––that she did not lift one finger to clean up the mess, either. Nope. That was left to me and my little sister Jade. Dis-gust-ING!

Tjo, and let me tell you, mommy is not the biggest problem. That award goes to daddy. Big men have big fists, and those can come swinging at any time. Ja, ja, there are police, social workers, nurses, doctors, teachers ––all these people who are supposed to help you. And I am sure they help you. But he only gets super drunk once a week. And it is Friday night, and when you call the emergency numbers it’s basically, take number, get in line, because everybody and their dog is phoning for help.

Friday nights are like that around here. Everybody needing to be rescued from everybody else. Only so many people working Friday nights to help, and I learned long ago that there just isn’t time for waiting. So Jade and I hide, along with a bunch of other kids, if there is nobody we can hang with.

NB! You can’t hide just anywhere.

No, no, no. There are some scary people out there, and they might be hiding too. So…. you have to know where to go.

Popular places to hide are:

  1. The cave (not to be confused with other caves, which are dangerous).
  2. The shed (again, you have to know which shed, not just any shed will do).
  3. The old BMW (but you got to get there early, or other kids will take it).
  4. The tunnel (it doesn’t go anywhere, just a cement tube sitting randomly near the old BMW).
  5. The ship (more of a boat, and nobody knows why it is on land, but the kids have dug out the bottom, made a giant hole, and we can snuggle in there and be fine).

But that night, Jade struck gold – her best friend, Lily, was staying at her grandma’s and Jade was invited too. Lily’s grandma doesn’t drink. So Jade was good. Which left me free, free, free, to do something I’d wanted to do forever and ever.

I phoned Lazola.

Click HERE for Chapter 2

The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson

35216519.jpg~In the village, they said that the woods weren’t friendly after sundown. They said that bad things lurked in the forest, hidden behind the dank, fallen boughs. The good people of Kilshamble liked nothing ore than blood and gore. We were fed gruesome stories with mother’s milk.~

~The small things added up over time, until eventually they formed one big thing that could crush you beneath its weight.~

~I wanted nothing more than to be a doctor in a hospital, where I could take on the human body like a Rubik’s cube, figure it out, solve it.~

~If you were a flower, which would you be?~

~Sometimes you just burned whether you liked it or not.~

~’I’m thinking,’ I said. And I was thinking that this was the wrong story. I was thinking that this was not meant to happen.~


Shame On You by Amy Heydenrych

36692225.jpg~She knows who to be for these people when she’s arranging fruit for a picture or writing a sunny caption, but who is she when she comes across them off the screen? She wants to shake her fans by the shoulders and plead with them, ‘Tell me: what is it you see in me?’~

~But she is not their friend. She is a brand that people believe and invest in. A symbol.~

~Anyone will love you if you ask them questions about themselves. They will love you more if you pay attention and stay interested.~

~The deepest pain is not the one you would expect. It pulses beneath the skin incessantly. It is a nail being pressed into a nerve. People have gone crazy over less.~

~If he had cut any other part of her body, she could have pushed the pain away and tried to forget, but he took her face, her fucking face. It confronts her in the mirror, a clown-like mockery of her original features…It aches in her smile, the pain jolting her out of any tentative happiness.~

~Any woman who shares an idea, image or video online is automatically one of the hunted. You are walking into a field of wolves…The worst thing about it is that as soon as you post, you are seen as voluntarily entering the hunting ground. People question why you walk into the field of wolves, but they never question why there are wolves in the first place.~

~This is the problem with love, isn’t it? As soon as you start describing it, it sounds inane and dull. Words cannot capture the magic; not even memory can.~


You Have to Be Gay to Know God by Siya Khumalo

39947742.jpg~The English teacher had told the girls in our class, ‘You must run away from a man until you catch him.’ I wasn’t a girl, but I liked men and I took great notes.~

~If religion, politics and sex were the three things that weren’t spoken of in polite company, we were all dying of politeness.~

~’Boys will be boys’ really means women are expected to keep patriarchy’s tools sharpened by offering their bodies as whetstones: to keep patriarchy’s archers competent by offering themselves for target practice. Then the patriarchy can co-opt women’s bodies into military training and turn around to dump the blame on them for their rape. ‘She wore a short skirt’…And when we fail to protect the LGBTI community, we fail to save anyone else from patriarchy’s violence either.~

~When humans enthrone a probable rapist and trust in his impenetrability to make them impregnable, they are thrust into by its repercussions: his rapist impulse. When they surrender scapegoats on the altar of his homophobia and misogyny, they open the collective up for violation.~

~Randall Blamer, wrote of a time when Evangelical Christianity wasn’t obsessed with abortion. Then evangelical leaders seized on abortion as a hot-button issue not for moral reasons, ‘but as a rallying-cry to deny President Jimmy Carter a second term’ because ‘the anti-abortion crusade was more palatable than the religious right’s real motive: protecting segregated schools.’ . . . When push came to shove, the issue wasn’t ‘religious liberties’ at all. It was good ol’ racism. To this day, the majority of black people I meet don’t think the homophobia I’ve experienced is connected to the racism they’re oppressed by. But homophobia is to racism what appetisers are to mains.~

~The blasphemer who condemns gays in the name of God loves neither gays nor God. No one who hates his brother, whom he has seen, can claim to love God, whom he has not seen. For all we know, God could be lesbian.~

~Where there is a suicidal writer, there is faith that there will be a reader even when one hasn’t appeared yet.~


La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obobo

La-Bastarda-320x480.png~My mother got pregnant when she was nineteen and died while giving birth, her death brought about by witchcraft. From that moment I was declared a bastarda–a bastard daughter.~

~Whenever women around me would tell stories about their sex lives, I’d feel overcome with guilt for not being more like them; sometimes I felt I had no air in my lungs. Who would I talk to about my own desires?~

~I didn’t understand what it meant to be a man. If in the past I thought it was enough to have genitals dangling between one’s legs, now I wasn’t so sure.~

~When would I become an adult? Never. I had forgotten that in Fang tradition no one ever became an adult because at any moment they might be hit or yelled at by people who were even older.~

~If you don’t have a name, you’re invisible, and if you’re invisible, you can’t claim any rights.~

Available in South Africa from Modjaji

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

26067919.jpg~Kidding yourself doesn’t require that you have a sense of humour. But a sense of humour comes in handy for almost everything else.~

~It’s a man’s world and show business is a man’s meal, with women generously sprinkled through it like overqualified spice.~

~I looked at her aghast, with much like the expression I used when shown the sketches of the metal bikini. The one I wore to kill Jabba (my favourite moment in my own personal film history), which I highly recommend your doing: find an equivalent of killing a giant space slug in your head and celebrate that.~

~Back then I was always looking ahead to who I wanted to be versus who I didn’t realize I already was, and the wished-for me was mostly likely based on who other people seemed to be and the desire to have the same effect on others that they had on me.~

~I would like to not be able to hear myself think. I constantly hear my mind chattering and jabbering away up there all by itself. I wish it would give me a fucking break. Write, don’t think, write.~

~I call people sometimes hoping not only that they’ll verify the fact that I’m alive but that they’ll also, however indirectly, convince me that being alive is an appropriate state for me to be in. Because sometimes I don’t think it’s such a bright idea. Is it worth the trouble it takes trying to live life so that someday you get something worthwhile out of it, instead of it almost always taking worthwhile things out of you?~


Hunger by Roxane Gay

22813605.jpg~This is what most girls are taught–that we should be slender and small. We should not take up space. We should be seen and not heard, and if we are seen, we should be pleasing to men, acceptable to society. And most women know this, that we are supposed to disappear, but it’s something that needs to be said, loudly, over and over again, so that we can resist surrendering to what is expected of us.~

~This is the reality of living in my body: I am trapped in a cage. The frustrating thing about cages is that you’re trapped but you can see exactly what you want. You can reach out from the cage, but only so far.~

~I read everything by Judy Blume. I mostly learned about sex from her novel Forever…, and for many years, I assumed that all men called their dicks “Ralph.”~

~I am a victim who survived. It could have been worse, so much worse. That’s what matters and is even more a travesty here, that having this kind of story is utterly common.~

~I realized that weight loss, thinness really, was social currency.~

~The medical community is not particularly interested in taking the pain of women seriously.~

~As a writer, armed with words, I can do anything, but when I have to take my body out into the world, courage fails me.~

~I am always uncomfortable or in pain. I don’t remember what it is like to feel g~ood in my body, to feel anything resembling comfort.~

~”I know you don’t like hugs, but I’m going to hug you anyway,”. . . Why do we view the boundaries people create for themselves as challenges? Why do we see someone setting a limit and then try to push?~


A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

76479.jpg~Some things we have only as long as they remain lost, some things are not lost only so long as they are distant.~

~Cut a chrysalis open, and you will find a rotting caterpillar…the process of transformation consists almost entirely of decay…We have no much language to appreciate this phase of decay, this withdrawal, this era of ending that must precede beginning. Nor of the violence of the metamorphosis, which is often spoken as though it were as graceful as a flower blooming.~

~Writing is the most disembodied art, and reading and writing are largely private and solitary experiences, so music and dance have always enchanted me as arts in which the body of the performer communicates directly to the audience, welding a kind of communion writers rarely experience.~

~Fear of making mistakes can itself become a huge mistake, one that prevents you from living, for life is risky and anything less is already loss.~

~The landscape in which identity is supposed to be grounded is not solid stuff; it’s made out of memory and desire, rather than rock and soil, as are the songs.~

~The best writing appears like those animals, sudden, self-possessed, telling everything and nothing, words approaching wordlessness. Maybe writing is its own desert, its own wilderness.~


The Craftsman by Sharon J. Bolton

34884810.jpg~The Craftsman is the story of women, and witches. Of the children we love and must protect. And of the men who fear us.~

~Imagination is a valuable tool, vital for any detective worth his or her salt. It’s also the heaviest cross we bear.~

~The words ‘coffin’ and ‘casket’ are used interchangeably, but the two are quite different. A coffin is a six or eight-sided box that follows the contours of the body: narrow at the head, widening at the shoulders, tapering in again towards the feet. Think Dracula, rising. A casket is bigger, rectangular, usually with a large, curved lid.~

~Sometimes in order to see a patter, we need to see what breaks it.~

~A woman who will forever be trying to come to terms with her dual nature.~


Book Bite review on behalf of the Sunday Times