portion of the artwork for Shelagh Power-Chopra's fiction

The Story of the Inky Boys
Shelagh Power-Chopra

There’s an island filled with dark boys. And how they laugh. So happy to be there away from the cruelties of the city. They swim and eat crab, throw shells at one another and build large roaring fires. The sun is very nice to them but naive of its power. You can’t shine so much! they scream, for we wish to be cool. And they hide under palm trees and pass cracked coconuts to one another.

Later in the day they explore and find caves and paint pictures on the walls but soon grow bored. They wonder if it was really cruelty they saw in the city or was it just civil danger, preferred danger, these boys who prefer danger to paradise, paradise maims them, castrates them, blinds them, they feel uncreative.

The dull sand, the palm fronds whip their soft skin and this paradise now wasn’t so nice and they missed books so they wrote their own on dried fish skins but the words were weak for all they wrote of was but sand and shore and shells and fish and there were no analogies anywhere; here metaphors died, drowned in the streams and husks of coconuts, cringed in the sun.

This is a story of your boyhood, Peter. There never was an island; it was a week in your head. The pigs were killed, slaughtered cleanly and skillfully, the water boiled and the huts stood up against the heavy winds and you fished with sharp sticks but never caught anything. So you starved, your mind a vast repository of nothing.

I carried a dozen books back to your boyhood, filled baskets with deserts and wine and a fine shirt for you to wear so you could rule the island again but your boy had left. Growned up and gone, all the little boys say.

Return to Archive

FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 34 | Fall 2011