For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“In the City of Red Dust”

Ben Okri


Emokhai was sitting on the wall in front of the house when the aerial manoeuvres started. He was very broke and had made plans with his friend to go to the hospital and earn some money. He had gone to sleep on an empty stomach and he hadn't eaten that morning. His friend was late.

With his eyes dry, so that he had to keep blinking, Emokhai watched the military planes flying overhead. They made practice dives for the afternoon's parade. The planes cross one another's paths and circled into formation. They stalled in the air, tumbled down as if they might crash into the teeming shacks below, then swooped back up into the sky with perfect rhythmic control. The inhabitants of the city marvelled at the displays. The children screamed excitedly.

We read it in Stars of the New Curfew.