Excerpt for Hibiscus Fusion by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


Hibiscus Fusion

by

Coffie O. Lore



Smashwords Edition Copyright 2018 Coffie O. Lore

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Chapter 1

It was the hottest day of the year. Bright golden sunlight saturated the air, and heat rippled off the streets of Accra. The heat was especially unbearable in the Adenta Flats, where Kweku and Sena lived. There was something about the towering apartment buildings and their concrete walkways that exacerbated the heat.

That afternoon, Kweku and Sena were seated on a bench outdoors, underneath a neem tree on the side of the road. They were drenched in sweat, in spite of the shade. There was hardly any breeze, and when the wind did come sweeping through, it was warm, weak, and reluctant.

Kweku felt like he was going to melt off the bench any second. “Why is it so hot?” he cried. “This is no way to spend our long vacation.” He glared up at the sun. “What did we ever do to you?”

Do you ever wonder where the wind comes from?” Sena said dreamily. “I’ve always imagined a giant invisible man standing over the horizon, blowing hard every five minutes or so.”

Well, he’s doing a terrible job today,” Kweku grumbled.

“Maybe he had a big lunch,” said Sena.

One ball of banku too many.”

“With extra crabs.”

“He can barely breathe. He should be ashamed of himself,” Kweku finished.

The best friends laughed hard for a few seconds, and then stopped because it was too hot to laugh.

Just then, David rode to a stop before them on his bike. David lived down the road, in one of the bigger, more expensive apartment blocks. They were called the ‘Courts’. All the rich kids lived in the Courts.

Look at you two,” said David with a smirk. “Skeletor and Kusie. Roasting in the sun like a pair of plantains.”

Kweku looked at Sena, but she was watching a butterfly flutter over her head. She didn’t seem to have noticed David at all.

What do you want, David?” Kweku sighed.

“Nothing. Just showing off my new bike. Daddy got it for me yesterday. Not for my birthday or anything oh. Just because he loves me. Isn’t it shiny?”

Kweku stared at the blue and silver bike David was riding. It really was quite shiny. Maybe a little too shiny in this weather. The sun glinted off its metal frame, and it hurt Kweku’s eyes.

“I’m going to Block 66, where the Morlu Twins live,” said David. “I’m going to buy some frozen yogurt. Don’t you wish you had money to buy some frozen yogurt too?” He flashed them a wicked grin.

Fingers,” Sena said suddenly.

David frowned. “Eh?

“Fingers of plantain. You said ‘pair of plantain’. There’s no such thing.” She was still staring at the butterfly and her voice was distant, like she was talking to herself.

David shook his head at her, hopped onto his bike, and rode off.

When he was gone, Sena said, “I know why he calls you Skeletor.” Kweku was a rather skinny boy. “But why does he call me Kusie?

Kweku shrugged without looking at her. “Just ignore him.”

They both fell silent. After an awkward stretch of silence, Sena added absent-mindedly, “I’d like to push him off his bike.”

Kweku couldn’t help smiling. “I’d rather have something cold to drink. Come on.”

*

Kweku led Sena back into Apartment Block 45, and up the narrow flights of stairs to his flat on the fourth floor. The heat was only marginally better indoors, even with all the curtains drawn to keep the sunlight at bay. They went into the kitchen, and Sena poked at cutlery in the dish rack while Kweku rummaged through the fridge.

We’ve got orange juice…” Kweku said.

“Too sour,” said Sena.

Koola Kola…”

She picked a tablespoon. “Too sweet.”

“Soya milk?” said Kweku.

“Soya milk makes me gassy.”

Ehwater?” Kweku turned to look at Sena, who had managed to hang the tablespoon from her nose. She looked like an elephant with a metal trunk.

She frowned at him. “Seriously?”

“Well, we don’t have anything else,” said Kweku. He stopped and looked thoughtful. “Unless…” He turned back to the fridge and opened up the freezer compartment instead. Sena watched as he stretched to pull out a large transparent gallon filled with something dark in color.

Sena put the spoon back in the rack and went to help Kweku place the gallon on the kitchen counter. “What is it?” she asked.

“Sobolo,” Kweku said proudly.

Sena stared blankly back at him.

“You know? Bissap?” Kweku said.

Sena shrugged and Kweku sighed. Sena had spent most of her childhood in the United Kingdom, and had moved back to Ghana with her dad only two years go. She still had an accent when she spoke sometimes, even though she tried hard to mask it. Most kids from abroad that Kweku had met loved their accents. They showed it off even. But not Sena. She wanted to fit in so badly. So sometimes Kweku forgot that she needed these things explained to her.

“Sobolo or Bissap is a drink made from hibiscus leaves,” Kweku said, as he fetched two cups. “You boil the leaves in water for about an hour, and then you put it in the fridge till it gets cold.”

Sena made a face. “That sounds like it would taste horrible.”

“Well, you add sugar too. And other flavors if you want. Stop making that face and just try it.”

The sobolo had frozen into slush, so Kweku had to bang the top of the gallon a few times. A chunk of red ice plopped into the cup, followed by a trickle of concentrated drink.

Sena took the cup and emptied it into her mouth with one swig.

“What are you doing?” Kweku said in alarm. “That’s going to be—”

Cold-cold-cold-cold!” Sena cried, fanning her open mouth. She shut her eyes and wailed, “Brain freeze! Nooooo! Ow, ow, ow, ow!” She clutched her head like it was going to explode.

Kweku shook his head. “Serves you right, you greedy foodian.” He poured himself a cup as Sena settled down. “Do you like it though?” he asked.

Sena smacked her lips for a few seconds. Then she beamed and thrust her cup forward. “More please.”

Five minutes later, they were back under the neem tree, sipping from their cups of half-frozen sobolo.

This is so good,” Sena sighed, smacking her lips some more. “It tastes like happiness, if someone boiled it and stuck it in a freezer.” Smack, smack, smack.

“What is that? Are you a cat?” said Kweku. “Stop making that awful sound.”

Sena leaned closer to him. Smack-smack-smack-smack. So Kweku smacked his lips back at her, and then Sena smacked hers louder. Soon they were trying to out smack each other.

“What are you two doing?” David said. He was standing right in front of them with his shiny bike. Kweku and Sena had not seen him arrive.

“Smacking contest,” Sena said at once, like it was the most normal thing in the world.

“What are you doing here?” said Kweku. “Didn’t you get your frozen yogurt?”

“They didn’t have any today and I’m dying out here,” David grumbled. He noticed their cups. “What are you drinking? Can I have a taste?”

Kweku and Sena exchanged looks. Then Sena quickly gulped down her cup, and shrugged at Kweku with an apologetic smile. Kweku glowered at her. “Fine,” he said, relinquishing his cup so David could take a sip.

David’s face lit up. “Wow,” he gasped. “That’s the best cup of sobolo I’ve ever tasted!”

“Mm-hmm. My mother throws in some soda water and mint and—hey!” Kweku cried, because David had decided to finish his cup.

David smacked his lips. “Can I have some more?”

“What is it with everyone and the smacking?” Kweku said. “And no. My mother serves it to her visitors.”

“Please?” said David.

No.

He dug a hand into his pocket and produced some change. “I’ll pay you for it.”

Kweku was going to speak again when Sena clamped a hand over his mouth. She eyed David’s palm full of coins and said, “How much?”

David did a quick count of his money. “One cedi?

Psh! No deal,” said Sena, as Kweku pulled her hand off his mouth.

“One cedi and fifty pesewas?” said David.

Don’t negotiate with her!” Kweku said in dismay. “It’s not her deal to make.”

Both David and Sena were ignoring him now. “I think you can do better, friend,” Sena said, and David fished through his pockets one last time.

“Two cedis and fifty pesewas,” David said desperately. “That’s the best I can do.”

Sena jumped to her feet. “Sold! To the gentleman with the pretty bike!”

Kweku threw his hands up. “Is anyone listening to me?”

But David and Sena were shaking hands. “One glass of Smackin’-Lackin’ sobolo,” Sena said, with a grin. “Coming right up.”





Chapter 2

David wasn’t the only one in the neighborhood who bought a glass of sobolo that afternoon. By five pm, there were more than twenty children gathered outside Apartment Block 45, sipping sobolo from glasses, cups, and mugs, and smacking enthusiastically as they did. No friendly conversation. No pointless small talk. Just incessant smacking.

“That’s the last one,” Sena said, as she received a note and some coins from a customer.

“Stop smacking your lips!” Kweku said to the crowd. “You sound like an army of starving cats!”

Smack, smack, smack, smack.

Sena nudged him in the ribs. “Stop being rude to the customers. And anyway that smack is our signature now. That smack is the sound of satisfaction.”

“I beg, spare me,” said Kweku. “I just hope there’s some sobolo left over, or my mum is going to kill me.”

“Uh oh.

Uh oh? What does that mean, ‘uh oh?

Sena lifted the empty gallon in her hand. Kweku gawked at it; there wasn’t a drop of sobolo left.

“But,” Sena said, reaching out to close Kweku’s gaping mouth, “guess how much we made today.”

“It doesn’t matter—”

“Sixty cedis!”

Kweku stopped. Sixty cedis. Are…are you sure?”

“Count it yourself,” Sena said, handing over the money.

Kweku counted the wad of crumpled notes, damp from serving sobolo all afternoon. When he added the coins, the total came up to exactly sixty cedis. That was more money than he had ever handled in his life.

“Kweku,” Sena whispered, her eyes twinkling with excitement. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“That when my mum is done with me, I won’t be able to sit on a chair for a week?” said Kweku.

“Well, yes, that too,” said Sena. “But this is our key to an amazing long vacation. We could turn your mother’s sobolo recipe into a business. This is our chance to be millionaires.”

Kweku rolled his eyes. “Okay, calm down Dangote.” But he looked like he was considering it.

Think about it,” Sena said. She threw an arm around Kweku’s neck and yanked him closer. “For once, we wouldn’t have to ask our parents for money, or do any boring chores to earn it. We could buy whatever we want, whenever we want. You want ice cream? Boom, ice cream. Hungry for bofrot? We can get you some bofrot, hot and fresh out of the oil. And doesn’t the new Ananse video game come out next week?”

Kweku stared longingly into the distance. “Yeah,” he breathed. “The Mask of Ananse III: Okonore’s Revenge.

Good. Now imagine yourself sitting in front of the TV, with that game in your hands, a bowl of ice cream on your left, a mountain of bofrot on your right, and a giant basket full of sweet and crunchy—”

“Alright, alright,” Kweku cut in. “You’ve made your point.” He surveyed the crowd of children with his eyes. “But we still have to figure out what we’re going to tell my mother.”

Great idea,” said Sena. “And we’ll get to that as soon as we’ve collected all the cups and glasses. Last thing we need is someone breaking your mother’s favorite glassware.

Kweku’s eyes widened. “Wait, these are our cups and glasses? I thought we agreed to let everyone bring their own cups.”

Sena made a face. “No. That’s terrible customer service. Come on Kweku, get your head in the game.”

Just then, one of the girls dropped her glass, and the crash of shattering crystal cut through the smacking like a knife. The silence was deafening. Everyone stared at the broken glass on the street, like it was a bomb about to go off.

“Ey Kweku,” David said, pointing. “Isn’t that your mother coming?”

Every head turned to look at the plump woman in a nurse’s uniform walking around the corner. The woman froze in the middle of the street when she saw the crowd of children. On cue, Kweku and Sena’s customers bent over to gently place their glasses, cups, and mugs on the ground, before briskly walking off in every direction.

On a scale of one to ten,” said Sena. “How much trouble do you think we’re in?

The woman started striding furiously towards them.

Kweku gulped. Eleven.

*

“How could you be so inconsiderate?”

Kweku avoided his mother’s eyes. He and Sena were back in his kitchen, where his mother had been scolding them for the last ten minutes. Every glass and cup they had carried downstairs was now sitting unwashed in the sink, and the one glass that had been broken was in the trash. Kweku’s mum had made them sweep up the shattered pieces. “Before someone loses a toe,” she had said.

You know I serve that sobolo to special guests,” said Mrs. Ansah, frowning over him. “Would you also like to sell the fish in the freezer? How about the leftover jollof rice from last night’s dinner? Abi you own everything in the fridge.”

Kweku looked up at his mother. Her braids were old and frayed, demanding to be taken out. And her face was creased with fatigue from what was undoubtedly a long day. She didn’t deserve this. “No Ma,” Kweku mumbled sadly. “Sorry Ma.”

Sena placed a hand on Kweku’s shoulder. “This is my fault,” she said softly. “Let me fix this.”

She stepped forward, looked over her shoulder, and then very slowly, very carefully, pulled out a five cedi note and slid it along the kitchen counter to the weary woman. Kweku groaned when he realized what she was doing.

Sena smiled hopefully up at Mrs. Ansah. Mrs. Ansah glared back.

“Well, I’ve run out of ideas,” Sena said quickly. “See you tomorrow.” And she tried to leave.

Ah-ah-ah, not so fast,” said Mrs. Ansah, catching her by the back of her collar and pulling her back. “You two are paying for every drop you sold, and for the glass you broke. Cough it up.” She stretched out her palm.

Sena moaned, but gave up the wad of cash in her left jeans pocket.

“All of it,” Mrs. Ansah said sternly.

Sena whipped out some more bills from her right pocket and handed them over.

Mrs. Ansah narrowed her eyes.

Fine,” Sena cried, and bent over to fish out the last bills from her left sandal. “But this is extortion.”

“Greet your father for me,” said Mrs. Ansah. Sena took that as her signal to go home.

When Sena was gone, Kweku said, “I really am sorry, Ma.”

“I know.” She thumbed through the bills and raised her brows. “Although to be honest, I’m impressed. This is good money.”

Kweku beamed.

“But you made it the wrong way,” she continued, and his smile evaporated. “The thing about business is, you can’t just sell what belongs to someone else without permission. That’s stealing. Either you get permission, or you buy your own inventory.”

“Inventory?”

“That’s the word for anything you want to sell.”

“Like sobolo?” asked Kweku.

“Yes, like sobolo.” And when she smiled, Kweku felt a little better.

“But…I don’t have any money,” he said.

“So get an investor.”

Kweku looked thoughtful. “Will you be my investor?”

His mother grinned. “Absolutely not. But I will give you a small contribution from the heart.” She peeled some soggy bills off the wad Sena had surrendered, and handed them to Kweku.

Ten cedis!” he said in surprise.

“Ten whole cedis.” She ruffled his overgrown hair. “Maybe you and Sena can buy some sweets and resell those instead.”

“Thank you, Ma.”

“You’re welcome. Now what would you prefer as punishment: cleaning all the louvers or doing all the laundry this Saturday?”

Kweku wrinkled his nose. He hated laundry. “Louvers, please.”

“Laundry it is.” And his mother laughed her heart out as he protested. “Now wash the dirty glasses. I want them spotless before your father gets home.”





Chapter 3

Sena was back in Kweku’s flat by seven the next morning.

Ten cedis?” she said, aghast. “That’s all she left us? After all our hard work selling, you’d think she would leave us a bigger omission or tax discount or something.”

“I don’t think those words mean what you think they mean,” Kweku said.

Kweku’s parents had already left for work, and he was alone at the dining table, eating koko and koose for breakfast. He stuffed his mouth with another bean cake, and chased it with a spoonful of dark, millet porridge. “Wrrr rucky thee ayve us arryfing arrur.”

Can you swallow before you talk please?” Sena said. “Don’t disgrace your mother.”

Kweku swallowed. “I said we’re lucky she gave us anything at all. The sobolo wasn’t ours. But we could buy our own inventory—that’s a word for things we want to sell. With ten cedis, we could buy a big bag of coconut toffees and sell that.”

“Coconut toffees?” Sena said, like the very words left a bitter taste in her mouth. “You tell me, Kweku. If someone knocked on your door right now and offered to sell you coconut toffee, would you buy a piece?”

Well…no,” Kweku admitted.

“You know why?” said Sena. “Because coconut toffees are the boiled peanuts of the snack world.”

Kweku looked confused. “Aren’t boiled peanuts the boiled peanuts of the snack world?”

“The point is, selling sweets is for babies!”

“I guess,” said Kweku.

The truth was that coconut toffee was common in the neighborhood, and it was cheap. You couldn’t walk down two streets without coming across a shop that sold coconut toffee, or any other sweet for that matter.

“Sobolo is the real gold, Kweku,” Sena said, taking Kweku’s bowl from him and scooping up the last spoonful of porridge. “That’s how we’ll make our millions.”

“But we can’t afford to make sobolo on our own,” said Kweku, as Sena finished his breakfast. “If we want to make it like my mother makes it, we have to buy hibiscus leaves, soda water, flavoring, and plastic cups, because my mum is never letting us use her glasses again. We just don’t have the money.”

Sena sucked thoughtfully on the spoon for a moment. “Maybe we should borrow some,” she said finally.

That’s what my mum said,” Kweku said. “An investor.

I know the perfect person,” said Sena. She placed the empty bowl back on the table. “Come on.

Kweku locked up his flat, and they headed out of Block 45. Kweku followed Sena to the street where all the Courts were located. The Courts were much bigger than the blocks, with large quads decorated with pretty flowers and trees. At first, Kweku thought Sena was taking him to her flat, for Sena also lived in the Courts. She didn’t like to talk about it, or bring Kweku around. In fact, Kweku had been to her Court building many times, but never actually entered her flat, not once over the two years since he had known her. Kweku wasn’t sure if it was because she was embarrassed that she lived in a better place, or because…well, he didn’t like to think about it.

Sena lived at Court 3. But she led him to Court 5. She knocked on the door to a flat on the ground floor.

David opened the door. He smirked. “Well, if it isn’t Skeletor and Kusie.

“I don’t know,” said Sena, smiling widely back. “Is it?”

David looked confused. “What?”

“Exactly.”

Ugh,” said David. “I don’t have time for your strangeness this morning, Kusie. What do you want?”

“The answer to one question,” Sena said. “Do you want to be a millionaire?”

David gave the two visitors a skeptical look. “Im listening.

Five minutes later, Kweku and Sena were sitting in David’s living room. David sat across from them and eyed them suspiciously. Kweku couldn’t help staring at the contents of the flat. The furniture was so big and plush that it was heaven against his bottom. The curtains were pearly white, embroidered with gold thread. And the television was as wide as Kweku was tall. It was showing cartoons, and the colors were so rich and vibrant, he kept expecting the little cartoon dog to hop right out of the screen and onto the living room carpet.

“So let me make sure I understand you,” said David. “You want me to help you sell sobolo?”

“We want you to invest in our sobolo,” Sena clarified. “You won’t have to sell a thing. Right, Kweku?”

“Hm?” Kweku was watching the cartoon dog chase a cat.

Kweku is the talent and I’m the brains,” Sena continued. “Actually, I’m more than the brains. I’m also the face. Here’s my business card.” She handed David a piece of paper.

David looked at it. “This is just a passport picture taped to a piece of cardboard.”

“Yes, and now you know what I look like. The point is,” Sena said hurriedly, “if you lend us some money, I promise to double it before the week is over.”

“Eh?” Kweku had heard that. He looked at his business partner in alarm. “Double it?”

“Double it,” said Sena.

David stroked his bare chin. “Double eh?”

Double,” Sena repeated firmly.

Kweku leaned in and whispered to her, “That’s a lot, Sena.”

“Shhh, the talent doesn’t talk,” she whispered back.

“How much do you need?” said David.

“Fifty cedis,” Sena said immediately.

Fifty cedis!” David was shocked. “That’s all the money in my susu box!

“Like they say, you have to risk it to get the biscuit,” said Sena.

“Who says that?” asked David.

“Everybody.”

“I’ve never heard anybody say that,” Kweku chipped in.

Sena poked him in the ribs. “Whose side are you on?”

David stroked his chin again for a good, long minute. “Okay,” he finally said. “Fine. But you said you’ll double it o!”

And we will,” Sena said, with a wide grin. “That’s the Smackin’ Lackin’ sobolo guarantee.

David laughed. “Is that the name of your sobolo? Smackin’ Lackin’?

“Yes,” said Sena.

“No,” Kweku said at the same time.

“I like it.” David stood up. “Wait here. I’m going to get your money.”

When he left the room, Sena hugged Kweku hard. “We did it,” she hissed in excitement. “We did it!”

Kweku didn’t respond. He was watching the cartoon dog fall off a cliff.

*

Sena convinced her father to drive them to the market to buy ingredients. Her father Mr. Geni worked from home, writing children’s books for some small publishing company abroad. Kweku waited outside Sena’s flat while she and her dad got ready, and when they finally came out, Kweku flashed a grateful smile.

“Thank you for doing this, Mr. Geni.”

No problem, no problem,” he said in his soft, gruff voice, returning the smile.

Mr. Geni was a curious character. He had a big Afro that never seemed combed, and a large bushy beard that hid half his face. His massive spectacles hid the other half, making him look quite like a large, hairy owl.

They sat in his old, rusty Mercedes (Mr. Geni preferred to call it ‘antique’), and he drove them to Madina, the closest open market to Adenta. Together, they walked into the noisy swarm of buyers and sellers. He helped Kweku and Sena to buy a big bag of hibiscus leaves, a carton of soda water, mint for flavoring, sugar, and a pack of plastic cups. And when their money wasn’t enough to pay for everything, he chipped in an extra ten cedis to cover it.

“Are you allowed to use your stove when your mum is not around?” he asked Kweku as they drove back home.

Yes,” Kweku lied.

It seemed to Kweku that any other grown up would have asked more questions to make sure, but Mr. Geni didn’t probe. He dropped them off in front of Block 45, and drove off to return to his writing. Kweku and Sena hurried upstairs to start work.

It turned out that brewing sobolo was nowhere as difficult as they had feared it would be. In two hours, they were pouring out the hot, crimson mixture into a sieve, and draining it into a pot. They let it cool for half an hour, stirred in the soda water, and then transferred the drink into two large gallons. They stuck the gallons into the freezer, and went to have lunch. After a meal of rice and beans and a two-hour Nigerian film on TV, they went back to the kitchen to check on their sobolo. The gallons weren’t half-frozen like the last time, but the drink was chilled.

“Fame and fortune, here we come,” Sena said.

It was two thirty pm when they carried the gallons and cups outside, sat under the neem tree, and waited.

And they waited.

And waited.

The sun scorched and the wind whimpered. No one showed up.

When at four o’clock, no one had still shown up, Kweku felt his stomach begin to twist into a knot. “EiSena,” he whispered.

O ye of little faith,” she said. “Don’t worry. They’ll come.” But she sounded nervous too.

Someone eventually came by: an older boy on a bicycle wearing a blue cap. He gave Kweku and Sena a strange look as he rode by. The look made Kweku uncomfortable.

It was five o’clock, and the sobolo had been warm for over an hour now. Sena finally blurted out, “Where is everybody?!”

Just then, someone else rode by on a bicycle, but this person stopped. It was David on his shiny blue and silver bike, and he was sucking on something in his hand. It was yogurt on a stick.

Seriously, David?” Sena cried. “Why are you eating yogurt? You realize you invested in a sobolo business, right?”

David stared blankly at them for a moment. “Oh yeah, I completely forgot we were doing that.” He licked his frozen yogurt again.

Where is everybody?” Kweku asked. “We’ve been here waiting to sell to the others all afternoon.”

Vacation school started today,” David said. Lick, lick, lick. “A lot of people went. Not me of course. I wouldn’t be caught dead taking extra classes. But nearly the entire neighborhood has been in school. That’s why you haven’t seen anyone around.”

“Oh thank goodness,” Sena said, with a sigh of relief. “Then they’ll be coming any minute.”

“Well…” David said.

Sena froze. “Well what?”

“I just came from Block 66 and it looked like a lot of them were heading there to buy yogurt from the Morlu Twins. Their place is just closer to the school, you know? And honestly?” He slurped some melting yogurt off the back of his hand. “Their yogurt is just so good.”

“They don’t even make the yogurt themselves!” Sena said.

“It’s true,” said Kweku. “They just buy frozen yogurt, cut it into pieces, and jab sticks into them.”

“At least they’re cold,” said David. He eyed their warm gallons of sobolo with distaste.

“We slaved over this sobolo,” said Sena, sounding hurt.

David shrugged. “I don’t think anybody cares about that Kusie. A tasty treat is a tasty treat, whether you made it yourselves or not. And nobody will want a ‘cold drink’ that isn’t cold.”

Sena lit up like a lightbulb. “You said that the others are on their way from school, right?”

“Mm-hmm,” said David. He was busy biting off a chunk of his frozen yogurt.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Sena asked Kweku.

“I always am,” said Kweku.

“I’m going to get some ice.” She picked up the gallons and pushed them into Kweku’s arms. “Meet me between the school and Block 66.”

And with that, Sena ran off in the direction of her apartment building, the pack of plastic cups stuffed under her armpit. She ran with long, exaggerated strides like a terrified ostrich.

That Kusie girl is strange,” David said.

Kweku gave him a dark look. “You need to stop calling her that. Someday she’s going to find out what that word means.”

David only shrugged.

Fifteen minutes later, Sena reunited with Kweku at the second junction between the community school and Block 66. She brought with her a polythene bag of crushed ice, which was already dripping with melting water. The procession of school children watched in surprise and mild amusement as Kweku and Sena set up by the side of the road, sheening with sweat and gasping for breath.

Get…(pant) your…ice (pant)…cold (pant)…sobolo (pant)here!” Sena called.

Kweku threw some ice into a cup and poured some sobolo over it. “First ten customers get a cup free!”

Those were the magic words. The children rushed over, and to Kweku’s relief, even after the ten free cups, they bought more. Kweku and Sena couldn’t serve their customers fast enough. In a record ten minutes, their gallons were empty, and the air was filled with the distinct smacks of satisfied mouths.

Kweku could hardly believe it. Sena was giddy with exhilaration.

When the children returned their cups and began drifting home, they left Kweku and Sena in a wild buzz of excitement.

So many ideas are going through my head,” Kweku was rattling. “We could try vanilla flavored sobolo. Or ginger. We could even get really crazy and try something like pineapple or mango. What if we froze it on sticks like the Morlu Twins are doing with their yogurt? Oh Sena, there are so many things we could try!”

I told you, I told you, I told you,” was all Sena seemed able to say, as she stacked cups. “We’re going to be rich!”

Kweku jumped when a heavy hand grabbed hold of his shoulder and turned him around. He stared up into the hard, beastly faces of three large junior high boys.

“Yes?” Kweku said, trying to keep his voice steady. “How can we help you uh, fine gentlemen?”

The ugliest one gave them a snide little grin. “The Morlu Twins would like to see you.”





Chapter 4

When Kweku stepped into the Morlu flat, the first thing that hit him was the smell. And then the heat. And when the door was shut behind him, the darkness.

“It smells like fried yam in here,” Sena whispered. “And black pepper sauce.”

It also smells like sweat and poor decisions, thought Kweku. All the curtains were thick, black, and drawn closed, trapping the living room in a muggy bubble of darkness and body odor. The only source of light was a small television set showing an American action film. It took Kweku’s eyes a moment to adjust, and when they did, he could finally see why the room was so hot. There were at least fifteen boys here, cross-legged on the floor, squeezed into the sofas, and standing against the walls. They were all eating plates of fried yam.

The boys turned to stare at Kweku and Sena for a second and, upon realizing that the newcomers were of no importance, returned their attention to the TV.

“Hurry up,” the ugly one who had brought them snapped.

Kweku and Sena followed him across the living room and into a narrow corridor. To their right, there was a kitchen. A lanky boy in a singlet, jeans, and an apron, stood behind a stove, prodding frying yams with a spatula. The lanky boy looked over his shoulder at Kweku, and nodded a half-hearted greeting. Kweku followed Sena and the ugly boy into a brightly lit bedroom.

Seated side by side on a queen-sized bed, surrounded by older boys in hoodies, were the Morlu Twins. The twins were an unremarkable pair themselves—smaller than their peers, and always dressed in plain white t-shirts with close cropped hair. But everybody knew the Morlu Twins. They were in Form 1, only a year ahead of Kweku and Sena, and yet they commanded the respect of every boy and girl in the neighborhood. Even the senior students revered them.

The Morlu on the left, judging by the small scar over his left eye, was Kevin. Legend was he had gotten the scar wrestling a rabid bulldog in the slums of Jamestown…at midnight…during a lightning storm. He was playing a handheld video game, earbuds plugged in, his face screwed in concentration. The Morlu on the right, Calvin, was the one who spoke.

“Are these them?”

The boy who had brought Kweku and Sena nodded, and Calvin waved him away. Kweku and Sena looked uncertainly around at all the big boys eying them.

“So,” said Calvin, “you’re the ones who were selling on our territory, eh.” He phrased it like a question, but it didn’t sound like one.

“Oh,” said Kweku. “Is that why we’re here?” He felt a little relieved. This was just a misunderstanding. Easy to fix.

Territory?” said Sena, in a tone that immediately panicked Kweku. “I didn’t see your name on it.”

“Sena, shush!” Kweku said.

Everybody in the room had bristled, and the air was suddenly charged with tension. Calvin laughed, but his boys did not. They stared daggers at Sena.

“Look Calvin,” said Kweku, “we didn’t mean to upset you. We were just trying to sell our drink. We won’t come around this area anymore.”

Calvin folded his arms and smirked. “So,” he said, his voice deep and slow, “You found good business in our area. You sold some sobolo, and made some good money. You didn’t think you needed to come and see us, to make friends with us first. But now you say, ‘Calvin, we were just trying to sell sobolo. We won’t come around this area anymore’. But you don’t even say it with respect. You still haven’t asked to be friends. You didn’t think to call me Mr. Morlu—”

“Mr. Morlu?” Kweku said, incredulous.

“Instead,” Calvin continued, ignoring him, “you come here, into my house, on the first day of vacation classes, and ask us to forgive you for trespassing.”

“This speech sounds familiar to me,” Sena said, stroking her chin. “Doesn’t it sound familiar, Kweku?”

“So what do you want?” Kweku asked Calvin.

Calvin leaned forward. “I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse.

So familiar,Sena muttered.

“Give us all the money you made today,” said Calvin. “And then half of everything you make from today onwards. And we’ll let you keep selling in this area. We’ll even give you permission to come here, eat fried yam, and watch American films.”

“And if we refuse?” said Kweku.

Calvin’s smile went taut. “I don’t think you want to know the answer to that question.”

Kweku and Sena exchanged looks. Then Kweku looked Calvin dead in the eye.

No.

Calvin looked stunned. “No?

“No?” Sena said, looking impressed by her friend.

“Absolutely not,” said Kweku. “We worked hard on our sobolo recipe. You can keep your offer. Peel it, roast it, and chew it with fried yam for all we care. It’s a free country and we can do whatever we want.”

Calvin stared hard at them for a few uncomfortable seconds. Then he nodded slowly. “Okay then. You may go.” But the way he said it sent shivers down Kweku’s spine.

Kweku and Sena were about to leave, when Kevin looked up from his video game for the first time. Kweku recognized him as the boy with the blue cap who had ridden past them earlier in the afternoon. He had frighteningly limpid eyes up close, and he didn’t smile when he said:

“See you around.”

*

As soon as Kweku and Sena were outdoors, they rushed back to the junction, grabbed their empty sobolo gallons, and then ran nonstop to Block 45. They spent five minutes panting for breath, and then the next forty-five minutes ranting about why junior high boys were the worst thing since burnt kelewele, and who did they think they were anyway, and that they ought to have given them a piece of their mind, etcetera, etcetera. Eventually though, they ran out of strength, and their anger deflated into anxiety. Sena went home earlier than usual, and Kweku watched TV till his parents got home.

Kweku had trouble sleeping that night. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw the room full of junior high boys, snarling at him and cracking their knuckles. He had been bursting with confidence in front of them during the day, but here in the darkness, he was haunted by his fear of all the things they could do to him and Sena. And he would never see it coming, that was the worst part. Everybody knew better than to cross the Morlu Twins. Kweku tossed and turned until a solution finally congealed in his head, and only then did sleep find him.

The next morning, Sena arrived at Kweku’s flat to find David and a junior high boy she had never seen before already there.

“Oh hello…” she said awkwardly, because it seemed like they had been talking about something before she came.

Aha Sena,” Kweku said, “you’re right on time. Sit down.” As she took a seat on the couch, he added, “We were just talking about what to do about the Morlu problem.”

“We?” she said.

Me, David, and oh yes, this is Nana.” Kweku gestured at the junior high boy seated beside him. “Nana is the smartest boy in Form 3.”

“Nana?” Sena said, glancing at the stranger.

Nana was a hefty boy, with thick glasses and a pompous air. There were already the beginnings of a beard on his chin, and he stroked it quite proudly. He nodded curtly at Sena.

I went by David’s flat to pay back our loan,” Kweku began.

“With interest,” David interrupted gleefully. “Thanks for that by the way.”

“And we thought it would be a good idea to get some fresh ideas for the business,” Kweku finished.

“I realized that you needed a consultant,” said David. “My Daddy is a consultant too. He says it’s important for smarter people to show slower people what to do. He makes lots of money telling companies how to fix things in their business. So Nana is going to be our consultant.”

“B-but there’s nothing wrong with our business,” said Sena.

“What?” Kweku said, surprised. “But Sena, of course there is. We can’t compete with the Morlu Twins the way we are now.”

“I thought we told them to roast and eat their offer,” Sena said.

“All big talk,” said Nana, speaking for the first time and taking Sena a little by surprise. “Playing hard ball in a confrontation is all well and good for your public image. But my dear, this is the real world…”

“This is the real world,” Kweku repeated.

“You have to be realistic,” said Nana.

“We have to be realistic,” said Kweku.

“You can’t go against the Morlu Twins,” Nana finished with a haughty sniff.

Kweku shook his head. “We really can’t!

“But that’s just it,” said Sena in a sudden burst of excitement. “I think we can! They said we can’t sell near their apartment building, but I thought of a way we could still steal their customers.” She lifted something in her hand.

Kweku only noticed the shiny brass object for the first time. “Is that a bell?”

“Yes!” And she rang it once. The clang was loud and abrasive. Kweku and David threw their hands up to their ears, while Nana only scowled and tried to look dignified doing it.

We’re going to advertise!” Sena said, triumphantly. “We’ll go from building to building, ringing the bell in the courtyards, and singing the Smackin’ Lackin’ song.

Kweku sighed, afraid to ask, but he asked anyway. “What on earth is the Smackin’ Lackin’ song?

“I’m glad you asked. Let me sing it for you. Warning: I’m going to need to ring the bell during the song—”

Don’t. Ring. The bell,” said Kweku sternly.

Sena frowned. “Fine. But you’re really stifling my artistic freedom.” And then she cleared her throat and belted out at the top of her lungs:

So you’ve been askin’

For a refreshing lip smackin’

Drink made out of sobolo leeeeeeaves!

Smackin’ Lackin’ sobolo drink has all the lip smackin’ you neeeeeeed—!

Kweku put up a hand. “I’m going to stop you right there.”

Sena stopped, huffing and puffing. “But it goes on for like eight more verses.”

David was rolling around on the floor, roaring with laughter. “Kusie!” he cried as he laughed,that is the worst thing I’ve ever heard, heh!”

“Well, you wouldn’t know a good jingle if it whacked you upside the head,” Sena snapped.

We’re not singing that anywhere,” said Kweku. “Nana’s idea is much better.”

Sena narrowed her eyes at Nana. “I can’t wait to hear it.”

Nana shot to his feet and adjusted the collar of his polo shirt. He raised his nose at Sena as he spoke, “The first thing we have to do is change the name of your drink. Sobolo is too common, too local. We’re going to call your drink Hibiscus Fusion.”

“Eh?” Sena made a face. “Hibiscus what?

Fusion,” Nana stressed. “Hibiscus Fusion. It’s modern and sophisticated.”

Oh really?” said Sena. “Spell ‘sophisticated’.

“S-O-…” Nana started confidently, and then paused uncertainly. “F?

Sena turned away from him. “No one living in the blocks will even know what Hibiscus Fusion means.”

“And that’s why we’re not selling it to anybody in the blocks,” David said. “It’s exclusively for those living in the Courts. And no more selling in the streets. Now, you’ll only take call orders. I have an old phone you can use. We’ll put the phone number on fliers and slip them under people’s doors. When you get a call for Hibiscus Fusion, you make a delivery, straight from your freezer to your customer.”

Isn’t it great, Sena?” said Kweku. He looked positively thrilled. “This way, we can even keep our prices high because the children in the Courts can afford it. We’re going to be millionaires, Sena, just like you said.”

Sena looked around the room, from Kweku, to David, to Nana, and then back to Kweku. “That…” she said slowly. “That…sounds like the worst idea ever!”

“What?!” the others said at the same time.

“Kweku,” Sena said, seething. “Can I speak to you alone please?”

And she stomped out of the flat. Kweku sighed, apologized to David and Nana with a helpless shrug, and then followed his best friend out the door.

Sena was pacing up and down the landing when Kweku arrived.

What are you thinking?” Sena said, getting in his face. “Selling only to the rich kids? And just for the record, Hibiscus Fusion is a stupid name. What is it a fusion of? It’s glorified tea, Kweku. It isn’t a fusion of anything biaa. Why are you doing this to me?”

“This isn’t about you,” said Kweku, getting angry. “Not everything is about you. This is what’s right for the business.”

“Keeping our prices low and selling to everyone is the right thing for the business.”

“You’re the one who sold our sobolo to David at over two cedis the first time,” said Kweku.

Yes, but only because David is the world’s biggest prat,” said Sena. “Everyone deserves Smackin’ Lackin’ sobolo. Even the people like us.”

“Like us?” Kweku said, with a dry laugh. “What are you talking about, Sena? You’re not like us. You’re not like me. You live in the Courts! Maybe the money doesn’t matter to you, because you could get anything you wanted from your father by just asking. But if I want that new Ananse video game, I have to be able to buy it myself.”

Sena was hurt and confused. “So this is about the Ananse game?”

This is about everything! You’re not always right, Sena. For once in your life, listen to what someone else has to say. Trying to compete with the Morlu Twins is not the way to win. Selling in the Courts makes more sense. That’s all!

Kweku’s words seemed to echo around them. He and Sena stood face to face for several uncomfortable seconds, glaring at each other.

“Maybe we should have just given in to the Twins,” said Sena, her eyes hard but glistening with tears. “Maybe I should take them our recipe right now.”

You wouldn’t,” Kweku said stonily. It almost sounded like a dare.

Sena looked away and sniffed. “I’m going home,” she said.

And with those words, she walked past Kweku, bumping into his shoulder as she did.

Fine,” Kweku said over his shoulder. “You do that.”





Chapter 5

Making sobolo wasn’t the same without Sena. Kweku felt abandoned behind the stove. It wasn’t that the task was harder without her per se, but the magic was gone. It didn’t feel special. Like Sena had said, sobolo was basically glorified tea. He was just stirring a giant pot of tea.

“No,” he had to keep telling himself, as he turned the dark red mixture with a wooden ladle. “I can do this without her. I don’t need her.”

It was only nine in the morning, but the sun was already making a fuss and the kitchen felt like an oven. Kweku was tiptoeing on a step stool to make it easier to see over the pot, and he had to keep ducking his head to the side so that he wouldn’t inadvertently salt the drink with his sweat. His arms hurt from stirring, and his calves ached from stretching.

David and Nana were zero help. David had planted himself inches away from Kweku’s television set, complaining every five minutes about how small the screen was. Nana was brainstorming more fancy names for their sobolo brand out loud. So far he had come up with: Crimson Tea, Wild Water, Ruby Red, Bibi Brew, Bella Rosa, Hibiscus Wine, Viva la Bissap (yeah, Kweku didn’t get that one either).

Kweku didn’t care for any of them. What he did care for was some help. “Hey,” he said, when he popped into the living room. “Maybe you two could help out by getting started on the fliers.”

David and Nana looked at each other.

“I’m really more of an ideas guy,” said Nana, adjusting his glasses. “Consultants don’t really do the work for you. Otherwise what would be the point?”

Kweku turned to David. “And what’s your excuse?”

“Hmm…” David looked thoughtful. “On the one hand, helping with the fliers could really speed up our work. On the other hand…” He paused, and then lit up with realization. “…I really don’t feel like it.”

“Wow.” Kweku frowned at them. “Well, you’re both going to help anyway. There’s paper in the cupboard over there, and pencils and crayons in the TV cabinet. It isn’t going to be hard, stop making that silly sound.”

David was groaning like a wounded animal.

“This isn’t what I signed up for,” said Nana, stroking his nonexistent beard again.

David sat up suddenly. “I have a better idea! Let me go and get my papers and pencils from home.”

“That’s not a better idea,” said Kweku impatiently. “That’s the same idea with an extra, unnecessary step. Just use the stationery here.”

“No, our fliers need to look amazing. Let me go and get mine. I’ll be right back.”

And David got up and left the flat.

Kweku and Nana steeped in the silence for a moment.

“He isn’t coming back, is he?” said Kweku.

“No,” Nana said. “Hey, do you think I could watch TV here till three pm? I’m supposed to be at vacation school, but I don’t feel like going and my mother is at home.”

Kweku just sighed and returned to the kitchen without a word. At eleven, he poured out the brew and burned his thumb straining it. He sucked on the sore finger as he rattled the sieve, trying to force out every drop of carmine gold. It was as he was mixing in the soda water that he realized he’d forgotten to add mint to the sobolo while it was boiling. Did it matter if he added it now? He wasn’t sure, but he added it anyway, feeling strangely hollow as he did. Then there was transferring the drink into gallons, which was actually a lot harder to do singlehandedly.

After putting the gallons in the freezer, Kweku went back to the living room to create the fliers. He worked quietly and somberly, while Nana chuckled at sitcoms on TV. On his first flier, he drew glasses of sobolo with ice cubes in them, and printed in capital letters beneath:

GET ICE COLD HIBISCUS FUSION

CALL: 020 0450 331

After some thought, he added:

It’s Smackin’ Lackin’ Delicious

There, he thought. That should make her happy. But it didn’t make him feel any better.

He skipped lunch to draw fliers till two pm. By the time he was done, he had a headache, his hand was cramped, and his back was stiff, but he had a nice stack of fliers for distribution. He picked up the fliers and rose to his feet.

“Okay,” he said to Nana, “all we have to do now is go to the Courts and slip these under people’s doors.

Nana didn’t move from the couch.

“Well?” said Kweku. “Aren’t you coming? I can’t just leave you here alone.”

Nana turned his head. He didn’t speak. He just stared.

Fine,Kweku muttered. I’ll be right back. Don’t touch anything!”

Nana gave him a thumbs up as Kweku closed the door and locked him inside the flat.

The weather had turned during the day, and the sunlight was now weak and tepid. A blanket of grey clouds was rolling in from the distant mountains, and the wind had picked up its speed. Kweku could smell it in the air—rain.

He hurried past the blocks on his street, before turning into the road that led to the Courts. He was just heading towards Court 1, when five girls came around the corner. They were eating something on a stick, something dark red and frozen.

Kweku slowed to a stop as he reached them. His heart sunk. No. It couldn’t be. “Sorry,” he said, “but what’s that you’re eating?”

“Sobolo on a stick,” the smallest one among them said. She grinned up at him with red stained lips. “We bought it from the Morlu Twins.”

Kweku felt like the world was spinning out of control. He was dizzy with shock.

“It’s like the drink they were selling at Block 45,” one of the other girls said, more to her friends than to Kweku. “But it’s sweeter. And it tastes like pineapple too. It’s so much nicer.”

“Oh, so much nicer,” said another girl.

And all the girls nodded in agreement. They took long slurps of their frozen sobolo and then, to Kweku’s horror, began smacking their lips.

Smack, smack, smack, smack.

“I can’t believe it…” Kweku whispered. “She did it. She really did it.”

“Hm?” said the smallest one.

But Kweku had already walked away from the girls, striding hard and fast in the direction of the school and Block 66. As he made his way there, he met more children from the school eating sobolo on a stick. Not a single hand was empty, not a mouth free. All he heard as he walked was smack, smack, smack, smackity, smack! On his left and right, children smacked their lips.

Kweku spotted Sena about twenty yards away, standing at the junction between the school and Block 66. She was holding the same bell from earlier in the morning. She looked surprised when she saw him marching towards her, but not especially scared or embarrassed. Somehow that only infuriated Kweku more.

You rat!” Kweku cried upon reaching her. “No wonder they call you Kusie!

Sena looked astonished. “Excuse me?”

“That’s what the name means, you traitor!” Kweku said. “It means rat! Because you’re a rat and the worst friend on the planet! How could you?”

Sena was stunned for a second, and then she turned nasty too. “I’m the worst friend? You’re the worst friend! You chose David and his silly ideas over me! Selling sobolo was my idea!”

As they yelled at each other on the street, Kweku thought he saw something move at the corner of his eye. He stopped talking and turned around.

“—So excuse me if my feelings are hurt, but…”

“Sena…”

“What you did was mean, and unfair, and…”

“Sena!

“What?!”

Kweku turned her around.

There were five junior high boys on bicycles lined up a few feet away, all carrying garbage bags full of something bulky. The biker in the middle was wearing a blue cap. Kweku recognized him immediately, and his stomach turned.

Kevin Morlu reached into his garbage bag, pulled out a water balloon, and smirked. “The Morlu Twins say hello.”

The first balloon collided directly with Kweku’s face, and the explosion of water snatched his breath away. Sena squealed as the second water balloon hit her square in the chest, drenching her blouse completely. The rest of the balloons followed in a merciless barrage.

“Sena run!” Kweku cried, but there was so much water in his eyes, he could barely see. He staggered around blindly and then cried out when he right foot sank through empty air. Kweku spilled into a gutter on the side of the road, and fell for what felt like forever. He hit the bottom hard.

The water balloons didn’t stop coming. They were an endless deployment of missiles, and he was the target. Rubber blasted against his skin. Water got in his nose and his mouth and his ears. He curled into a ball and prayed for it to be over.

But then somebody climbed on top of him to shield him from the watery assault. “Hold on!” Sena yelled over the sound of bursting balloons. “I’ve got you! I’ve got you!”

The balloons finally stopped after an eternity. Kweku couldn’t tell the difference when the rain began to fall.

*

Kweku would form an impression of Sena’s flat later. Dirty’ wasn’t the word he would use to describe it. But it wasn’t quite clean. ‘Cluttered’ would be closer to the truth, but not entirely accurate either.

It seemed like every surface in Sena’s living room was covered in magazines and stacks of books. There were no curtains, but all the louver blades were shut, and the air was musty with the smell of moldy paper. The couches were old. There was no television set. Later, it would strike Kweku as bizarre that this flat was in the Courts, that it was located in the same lavish world as David’s.

For now, Kweku was just glad to be indoors and dry. He was sitting next to Sena on a couch, both of them with towels around their necks. Sena’s father was sitting across from them, rapping his fingers nervously against his thighs. He looked even more owlish under the weak amber light from the ceiling.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” he asked, for the millionth time since Sena had arrived at the front door with Kweku in tow.

There was slight swelling over Kweku’s right eye, but otherwise neither Kweku nor Sena had been injured. They were mostly shaken, and even that had passed eventually.

Were fine, dad,” Sena said. “Relax.”

Mr. Geni nodded and went silent again.

Soon, there was a loud knock at the door. Kweku’s mother was here. Mr. Geni had called her an hour ago. He let her in, and she swooped into the living room, angry and concerned, but mostly angry. Kweku thought they were about to get scolded: for making sobolo without permission, for getting into a fight with a yogurt peddling cartel, for everything.

But that wasn’t Mrs. Ansahs concern. “Those Morlu boys eh!” she yelled, as she examined Kweku’s face. “They don’t respect! Spoiled brats! They’re going to learn today!” She ranted for a full twenty minutes.

“Children can be cruel,” was all Mr. Geni said.

Then Mrs. Ansah followed him into the kitchen and they spoke in hushed tones there for a while.

Kweku and Sena sat without speaking for a few minutes.

“It’s because of my teeth, isn’t it?” said Sena suddenly.

Kweku looked at her. “Eh?

My front teeth. That’s why they call me rat. That’s the reason everyone calls me Kusie.

It was. While Kweku was remarkably thin, Sena’s two front teeth were a little too big for her mouth. Kweku had always pretended not to notice.

I still can’t believe I called you that,” Kweku said, looking down at his feet. “I’m sorry.”

“For the record,” Sena said, “I would never give our recipe to anybody. Especially not the Morlu Twins.”

“I know.” He paused. “Is it just me, or was it obviously David that gave our recipe away?”

“Oh it was definitely David,” said Sena. “Without a doubt.”

“What were you doing there with your bell though?”

“Advertising for the business. Just because we were fighting doesn’t mean I didn’t want Hibiscus Fusion to succeed.”

Ah-ah, you mean Smackin’ Lackin’ sobolo,” Kweku said, and he smiled.

Sena smiled back. “How much trouble do you think we’re in?

“Well, we’re about to find out,” said Kweku, and they held hands as their parents came back to the living room.

“Okay, you can let go off each other,” Mrs. Ansah said. “This isn’t a sentencing. No one’s going to jail.” She seemed a lot calmer. But then she said, “You stay here until I get back Kweku. I’m going to have a word with Mr. and Mrs. Morlu.” And with that, she stepped out of the flat.

Mr. Geni folded his arms and faced the two friends.

“So,” said Mr. Geni, “what would you like to eat? There are snacks in the fridge. Do you want chips?”

“Too salty,” Sena said, without missing a beat.

“Cake?

“Too sweet.”

“Do you want me to fry you some yam?”

“Ugh!” Kweku and Sena said at the same time.

“Okay, okay,” Mr. Geni said, laughing. “What’s your problem with fried yam?”

“Long story,” said Sena. “Is there any peanut brittle left?

Mr. Geni nodded. “Peanut brittle, coming right up.”


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