“Did he know before he left?”
It was nine days after the news of Ebube’s death came to them. Both women loved him in their own ways, both women bled deep inside, but one has taken up the responsibility of looking after the other.
No matter how much she hurt, she wouldn’t want anyone to notice. The old woman, who would have been her mother in-law walked around like a shadow, sometimes she looked at her and the little girl as if she has not seen them before, but the news of her pregnancy made the old woman smile for the first time after a long while.
Elizabeth couldn’t help but noticed how much the woman has aged within the few days “No mama, I didn’t know either until few months after he left”
Mrs Ojukwu held Elizabeth “He is going to be a boy” a sob escaped Elizabeth’s lips “Don’t cry child…” tears ran down Mrs Ojukwu’s cheek while she caressed Elizabeth’s face. Elizabeth nodded while fighting back tears “He is coming back…my son is coming back to me again”
Elizabeth shook her head in pains; how would she console the woman even with her own pains; it has been difficult for her to close her eyes and sleep in the nights, most times she would see him in her dreams; either drowned or cold dead. Last night, she brought out the ring he gave her the day he left
“You tricked me Bube…you lied to me” she had torn his letter to pieces
Elizabeth helped Mrs Ojukwu to relax her back on the sofa before she hurried to the kitchen where she allowed the tears to flow
“Auntie why are you cwying?”
Elizabeth quickly wiped the tears from her face and turned to the child “I am not crying darling, something entered my eyes”
“Yet me bwo it (Let me blow air into your eyes)” the child offered
Elizabeth smiled in spite of herself, she walked towards the child and bent to meet the child’s face “It alright now, I will wash my face and I will be alright”
“Is it true that Daddy will not come back?”
The innocent question took Elizabeth off guard “Come her baby” she held the child in a tight embrace “Who told you that?” she asked
“I heard that man…he set Daddy will not comeback” the child said
“Oh No baby…” she kissed the child’s head “Daddy will be back alright? He will only stay a little longer than he said but he will come back for you” that was the only explanation she was able to come up
“I knew it…daddy doesn’t lie to me” the child said happily
“No he doesn’t” Elizabeth sobbed softly over the girl’s head
“He said he will come back and he will” the child said “He will marry you and I will start calling you mummy”
Elizabeth fought the tears
“Can I start calling you Mum now?” the child pulled herself away from the embrace and looked Elizabeth on the face
Elizabeth couldn’t say anything, tears streamed done her face, the child wiped them with her little fingers “Don’t cry Mummy, I know you miss daddy, I miss him too… see we are going to have a big wedding with a beautiful cake…no three beautiful cakes, one for me, one for you and one for daddy…no another one for grandma…”
Elizabeth wished she was a child, that she could be able to have hope like the little girl that stood before her. Her phone rang and she reluctantly picked;
“Hello…Okon what is it? What! what are you talking about? Okon…Okon!!”
“Baby you have to promise me you will look after grandma; mummy want to go to the farm now…have your breakfast before you turn on the TV”
“Okay Mummy” The child giggled “Calling you mummy sounds nice”
Elizabeth changed her cloth, took her car key from the table and hurried out
“Lock the door Oma!” she shouted before she drove off
Chike got back home later that morning and walked straight to the room with a bag, he exchanged no words with his wife who saw him from the kitchen window as he packed the car.
They had been like strangers for the past months, he would leave the house and would come home after few days. Their family income dwindled but he didn’t care, he was consumed by his own lust and thirst to get even.
Chike kicked his snickers off his feet and stretched himself on the bed, with every day that passed, it was becoming easier for him to gain assess into Elizabeth’s farm and her life, with what he did that morning, he had no doubt that she would be rattled so much that she would beg him on her knees.
He stood up pulled his clothes off and stepped into the bathroom; he wouldn’t want to bother himself with his joblessness nor his estranged wife, nobody would spoil that day for him, he would give her some time before he would call her.
“Where did you go to Chike?”
He met his wife in the room when he came out of the bathroom, she had his little bag with her and looked alarmed “What are all these?”
He quickly closed the gap between them and snatched the bag from her “They are none of your business” the content fell and scattered on the rugged floor.
Ada gasped at the sight of the chemicals, syringes, and gloves, “Chike what are these things? What have you been up to…” she bent to picked some of the small bottles
“Don’t touch that!” Chike barked
“What have you done Chike?” she didn’t wait for answer, she turned immediately towards the door and made to run our but she wasn’t fast enough; Chike grabbed her from behind and threw her on the bed
“You are not leaving here to run your mouth” he pinned her down with his weight while she struggled to free herself. she had done nothing but get on his nerves lately and he knew it was time to do something about her. Chike slapped her so hard on the face that she tasted her own blood, before he drew from one of the bottles with a syringe and inject in her.
“You have to learn how to mind your fucking business next time” he said
Ada was helpless, with her eyes wide open, she couldn’t move any part of her body. The Opium paralyzed her from neck down, she saw the hatred and the madness in her husband eyes, the man he used to be to her was long gone, she didn’t recognize the man that looked down at her.
“Okon how did this happen?”
“Madam I don’t know o, as I come this morning, them been dey alive o, I sell for costumers finish, I say make I go clean the other ponds, as I come back say make I clean this one, na so I notice say the whole fish way dey for this pond don die”
Elizabeth couldn’t make sense out of anything the boy said “Okon you are not making sense, how can you tell me say a full pond of healthy fishes…Okon, healthy fished…all died this morning!”
“Madam na true I dey tell you, I no know watin happen ma, I come out come see them like this ma…”
“All of them dead?”
“Some bin dey shake small small before I call you, but I no no why all of them just die…”
Elizabeth was almost going mad “Jesus! What is this? What is happening to me?”
“Madam I don know…”
She looked in the pond, that was the largest pond in her farm with fished ready for harvest “get me my gloves and my boot” the boy ran to the farm house and came back with her black rubber hand gloves, she entered the pond and examined some of the dead fishes “How is this possible?” she muttered as she took one of the fishes “I didn’t change their feed” she was confused
“Your phone dey ring”
She shoved her hand in her apron pocked and brought out the phone “Who is this?”
His laughter hit her like a punch, she recognized it immediately “I don’t have time for his, I have a pressing issue I am attending to right now…”
“That means you have gotten my little message to you?”
She was about to cut the call on him when she heard his comment and realized what he was talking about
“How many of them died? Twenty? Hundred? Or more?” he laughed with satisfaction “My darling, I told you that I can do anything with you and get away with it…”
“You are not getting away with this one Chike” there was something nervous about his tone that day and she sensed it
“Oh! What will you do big fat LovePeddler? Report me to the police? Or send your navy Bleep boy to me?”
She wasn’t scared of him anymore and that surprised her, she was tired; tired of crying, tired of hiding away from him, tired of his many jump scares. She was done with running, her experiences within the past weeks had toughened her “You are a coward Chike, you think you are tough?” she laughed hysterically “You are nothing, a piece of shit that is what you are”
“Are you talking to me?” He was not expecting her to sound the way she did, and she felt his reaction from the sound of his voice
“Wait let me finish Idiot! You know something Chike? When I dated you, I thought you were everything I wanted in a man, but now…I see you as the looser that you are, and I feel sorry for your wife, who ever she is. I hope by now she must have known what a buffoon you are” her anger built to an eruption point
“How dare you? how dare you talk back at me in that manner you daughter of the devil? You are the reason I am what I am now, you destroyed me and I will not rest until I make sure you become nothing…” He made his threats as usual
“I did nothing to you Chike, I didn’t make you lose your Job neither did I force you to leave for another woman. You know what? I don’t care anymore, you can rant from now till next year like a senseless dog that you are, I have a business to attend to” she said furious calmness
“Elizabeth you have forgotten what I can do to you, I will get you and will make sure you beg me to spare you. I will take what rightfully belong to me in a way you have never imagined it…”
“I owe you nothing you fool, and I don’t belong to you” she cut in
“You belong to me, your body is mine, I have tasted you before and will still take it…”
“I will rather die a thousand times than allow you have access to my body you pervert Idiot!”
“You will beg for mercy when I will turn you to my thing of pleasure, you will not be able to imagine it”
“I dare you Chike, come get me…” she brought the phone down and cut the call
“Bury these fishes and clean the pond Okon” she ordered
“But madam, make we roast am na, we go still sell am as dry fish”
“Okon will you do as I instructed you now? She barked
The girl they called Sagal stood by the door and watched him cut the woods, he had his shirt tied round his waist, his muscles were visible on his mahogany skin, the sweat that wet his bare torso, made his skin shone, the movement of his strong arms as he lifted the axe, gave a rhythmic movement of his masculine chest. He poured out his frustration and vexations on the wood.
Ebube stood to wipe sweat off his face and his eyes caught hers; she brought her eyes down and walked away, not fast enough to cover the longing in her eyes and the sadness of his rejection last night.
He didn’t blame her; he knew she wouldn’t look at him the same way again after what happened last night. He had woken up to her slender body nestled closed to his, her tender breast that kissed his back and a soft breath on his neck. He wasn’t sure how real it was for he has imagined
Elizabeth on his bed, he had responded to the touch, he must have even called out Elizabeth and had turned towards her. He came to full realization when he turned and she grabbed his lips with hers; the kisses had lingered and her moaning was different from that of his Lady,
“No, no…” he had pulled himself away and sat down
She couldn’t speak English, that made it difficult for him to understand what she said to him, “I cannot do this with you…” He wasn’t sure she understood him, but when he picked her cloth from the floor and handed it over to her, she took it with tears in her eyes and ran out.
Ebube eased himself from the tree he leaned on and picked the axe, yesterday he had thought of home more than before, he had thought of his lady. He needed to buy his freedom one way or the other, but how?
“Get the UN to stop fighting on the side of the Government” Adsame had asked of him
He would get back to the encampment, maybe he would have the opportunity to call home too.
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