Crack the whip said. You can audibly hear the slam of many doors; It is the neighbours giving the man and his wife privacy. The last time someone interfered in their fight, he had ended up spending 3 weeks in the intensive ward of the government hospital. The neighbours learnt not to interfere anymore. Better late than never, they still whisper among themselves. You hear the man and his wife again this early morning as you have almost every morning for the past two years. You shut your door, just like all the neighbours did.
You know the man and his wife. You know the man has been like that since the beginning of time- always using his fists to find his way through every problem. You heard once at the grinding mill that even His mother agreed that he has always been like that. He fought his way out from her shelter and when he finally came out, her womb was in shreds. The doctors told her she couldn’t give birth anymore. And so the man was an only child.
You moved into the apartment opposite theirs about the same time the man and his wife did. But you have never spoken to either of them.
You nodded at his wife once at the mini supermarket down the street and quickly averted your eyes to avoid being sucked into the dark sad pools that have come to have a dwelling suite in her eyes.
But that was after You heard at the salon that they had once been in love. He had loved her at first. He still loves her, he beats her out of love. That same day, one of the salon girls had told you she knows their story inside out. She whispers to you that she used to be close to his wife before she quietly dumped her poor friends when she hooked the man. She confided in you that the man had actually been interested in her, but his wife seduced him from her. She joyfully concludes that God had indirectly saved her from death in the arms of love.
You give her a half hearted smile which becomes more lopsided as she increases the strength of her fingers on your hair at each passionate tempo in her story. You are soon finished with your hair and you tell her to keep the change after you pay her for the attachment and braids.
You hurry out of the salon as soon as you are done- see no evil, hear no evil. You can hear them begin to talk about you just as you think you will escape the biting sarcasm by finally shutting the door.
You are the girl who moved into the street two years ago. You moved into the overly priced and haunted house on the street. You heard once that the house is haunted by the ghost of the two children whom robbers threw into a well of water because their parents had no belongings to give. You are the one who is believed to have been finally punished by the children for staying in their house and preventing them from purging the innocent blood the robbers stained the walls with.
You have always wondered about the origin of the story because even long after you and your neighbours put off the generator every night and peace descends in the neighbourhood, the only sound you hear is the intense breathing of your loneliness and the occasional barking of dogs.
You are lying awake on your bed this night again, tossing and turning and waiting for a new dawn to break. You know you have been excited all week and that the rumour mill is agog with news of your insanity as you have been smiling and conversing with yourself all week while walking on the street.
You know it is not because you are bewitched you smile. You know it is Lawrence that makes you smile.
He is the one who pays your rent and keeps you indoor for several hours with his chit chats. You have been smiling because he has finally sent you your passport and you have gotten a visa. In less than 24 hours, you will be with the love of your life. You are glad you will finally put your parents to shame and you will stop being the butt of your friends’ jokes. He didn’t marry a white woman, neither did he go to his village in Umuahia to pick a wife; your Lawrence eventually sent for you.
You think of how you can’t wait to have him fill you inside till you think you can feel your womb explode. You think of becoming his wife and posting your wedding pictures on facebook for all to see that you won, eventually, despite all the odds.
It is in the middle of this excitement you hear another crack of the whip. You know it is your neighbours again, and you know the beating will stop after a while. You know the woman will come out tomorrow with a black eye and claim she mistakenly hit her face against a wall. You know she always mistakenly hits her face against a wall. You know her husband will come back in the evening with a pack with contents you don’t know because it is always wrapped. You know he will beg her on bended knees and tell her he hit her out of love and then blame the devil all in one breath. You know it is always the devil’s fault. But you are wrong.
You hear a thud on the wall, and then silence. You think this silence is unusual and as it almost lulls you to sleep, you hear that sound. It is the same sound that trailed you when you used to drag a heavy bag of rice for your mother’s kitchen. You hear the man muttering and sniffing. You hear him simultaneously open the main door of your building and then open his car doors with an automatic key. You hear the click of the shuttle of his car boot.
You are too scared to peep out from the window because you know what it is. And you are right. You drag your two carrier luggage the next morning and enter the cab of the man with whom you had negotiated the day before to take you to Muritala Mohammed Airport at Ikeja for three thousand naira .
You land in Heathrow Airport 10 hours later and spot Lawrence in the crowd waiting for you. He is the same way you remember him from the last time you saw him… from the last time you made love to him… from the pictures you share on BBM.
You rush into his arms and die a million times as he kisses you with such unforgivable passion; You forget the woman with the sad eyes and her husband who finally snuffed the sadness out of her eyes.
You deserve to be truly happy.
She deserves to be also, in the waters of third mainland bridge where he dumped her body.
Thanks to Shangytee for sending this in. It’s unedited and she’d like your honest feedback. You can also send in your short stories to editor [at] thenakedconvos.com. Cheers.
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