The light ray streamed past the open window to rest on Stanley’s face. He was still deep in sleep and Christiana, occasionally watching him from where she stood, tried not to make so much noise as she gently pulled open her wardrobe and began to look through sweatshirts and leggings; something she could comfortably wear around the house for the chores and still keep the harmattan cold away.
She eventually settled for a yellow sweatshirt and blue leggings. Sexy and comfy, she thought.
She got dressed quickly. Eyes still fixed on Stanley, as she tiptoed out of the room and quietly shut the door behind.
Yes, Christiana had a medical problem. But the medical problem didn’t take away the urge to get up and do some housework. She just knew that things needed to be done. Amnesia or not, she was as normal as normal can be. Only she seemed to have forgotten her past life, and she had scary dreams too. Bad people were hunting her. They probably wanted her dead. A good thing she had Stanley by her side. He seemed to know just how to keep them away.
Christiana was in the sitting room before she realized, the house was already awake with activities, especially from the kitchen. Someone was definitely preparing breakfast. And then outside, someone was trimming the grasses with a mower.
One look at the time and Christiana sighed. It was well past 10:00 AM. Waking up at such late hour, she didn’t know what Stanley’s mother will think of her. But it didn’t stop her from venturing into the kitchen,
No. It wasn’t Stanley’s mom in the kitchen. It was the girl from the previous night. The one dressed like a tomboy. Still dressed like a tomboy. And she wasn’t preparing breakfast. She was serving it, into thick warmers to keep hot until their owners were ready to eat.
She was beautiful, with a striking familiarity. Something Christiana missed the night before, when she visited her room. Her hair, natural, was a packed backward. A big blue t-shirt covered her upper part. And below was a green short.
“Good morning”, Christiana greeted, taking two steps forward. She couldn’t help but notice a red butterfly tattoo on the side of her left hand. It kind of looked familiar but then, she was sure this was the first time she was seeing it. After all, there were butterflies everywhere. She could see one now and mistake it for another later.
“Good morning”, came the reply, without looking up, “did you finally sleep?”
“He’s still asleep”,
The lady paused briefly and looked in Christiana’s direction as if assessing her outfit and wondering what could have happened between her and Stanley through the night. Christiana didn’t know if what she saw on her face was envy or curiosity.
And then almost like nothing had happened, the lady continued sharing the food. Not minding that Christiana was still present.
“I’m sorry I woke up late. Is there anything left I can still do to help?”
“No. Don’t worry. It’s all taken care of”.
“Oh. Ok”, Christiana looked disappointed, “But what about sweeping around the house? I can do that”.
“Don’t worry Christy. Mom already did that”.
“Oh”, that was all that came out of her mouth. She stayed a little longer, fiddling with her fingers, before turning to leave. She made her way back to the room, feeling very unwanted and very useless. So much so, she had forgotten Stanley was still in her room.
Christiana burst into the room noisily and was about to slam the door shut when she suddenly found herself in a sitting room she didn’t recognize. And then she saw a bewildered Stanley frowning at her and asking what had gotten into her head. She screamed curses at him and with a drawn knife, lunged at him, trying to give a cut. She pushed harder and succeeded inflicting a deep cut in his left arm before she felt someone pull her off him. She screamed, asking to be left alone to finish off her jerk of an ex.
Two unfamiliar faces were present; a man and a woman. They seemed familiar with her, as they called her name several times, trying to calm her down. Also then there was the tomboy from the kitchen a short while back. Christiana was sure she saw a black cloud around her just for a brief second. Almost like a flash. But the tomboy was on Stanley’s side. As if trying to shield him from her.
Christiana was still screaming curses when she felt someone shake her vigorously. But it was when she heard Stanley’s voice desperately asking her to snap out of it, that she came out of the disturbing experience. Confused, panting hard, like she had really exerted a lot of energy.
A worried looking Stanley sighed in relief before pulling her into a tight embrace.
“What happened?” He asked. She told him, how she had left the kitchen, back into the room, and then suddenly found herself in a different house, with people she didn’t know. And then she found herself trying to stab him.
Stanley frowned. He pulled back and looked at her. He had been enjoying his sleep peacefully when her screams and curses woke him up. He saw her standing in one position with eyes wide open like she was seeing something more. Then she was talking to no one in particular and trying to stab at something, or was it someone, with her fist. Then she’d say words like, ‘I’ll kill you today you cheat’.
He quickly understood as the doctor had warned him to look out for such experience. He had said it would happen as she gradually began to remember the past. That was when he moved to quickly wake her up from whatever daytime nightmare she found herself in.
Now that she was out of it, she was describing the exact incident that happened just after he broke up with her. The incident where she had come to the house to kill him, thinking he had been cheating on her. Describing Jude and Sofie in her experience said more. Her past was gradually coming back to her. And Stanley, once thinking he had time on his hands to win her over, suddenly knew he had no time. She’d find out other secrets. And then she’d hate him even more.
“Did what I just experience really happen?” She had to ask when she saw his expression go pale. But he couldn’t bring himself to answer her, “I need to know. Please”, she begged. And when he still didn’t say anything, she quickly reached for the sleeves of the left arm and pushed it up. There. The scar of the exact cut stood.
Christiana gasped, covering her mouth with both hands, pulling back, but never taking her eyes off the scar.
“Christiana it doesn’t mean anything”, he tried to comfort her. But she was already in tears. And before he could reach for her, she dashed back out of the room. Stanley cursed under his breath before going after her. Where for God’s sake did she know she was running to?
Stanley reached outside just in time to see Christiana running toward the black gate. He called out to the uniformed man to not let her pass. And so the uniformed man blocked her. Having nowhere else to go, she ran to the garden and Stanley followed. By the time he got to her, she was sitting on the grass. Panting. Stanley sighed heavily and crouched by her side. Panting too.
“I didn’t plan I’ll wake up to exercises”, he said, trying to laugh and ease the tension.
“Tell me exactly what happened”, she said instead, “tell me everything you know about me, and us”.
“Christiana. This is not the time”.
“Then when is?”, she turned sharply to face him, “if you know so much about me, then I demand you tell me who I am. If you were my boyfriend, I need to know what happened between us. Please don’t hide anything from me. Please”.
“Phew!” Stanley found himself sighing for the second time. Even if he agreed to tell her what he knew of her past, he was sure, he wouldn’t still have to guts to tell her the terrible parts or his secrets. As much as he feared she’d find out through another source, something he didn’t want, he still couldn’t bring himself to tell her the complete truth.
But of course, Christiana was one to press on any issue she sets her mind on. He knew this was not the end of her demands.
“We used to be a couple”, Stanley started, adjusting his position so he sat flat on the grass. He admired the flowers close by, relaxing in the very cold morning breeze while thinking of his next words.
“But?” Christiana didn’t give him the time.
“But it didn’t work out because I was a coward. Someone was threatening your life. And the only way to keep you safe was to call off our relationship and distance myself. The girl you saw in that vision of yours, she has always been a good friend. And I thought, to create the needed diversion and make everyone really believe I had moved on, we posed as a couple. Our posing didn’t go down well with you. Hence the attack”, he looked up at her, “you felt betrayed, Christy, that’s why you did what you did. I don’t want you feeling bad about this”.
The silence that followed was almost deafening. It was one thing to tell her some truth about their past. It was another to see what her reaction would be. Her sudden silence seemed to make the weather colder. Like he was going to freeze in it.
“I saw her in the kitchen”, Christiana finally spoke, “she was in my room last night too, yes?” She turned eyes to him again.
“Yes. She was”.
Christiana smiled lightly, “she has this hard expression glued to her face whenever she sets eyes on me. Like I’m the reason for her woes”.
“Yes. I notice her sad and indifferent expression a lot too. But it isn’t because of you, Christiana. Ovi isn’t easily the jealous type. She’s been through a lot in her life time…”.
“Ovi. What a name”, she interrupted, looking curious.
“You need to relax, Christiana. You need to recover and you need to get used to her. There’s a lot more ahead of us to conquer, and we need to be united when that time comes”.
“I can’t get used to someone who always frowns. Besides, how I’m I sure what you’re saying is the truth? How I’m I sure you two aren’t really a couple? I saw jealousy in her expression when I told her in the kitchen this morning, you were still sleeping in my room, on my….”
“I don’t know what you saw, Christiana. But it’s no reason to hate her or cast insinuations”.
“Insinuations? Really? Stanley, I may not have any memories left of my past. But I am not dumb. I still know my use of words. And I know what I saw in that sadist of a tomboy’s expression”.
Stanley really frowned now. He was obviously angry. Christiana had always had her annoying moments. But he had expected that in her present situation, she’d learn to appreciate the people who were sacrificing their time and energy for her protection and well-being.
“You don’t change, to you? Not even amnesia can make you change”,
“Don’t you dare laugh at my situation, Stanley”, she shot angry eyes at him
He got to his feet, ignored her, and started to walk away. But then he stopped briefly and turned to her, “that sadist of a tomboy, as you like to call her, was the one who had eyes on you. That sadist was the one who discovered that our plans had been thwarted by a spy in our midst. That sadist was the one who knowingly drove her car down a very steep hill, into a river, all because she was pursuing the car that had you in its boot. That sadist rescued you and took you to the hospital before I arrived. You owe her your life”, he spat and then worked off.
Christiana watched his retreating back until he disappeared into the house. She closed her eyes then, allowing sadness envelop her. She remembered being kidnapped. She remembered the water rushing into the boot as the car sank in the river. She could have sworn that it was a man who rescued her, in whose hand she saw briefly, a butterfly tattoo, before closing her eyes again. Thinking back to the kitchen that morning, again, she remembered the little butterfly tattoo on Ovi’s left hand. Christiana opened her mouth as realization hit her. It was the exact tattoo. Now she understood why she felt familiar with it.
“Ovi”, the name escaped her lips. Thoughts ran through her head, as she wondered, what she was going to do to right her mistakes.
It took another hour, when she heard a car engine roar to life behind her, for Christiana to finally get on her feet. Turning around, she saw Stanley all dressed, sitting behind the wheels of a red sport car. The uniformed man joined him in the passenger seat. Stanley looked briefly in her direction, then looked away. Christiana could tell he was still angry at her.
Seconds later, Mrs. Odisi stepped out of the house, dressed in a blue kaftan that reached past her ankle. Ovi escorted her to the car, carrying her bag. But just before Mrs. Odisi stepped into the car, she looked toward the garden. Her eyes rested on Christiana, who called out a greeting with bent knee, before straightening up again.
Mrs. Odisi waved in reply, and then said something to her son, before stepping into the back of the car. Ovi handed over her bag. Someone else opened the gate. And after one more look from Stanley, he drove out.
The man locked the gate after them and disappeared into the security house. Ovi stood, rooted, looking at her. Christiana couldn’t tell if she was contemplating coming over or going back in. But before she could think more, Ovi had started in her direction.
“What’s up?” She asked, hands folded across her chest as she moved to stand in front of Christiana.
“Thank you”, a subdued Christiana said instead, “Stanley told me. I really do owe you my life”.
Ovi chuckled, leaving Christiana to wonder what was funny, and at the same time, see the bright and beautiful side of the woman she earlier called a sadist.
“The only person you owe your life is God. Me, I’m just doing my best to make the world a better place. Hurry and freshen up Christy. Breakfast is ready”, she turned and started back towards the house.
Relief washed over Christiana, as she made up her mind, she was going to make this tomboy her new best friend.
To be continued…
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