Happy Sunday Everone. Sorry it didn’t come sooner. But, here we go.
It was 6:00 PM. The day had gone quietly, despite the fact Christiana tried to pull closer to Ovi, she observed the tomboy did everything possible to avoid her and got mostly locked up in her room.
And when it was time for lunch, Christiana volunteered to cook, hoping Ovi would stay with her in the kitchen and they’d get to really talk. Unfortunately, all Ovi did was say her thanks and disappear once again, into her room.
Christiana quietly made up her mind, she wasn’t cooking dinner. The tomboy would do well to resume cooking duties and she would stop trying too hard to make friends with her.
When Launch was ready, she served into plates and set them on the table before going to knock Ovi’s door to announce Lunchtime. But Ovi only stepped out, picked her plate of beans and fried plantain before disappearing into her room again. The key in the locked turned. Christiana sighed. She was truly alone.
And so, after lunch, Christiana went into her bedroom to rest a bit. But sleep eluded her, mostly because of the fear of horrible dreams. She tossed and turned. Not comfortable with her restlessness, she got out of bed, out of her room, grabbed mama’s radio from the dining table and headed outside.
Now sitting on a bench outside, lips dry and arms wrapped around her body to keep off the harmattan cold, she was almost bored. But thanks to mama’s radio and the cool Jamz from the radio stations, they helped lighten her mood. There were also talk programs addressing the happenings in the state. One of the talk programs was still on-going, and although Christiana couldn’t really understand what they were about, she was sure, from the conversations, the government was really messing up.
“I wonder why you can sit down and listen to all that trash of a talk program”, Ovi said, walking in her direction.
“Well, it does reveal a lot about the government. Besides, I have nothing else to do. It’s boring here”.
“Yes, it is. Lonely too”, Ovi agreed, pausing to stand in front of her, “I could take a stroll. But doing so means leaving you all to yourself”.
“We can stroll together then. So you wouldn’t have to bother about leaving me all to myself”, Christiana looked hopeful.
“That’s not going to happen”, Ovi scoffed, “You’re not exactly fun right now to hang out with”
“Ah! Sorry”, Christiana winced, “seems I’m the one killing your fun”.
“Not exactly”, she sat on the empty space, “Stanley is the one making me stay put”.
“Oh”, Christiana felt disappointed. She would have loved to know that Ovi stayed because of her security, not just because Stanley asked her to stay. It was possible, from the jealousy she saw in her earlier that morning; she was really in love with Kinsley. Besides, only when you like someone can you go out of your way to do anything they asked.
“You look disappointed. Are you sad I stayed for Stanley, and not you?” Ovi smirked.
“Kind of. But I guess it is ok”, Christiana shrugged, “after all, you seem to be in love with him”, she knew she was pushing the wrong button. But what else could she do? From the little time they spent together during the day, everything Ovi did suggested she could really be in love with Stanley. So she didn’t think there was harm, confirming her suspicions, even though in her heart, she wanted her gut instincts to be a false alarm.
A brief silence followed. And then Ovi spoke, turning to her. “Are you angry that I’m in love with him? Or about the fact that everything I’ve done for you, I did because of him?”
Oh. There it is. Christiana thought. Said finally said it. Ovi was definitely in love with Stanley. So no. Christiana wasn’t just assuming. Her instincts were right.
What she wasn’t sure of, was if Stanley knew that Ovi was in love with him. Or if he was equally in love with her. Of course, she remembered how well he defended her that morning.
“I really don’t know, Ovi”, Christiana sighed, “You’re strong, blunt, super skilled at whatever you and Stanley do. Maybe you’re actually the woman for him”. She got up, grabbed the radio and started towards the house, “Please let me know when Stanley arrives.”
“I hate to be the bearer of bad news. But Stanley isn’t coming home tonight. Tomorrow. Maybe. Or next. But definitely not tonight”.
Christiana sighed, her insides turned like she suddenly didn’t feel safe knowing she was alone with Stanley’s lover.
“Where exactly did he go?” she turned around to face her rival
“That’s not for you to know, Christy”, Ovi got on her feet too, “you just go in, have your rest and I’ll let you know when dinner is ready”, she walked past a suddenly sad Christiana and made her way to the house.
Christiana felt her tummy turn. Stanley’s angry face flashed into her mind’s eye. The same angry face he wore that morning. And then she was certain, Stanley was madly pissed at her childish behavior. It was possible he thought it wise to cool off somewhere, instead of coming home to her.
If only she had a way to reach him and ask for his forgiveness. Then he’ll surely come back. Better still, if only she remembered her life before the accident. It would have been easy to walk away from all the drama.
But if Stanley loved Ovi just as much as she thought Ovi loved him, then so be it. She had no right whatsoever to come between that love. Stanley had told her the both of them used to be an item, but the truth is, they were no longer items.
Managing to drag herself in, Christiana was just at the door leading to the passage, when she overheard Ovi on the phone with someone. She didn’t get what the other person was saying, but she got Ovi loud and clear.
“You have to relax”, she said, “Stanley isn’t home. And the book is fine. You don’t have to be here and you don’t need to blow things out of proportion”.
Who could she be talking to? Christiana thought, briefly, before making her way into the passage.
The next ten seconds met her in her room. She dropped the radio on her bedside cabinet and made a walk around to wardrobe.
Pulling it open, the first thing her eyes fell on was the book from the night before, In the Land of the Living, sitting quietly on top her folded undies. Fear gripped her as she took steps backward.
How did this get here? She thought just as her door opened slightly and Ovi stuck her head through the opening to announce dinner was ready. But seeing the expression on Christiana’s face, she frowned.
“What’s the problem, Christy?” She pushed the door wider and stepped in.
As much as Ovi felt like her enemy after revealing she was in love with Stanley, Christiana knew she had no choice but to rely on her. “It’s this book again from last night. I don’t know how it got in my wardrobe”, She pointed at the book in the wardrobe.
Ovi moved to look at it. She frowned, “Why are you scared of that? I put it there. I thought it was your book?” She turned to look at Christiana.
“No, it’s not. That book gave me nightmares last night and Stanley promised to keep it away”.
“That’s odd. I saw it on your bed and thought it was yours. So I kept it in…”
“You’ve been snooping around my room?” Christiana asked, evidently angry.
“Watch your tone. I only came in here because Stanley called, asking me to check if he left something in your room”.
“And this something doesn’t have a name?” her brows shot up.
“Don’t pick that tone with me, Christy. It is the one thing I wouldn’t tolerate”.
“Well how else I’m I supposed to react, seeing that you think I’m the one killing your fun in this house. Plus, that book gave me nightmares and it is somehow placed in my wardrobe. Are you the one arranging these attacks on me?
Ovi’s expression was blank for a while. Taking her silence for guilt, Christiana continued, “I’ll be sure to tell the love of your life you’re the one responsible for my nightmares. Now kindly get out of my room”.
Ovi was frowning now. She never expected to hear such accusations or annoying orders from the person whose life she saved.
Without a word or a warning, Ovi’s hand went up and descended in a flash. Christiana saw stars as Ovi’s rubber-like palm struck her face. She didn’t recover from the slap before Ovi was on her again, raining blow and slaps. By the time she was done, Christiana was on the floor, writhing in pain with tears escaping her eyes.
“I saved your life that day, Christy. I did it for Stanley. Not you. So if you cross me again, I’ll ensure the death you escaped finally catches up with you”, after one more minute looking down at Christiana, she announced, “Dinner is ready. And since I’m in charge of the house in Stanley’s absence, I’m ordering you to get yourself cleaned up and join me at the table. 30 minutes is all the time I’m giving, else I’ll come back here and beat hell out of you.”
Christiana didn’t look up. She only heard Ovi’s retreating footsteps, and then the door slammed shut. And although she was seriously thinking of skipping dinner, she knew Ovi was not going to have it and she risked getting another thorough beating. From the attack, it was clear Ovi was not a pushover. She could even be mistaken for a female army officer. Unfortunately, Stanley was not around to protect her from his terror of a girlfriend. And so she had no choice but to obey.
She got to her feet, dried her tears and made a mental note to get back at Ovi.
For Christiana, bathing was out of the clean-up process. It was evening and the harmattan cold felt like it was going to freeze her up to her bones. Christiana did a little dry cleaning and started to get dressed,
The next 30 minutes met her all gadget up in layers of thick sweaters.
She made it to the dining table where Ovi sat at the head of the table, backing the kitchen door. The plates containing food were lined side by side. Christiana’s brows shot up.
“I also must sit and eat next to you or you’ll beat hell out of me again?”
Ovi smiled warily, leaning forward, “yes. After all, I cooked. All you have to do is sit and eat. So stop complaining”, she forced a grin.
“And you care so much about me eating your food. What’s my guarantee the food isn’t poisoned?”
“Babe, I’m only ensuring you eat so that Stanley would come home to find that his guest has been starving”.
“Oh. I get. You’re doing it for Stanley”.
“Exactly! You’re beginning to get the message”, Ovi really smiled this time, “now, come sit next to me”, she got up and pulled back Christiana’s chair.
Christiana observed her briefly, “is that your way of apologizing for your actions?”
“No”, she returned to her chair, sitting straight up as she went for her cutlery before descending on her plate of boiled plantain and vegetables ” I don’t apologize for my actions. Unless of course, I was the one at fault. In this case, you’re the one who owes me an apology”.
“Really?” Christiana scoffed, “for sneaking into my room, putting that evil book in my wardrobe and then beating me up for confronting you, I still owe you an apology?”
“Yes. You do”.
Christiana studied her while calculating her next plan, “I can bet there’s not enough salt in this food”. She said, finally. It was Ovi’s turn to raise her brows.
“And how do you know that?”
“Because you’re the one who cooked it. The food you cooked earlier was same. Not enough salt”.
Ovi pouted, “I see you’re a salt lover. You can always get salt from the kitchen”, she turned her attention back to her meal.
Christiana went off to the kitchen, looking for where the salt was. As karma would have it, her eyes fell on a set of newly bought ropes. Yellow. Kept in a toolbox. She reached for one and unfolded it. It was not so long, but just enough for the thought that flashed in Christiana’s mind.
She ignored what she initially came for and made her way back to the dining room. She was quick, not giving Ovi time to even turn around, she threw the rope over Ovi’s head, to her neck, and then pulled.
Ovi’s fork dropped sharply to the table as her hands went straight for the rope around her neck. She grabbed and pulled hard with both hands, so as not to get strangled.
It was a struggle, as she kicked here and there. Ovi tried to get to her feet, as that would give her a better chance of survival.
But Christiana had made up her mind not to give her that chance. She pulled harder with greater force, knocking Ovi back into her seat.
As much as Christiana loved the feeling of winning, she could tell she was not herself. She could tell that the strength she was using wasn’t normal. She could tell, from the way Ovi had started to cough, that if she didn’t stop, she was going to have murder on her hands.
In an instant, she let go. Ovi leaned forward, resting her head on the table as she was too shaken to get up. She rubbed her neck and coughed terribly.
When she eventually looked up, Christiana could see her eyes were teary and red. She quickly reached for the jug of water, not minding that during the struggle, more than half its content had spilled. She poured some water into a tumbler and handed it to Ovi.
“Here. Please drink this. It will help you”.
Ovi was reluctant, but she finally took the glass and gulped down its content.
“Thank you”, she sighed deeply and leaned back in the chair. Panting. But her eyes never left Christiana.
“You don’t have to look at me like that”, Christiana spoke up when she couldn’t bear the silence anymore, “I never meant to kill you. I just wanted a little payback for what you did to me earlier”.
Ovi let out a light laugh. Then she chuckled heartily.
“What is funny?” Christiana was confused.
“Nothing. I guess we’ll just have to observe some more so we know exactly where you got such strength from”, she got to her feet and started towards the passage.
“You haven’t finished dinner”, Christiana reminded her.
“Look on the table Christy”, she said without looking back, “you made me throw away my dinner. So good night, and see you tomorrow”, she disappeared behind the curtains covering the passage entrance.
Christiana sighed, looking at the table. Ovi was right. Her action had cost them both their dinner, as the content had spilled from the plates.
She got to work, cleaning up the mess and washing up the dishes.
It was after she was done she went for a small cup of garri and cold water. Her stomach was grumbling badly and he thought it better to soak some garri before bed.
It was 10:00 PM when Christiana laid on her bed. The generator had been put off. Thank goodness she brought along a candle she found lying carelessly on the kitchen table, and a matchbox.
She quickly put it on and kept it to stand on a small candle saucer, before lying back on her bed.
The events of the day came running through her head and she was sure, she had pissed off the people who saved her life for good. First Stanley. And then his lover.
It hurt her though; that Stanley explained to her he was never really in a relationship with Ovi. But Ovi sounds so sure Stanley is her man.
Who was she going to believe? Stanley had acted very attracted to her since she woke up at the hospital. And then the night before.
Sure, she did piss him off in the morning. But she didn’t think it was enough to just walk out on her and not come back. To worsen issues, he had called Ovi earlier to check her room for only God knows what. Couldn’t he spare some time to speak with her?
Perhaps she would believe Ovi. Perhaps Stanley actually felt something for the tomboy and maybe, they were a perfect match for each other.
Rolling from one end of the not so large bed to the other, Christiana wondered if she’d be able to sleep. Not that she wasn’t feeling sleepy. But fear of the unknown kept her awake, just as it did in the afternoon. She was so scared of seeing that man again.
It was well past midnight when she eventually closed her eyes. And then the first nightmare came at her like it had been lurking at the corner. It was the same bloody axeman from the previous night. But he didn’t have blood around him this time. He was neatly dressed in a black long-sleeved shirt and black trousers. He still held an axe in one hand and pointed it at her, saying,
“I will win. You will lose”.
She had wanted to ask him what he meant by that and why he was hunting her when in a flash, he was directly in front of her, axe raised high and then brought down. The sharp edge slightly brushed at her face as she moved to dodge the assault. But it did give her a thin cut on the left cheek.
“Ah!” she cried, one hand flying to her cheeks. Having been thrown off guard, she didn’t have time to regain balance before the axe went up again. And as it came down, she jerked out of the dream with a loud cry. The axe did touch her before she woke up. It touched the hand she had raised up in defense and though she was awake, the hand bled. Slowly.
She looked at it, sighed, and threw herself back against the pillow. Her heart pounded loudly against her chest. The candle was still on and the room cold. But little beads of perspiration had gathered at her temple. One hand went to her cheek. It was wet. When she looked at the hand against the candlelight, it was red. Blood. The axe had given her a cut on her cheek too.
Christiana swallowed. Whoever the man in her nightmare was, she didn’t care. She just wanted him to leave her alone. The disturbances had become too scary and too annoying. She just wanted it to stop. Why would a cut in the dream make her bleed physical? What was happening to her? How could she get kidnapped, almost die in an accident then wake up at the hospital with amnesia?
And like that wasn’t enough, she was now having nightmares that affected her physically. Stanley had certainly abandoned her to her fate. She was sure this night would be worse if she tried to sleep alone. The man would keep coming for her and he might succeed in killing her.
Not willing to waste time drowning in fear, she reached for the candle and got out of bed. Flinging a blanket over her shoulder with one hand, she made for the door.
The next few seconds met her in front of Ovi’s room door and although she was reluctant, she knocked.
It took about 3 minutes before the door opened, slightly. Ovi stood with sleepy eyes, staring at her. Her blank expression didn’t deceive Christiana though. She noticed Ovi still had red eyes and her face was swollen.
“You’ve been crying?” Christiana didn’t know when the questions left her lips
“And what exactly would I be crying for?” Ovi’s brows shot up. Her voice was firm, void of emotions.
“I really don’t know”, Christiana sighed and looked away, “I guess we have our strong and weak moments. It’s what makes us who we are”.
“Did you have the nightmare again?” Ovi eyed her closely. Christiana looked embarrassed
“Yes”, She finally replied. Swallowing “And I don’t wish to bother you. I just need company to help me sleep”.
Who cut you?” Ovi’s expression was grave now. She had noticed the blood on Christiana’s cheeks, thanks to the candlelight.
“The same man. From my nightmare”
“It’s more serious than I thought”, she admitted, pulling the door wide open, as she moved closer to examine the cut. While she worked, series of thoughts crossed Christiana’s head. The major one was that with Stanley being their major bone of contention and the reason for their scuffle earlier, she wasn’t sure what to expect. Ovi may turn her away. And she may be forced to spend the night alone.
Well, she didn’t. Instead, Ovi’s expression softened, and when she spoke, Christiana was sure she heard sympathy, “there’s no harm in us sharing a bed. Just try not to smooch me. I’ll cut off your head cos I’m not a lesbo”, she forced a smile.
“Sure”, Christiana managed a slight smile too.
Christiana said her thanks and stepped into the room. It was going to be a long and interesting night. She only hoped, she woke up with her head intact.
To be continued…
©️Karo Oforofuo. January 2018. All rights reserved
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