The curtains were pulled back, allowing multiples streams of golden rays illuminate the sitting room.
Valerie bent over, sweeping the dirt from the sitting room into the plastic packer. Since after waking up that morning, only to continue facing the embarrassment from the day before, she had decided it was best to work herself out, giving no room for loneliness or boredom.
She’d work herself to death if possible. She was tired of the senseless dreams, the mansion, and the people who lived in it. And to think she had another weird dream, after a passionate night with her boss.
She had tried to get the dream out of her head all day. But how could she? A night of sexcapades, followed by such a dream, was not so nice. Was the dream insinuating she was pregnant? Valerie thought.
In as much as her hands worked, efficiently, her thoughts traveled back in time, to the night before.
It was one thing to be the maid. It was another to be the maid who slept with the boss, and yet another, to be the maid who slept with the boss, and got caught by the house keeper and everyone else. Gross.
True, she was attracted to Okis. True, he was attracted to her. But she never asked for what happened. She had wanted to stop him but, she couldn’t. It was like her body was suddenly under the control of another. Rodah. It had to be. Especially as Okis had called her Rodah. And she heard herself call him Aaron.
Two people, one was supposed to be dead, and the other, obviously her boss, were tormenting her. What? Was she supposed to be a medium for Rodah to connect with Okis again, physically, emotionally, intimately and otherwise?
She had alot of questions burning in her heart. And who would answer them? Okis, of course. But after their intimate moment, she had only asked, what happened, as she had not been in control of herself. Okis would have said something, but not when they heard a loud hiss. Looking up, it was Ms. Grace.
The elderly woman stood, angry and disgusted. “You two ought to be ashamed of yourselves”, she spat, “and especially you”, she pointed and Valerie.
“Ms. Grace”, Okis got to his feet, quickly pulling up his shorts and moving to stand in front of her, so as to shield Valerie from her, “it’s not what you think. It wasn’t her fault”
“You should be ashamed of yourself too, Okis”, she waved him off when he tried to take her hands, “I raised you better than this”.
“Mother, please”, he took gentle steps forward, “at least allow me explain things to you, privately”, he begged.
“There’s nothing you’ll say that will erase the picture of what I just saw”, she protested. But Okis had led her away, while she continued to curse Valerie and reprimanded him, like he was a child.
It took almost the rest of the night for Valerie to get a hold of herself. She had remained on the table, reliving the entire night’s experience in her head. From dream to reality, only different settings. She thought. And then sighed.
2:15 AM met her getting off the table. She wore her night robe and proceeded out of the study. She had only locked the door behind her when she saw Omo, leaning against the wall, on the other side inspecting her finger nails, while maintaining an innocent expression.
“You’re awake”, Valerie said. Her heart did a number on her
“Yes”, Omo replied, eyes focused on her finger nails, “you didn’t expect me to sleep, knowing full well you and Okis were banging away”, she turned hateful eyes on Valerie, “you promised you’ll stay away from him”.
Valerie felt confused. Did everyone in the house have a hint about what had happened? First, Ms. Grace, and now Omo? Who was next to know? Andrew? Ansa?
“Whatever happened between Mr. Okis and I was a mistake. It wouldn’t repeat itself”.
“You already broke one promise. You always break promises. You’ve always been a man snatcher!” She yelled, “and here I was thinking the world out there would have done you some good-by teaching you hard lessons. Tell me, didn’t your Uncle ignore his sex starved wife for you? Didn’t he go to you, taking you night after night?”
“I never told you that”, it was Valerie’s turn to be angry, “how is it that you know my history? Not like you even understand what happened. Have you ever been raped, Omo?”
“Cut the pretense. You enjoyed it. And you asked for more. What do you think I am? A common baby sitter? All I need do, Valerie, is take one good look at you and I see your entire past, and well as all your ugly secrets. You loved your Uncle’s thrusts”.
Valerie was shaken. Omo wasn’t just throwing mere accusations. She was right. When her uncle would come to her, night after night, there were time he got to mad about her crying, he’d do all he could to make her enjoy what he was forcing her to do. At such times, her cries turned to moans, and she found herself pushing against his hardness. He’d smile, and say naughty stuffs.
She was always ashamed of herself after the encounter. But she couldn’t escape it, because of being locked up. And the day she escaped, she threw that experience out of her thoughts.
But now, here was Omo throwing it in her face again, and accurately. How could she have known such an intimate secret. How did she even know her uncle raped her several times?
“…and because of the slut you are, you have been in this house, what? Only a day and some hours, and the boss has had you, like the slut you …”
Taaa!!! A hot slap landed on Omo’s cheeks, even before she finished her sentence. “I won’t tolerate you insulting me like that”, Valerie warned, but before she could say Jack, Omo’s right palm sent stars to her face. Valerie cried out. Omo didn’t give her a chance to recover before sending two more slaps to her face. Valerie blanked out. Then fell into another weird dream.
In the dream, she was in a labour room, pushing. Beads of perspiration covered her forehead. The doctor stood between her legs, urging her to push. Nurses stood at both sides of her bed, petting her, and using a warm cloth to clean her sweat.
The pain was excruciating. But it died down a bit, after her baby emerged. A boy. She was all smiles. So happy, when the nurse gave her the child. She held him in her arms, rocking him, when one of the nurse’s words caused her to look up.
“What is it?” She asked, concerned.
“You took my place”, the nurse said again.
“How? I do not understand”,
The nurse bent over, close to her left ear, and whispered, “you took Aaron from me. And now you have given birth to the child I was supposed to have for him”,
Valerie frowned and pulled back, looking up at the nurse. The lady’s face changed, gradually, into the face of the witch, in her first dream.
“You!”, she backed away, holding her baby closer. To protect him from harm, “I never stole anyone or anything from you, Ese. Leave us alone!” She yelled.
“I will. After I have done what I came to do”.
The witch stretched forth one hand forward, and a force Valerie could not see, tore her baby from her hands, and handed him over to the witch. She laughed, wickedly, as the little boy wailed.
“No. Please. Don’t hurt my baby. Please”, Valerie begged to have her son back, but the witch pretended not to hear her cries.
“Shhhh!” She placed a finger to the baby’s lips, then drew an invincible line, upward, and ended it with a dot at his forehead. The wailing stopped. The child’s eyes turned green. He relaxed in her arms, and snuggled closer.
“Oh, that’s my boy”, she pecked his head, ignoring a still begging Valerie.
“You wouldn’t get your son back, Rodah”, she said at last, “you will only know he exists. But you will never see him. And you will never touch him again. He will be my weapon, to take Aaron back from you. You will lose everything, just as I did. I promise”.
“No. Please”, her sobs shook her body, “please give me back my son”.
Ese laughed, wickedly, and disappeared with the child, into thing air, leaving a mad Valerie to cry out of her sleep, panting. Tears soaked her eyes. A development that didn’t go down so well with her. Why did every dream seem real?
When she awoke, Mr. Okis was by her side, wiping off the tears from her cheeks. She looked around to see she was in his bedroom. A room she had never stepped legs into, since her arrival. Ms. Grace had warned her never to step into the room, not even to clean up.
“Hey”, Okis patted her hair. He looked really worried, “are you okay?”
“Where I’m I?” She asked instead, even though she knew the answer to her question.
“My bedroom”, he answered, “I was returning to the study when I found you unconscious,” sadness and regret replaced worry, “Omo looked like she was about to kill you. I shouldn’t have left you alone”.
Valerie remembered the slaps. She never thought Omo had the strength of ten men in one hand. Or was it something more? After all, she had said she was not just an ordinary baby sitter. And how did she know so much about her past?
Mr. Okis and Ms. Grace insisted Omo was evil, even at a time she saw nothing wrong with the lady. And Omo had boasted, she could not be fired from the house.
“Omo”, she whispered her name.
“Forget her. I’ve warned her never to touch you again”.
“What is the use of your warnings when you cannot fire her. And if she could walk into your study yesterday morning and throw rants at you for even holding me, then she can do a lot more. Guess what? You’ll still not be able to fire her”.
The sad reality hit Okis, hard. She saw it in his expression, “It is more complicated than that”, he said in defence.
“I don’t care. I just want you to stay away from me. Last night was a mistake, that should never happen again”.
“I’m serious”, she cut him short, then struggled to get out of bed. All attempts to hold her back were in vain. But she stopped all the same. She paused because of the room settings. Valerie frowned. She was obviously going nuts.
The room she stood in, was not different from the one she saw in her dream the previous night. The same room Aaron had slept with her.
“Aaron”, she said the name, tasting it in her tongue like a new kind of food she wasn’t sure was sweet or bitter.
Okis got up. He stood behind her and wrapped his hands around her waist. And though she struggled to get them off, he wouldn’t oblige her.
“There is a lot I need for you to understand”, he said into her ear, “you’re in this house now. With me. There’s no escaping what the next full moon will bring. The earlier you understand what is happening and do what needs to be done, the better, for you, for me, and our….” he swallowed”.
“Our what?” She asked. He had no right to pause, especially since he was so determined to pass across his message.
“I cannot tell you certain things now. Telling will only increase my curse. You need to know for yourself. If not, the next full moon will be a disaster for us. All of us”.
“If you cannot tell me yourself, then it is pointless reading your diary”. She was angry at him for trying woefully to be mysterious.
He pulled back then, and returned to his former position on the bed. Valerie remained motionless for a while, then looked around the room, before heading out, not saying a word. She promised herself, she would stay away from him. Things would be a lot more better that way.
Okis sighed, then laid in the spot she once occupied, and hugging the pillow to himself. He was in thoughts, and occasionally let out a sigh. He wasn’t sure if his actions with Valerie the previous night made things better or worse.
“The earlier you push to find answers to the questions in your heart, my dear”, he said, “the better for us all”.
August 7th came faster than Valerie could say Jack, let alone Robinson. It was now a month since she arrived at the mansion. Ms. Grace now trusted her with preparing meals, and was a little lenient with her. She ran into Andrew mostly when she had to visit the village with Ms. Grace for shopping, sweeping the compound, or when she was out in the vegetable garden, weeding.
Andrew, with time, had gotten soft with her. They’d chat, keeping each other company, while she was harvesting some tomatoes or pumpkins. He was no longer the bad guy who threatened to snap her neck.
She had run into Omo a few time, and tried to make peace. But Omo wasn’t hearing of it. She dismissed Valerie every time. And when Valerie asked to see Ansa, so as to know him, she refused.
“You can’t see him”, she said. Her expression was serious.
“But why? He is the master’s child. I only want to get to know him and play with him”, she pleaded.
“You won’t, Valerie. And I mean it. You can only hear his laughter or cries. You can only know he exists. Nothing more”.
Her words sank in. And although Valerie, every night, had more weird dreams, one stood out at that moment. The dream about the nurse who turned into the witch and took her son had said something similar. She’d only know her son exists. But she’d never see him.
She pouted, then went back to her chores. She’d have freaked out. But what for? Little Ansa was not her son. He was Mr. Okis’. But she could not deny feeling a sting in her heart. She couldn’t deny feeling like she’d lost something. Or was it someone.
She’d have loved to talk with Mr. Okis about seeing Ansa. Maybe he could talk to Omo. But she couldn’t just walk into his bedroom, study or library and ask questions or make demands. After all, she had been the one to tell him off. She’d asked him never to talk to her again. In fact, she’d told him to pretend she didn’t exist.
He had come to her in the kitchen and tried to start a conversation, after the night they made out in the library, when she told him all of the above. He was quite taken aback, but he respected her wishes. He walked away, but not without telling her he was sorry about the previous night. He had thought she wanted him as much as he wanted her.
“If I had known we were not on the same page, I wouldn’t have done it”, he finished, then walked away.
Since that morning, almost a month now, they had not spoken to each other. They stayed out of each other’s way. And even though there were times she wished he’d still talk to her, he didn’t.
It didn’t kill her attraction to him. No. If fueled it, along with anger, that he is such a coward. In as much as she warded him off, she had expected he would come back to her, and try again. But he didn’t.
So there she was, having no one to really be friends with, along with many unanswered questions from more weird dreams.
The dreams had gotten under her skin, she was starting to feel like she was a very important part of the dreams. Okis hadn’t said much. And she wasn’t sure he will. She had no where else to get the answer she sought, save for the diary he had given her in the library, just before they got intimate.
Unfortunately, their sexcapade made her forget about the diary. It slipped from her hands, she was sure. But she remembered not seeing it after she got off the table and walked out of the Library.
“And that was the end of my answers”, she sighed, stocking the fresh meat she got from the village market into the refrigerator. She had gone to the village market alone to purchase food items, and also run some errands for Andrew and Ms. Grace, earlier.
Her days were getting busier. Something she did intentionally, just so she could be at peace and not think too much about Okis, her dreams, the fact that her heart still yearned to see Ansa or Omo’s indifference.
She was done with the meat and was about to neatly arrange the three cartons of ice fish into the same refrigerator, when Ms. Grace stepped in to the kitchen.
“Valerie, Mr. Okis wants you in his study”, she announced, “leave those for me. I’ll arrange them myself”.
For a few seconds, Valerie looked stunned. Her brows shot up. “Mr. Okis really asked for me?”
“Yes. Why does that sound mysterious to you?” Ms. Grace frowned, “off you go, now. Don’t keep him waiting. He is going on a short journey soon”.
Journey. “He’s traveling?” Valerie’s heart skipped.
“Yes. And depending on how things go, he may not return”.
“Not return?” Valerie whispered, scared, “why?”
“Don’t ask me questions young lady. I can’t answer those. Just go answer your call.
Valerie rushed out of the kitchen and headed toward the study. She paused briefly at the sitting room. Her brows creased. Omo stood there with one traveling bag and a nylon containing stuffs she couldn’t see.
Omo, oblivious of Valerie’s presence was busy ensuring her stuffs were complete.
“Where are you going? “, Valerie asked.
Omo’s head shot up, “oh, hi Valerie”, she greeted, grinning, “no one told you?”
“Told me what?”
“I’m taking a short holiday with Okis. We’re lodging together”, Omo laughed, excitedly. She was happy to see the effects her words had on Valerie.
Valerie wished the ground would open up and swallow her. But not yet. Not before she confronts Mr. Okis. What was he doing? Trying to get her jealous, or was he just plain stupid?
She left the sitting room, as cool-headed and collected as she could be, and into the study. Okis, dressed in a blue long-sleeved shirt and gray pence trouser, was putting some books into a small leather bag. Valerie guessed he was taking them for this journey.
“Good afternoon sir”, she greeted, chin up, “Ms. Grace said you called for me”.
He raised his head briefly to look at her. His eyes roamed her body, taking in every detail, and making her feel uncomfortable. Heat had started to spread throughout her body and there was only one way to make him stop staring
“So it’s true you’re going in a trip?”
His brows shot up. Then he frowned, “A trip? I wouldn’t call it that. Just a necessary movement so those in the mansion can be protected.
“Ummmmm….”, she couldn’t even start to pretend she understood, “does this necessary movement entail taking Omo with you? Because I see she’s packed and ready to go with you”.
“I don’t do things of my own free will, Miss Valerie. Everything lies in your hands”, he put in the last book, zipped up the bag and turned fully to face her, “but the last time I checked, you told me not to come near you again. So I haven’t”.
“And because I asked that of you, you have decided to make me jealous by traveling with Omo?”
“I. truly. Wish, I didn’t have to travel with her. But I’m glad to see you’re jealous. It simply means there’s still a part of you that wants me”.
“Think whatever you want” she replied,
“Oh, I will, Miss Valerie. I will”, he picked up a book from the table and moved to stand in front of her, book stretched out, “you dropped this, and never came back for it”
Valerie looked at it. It was the diary he had given her, a month ago, in the library. “I didn’t think I should go into your library and be all over your front, just because I’m searching for a book”.
“You don’t understand anything, do you?” Okis said with clenched jaws, “you’re selfish Valerie. You think about only yourself. And what’s worse, you don’t even care about yourself. If you did, you’d have come back for this and read it up like it was the best food in the world. You still have those bad dreams. You still need answers. And by God, I overheard your discussion with Omo. You want to see and hold Ansa. But you can’t. Yet, you do not think you need to find answers to the problems that keep us bound?”
Valerie frowned at him, “you have no right to accuse me. You can explain my dreams with your mouth, yet you prefer I ready a diary?”
“Yes”, he pulled closer, “you’re in this house now. You can choose to do what’s right by reading this book and taking actions or you can read it and still sit back, nothing bad will happen to you. As for me, I’m tired of fighting a battle that I might not win. And this journey hold two things for me, death or life. In as much as I choose life, your in actions might give me death. Then you’ll be free to move on with your life, happily”.
Valerie frowned, “what are you even talking about? Are you trying to scare me?”
“I don’t have time to scare anyone”, he threw the book at her, she caught it. “The choice is yours”.
Okis went back to his table, picked up his bag, and another, which looked like a traveling bag, and headed towards the exit. “So long”, Miss Valerie, he said.
To be continued…
©Karo Oforofuo. July 2017. All rights reserved
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