SURVIVE

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SURVIVE

She stood by the deep freezer as she enjoyed every single word of the lyrics. These days, it was rare to find a musician that one can so easily connect to. Perhaps, she was just in the mood for old school songs. Mother in-law was fast asleep in her room, baby Evans was lying down peacefully on the king sized bed, while she went back to making lunch. One will never understand how tiring it is to be on maternity leave; just cooking, nurturing baby, and doing anything that will be fun until baby wakes up crying.

She was so engrossed with clearing the dirty dishes from the kitchen sink that she didn’t notice Kafu when he walked in. “Babe,” you work too hard, see how tired you look. You should rest sometimes, and let mother help you now that she is here already.” He said, as he drew her close to have a better look at her eyes.

“Come on, I am not complaining, I didn’t hear you walk in, did you walk on your toe or something?” She asked. “No, come on! You were so busy with the dirty pot; you sure would not have heard my footsteps. So, is baby sleeping?” ”He should be, I left him sleeping about forty five minutes ago. Guess he’s having a long one today.” “Let his father go and have a quick look at him, I will be back in no time babe. Not to forget, I want to eat with you, table for two okay?” “Okay” she said, laughing at the fact that he had said 'let his father' she could not help but blush.

Kafu had barely pushed the bedroom door open when he heard a thud, he rushed in to find baby Evans lying on the tiled floor. He lifted baby Evans with care, mother was beside him in a hurry. “I don’t know what kind of woman will lay a small baby at the edge of the bed. Babies roll too often that it is so wrong to leave them alone.” His mother hissed, as she blamed Cece.

“It looks like he fell really hard on the floor, but he will be fine.” Cece ran upstairs as soon as she heard Kafu talk at the top of his voice. He had never raised his voice, not even when he was angry. Kafu stood by the door because mama asked him to go out when he started acting like a live fish in cold water. “What happened Kafu, is our son okay?” Silence was not a good answer, her husband stood in a manner that suggested something had terribly gone wrong. Cece reeled forward with confusion written all over her face, and with pain in her eyes.

He held her with his hands and drew her in a tight embrace as if squeezing the pain out of her; she sighed and began her explanation almost immediately. “I was fixing lunch, he fell asleep, and I put him right in our bed so I could finish up in time. I overhead mother asking the baby not to die. Now tell me Kafu, is our baby going to die? He cupped her face in his hands, planted a soft kiss on her forehead, drew back, and shook his head.

“No, no, our baby cannot die. He fell off the bed, his breathing got rather abnormal and that was when mother walked in. She carried him in her arms, so I left them both.” “ You left them, why? Kafu, he didn’t cry, and that’s abnormal. Let’s rush him to the hospital immediately. I know mother has done her best but a doctor will know better. I can drive, you look shaken.” She tugged at his well ironed shirt as tears trailed down her cheeks. Cece broke free from Kafu's grip and rushed into the room, he followed after her. Her mother-in-law walked up to her with baby Evans in her arms, though she held him closely, it seemed his neck was broken. For even in in her arms, it was wobbly.

Mother eyed Cece with such disdain, so much that her sobbing became inaudible. “At first I thought you were bad at most things but carelessly putting this child on the edge of the bed, has proven otherwise. Anyways, I won’t let you kill my grandchild before he is able to call me grandmother.” Cece parted her lips to say something but nothing came forth. She made an attempt to take the baby off mother’s hands, but mother pushed her hands away. She helplessly stared at Kafu, expecting him to say something but he was halfway down the stairs and she couldn’t make out what he had said. All Cece had on her, was leggings and a tank top but she followed immediately. Mother dared not stop her, it’s her baby anyways.

On the quiet but fast drive to the hospital, Cece silently cursed, and wondered how bad a mother she must be. She couldn’t stop the tears, and Kafu only tried to be a man. There was the fear that something bad had happened to their son and also the fact that there was so much pain in Cece’s eyes. As an orphan who had suffered so much at an early age, Kafu had promised Cece that he will never cease to make the rest of her days a happy one. He loved her so much, he wanted to scream at her for being so careless with their one month old baby but how could he? Not for once will he raise his voice at Cece, she did make a terrible mistake, but what would she have done differently?

The doctor confirmed that the baby had broken his neck, he fell on a hard surface and it was quite difficult to tell why the baby was still alive. Cece stared at baby Evans in his little blue overall as the doctor tried to check for any other sign at all. Cece walked out for some air, coupled with the fact that her mother in-law made breathing so difficult.

The doctor warned Kafu not to tell Cece what had become of their baby until later in the day. He explained that she was too emotionally attached to Evans, and telling her too much may mean sending her into the open arms of depression. "Although there are things I should make her understand, so it will be easy for her to cope with some of the changes." Kafu walked out to fetch his wife and came back almost immediately saying nothing. Cece wasn’t out there kissing a doctor when her baby had serious complications, no, she wasn’t out there with another man instead of him. “Hello Mr. Kafu, can you hear me?” The doctor was saying something but to an absent minded man.” “I am sorry doctor, she will join us shortly.”

On the drive back home, Kafu wouldn’t talk to Cece; she had only her baby in hand with two angry adults. Days afterwards, Evans grew lean. Kafu couldn’t deal with it anymore, he was in fact grateful that mother didn’t leave; Cece had all of a sudden become incapable. The meals she made were often too salty, too peppery, or too watery. He stayed away from Cece, his current conflicting emotions may cause him to hate his wife and he was fighting so hard. He moved to the guest room and saw his wife only in the mornings when he was off to work. On one Friday he was off to work when he mistakenly hit Cece on her right arm, he raised his head to say sorry when he realized how lean she was. Her complexion had taken a darker tone and her eyes had sunk so deep, he immediately turned away when he saw himself raising his hands to touch her face. She called his name, they stared at each other for some seconds but she said nothing as she hurriedly wiped the tears that were barely out of her eyes. She walked away, he wanted running after her to cuddle and kiss the misery from her eyes but he needed to clear his head.

A lot had happened in such a short time. He was going into the dining room when he caught a glimpse of mother as she was sneaking into baby Evans room. He was curious; he was troubled and he couldn’t tell why he felt something was terribly wrong. The thought of going through what the secret camera had captured the past seven weeks crossed his mind but he shook his head until he realized that his wife had a black eye. What was really happening to the happy family that he really wanted to build with Cece? His son’s stomach was swollen the last time he had carried him, the surge of anger he felt, would have made him strangle his own wife. “This is so abnormal mother, everything is so bad and I can barely concentrate at work.” He remembered saying to his mother three days back and all she said was: “The evil you suffer is as a result of the woman you call a wife.” He had spent the other night thinking about it, he was depressed but seeing how careful mother was so as not to let anyone see her going into Evans room, had changed his line of thoughts. He rushed to his study room and watched the whole day, he was filled with both horror and rage, he was going to pull out the woman’s tongue. Not only had his mother been the one who had deliberately put Evans on the edge of the bed to fall, she was always hitting his wife, something he had never done since he got married. Mother deliberately added water, salt, pepper to whatever Cece dished out to serve him. She had also been injecting his baby with a black liquid whatever that was though. He had believed everything his mother had told him about his wife, but as he reached into his sweater pocket to get his phone and dial the police number, he thought to himself: “The evil that I suffer is as a result of the woman I call mother.”

How can he tell Cece all that has happened, how can he tell her a lady is already three months pregnant for him all because he had wanted to confide in her as a friend? He hated the fact that he was indeed a big fool, especially when he had questioned Cece, only to discover someone who was dressed like her on that day, had kissed the doctor, and not his beloved Cece. His elder brother had called him to ask after mother, and from their conversation, mother had developed a mental disorder a year ago, no one had said anything to him about it because they felt he wasn't ready for such news and it was an explanation to all that had played out in two months. He dropped his phone on his desk and wept bitterly. Will Cece survive all of these?

™Joy Okwori

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WHILE I WAIT.

by Joy Okwori, published 1 month ago

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I was once imprisoned by words whose aura is darkness. I was held down in this prison by unfriendly forces, so I sat on a stool of uncertainty as I held the moon.

I crawled through the night with gritted teeth, like one with no hope. And I couldn't dance because shackles held my feet.

Yesterday was once, today doesn't make it twice. I breakout, I don't belong to prison; the Judge said so. I smelt like rotten tomatoes, frail from tireless torture.

The Judge beckoned with open arms, and I ran with the speed of light. My accusers didn't know what crime to nail me with. The Judge knew what currency to bail me with; the blood.

Broad smiles.

Heartfelt laughter.

I dance.

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Leah

by eli-smooth, published 2 months, 4 weeks ago

The ride down the empty hill felt like a deluge. Five people cramped into an old Peugeot 504. The car jolted its way down the rough terrain and with each sharp turn, their eyes narrowed with despair.

The driver was Kelechi, a 22 year old medical student who had joined the fraternity about a month ago. His low hanging beard chiseled into his sharp jaw-line. The scar that was above his eye gave him a menacing look.

“How could this happen?” He wondered as he drove through the rickety slope. His eyes squinted a little as he swerved to avoid a goat that had moved into their path. The sudden swerve forced the engine to quake mildly and shut down.

They all moved out into the open space.

Silence lingered for a while.

“What do we do now?” Simi asked. Her dark skin glistening under the low light of orange setting sun. She was a psychology student. Brilliant but edgy; unwilling to succumb to the wild stereotypes that followed the other women in her life.

“We do nothing; we just bury the body where no one can find it” Sam whispered coldly.

Leah winced and paced the space around them, sobbing gently as she walked from side to side. She seemed the most distraught of the five. She wondered how different the day before had been and wondered if her life would ever be the same.

But it was the fifth person who seemed the most odd.

His tattoos were visible under the sleeveless shirt he had on. A nose piercing marked him out from the rest of them. He barely talked as the others encircled the empty bushes around. He just leaned on the car and peacefully disappeared into his thoughts.

“We were only supposed to scare him” Simi lamented. Her voice seemed to echo a distant regret.

“I keep asking what happened and no one wants to tell me. We were all on the same plan but as soon as I turn to take a leak, I return and find a fucking dead body on the floor. What happened while I was gone?” Kelechi asked. He seemed to be screaming at everyone else.

“Is it that important? Would you rather not have the truth be a little subdued from your conscience now?” Goni, the boy with the tattoos whispered back at Kelechi. His voice was cold, almost haunting.

“I don’t know. I didn’t sign up for this.” Kelechi confessed.

“Oh, so you think we all woke up and planned a murder and you were the only person out of the loop?” Simi asked angrily.

Kelechi looked away. His hands shaking under the weight of his deepest thoughts.

Sam chuckled slyly as he watched Leah’s wandering theatrics. He seemed calmer than he was a few minutes ago.

“The truth is right here. Whatever we say it is” Sam cuts in. The others looked at him. He nodded. They all nod back except for Goni.

“We still haven’t answered the most pertinent question though. Who poisoned the little old chap?” He asked calmly.

“Does it matter, we all know he was a dwindling, two faced monster” Leah said.

She had stopped pacing and sobbing. She seemed calmer and her big round eyes cut into her beautiful face. Sam looked at her in admiration

“We all knew that, but we also knew that the idea was to scare him and not to murder. So who amongst us had the most reasons to murder him?” Goni asked.

They all went quiet. The few seconds left between their breaths built up a reckless angst. Leah stared at each of their faces. She wondered who amongst them fits the murder type best..

Sam was a nerd.

It was odd that the frat boys loved him but underneath his queer humor and deep lingering eyes, there was no reason to suspect that he could be a killer. Leah thought. Simi was mostly indifferent; capable of the mundane but also the awe inspiring moments. Her calculative mind set her apart as the most logical of the group.

Kelechi was by matter of chance, the only one that was unavailable when they witnessed the death.

Goni was the one who seemed the most vulnerable to accusations. He had fought with the dead boy just a few minutes before the boy broke into a fit. He seemed more dangerous than anyone else and he also seemed to be nonchalant about the corpse that lay in the trunk of the car that had just stopped.

  • Simi looked at Leah from the corner of her eye. Their eyes meet and for a few seconds, they lingered on in their sanctified space. Simi felt a rush of casual emotions rushing within. She remembered their nights underneath the moon when the boys were away. She remembered every feeling and it made her question her every truth. But she also knew the other truth.

The five of them stood in an arc as the trunk was slowly being opened. The three boys straddle the body and move it towards the empty path that led one into the bushes. The rustling of the leaves just in front of them stopped them in their tracks.

A Park ranger had his gun pointed at them. The boys surrendered and raised their hands. The Ranger looked on in surprise.

“Who killed him?” He asked as he nudged the safety of the gun; turning it off.

The group stood, staring at him in silence.

“Who killed my partner?” The Ranger asked again.

This time his gun was pointed at a visibly distraught Simi.

She was overcome with fear.

“Leah, Leaaah,

She poisoned him because he raped her” Simi confessed.

The boys look back at Leah, stunned.

Leah’s face bore a look of resignation.

“Thanks so much for having my back; Lover” she said in disgust.

They boys all stood stunned. Processing both news that had crept into their ears.