Sacrilege – Episode 8
© Adeola Nissi
Margaret removed the scarf she had tied around her head and heaved a hearty sigh as ventilation got restored into her medulla.
She turned slightly towards the little miss tugging furiously at her leg. “I’m coming, Tess” she smiled slightly at her daughter as she removed her blouse, exchanging it for a casual top. “You are hungry, Ehn?” Tess bobbed her head.
“Indomie” she whined, her eyes tearing up.
“Okay okay” Margaret rushed, changing her skirt as she glanced up at the wall clock. She had stayed too long at Laura’s office when she knew she shouldn’t. She still hasn’t made dinner. She kept her panic hidden as she grabbed Tess, rushing towards the kitchen. “Let’s go and cook Indomie” she declared with a big grin aimed at her daughter. Like magic, Tess broke into a toothless grin, showcasing her pair of teeth.
Margaret practically flew into the kitchen, putting Tess on the ground to roam around freely as she hurriedly rushed through dinner. Tess, at one year and four months was the loveliest kid there is. Margaret watched her with one eye as she broke her noodles into bits and stuffed into steaming hot water, at the same time, working dinner.
Multitasking was a skill she soon learnt after marriage. It was an on-the-job-training she got. It increased several notches after the birth of Tess, but Margaret knew it wouldn’t be so terrible if she had a different husband. She glanced at the wall clock nervously. She couldn’t afford to prepare finger food before her husband arrived, so she settled for white rice since she had stew already prepared. Margaret sighed deeply as she served Tess’ Indomie and started feeding her child. A car horn made her jump as she looked nervously at the food. “Daddy” Tess muttered. Small as she was, the little girl already knew her father’s car horn.
Margaret left Tess’ food, rushing to the pot on fire as she heard the car zoom into the compound. It was almost dry. She heaved a slightly relieved sigh. Thank you, God. She put the stew on heat as she rushed to the sitting room just as the door opened. She swallowed. “Welcome darling”
“Uhn” Mr. Collins grunted, unsmiling.
“Daddy” Tess stretched her hands to her dad and Mr. Collins softened a little, taking his daughter from Margaret into his arms. “How are you, Nne?”
“Fine” Tess answered in an inaudible childlike voice.
Margaret shifted nervously. “Your food is almost ready”
Mr. Collins turned to glare at her. “Why isn’t it ready yet?”
“Erm… I…” Margaret stuttered. Her husband hissed, dropped Tess and waltzed away into his room. The atmosphere was charged with tension as she rushed into the kitchen. The rice was dry, thankfully. Collins was in a good mood, if his little display of affection towards his daughter was anything to go by. Swallowing, she dished her husband’s food as fast as she could – rice in one plate and stew in another, while keeping an eye on Tess.
Margaret took the food to the dinning in a tray, rushing back to get water. On getting back, Collins was already at the dinning and seated. She filled his cup with water, just as he opened the plates.
“Rice?” he boomed. Margaret jumped in fright. Collins glared at Margaret. “I’ve been out all day and you dare to serve me rice?”
“It… I am sorry”
Collins’ hand flashed out, connecting with Margaret’s cheek in a resounding slap. Margaret stumbled backwards, holding her cheek as the slap re-echoed. “What have you been doing at home all day that you could not make me a proper dinner?” Collins’ voice rang out in the room.
Margaret shrank back, moving out of harm’s way. She held her tongue, not wanting to say anything to stoke her husband’s anger any further.
“If you know what is good for you, you would go in there and make me a proper dinner” he sent the tray on the table sailing with his hand as he stood up and stalked away. Margaret shrieked and jumped out of the way as the tray came crashing on the floor, together with the plates of rice and soup. Tess’ cry rose to Margaret’s ear as she bent to pick what she could with her shivering fingers. Her heart raced from fear as she picked the plates with one hand, carrying her daughter with the other hand as she made for the kitchen.
It was always like this… after more than two years of being married, she could not tell the day she had truly been happy in her marriage, except the day she had held her little Tess in her hands for the first time. Each day seemed longer than the last. Laura was right! She wished Laura had married Collins so she wouldn’t be saddled with the responsibility of marrying him. She despised Laura for putting her in this position. For putting her in the perpetual state of fear. She hated Laura for being the reason why she suffered and nursed visible and invisible bruises everyday of her life. She despised Laura for having everything she wished she had.
The temperature dropped below zero. The room cracked with tension as Deolu stared at Teju in dry-mouthed wonder. “What are you doing” his voice came in a whispered croak.
Teju looked uncertain as she pushed out of the bed, allowing the bedspread slip away completely, revealing only a small red bikini that Deolu knew so well. Deolu swallowed hard. A voice told him to escape while he still could, but his legs couldn’t seem to obey that command. He stood stock still as Teju moved closer with each step she took. “What… are you doing?” he mouthed again.
Teju stopped a few steps towards him. “I’m not sure” she whispered.
Deolu stared hard at Teju, willing his eyes not to stray off her face. “I think you are.” This was not the Teju he knew. The Teju he knew was loving, thoughtful and carried herself with self respect; she was anything but the viper in front of him, waiting to pounce.
Teju swallowed. “I… I just want to forget” she had a strange look in her eyes as she raised her eyes to Deolu. “I can’t take alcohol” she explained, resting a hand on her stomach. “Please make me forget”
“So… you’d sleep with me to blank out?”
“And you would sleep with Laura”
Deolu frowned. Was it his racing heart or was his hearing being impaired? He couldn’t understand anything at all.
Teju took a cautious step closer. “Pretend I’m Laura” she explained. “You don’t have to think of me at all” Teju swallowed, tapping her fingers against her nude legs nervously. “I’m in your house, in your bedroom, and I’m also putting on Laura’s bikini; you might as well pretend she’s the one you are in bed with”
Deolu finally took a step back as he stared at Teju, utterly stupefied. “This is not you” he took cautious steps away from Teju towards the bed. He grabbed the sheet and stalked to Teju, wrapping it awkwardly around her nude body. “You should get dressed” this must be the most uncomfortable he had ever been in a long time. He had always viewed Teju like he would a sister, it was odd given he already slept with her but to him, that awkward moment doesn’t count.
“Don’t patronize me, Dee” Teju shook off the piece of material till it fell to the ground. “I’m not drunk. I know what I want”
“What do you want? To make an already terrible situation worse?” He’d be damned if he would make the same mistake twice.
Teju smiled. “It can’t get any worse than it already is, it’s not like you can impregnate me again; I’m already pregnant”
“Stop this, Teju” Deolu snapped. “Can you listen to yourself right now? You don’t even sound like you”
Teju moved hastily to Deolu, snaking her hands around his shoulder. “Please Dee… just this once”
Deolu stared at her upturned face. “I betrayed Laura once already, I am not doing it again” The mere thought of what this would do to Laura was enough to harden his resolve. “I hurt you before and I can see that I’m doing it again. You should leave” he murmured in a low tone, peeling away Teju’s hands. “I never should have let you stay here… it would only hurt you more.” Teju shook her head. Deolu knew Teju wasn’t thinking straight. The Teju he knew wouldn’t do all these.
Teju swallowed. It felt shameful to be rejected, especially by Deolu. She felt ashamed, ashamed that she would stoop so low as to do something so unthinkable… as to dish herself like a plate of abandoned party leftover. She nodded, shrinking back to gather her clothes where she put them beside the bed. Deolu gave her a few minutes to herself, retreating to the sitting room and finally drawing a descent breath. He couldn’t sit still as he paced slightly, trying to work off the tension he felt. He tapped his phone continuously then dropped it on the chair.
He turned as Teju emerged from the bedroom, carrying a small big handbag, the one she probably brought with her. “I ordered Uber”
Teju stared at him for a brief moment before she shook her head. Her eyes held tears but she held them back. “Okay” she muttered.
Silence reigned for a few seconds Deolu took a deep breath. “I am sorry, Teju” he whispered.
Teju raised her eyes to his. “Me too”
Walking briskly, she rushed out of the house.
Laura slammed her hand against the horn, honking at the slow driver in front of her as she drove back to Tito’s place. The headlamp of the car and streetlights provided enough light to see beyond the dark evening at the wide spread of road ahead. Laura’s hands shook feverishly as she held on to the steering wheel. A car honked behind her and she honked back in anger, the person would probably think she was insane but she was beyond caring about irrelevant people who had no idea of what she was going through.
She took one hand off the steering to rub off tears from her eyes. She shook her head. No! she refused to reminisce the incidents that took place today. All she wanted to do was forget… just forget. Tears blurred her eyes again and she dashed her hand across her face, wiping off the tears, just then, the car jerked.
Laura straightened. The car jerked again and she frowned deeply. “What the heck” she gasped, trying to control the wheel, not knowing exactly what was wrong… then she saw it. “Oh no… please no” she moaned in complete horror as she stared at the dashboard of the car, her focus on the fuel gauge. “You must be kidding me” as if all her problems were not enough, she had to be stranded on the road at night with the fuel on red.
Laura could barely maneuver the car to the side of the road before it gave its final cough. She slammed her fists on the wheel over and over again and pain shut up her wounded arm. Tears burned in her eyes but she held them at bay. She was done crying for one day. Anger and anxiety took over her as she stared at the darkness ahead. Cars zoomed by and several shops were closed, but typical of Lagos, so many shops were still open. She had no idea where her phone was, she couldn’t remember using her phone for the past few days. She opened the door of the car and alighted, slamming the door in anger. “Great” she yelled with misery written all over. “Just great” she gasped in exhaustion.
Taking a moment, she regulated her breathing as she looked around, hoping for a bike. She had not listened to Tito at all. She had warned her about the fuel but she had completely neglected that important piece of information, just as she had taken so many things for granted in her life.
How could life be so unfair? She was too tired for this. Swallowing, she started walking by the road. She knew Tito’s place wasn’t too far away but still, she looked around, hoping for a bike. She was too drained; she’d pass for a very dry piece of paper. She didn’t think her legs could carry her weight for much longer.
Her eyes blurred, making her stumble slightly. She hadn’t eaten anything all day, not like all week she had eaten enough to keep an ant alive either. Swallowing, she relaxed her back against the car, trying to regulate her thoughts, but then, her eyes caught something not so far away. How odd… how odd that life always chose to torment her.
Locking the doors of the car, she eased her legs into motion with her eyes on the shop just a few paces away. The lights were on and she could see into the shop which had a glassy exterior. After a few lifeless steps, she was in front of the shop, staring in as tears filled her eyes. The tiny clothes swam before her eyes. Baby clothes in different colors and shapes hung beautifully everywhere, bringing more tears to her eyes as she climbed the few steps that led to the door of the baby shop. She pushed the glass door open and stepped in. it had a large interior with so many clothes, shoes and toys hanging around. It was a kids’ boutique and Laura could absently see a few people strolling around, picking things they would like. Laura stood frozen at the entrance as she stared at everything. This was everything she wanted to have but didn’t. if only she had a child, just one child she could shop for… just one child she could dress up in all the finesse she could afford. But no…
Margaret’s words danced in Laura’s head as she stared at the clothes. Margaret was obviously right about everything she said. Maybe she was paying for her disobedience… maybe she should have listened to her dad and married Collins… so far, love hasn’t really paid off.
A shop attendant approached Laura with a blinding smile on her face. “Hello ma” she greeted. “What would you like?”
Laura heard the words but could not muster a response as she stared on and on at the baby things. “We have lovely clothes for girls and boys of any age, you want me to show you around?” the attendant’s face was not as smiley as she registered Laura’s teary state.
Laura shook her head, gripping the car keys in her hand a little tighter. The shop attendant touched Laura’s arm gently and Laura nearly jumped as her eyes snapped to the lady for the first time. The tears in her eyes spilled over, coercing down her cheeks. “Are you okay, ma?” the lady was clearly worried now as she drew closer to Laura.
Laura stared at the lady but could not get a word out as her mouth shook and tears streamed down her face. She nodded and shook her head at the same time as she broke down in sobs. It was all too much for her. “I’m sorry…” she sobbed, “I’m… I’m just hungry” She had never felt so miserable in her entire life. It was like the entire forces of the world were against her.
She faintly heard a familiar voice calling her name but she couldn’t be sure. She felt embarrassed and stupid. She never should have entered the shop and she certainly shouldn’t be crying like an idiot inside someone’s business environment. But she just couldn’t help it. She turned and fled the shop, running as fast as her legs would carry her and as far away from the shop as possible. Her tears came in torrents as she ran and ran until her strength was completely drained. Her legs slowed of their own accord and she crouched, gripping her legs, breathing heavily. Her chest heaved as she wiped tears off her face, fighting to regulate her breathing. Her legs shook as she searched for a place to sit.
Finally calm enough to use her eyes for something asides tears; she sighted a minimart which was obviously still bubbling with life. If there is anything that was peculiar of Lagos, it is that bars almost never have a closing time. She shivered as the cold wind of the night brought goosebumps to her skin. It was a beautiful night and on a normal night, Laura would have enjoyed it but this was definitely not a normal night. Everything was wrong, just like everything in her life right now.
She walked into the bar cautiously, absently noticing the people seated there, chatting away like life was completely itch free, nothing like the circus that hers have now become. The music was moderately loud but the voices of people boomed, disturbing her ears. It was good. Maybe, just maybe it was what she needed to distract her from her thoughts.
Sighing, rubbed her face with her hands again, and hoping there was no trace of tears left. she moved to the bar and sat on the high stool. The bartender smiled at her. “What do you want?”
Laura smiled without mirth. “Like you have what I want”
“Uhn” the bartender didn’t seem to hear her above the noise.
Laura massaged her temples. “Anything”
Laura glared at the confused bartender.
“Water” she heard that familiar voice say before she could utter anything. “The lady would have water”
Laura turned, identifying that voice before she turned to its owner. “Chris” she murmured.
Laura looked at Chris as he approached. He had that familiar smile on his face but even his smile wouldn’t mask the worry clearly visible in his eyes. She hadn’t seen him since he left her anniversary party right before it all came crashing down.
Chris stood beside Laura. “Hey Laura”
Tito turned off the car engine and grabbed her phone, staring at the house directly in front of the car. “I can’t believe I came with you”
Tito rolled her eyes and glared at Catherine who looked unsettled. “I didn’t ask you to”. Frankly, Catherine was already frustrating her with her constant badgering.
“Someone has to keep you from doing something stupid”
Tito hissed. “Like you can stop me”
“How do you plan on entering the apartment, madam?” Cat quipped.
Tito picked up some tiny pieces of metal that looked like a lock pick. “Where there is a will, there is a way”
“Or where there is a will, someone dies”
Tito slanted an odd look at Catherine. “As long as Teju is the one being buried, I am fine with that” she pushed open the door of the car and alighted. Catherine did the same, frowning as she moved around to meet Tito.
“Tell me you are not going to do something stupid”
Tito smiled at Catherine. “I am about to teach a b**** a lesson”. She raised her brow. “You should stay here, you have a career to protect” she said and took purposeful strides towards the house.
Catherine closed her eyes for a few seconds, stomping her foot as she rushed after Tito.
Teju got out of the Uber and carried her bag towards herb apartment. She felt so ashamed and dirty. How on earth had she thought of seducing Deolu with everything going on. She was always making things worse. She had the uncanny ability to go in search of trouble even when she had more than enough.
Swallowing, she went straight to her apartment. If she had been in her right frame of mind, she would have noticed the oddity with the door, noticed that it wasn’t locked. but as she pushed open the door, her brain instantly went still she a the door. Blood drained from her face as she stared at the horror before her. “No! Oh no…”
To be continued