Sacrilege – Episode 4
© Adeola Nissi
Deolu walked away from the guest’s room, heading towards the sitting room. His head thumped at the same rate with his racing heart. He couldn’t push away the sight of Laura dejected form from his memory. Her haunted expression was all he saw whenever he blinked. He felt her pain like they were his, how could he have inflicted so much pain on someone he loved and cared about? Just the thought of the impact this would have on his marriage was enough to send his head banging with renewed force. He winced sightly as he arrived at the sitting room and froze when he saw the person before him.
Teju sat there, at the edge of the sitting room couch, staring at her laps. Tears stained her cheeks as she continuously smoothed imaginary rumples from the jumpsuit she had on. Deolu felt a knife pierce through his soul. His stupidity had cost him so much. It had cost him everything he held dear. He had known Teju for so long; virtually all his life, she was almost like family; like a little sister he was always inclined to protect. Only, she was not his sister. She was the daughter of his mother’s close friend. They had attended the same primary and secondary school. University had driven them slightly apart, being in different institutions, but after being reunited after about five years apart, they picked up their friendship like five years had been nothing more than five days.
Teju had never had it easy, the more reason why Deolu felt protective of her. She had been through hell in the hands of men who had toyed with her heart and left her hanging. All she ever wanted was a family, one she could hold dear. She didn’t deserve this. She really shouldn’t be going through this.
Deolu swallowed hard but the lump in his throat seemed stuck. How could he have hurt the two women he held dear above all else? Just one night of foolishness… one night of defiling reason had landed everyone in a mess so thick, everyone would sink trying to get out.
Deolu turned slightly, dreading this confrontation and seeking a means of escape. Teju raised her head in time and their eyes connected. She jumped up instantly, taking a small step back though there was so much space between them already. The tears on Teju’s face tore at Deolu. The sight of women in tears in tears was disconcerting enough but when the woman happened to be Laura or Teju, it was near unbearable. They stared at each other for some seconds, both unable to find the right words.
“Your mum is in the kitchen” Teju finally murmured as she wiped her face slightly.
Deolu nodded. Honestly, he couldn’t tell what he would do if he had to face his mother now. He had never had a great relationship with his mum and she always made the little relationship they had worse. “Teju…”
“I didn’t want this, I swear it, Deolu” Teju rushed. “Your mother found out about the pregnancy from my mum and forced me to come here… I promise, Deolu… It was never my intention to do this” tears slipped out of her eyes. Deolu swallowed. “I never meant to hurt you like this… or Laura” she shifted impatiently. “I… I mean, Laura is also my friend and I would never intentionally hurt her” Her tears seemed to flow more as she stared wide eyed at Deolu.
Deolu took a deep breath. “I know” he swallowed hard. “All this is my fault” and it was his, he knew it was. How would be ever forgive himself for causing everyone so much pain. “I hurt you too, Teju. I’d never forgive myself for putting you through this”
Teju shook her head. “We both know I caused all these” she shook her head in self wonder. “I’m always at fault.”
Deolu swallowed, he needed an escape. Being in this house was choking the life out of him. His eyes scanned the sitting room for his car keys till he found it on the shelf. He went for it instantly.
“You shouldn’t go out. I’d go” Teju said.
“You are not going anywhere” Mrs Aderigbe interjected as she moved into view. Deolu turned to his mother. Over the years, so many things had made him wonder if she was truly his mother even when he knew undoubtedly that she was. Though she had never accepted Laura, Deolu couldn’t believe she could be so cruel to a fellow woman. He wasn’t ready to confront her just yet. Turning abruptly, he stormed out of the house.
It had been an hour since the tires of Deolu’s car rolled out violently from the compound, and yet, Deolu was not back. Teju looked down at the compound from the vantage point of Deolu’s sitting room. She could still see the party chairs at the other end of the compound. The stage, which she hadn’t noticed earlier was beautifully decorated and the softness of the decoration was pronounced in the colours used to enhance the seats of the celebrants. The floor all over was littered and unkempt and several plates of unfinished food were hanging all over. Teju swallowed hard. The marks of her betrayal was scattered all over the compound; she could almost envision the feet of the guests as they rushed out of the compound; their mouths as they gossiped the disaster which had just taken place. She didn’t think she would be able to wipe that thought off her mind. Even as silence deafened her ears, slightly doused by the gentle hum of the air conditioner, her brain was clogged with thoughts. But even the cold air emanating from the air conditioner couldn’t dry up the tears that rolled down her eyes and the beads of sweat on her forehead.
Teju walked away from the window, wiping at her tears with her right hand. How on earth had she found herself in this mess? This wasn’t the way she expected her life to turn out. At no point in time did she imagine that she would be a backstabber and carrier of bad news. She had always tried to be at peace with everyone. She valued her friends better than she valued her own self, but what did she do? She let her emotions get the better of her. She allowed her hormones destroy everything she held dear; her name and reputation, her dreams and… most especially, her relationship with Laura and Deolu. If only she had held back that night… if only she had had the strength to prevent it from happening… but she hadn’t. no! She had wanted it to happen…
Finding out she was pregnant had been her worst nightmare, but nothing compared to the hurt she saw on Deolu and Laura’s face today. It had been like a blazing hot knife, piercing through her soul. She’d wish for death a thousand times over, just so she could forget the look on Laura’s face; the look on the faces of everyone there. And here she stood, in the room meant for Deolu and Laura. Teju swallowed and stared at her stomach… at the one tiny thing that posed a mighty mountain, tearing this family apart.
She heard footsteps and turned to see Mrs Aderigbe. Since the woman had been friends with her mother, Teju had always known her to be a trifle heartless, but now, she saw that she had gravely underestimated the older woman. But then, who was she to judge?
“Come on, Teju, you need to eat”. She held a tray of pounded yam and egusi soup in hand, obviously the remains of the ruined party. How could she expect Teju to eat from what she had destroyed?
Teju walked dejectedly around the chair. “I’m not hungry”
Mrs Johnson rolled her eyes. “For how long would you behave like a fourteen year old child? What has happened has happened, for once, stop thinking about others and think about yourself. I know you like my son”
Thinking about myself got me here, Teju thought as she sat at the edge of the couch, feeling like a glorified whore. “I know your son loves Laura” she returned. No one loves me.
Mrs Johnson shifted impatiently. “Love grows, all these would change, trust me. But for now, you need to eat. Your child – my grandchild – cannot survive in an empty stomach. You have to eat”
Teju lay on the couch, folding her knees to her chest. She closed her eyes, blocking the tears that threatened to seep out. “Maybe it is better if it doesn’t survive” she muttered.
Teju opened her eyes. She was covered in darkness and she blinked several times until her eyes adjusted to her dark surroundings. Her body ached as she pushed herself up until she was sitting on the couch. She was surprised that she had been able to sleep after all but after checking the time, she saw that she had only been asleep for about an hour. Mrs Aderigbe had tried to convince her to sleep in Deolu’s bedroom but she would never do that, never take Laura’s place on her matrimonial bed. She’d rather sleep on the street.
Her eyes went to the guests room. She longed to talk to Laura, to explain what had actually happened. She wanted her to know that it was all her fault, maybe that way she could rectify the family that was crumbling all because of her foolishness.
She pushed herself up, wincing as she felt a sharp pain towards her waist region. She took a deep breath and walked towards the guests room, hoping Laura would be calmer now.
She knocked gently on the door after taking in a calming breath. There was no answer. She knocked again and again before finally pushing open the door.
The lights were out but something on the bed drew her attention. Her hand went to the wall instantly, groping for the switch. Immediately the lights came on, blood drained from her face, leaving her as white as snow. She shook her head in denial as her hand came up to her throat in fright. “No… No…. Laura” she gasped.
It was just the stroke of dawn when Deolu drove back into the compound. It didn’t feel like his home anymore. His heart picked up pace when he killed the engine, too scared to come out to face the remains of his marriage. His eyes were heavy from lack of sleep. He had spend half of the night driving round and the other half staring at the moon, hoping for answers. But while he was out of the house, his heart remained stuck in the guests’ room with Laura. He wondered if she was finally able to sleep, hoping she had so she could forget what he had done, even if it was for a few hours.
Running his hand over his aching head, he got out of the car and walked into the house.
On entering the sitting room, Deolu saw the last person on earth he wanted to see. Mrs Aderigbe raised her eyes from the flat screen TV to him with a dry smile on her face. “I take it you’ve finished sulking.” she muttered.
Deolu stared at her in silence, biting back everything he really wished to say to her. She didnt deserve it. It was a little too early to be up and watching TV but his mother was always odd. Swallowing, he walked towards the guest room. He had to see how Laura was doing, even if she didn’t want to see him.
Abruptly, Teju came out of the adjoining toilet. She had tears in her eyes as she rushed towards Deolu. “Oh God, Deolu, where have you been all night? And you didn’t take your phone”
Deolu blinked as his heart raced. A feeling of unease settled on him as he frowned at Teju. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s… It’s Laura”
Deolu froze. His eyes involuntarily went to the door of the guests room as fear engulfed him. “What’s wrong with Laura?” he said, storming towards the guests room without waiting for an answer. Teju sobbed as she tailed along. A million things played in Deolu’s mind as he approached the door, his brave exterior not doing a good job of masking his fears. His mouth felt dry and his head felt heavy as he yanked open the door, ready for whatever laid beyond it.
His eyes immediately snapped to the bed, the last place he had seen Laura a few hours ago. The sight of the bed had him freezing at the entrance as a coldness washed over him.
“I came here to talk to her…” Teju explained behind him. “I wanted to tell her that she should take it all out on me not you… But I found… Oh God, Deolu, what have we done?”
Deolu’s face was as pale as sheet as he finally moved towards the bed, focusing on the sight before him. The mattress was a mess, with some of its foam poking out of the cover, but that was not what held their worry. There was a pool of blood on the mattress, a bloody knife and a badly damaged picture. Deolu heart beat louder that a village drum as he made his way round the bed. Laura was nowhere around. He dashed for the bathroom, still there was no sign of Laura. He hand shook slightly as he went back to the bed and took the bloody picture in his hand. It was one of their wedding pictures, the one Laura and Deolu had taken together with Teju and Chris. In the picture, Chris stood beside Laura while Teju stayed glued to Deolu’s side. Laura had apparently stabbed the images of Deolu and Teju over and over.
Tears blurred Deolu’s eyes as he raised his eyes to a crying Teju. “Oh my God”. What was going on? Automatically, his legs started moving as he stormed out of the room. Laura was badly injured and he needed to get to her before she lost too much blood. She must have hurt herself in her rage and with the blood he saw on the bed, he didn’t want to imagine what would happen if she didn’t get help as soon as possible.
He was in the sitting room in no time. His mother didn’t move an inch from her place on the couch as her eyes remained glued to the TV set. “I don’t know what all the fuss is about, Laura is fully capable of taking care of herself” she muttered drily.
Teju wondered what had happened to make Mrs Aderigbe so cold. Deolu didn’t even have the luxury to give his mother a thought as he flew out of the house, going round the compound in search of Laura even though Teju said she had done that.
Chris charged past the gateman into Deolu’s compound looking furiously murderous. Deolu emerged from the back of the house with lines of worry etched on his forehead. His gaze hadn’t registered Chris’ presence when Chris aimed a weighty punch right at his nose.
“What the-” Deolu swore, gripping his nose as his eyes snapped up in an instant. His gaze settled on a snarling Chris.
“I told you… I warned you never to maltreat Laura” Chris drawled through clenched teeth. The fire of fury burned bright in his eyes as he grabbed Deolu by the collar of his shirt. “How could you?”
“Jesus, man, I don’t need this right now” Deolu barked angrily. His broken nose wasn’t even nearly as painful as the pain in his heart.
“Oh, what do you need? A fresh pair of thighs? Or Teju’s own is just laced with honey” Chris spat.
“Shut your damn mouth” Deolu barked, jerking forcefully out of Chris grip. He didn’t need Chris ringing a peel on his head over this, he was doing a pretty good job of it himself. “You would have ample time to beat me to a pulp later but not now”
Chris snarled at Deolu, shaking his head. “You are so shameless, aren’t you? How can you and Teju…” Teju emerged behind Deolu and Chris’ eyes instantly snapped towards her. “Tell me you slept here! Where were you both doing back there? Backyard quicky?”
Shame washed over Teju as she took a deep calming breath. “You two are supposed to be friends ‘without benefits’! Jeez… God knows Laura doesn’t deserve this from you; she doesn’t deserve this from either of you!” Chris shook his head looking disgusted.
“I know I blew it, Chris, but let me find Laura first, okay?” Deolu yelled, jerking out of Chris’s hold.
That seemed to shut Chris up for a brief moment. Teju sneaked away, too ashamed to stay before Chris’s condemning eyes. “Where’s she?”
Deolu broke away, storming towards his car. “If you would give me enough breathing space, maybe I’d find out”
Chris marched behind Deolu wishing he could punch him over and over, maybe it would get rid of the anger that he was feeling. But if the tense state of Deolu’s shoulders were anything to go by, he could only hope Laura was alright.
To be continued