Even before he was born, I knew there was something evil about him. Watching his movements inside her, there was no doubt in my mind that there was something very evil in him. But how was I to tell them? I could only stay close and wait for them to find out themselves.
They never did, she still hasn’t.
The first time he struck, it was his grandmother he marked. All Mama did was take him away from Mom, just for a little while, so she could rest.
As Mama walked out of the room with him in her arms, he reached out his little hand and laid it flat against her cheek. She looked down at him and smiled. As he took his hand away, he left the darkness behind.
When Mama entered her own room, something followed the darkness on her, I saw it. And she never left the room again.
I was beside my Master when he found her. She was still holding him in her arms and looked to be sleeping but I knew she was not.
It was thought to be her heart, but I knew better.
They buried her the following week.
And he struck again the week after.
That time he marked Mom’s best friend, Hauwa. She came to cheer Mom up and laughingly told her to give him to my Master and get out of the house for a little while. Mom didn’t want to go at first, but Hauwa convinced her, so she smilingly handed him over to Hauwa while she got dressed. I raced to stop her but I was not fast enough. When I got there, he was already moving his hand away from her cheek and the darkness had been left on her.
I could only watch helplessly as they both left the house.
I heard later that it was a piece of bone in her throat that ended her life, right in front of Mom, as they ate together in a restaurant.
Mom was devastated. In the days that followed, she clung even more to him, seeking comfort from the same hands responsible for her pain. And he bloomed under her attention, gurgling and waving those poisonous hands. My Master too regained a little of his smile and for a while, peace reigned.
Until the day he marked Master.
I watched as Mom put him in the cot for the first time so she could go to Master. And panic rose in my heart as I saw the rage on his face.
I didn’t sleep all through the night. I paced outside their door, thinking of ways to stop him from marking my Master.
When they opened the door in the morning, I raced inside. It was normal of me. But it wasn’t normal when I tried to pull Master out, away from him. They stared at me, bewildered. I tried to tell them, but they didn’t understand. They tried to, but they couldn’t.
Finally, they decided maybe I was jealous of all the attention showered on the little murdering baby, so mom took me outside for a little ‘me’ time and left him alone with Master. The very thing I had tried to prevent.
By the time he came out of the room, he had already been marked. I could only wail my grief as he left home with that thing trailing the darkness, behind him.
He went as quickly as the rest. He never even got to work. It was a trailer negotiating a bend, they said.
I had failed to protect my Master.
And now he knows I know. And I know he has marked me out for his mark of death.
I won’t make it easy for him.
I am safe for now, but when he starts to crawl, I will have to watch my back.
I walk over to Mom and lay my head on her laps. The laps I have lain in so many times from when I was little when Master gave me to her.
She reaches down as always and rubs behind my ears, her tears dropping silently on me. I woof quietly and raise my head to lick her hands.
He is in a neighbor’s arms, across the room. Yet I can feel his eyes on me, watching. The heat of his rage touches me, pulling me. I turn my head to look at him.
Just to show me what is waiting for me, he reaches up and touches the young lady carrying him, all the while holding my gaze. I see the darkness fall on her.
I turn away from the sight and put my head again on Mom’s beloved laps. Determined more than ever not to yield to his mark and leave her alone with him.