Hey people… In the ‘March featured writer’ article, I promised to let y’all read a story from me. Well, it’s been written, and though I have been mighty scared of putting it up – till now, I’ve come to realize it’s time to share it with you lovely people. Feel free to constructively criticise the post. As it is my first short story ever, that would be highly appreciated.
I wake slowly to the strains of ’Marry You’ by Bruno Mars set off by the alarm. As I search for the offending machine, a clear thought penetrates my sleep-fogged mind; Wedding! Just then my hand connects with the phone. I hit the stop button and break out in a wide grin.
Today is March 16th 2016 and it is my wedding day. I am going to be married to my sweetheart, Lionel. The thought of him makes me blush, ahh; the things we did in dreamland not so long ago. There is a throbbing at the apex of my thighs and I feel heat spread through me; this usually happens when I think of the things I want to do to and with him.
”Patience, girl. You’ll have him for the rest of your life to do with as you please starting tonight.” I tell myself. That is enough to reassure me.
Smiling, I lean over to turn on the bedside lamp at the far end of the bed and my hand touches a wet patch. Quickly, I turn on the light and a puzzled look steals across my face. There on the undisturbed part of the bed is a wet patch which looks as though one sat on it with wet shorts. I throw a glance at the door; the bolt is still drawn across. My hand goes to my butt which feels really dry.
”Come to think of it, this room is cold and the windows aren’t even open.”I mumble to myself as I pad across the room to check on the air-conditioner. It is switched off.
This isn’t the time or day to concern myself with demystifying ’lesser’ matters; I reason, picking my ringing phone off the bed. I look at the screen; disconnect the call, and move towards the door.
”Good morning Suze.” I say to her as I open it wide and move back to let her in. ‘She’ is Susan; my best friend and soon-to-be chief bridesmaid.
”Good morning dearie. How was your last night as Miss Deborah Evans?” she asks with a glint in her eyes as she goes to sit on the bed.
”Wait! Don’t sit there.” I blurt out.
”Why not?” Suze asks, going ahead to sit on the wet patch.
”It is wet…The side you are sitting on,” I tell her.
”Ooooh…why didn’t you tell me before?” she queries, her hand going immediately to her backside.
I look at the spot which she has just gotten up from, but to my astonishment there is nothing there. Suze is quite quick to point this out.
”Well, I mistakenly poured water on the bed and didn’t know it had dried off.”
The lie rolls easily off my tongue. It is a lie because I didn’t pour water and I know what I had felt and seen; but the dry bed is playing mind games with me.
”Are you cold?” I ask Suze, drawing my purple sleeping robe tightly over my body to ward off the chills, as goosebumps erupt on my forearms.
”No.” Suze says, giving me the once over.
”I know what is wrong with you Deb.” she continues as she goes to throw the curtains open, letting daylight filter into the room.
”What is wrong then?” I ask as I sit back on the bed. She comes to stand in front of me, arms akimbo.
”Pre-wedding jitters.” she says, nodding her head like a Chinese sage before dragging me off the bed and pulling me towards the door.
”It’s your wedding day. No dulling.” she says, going out into the corridor. Just as I am about to step out of the room, I feel some drops of water on my face and I wipe them off.
”It’s your wedding, you should hurry up. It’s crazy out there and the beauticians are coming in real soon.” Suze says, as she turns to look at me.
”I know joor.” I tell her, playfully smacking the side of her head.
My phone rings and I dive on the bed to get it; it’s Lionel, my sweetheart.
”Hey baby.” I say into the phone. Suze throws me a look of mock horror before closing the door behind her.
”We are not supposed to make contact before the wedding, doesn’t it include ‘auditory contact’?”
”I would have no idea, it’s you females that create these crazy rules. You know we men can’t be bothered.”
”Tscheew!” I hiss into the phone and lie back on the bed, fiddling with the tassels on my nightgown.
”Hey Love. I called because I had this weird dream, but for the life of me I can’t remember it now that I have heard your voice.” Lionel says.
“That’s too bad. Well…I had a dream and I recall vividly what we did. It had lots of ’spooning and forking’ and now I fear the thought of it is bad for my panties.” I say, ending in a stage whisper while holding back the laughter.
Lionel lets out a whoop of joy; ”I am getting married to this kwazie ass woman in some hours and I am going to give her…” He starts belting out lyrics of the chorus to Marvin Gaye’s ’Sexual healing’.
“I love you Nel, but I need to get into the bathroom now or forever stay in bed.” I tell him smiling at my corruption of the words that would soon be repeated on our behalf.
”No way miss; get your cute self into the bathroom now!”
I end the call with a smile on my face.
”Oh boy! Did this room get colder or what?” I wonder aloud as I rub my arms vigorously to dispel the cold and swing my feet off the bed; to the ground, slipping off my robe and nightgown.
”Today is your special day Deb, better get your ass moving.” I mumble to myself as I step into the bathroom.
* * * * *
4 hours later…
The church is packed with friends, relatives and well-wishers of ours. Sitting next to me is my beau, looking more handsome than ever. His dark skin just seems to glow brightly today, and as he smiles and winks at me, I almost forget that we are in church as ’unholy’ thoughts creep into my mind. I wink back at him and turn to face the pastor reverently, urging him wordlessly to finish the boring sermon, and hurry to the exchange of vows. It works; my chakra, I mean because the pastor wraps up the sermon and beckons on us to come forward.
As I get up, I feel this inexplicable sense of dread, and it is accompanied by a draft of cold air that seems to penetrate the layers of lace, organza and tulle on my body which causes me to shiver convulsively. I make it to the pulpit without betraying any sign of unease.
Suddenly I hear a patter of feet echoing in the quiet of the church. It is from a little girl who runs up the aisle, hot on her young heels is a woman that I think is her mother. To my surprise, the little girl runs up to me and hugs my leg.
”Aunty don’t marry this man, the other man is crying too much,” she whispers pointing at a space beside me. I look but do not see anyone, I am confused. The church is quiet now.
”What in hell’s bells is this girl saying?” I ask myself as I try to pry my dress from her clenched fist, her hand is very cold. Whispers float about now. A commotion breaks out as the mother gets to the pulpit, an embarrassing tinge staining her face as she apologizes profusely for her daughter, whom she says is receiving treatment for acute malaria. I nod and tell her that no offence was taken, as we wait for the din to quiet down. The girl’s whispered words haunt me. I don’t know of any man that would cry over me. Lionel is my first and only love. I had a boyfriend 3 years ago when I was in my 2nd year, but after a weekend spent in his lodge, he started avoiding me and when I broke it off with him, I felt his relief. He definitely wasn’t crying over me now.
”Are you okay Darling?” Lionel asks me quietly and I nod in affirmation. I turn just in time to see mother and daughter leave through the church doors, and just before the doors close behind them, the girl turns back and throws me an anxious look mouthing the word ”Please.”
As the doors clang shut, I feel the hairs on the nape of my neck rise, goosebumps on my forearms and I get this weird feeling that I am being watched; the latter filling me with fear. I shrug the feeling off and fix a smile on my face to repeat the words that tie me forever to my love.
* * * * *
After signing the registry, we step out of the church, my hand held lightly in the crook of Nel’s elbow as we get showered with confetti.
”You look absolutely breathtaking babe.” Nel says as he bends a bit to nuzzle my neck.
”Thanks darling, you aren’t so bad yourself.” I reply giggling. I know we look lovely; my ivory gown sits well on my fair skin and standing next to tall, dark and handsome Lionel, I know we complement each other physically and make quite the ’perfect picture’.
The MC announces that it’s time to throw the bouquet, eliciting cheers and giggles from the single ladies in the crowd as shouts of “Throw! Throw!” fill the air.
Turning my back to the crowd, I fling the pink, red and white bouquet of roses into the crowd. Again I get the weird feeling that I am being watched. It’s not just the eyes in the crowd that looks on approvingly, the grateful eyes of a distant cousin who emerges clutching the bouquet or the loving looks in Nel’s eyes, it is something more sinister and it fills me with dread.
”Hey honey, are you okay?” Nel asks. I flinch as I feel water droplets on my face.
”I’m okay darling…just a bit tired.” I reply smiling up at him. Nel, always in sync with my feelings.
”Well then let me kiss this frown off your face.” he says, a mischievous glint in his eyes as he bends down and take my lips in his. The act receives a lusty cheer from the crowd and the photographers are maniacal as the flashes go off continuously. He breaks off the kiss and carries me in his arms to the car waiting to convey us to the reception venue – Ixora gardens, it has this exotic ambience that I love. I shiver a little and then hang tightly onto his neck. He drops me in the car and slides in next to me.
”This goddamned tie almost snuffed the life out of me.” he says as he tugs the bow tie loose.
”Hey! Mind your language Nel.” I say, as I loosen the pins holding my hair in place. “These fucking things hurt!” I wonder how I didn’t notice till now.
”Like you are one to complain, Mrs Deborah Eze.” Nel says as he pulls me close to him. He winks at his cousin behind the wheel who smiles and then keeps his eyes on the road; off the mirror.
Nel gently teases my lips apart, catches my lower lip in between his and sucks ever so lightly on it. I sigh softly as the throbbing starts building, sending warmth through my body.
”Good thing that we would be done with the formalities in some hours so we can…mmm…indulge. If we don’t put a lid on it, someone would need to put off some serious fires.” I say glancing at his cousin as I gently pull away from his embrace. I brush my hand over the bulge in his trousers and give him a wink.
”Spoilsport! We would have had a quickie you know?” Nel says; pretending to sulk.
”C’mon darl, we’re headed to the reception.” I say brushing the lapel of his suit before giving him a quick kiss. He draws me to his side and holds me in his arms – I am home. This is home, here in Lionel’s arms I feel safe and loved. He whispers, ‘Mrs Deborah Eze’. I like the sound of the name, I smile and settle comfortably.
* * * * *
The intersection at the Sakeni fly-over is usually quite busy, teeming with motorists as they zoom past on their wheels. It is therefore surprising to find that traffic is light at almost 1 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon.
Just as David, our driver tries to cross the intersection; I feel a jolt as the car is hit from the side sending it skidding off the road. I am shouting and pleading the blood of Jesus; at the same time I am aware of the fact that Nel covers my body with his. Even after the car comes to a stop, I can’t stop screaming even when I feel hands pulling at me. They pull me away from the car and carry me to an open place, and as my legs hit the ground, I experience a dizzying spell and crumple.
I ‘come to’ gradually and I am cold, very cold. I can’t stop trembling and running my hands over my skin doesn’t do much to ward off the cold as it seeps into my bones. As I look around, the scene fills me with horror and unease; people running helter-skelter as they try to push a black Toyota jeep back on its wheels. The car is leaning on its side; its bodywork badly mangled but there is something oddly familiar about the car. It’s only when I see the little ribbons and burst balloons that I realize why it is familiar. The mangled car was a wedding gift from Uncle Vitalis to Nel and I. I feel a cold draft of air blow over me and some drops of water on my arm. I rub my arm to dispel the cold and wipe the water off.
”Where is Nel?” I ask the lady nearest to me.
”Who be Nail?” she glances at me and then her eyes widens as realization dawns on her.
“Oh! Na you be de Madam wey dey inside the motor?” she asks in Warri accented pidgin and I nod.
“Nel is my husband.” I answer as the shivering intensifies. Just then I see Uncle Vita hurrying towards me.
“I neva sabi about the Oga for the jeep but dem talk say dem no see the lorry driver.” the lady adds.
”Thank you.” I tell the lady as I start to get up, I find it’s not easy in my present state. Not only do I feel woozy and hurt everywhere, my wedding dress now weighs a ton. Sitting back, I begin to unhook the train of my dress so I can go find Lionel who is foremost on my mind.
”Debo.” Uncle Vita who has always been my father figure for as long as I could remember comes to sit beside me.
”Uncle Vita, where is my husband?” I ask him. His expression is bland.
”Debo it’s okay, You’ll be fine.” he says, his voice slightly trembling. This statement of his sends warning bells off in my head, and in a split second I am off the bench, running towards the mangled heap. The weight of my dress a forgotten issue in the face of looming doom.
Uncle Vita tries to hold me back but I am in flight, beyond his reach.
As I reach the car, the sight of Lionel; my husband of a few hours lying bloodied and bruised on the tarred road sends a different chill down my spine, and the band around my chest gets tighter still. Blindly I reach for his left hand in my grief, trying to put my fingers between his where they used to fit perfectly and it feels incomplete. I open my eyes to look down at our entwined hands and notice that the finger which held the ring we exchanged is missing. I let out a blood-curdling scream that brings the people who had shifted to give me space rushing back to us.
A cold breeze swirls by and it’s almost as if I hear it chuckle and then the raindrops fall on my face as I fall onto Lionel’s bloodied body. As the world goes blank, only one line graces my thoughts:
”Little girl and crying man; bring back my husband to me.”