|Photo credit: horrorland (silent night)|
Both girls sat with glum expressions on their faces; the note lay on the table with the TV remote placed on it to keep it from moving.
As much as Judy wanted to say, “I told you so”, she could not bring herself to. The victorious feeling she had anticipated was definitely not what she was feeling then; it was supposed to feel good to be right, but in her case, she felt scared; scared to know that a killer really existed and her friend was probably going to be the next victim.
Why the notes? Judy pondered and turned to Pamela who had not uttered a word since they saw the note.
“Why me?” she whispered and looked up at Judy.
Judy tried to search for words to offer her, but none was forthcoming. She pondered for a few more minutes and blurted out, “Echezona”.
Pamela glared at her before she bowed her head again; she had offered a look that told Judy she had made the silliest comment.
She shook her head. “No, that’s not what I mean”, Judy began as Pam sighed tiredly and looked up at her. “I mean why don’t we talk to Eche?”
Pamela started to ask how that was supposed to help but then her eyes lit up immediately. “So that he’ll get his mother to take up the case”, she explained and turned to see Judy nodding like an agama lizard.
“Call him”, Judy’s voice was louder than she had expected.
Pamela immediately took out her phone and dialed his number; she was about to press the call button when a wave of realization hit her and she turned to her friend sadly.
Judy gave her a questioning look and Pam swallowed hard before replying. “You know how hard it was for me to believe you”.
“Oh”, Judith slapped her forehead and sighed. “We’ll just show him the note and explain everything; we both can’t be going crazy at once”, she suggested as Pam shrugged her shoulders and walked inside to make the call.
She came out minutes later and stood before Judy; she looked as though she was thinking of how to tell her what she had in mind.
“Do you want me to leave you two?” she asked with understanding eyes as Pam smiled and nodded slowly.
“We really have to sort things out”, her voice was low as she spoke.
“Aright”, Judy muttered with a slight nod and rose to her feet.
She pulled her into a warm hug and was not surprised when Pamela held her tightly as though she did not want to let her go.
“We’ll come over to your place once we’re done”, she explained and finally released her from the hug.
Judy offered her a friendly smile before muttering a low goodbye and walking out the front door. Pamela immediately locked the door and paced about the living room for about five minutes before she heard a knock and froze.
There was no way Eche would arrive that fast and her father always returned home at 7:00pm. She swallowed hard as she carefully tip-toed to the door. The knock came again and she stood there for what seemed like forever; a killer really existed; Jane had been murdered; she was probably next if nothing was going to be done about it.
“Wh-who is it?” she finally managed to ask as she put her ear so close to the door.
“It’s me, Pam”, his voice suddenly sounded like sweet music to her ears.
She opened the door and tried to restrain herself from pulling him into a tight hug. Due to his cold intolerance, he was wearing a sweater as usual with a pair of jean trousers. He stood with his hand on the wall and his eyes on her like a model contesting for Mr. Nigeria.
“How did you get here so fast?” she wondered as he opened his arms and shrugged.
“I wasn’t far; I was at Judy’s place waiting for her to speak with you”, he confessed as she frowned and shrugged it off immediately.
She made way for him to pass and closed the door as soon as he entered. She directed him to sit down and sat to face him; his warm smile, encouraging and welcoming.
“I’m really glad you agreed to come, Ech”, her voice was calm and calculated; she was not going to reveal to him yet why she had called him.
He beamed, “I was happier when I received your call”, he locked his palms together and looked into her eyes. “I wasn’t so sure you would be easily convinced by Judy after how-how”, he paused and sighed. “After how badly I treated you”, he explained with remorseful eyes as she watched him seeming quite unsure of herself.
If she quickly spilled everything, he would think she only needed to use him to get his mother’s attention; which was exactly what she had in mind. On that note, she exhaled deeply and looked down at her palms on her laps.
“I forgive you, Ech”, she looked up at him and watch a broad smile break across his lips. She swallowed hard and took series of deep breaths as she chose her next words carefully, “But the truth is that I can’t get back with you”, her voice was low but he definitely heard every word.
He stared at her quite unsure of what he had just heard; he sat silently with his eyes on her waiting for her to smile and tell him it was a joke and a way of punishing him.
He opened his palms in confusion, “W-why Pam? If you’ve forgiven me, why can’t we just-”
“That’s because you hurt me, Eche”, she almost yelled and rose to her feet immediately. She put her hands up to her head as if to hold it from falling and looked down at him on the sofa looking forlorn, “and I cannot let you do that to me again”, the determination in her voice scared Eche whose lips quivered and he looked down immediately.
She swallowed hard and exhaled loudly, “I’ve never felt like that before”, her voice was almost a whisper and there were obvious tears in them though her eyes remained clear. “And I do not ever want to feel that way again”, she said with a note of finality, but his head remained bowed.
After what seemed like forever, he inaudibly said, “I understand”, and raised his head.
Pamela felt her heart skip a beat when she saw the tears in his eyes; for a moment, she wished she could take her words back.
Eche pinched the bridge of his nose and rose to his feet with his eyes focused on her; all she could sense as she watched him stand before her was his immense feeling of guilt. He swallowed hard when he stood about an inch away from her; he reached for her hands and was quite surprised she did not flinch at his touch. He bit his lips and looked into her eyes as though begging her to reconsider.
“I really understand”, he swallowed. “Trust me, Pam, I do but”, he paused and tightened his grip on her hands. “But I thought I was doing the right thing; Pam, I did what any sane person would have done”, he drew his words as he begged her to understand him as much as he understood her.
She scoffed and pulled her hands away. “Calling me on the phone and telling me we had to end it without any reason; when I did nothing to you; when-”, her voice broke as she sniffed and inhaled deeply; she was determined not to shed one more tear for him. “No sane human being would do that, Echezona Kalu”, she pointed her index finger at him as she spoke. “Nobody would-”
Unable to hold it in again, he cried out, “I couldn’t bear him hitting you again”.
Those words caused Pamela to freeze; she stood staring at him for what seemed like forever to Eche. He had never wanted to tell her the truth; he had never wanted her to find out he still had feelings for her; his entire plan had been to make her think he did not want her and that he had obviously moved on with someone else.
She inhaled and exhaled before finally breaking the heart-wrenching silence, “So that was it? That was the purpose for-”, she stopped and took in a deep breath; anything to stop those tears from making their way down her cheek. She then shook her head with a light laugh, “That was why you dumped me and went for Alice”.
He shook his head quickly, “I didn’t dump you, Pamela. I just-”
“Look”, she began with that initial calculated and matured voice she had used when he arrived. “I’ve moved on”, she explained still shaken by his revelation. “You’re with Alice and I’m-”
He completed her sentence, “With Daniel Kalio”.
She nodded and sighed; she was not officially with Dan, but with the way things were going, they could kick it off before school resumption –if she remained alive till then.
He heaved a sigh of resignation and put both hands in his pockets with his watery eyes fixed on her, “So why exactly did you call me?”
She had been caught; all she prayed for was that he would actually believe her and agree to tell his mother.
“Well”, she began slowly and turned to the clock. “We would have to go over to Judy’s place for that”.
He smiled, a little tense, “Are you both trying to interrogate me or something?”
“No, no”, she said quickly with a wave of her right palm. “It’s something else; really serious”, she added as his brows came together and tiny pupils studied her through his half-closed eyes.
Without saying anything else to him, she picked up the piece of paper she had placed earlier on the table and folded it neatly before leading him out of the house. They arrived at Judy’s house at about 3:30pm. A quick click in the keyhole of the front door told them that she had been eagerly expecting them.
She opened the door and sighed in relief; she had never been happier to see Eche. She locked the door as soon as they were inside and led them to the two-seater sofa.
Eche politely declined and sat on the single sofa so that he could have his eyes on the two friends; he still did not know what they wanted to speak to him about. He watched them exchange glances and let his eyes wander before they would eventually start speaking.
The living room was well detailed and classy; he had never really counted Judy among the haves. Everything ranging from the curtains to the paintings to the interior décor looked expensive; he really could not see Judith Ani fitting into high heels and fancy dresses most rich girls wore to numerous outings. She did not even have a phone and he had always thought that was outrageous.
“Eche”, he heard and quickly turned to them though he was not sure of the exact person that had called.
Judy pulled herself slightly out of the chair and placed her elbows on her laps. “This is going to sound stupid and completely unbelievable, but you really have to believe us”, there was a slight pleading in her voice that made Eche turn to Pam who just kept her eyes on him.
He opened his arms wide as though in surrender, “I’m all ears”.
Judy began by explaining her theory of how the so-called accidents were actually pre-meditated murders. Then she let Pamela explain how she never believed her and how the notes began to show up at her door.
All the while, Eche kept his eyes leveled on each speaker; taking in everything they said.
When Pamela was finally done, she stared at him and waited patiently for him to speak, but he said nothing. His features had a hint of bemusement in them; as though he did not understand anything she had said.
“Eche, do you understand?” she said gently with her gaze still fixed on him.
He shook his head still looking bemused and stammered briefly, “This-this is a joke, right?”
“You don’t believe us, do you?” Judy finally asked with her hand slapping her forehead and a sigh escaping her as though she was already used to the feeling of being disbelieved.
She watched him scratch his low-cut hair that usually coiled of their own volition and looked like numerous black seeds on his head; Pamela had told her how he fondly referred to them as Coco waves.
“You also think Jane’s death took a great toll on us and we’re conceiving thoughts in our heads”, she continued as Pamela turned to her and looked down suddenly understanding how her friend had felt whenever she tried to make her think she needed help with getting over Jane’s death.
Still shaking his head, he finally let his eyes rest on them, “It’s not that”.
Pam finally managed to speak up, “Then what is it?” She watched him scratch his head again and then with a serious tone and piercing eyes, he said:
“I’ve been receiving notes too”.
Written by M. E. N.
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