The next day, Ugochi woke up to a lot pain. She was alone in bed and she assumed Dawn must have gone in to work. Her body ached so bad she could barely move from the bed. She would have to call in sick to the office.
Although she was shaking with the pain assuaging her body, no matter how bad that pain was it couldn’t compare with the pain in her heart. She couldn’t think of the happenings of last night without dissolving in tears. She couldn’t believe her fairy tale could turn into a nightmare so quickly. She forced the thought from her mind determinedly.
She tried to maneuver herself out of bed with as little pain as possible. One of her eyes was still swollen shut so she could only see out of the one good eye and it was throbbing badly. She grimaced as she set her feet on the floor, tentatively rising and walked to the bathroom to survey the damage in the mirror. She gasped when she saw herself.
Her right eye was swollen shut and the other one was bloodshot. Her right cheek was also swollen, she touched it tentatively and found it very tender. She had a cut on her lower lip, and she could barely move her head without feeling a slight crick in her neck. She looked down at her body and saw a myriad of cuts and bruises. If her mother saw her now, she would barely recognize her.
Ugochi sat on the toilet seat wondering what she did to deserve this kind of beating from Ikem. Even if he had seen her with Fredrick and assumed she was cheating on him, it could have all been resolved with a rational conversation, not this barbaric act. She could never go back to him now even if he finally understood her relationship with Fredrick. She could never be with a man who would use his fists instead of his words. Her heart broke as she thought of the years lost.
She decided to dust her pain off and move on. First thing to do would be to contact Fredrick and let him know the developments and both of them need to trash out their next course of action. She limped slowly to the living room and was so surprised to see Dawn sprawled on the settee, watching TV.
“Dawn? Why are you still home?” she asked incredulously.
Dawn sat up immediately and scrutinized her from head to toe. “Why are you up this early? Do you feel alright?” she asked sharply
“Yes babe, I feel okay. Why are you home?”
“I couldn’t leave you all alone today now. I called in sick at the office.”
“Oh, you didn’t have to do that. I’m okay, just some minor cuts and bruises.”
Dawn shook her head vigorously. “Girl, those cuts and bruises are anything but minor. What the hell happened to you last night? I refuse to believe it was Ikem that beat you up like that.”
Ugochi walked towards the settee and sat beside her friend. “My dear, I didn’t want to believe it too until it happened.”
“Why? Why would he do that to you?” Dawn was genuinely perplexed.
“If I tell you I know the reason, then I’m lying. I have my suspicions though.”
“So, he didn’t tell you? He gave no explanation for his behavior?”
Ugochi shrugged. “I don’t know, Dawn. I just don’t know.”
“You said you have your suspicions? What are they?”
“I’d rather not tell you now. It is a very sensitive matter and it affects a third party. I’d rather straighten it out with the person concerned before sharing.”
Dawn watched her closely. “Is everything okay, Ugochi? It is unlike you to hide things from your friends.”
“I’ll let you know when the time is right. I promise.”
“Okay then. I’ll give you your privacy.”
“You’re welcome.” Dawn stood up. “So, what would you like for breakfast?”
“I don’t think I can eat much with this swollen cheek and cut lips. Maybe I’ll just take some beverage?”
“Okay. Let me make some for you.”
“Thanks dear. Thanks for being there.”
“What are friends for if not for inconvenience?” Dawn said cheekily.
Ugochi laughed. “Oh please, I can’t laugh. My cheek hurts.”
“Sorry. Beverage coming up.”
As soon as Dawn moved in the direction of the small kitchenette, Ugochi brought out her phone and dialed Frederick’s number. He picked up on the first ring.
“Ugochi hi. I’ve been trying to reach you since last night. Are you alright?”
“No, I’m not Frederick. We need to talk. Preferably face to face.”
“I’d rather hold on till we see.”
“Alright. Name the time and place.”
“I can’t come out, I’m not feeling too great. Can you come to Dawn’s place? As soon as you’re able?”
“Okay. Just send me her address. I’ll try to be there in the next two hours.”
“Alright, I’ll do that.”
“See you soon.”
“Yeah. See you.”
Ugochi dropped the call and quickly sent the directions to him. The sooner the meeting can take place, the better for all involved.
About two hours later, a knock sounded on the door. Ugochi jumped up from the couch where she was sprawled watching TV and went to the door. Dawn had left the apartment to get some groceries from the supermarket and to get some pain relieving drugs for Ugochi, so she was home alone. She opened the door to find Frederick on the other side. His jaw dropped as soon as he saw her battered face.
“What happened to you? Were you in an accident?” he asked, incredulous
Ugochi smiled. “Please come in.” she said and made room for him to get in.
Fredrick walked in but stayed by the door. Ugochi closed the door and saw him watching her curiously.
“What happened to you?” he asked once more
“Come sit down and I’ll tell you everything.” She interjected
He reluctantly followed her to the sofa and sat beside her.
“What can I offer you?” Ugochi asked
“Forget about that for now, will you? Tell me what happened to you? Were you in an accident?” he repeated.
Ugochi knew she couldn’t put it off any longer. “No, I wasn’t.” she said quietly. “It was Ikemefuna.”
Fredrick jumped off the sofa. “What?” he screeched
“Relax, Fredrick. That was why I said we needed to talk. Will you sit down, please? It hurts my neck to look up to you like that.”
“Sorry.” Fredrick quickly sat down. “You mean Ikem did this to you? How could he do that? What sort of man is he?”
“I don’t know why Fredrick. All I know is that he got home yesterday and all hell broke loose. He started calling me names. He didn’t explain anything to me, didn’t allow me defend myself before he lit into me and started punching me. It was all I could do to get away from me before he succeeded in killing me.”
Fredrick watched her pensively. “He didn’t give any explanation at all? Although, nothing could warrant such treatment of a woman.”
“No, he didn’t. I guess he saw us together, or he was told we’ve been hanging out together. In fact, I don’t know what to think. All I know is the only reason he could have acted so unforgivably is if he thought I was cheating on him. He actually called me a liar and a cheat, if I recollect correctly.”
“I still don’t think that’s an excuse for battery. Why do you think he saw us together?”
“He mentioned going to see his co-worker and that the guy told him something unbelievable. I asked him what the guy told me and he said I shouldn’t act dumb, that I knew exactly what he was talking about. That was when he started shouting and calling me names.”
“Amazing. Then he just started hitting you? Just like that?”
“I guess he was angry I acted dumb. That could be what triggered him. The funniest thing is he had never shown any violent tendencies. I’m as amazed as you are at this turnabout.”
“It just gets more curios by the second. I can’t believe he could treat a woman he professes to love like this.”
“Don’t rub it in, please. It hurts too much.”
“I’m sorry. Have you been to the hospital?”
“No and I’m not planning to go.”
“What? Why not?”
“They are just surface wounds Fredrick. They look a lot worse than they feel.”
“Women!” he rolled his eyes, sounding exasperated. “Anyway, I’m sorry my advent into your life made it possible for your guy to treat you this callously. I’m truly sorry.”
“Forget about it. You’re not responsible for his actions.”
“I really feel responsible though. What do you propose we do?”
“I think it’s high time we tell him our news. It won’t do for him to go on thinking the worst about me. Though, I would never go back to him even if he comes crawling, I owe it to him and to myself to come clean about our association.”
“Are you sure he is ready to hear all these?”
Ugochi looked him in the eye. “The question is are you sure you’re ready to tell him about you? Are you ready to be vulnerable with him? Are you ready to tell him you’re his twin?”
Fredrick looked at Ugochi curiously. “The truth is I don’t know.”
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