“There’s nothing to tell, Kems.” He said. “She’s a client.”
“Oh, really?” I seethed. “I’ve known you for eight years, Mo. You don’t think I can tell when you’re…”
I paused. I wasn’t sure what exactly I was about to say. In all our years of marriage I’d had no cause to distrust my husband. I certainly didn’t want to start now.
I was willing to give him the benefit of doubt. I just needed to hear the truth.
“Or what, Kems?” He prompted.
“Just…forget it. I can’t do this tonight.” I slid out of the car and marched towards the house.
I was drained emotionally. And suddenly, I missed Shirley so much. She’d always been a bright spot in my life; and at times like this when Mo and I had fights, she was one person who could cheer me up.
I headed upstairs and peeled my clothes off my body. It hurt to think I’d planned this night out perfectly. Dinner, then a little cozying-up together with Mo. Well, all that had been busted now.
All I wanted to do was sleep and forget the stupid incident that had taken place at the restaurant. There was something odd about that Ruby girl that I couldn’t shake off, though.
Her veiled comments, her flirtatious laughter. Something was off about her.
I was still awake thinking about Shirley when Mo came in. I lay still, pretending to be asleep. I didn’t want to talk to him just yet.
I was such a coward.
Kemi had presented the perfect opportunity for me to come clean but I had balked at the idea. Frankly, I was tired of the lies and secrets. I had never really kept anything from Kemi in all our years of marriage and it bothered me to know that I could do so comfortably now.
Pastor B. had advised me to tell Kemi the truth and I’d told him I would think about it.
But I knew I had to make a decision soon. After all, I hadn’t really done anything wrong. It could be explained away. I could make Kemi see reason with me…she was a reasonable woman.
Even as I told myself that I didn’t believe it. What woman would be reasonable about her husband getting entangled with another woman, in whatsoever form?
As I climbed into bed beside her, I was overwhelmed with heart-wrenching guilt. She didn’t deserve this.
I heard her light breathing and wanted to pull her into my arms and tell her I was not the man she thought I was.
I’d seen it in her eyes; heard the implications in her words. She was beginning to doubt me…
“Kemi.” I called softly.
Maybe she was indeed asleep. I thought.
Everything was going to be okay by morning, I told myself. At least she’d be calm then.
But then I might not have the courage to tell her the truth about where exactly I’d been when our daughter lay dying in the hospital.
I turned to the other side of the bed and let my thoughts drift to my daughter.
It was happening again; the dream.
Suddenly I was back to that day over two months ago. Only this time I knew what was going to happen…I knew that by the time I wake up, my daughter will still be dead.
That didn’t stop me from dreaming…
It had begun like every normal day, with Mo dropping Shirley off at school on his way to work and I doing some shopping. Our pantry was almost empty and I needed to get new clothes for Shirley.
She’d only just complained that her dresses were getting too short for her.
“Mummy, this dress doesn’t fit me anymore.” She’d whined as I got her ready for school. “We need to go shopping and this time I wanna go with you.”
“We’ll see about that young lady.” I said, nonchalantly, I’d come to know that my daughter loved shopping.
“No. Make me a promise, Mummy. You’ll take me to the mall after school, right?” Her voice managed to sound authoritative and whiny at the same time.
I smiled as I brushed her hair.
“Deal.” I said. “Now, go and have breakfast. We don’t want daddy to be late for work.”
“Mummy.” She squinted at me. “You won’t go shopping without me, will you?”
“Baby doll. You don’t trust me? I’m your Mama, remember?”
She bestowed me with a cute, dimpled smile; then leaned forward and kissed my cheek.
“What are my two ladies planning?” Mo asked, sneaking into the room.
“Mummy promised to take me shopping today!” She announced, flying into her father’s arms.
Yes; that morning had been normal enough for us. No sort of warning that the inevitable was about to happen. I keep wondering if God had given me some kind of sign and I’d ignored it.
Maybe, I shouldn’t have let Shirley go to school that day…at least she’d have missed that car.
For the rest of the day everything had gone smoothly; I’d done my chores, done some online shopping for myself, read some books…made lunch and finally, it was time to pick Shirley up.
I’ve heard some mothers say the joys of motherhood last for only a while, and then you get frustrated with it.
I found that quite hard to believe, because from the moment I’d set eyes on Shirley…I’d fallen in love with her.
Every moment I spent with her was worth cherishing…moments when she threw tantrums to moments when she was her adorable self. I cherished every one of them.
That afternoon, I parked across her school as usual and strangely I found her waiting at the curb. She waved to me excitedly as I got down from the car and I waved back.
Although I was pleased to see her; I’d warned her severally to remain in the school premises until I come pick her up. Obviously she’d disobeyed – my naughty strong-willed daughter.
I’d just alighted from the car and was about to cross the road, when it came out of nowhere.
I’d never forget the car as long as I live. It was a grey sedan. I stepped back instinctively as the car sped forward, bewildered at the driver’s careless driving; it wasn’t until I heard the thud that I knew something was wrong.
It had happened in a split second.
Apparently, Shirley had been crossing the road at the same moment I had, the difference was that I’d stepped back but my daughter hadn’t been as fast.
One minute she was waving at me, the next she was on the floor in the middle of the road.
A dislocated, tangled mass of flesh.
And then I woke up…