Story: The Last Trip Down The West 16
Mary looked at the floor, feeling uncomfortable by the way her oga had looked at her. there was something in his eyes that she wasn’t comfortable with. It was not the same as the one that devil had when he looked at her, but somehow, she felt like she had to guard herself against him. As if she at that moment felt naked to his eyes, she pulled the dress around her even though it wasn’t even showing any vital part of her body in the first place. She fiddled with her own hands and wondered what she ought to say in a situation like this.
The attendant came in and looked at him, then she said…
“ well…?” it was obvious that she wanted to know what he thought of the dress before proceeding. He started back to consciousness and took one last look at the dress again before saying in a controlled voice.
“ its not bad.” The attendant smiled, she knew that she wasn’t about to get anything better from him. Even little duke sat there, looking and nodding like a drunk agama lizard. She smiled at the way he was looking at her feet. The attendant took her back inside and she changed into the other five dresses one after the other. the effects were the same. By the time they were done, he was looking at her in a wistfully funny way. When they were done, he paid for the outfits, somehow he was not grumbling anymore. On the ride back home, duke was talkative and would not stop talking about how satisfied he was about the day. Mary was still silent and she thought over the things that had plagued her mind on their way down. her mind wandered away again, and she found her way back to the little village.
The village settled into a routine of fear. The citizens knew that the season of flowing blood was not over and everyone were very conscious of their environment at all times. Mary’s night mares had grown. She would wake up screaming in the middle of the night out of nowhere. She would be awake for hours during the night, reading astrology through the broken rafters and leaking roof. She was scared stiff and as everyone waited for the rounding off deaths for that year, somehow, she began to fear that she might be the next. She hid in her room for three weeks after her step brother’s death. Every one thought she was still mourning the boy, they were partly right. But the force that kept her hidden in her room for that one was stronger sorrow. It was acute fear.
Today, she had walked to the stream for the first time in weeks to have her bath. As she got into the water, she immediately sank to the bottom of the shallow side and waited for her body to obey her. she was just about to surface and prepare to try again when she heard a crash. Something had fallen, it was the sound of the earthen ware pot that was so common in her village. There was a muffled scream and the sound of struggling. Mary came up from the water slowly and walked on wet feet to a corner of a huge rock that stood to her right. She peeped through the corner and saw what she had run from fro three weeks . a girl who was naked from the waist up was struggling with the devil. She was fighting fiercely, vibrating and trying as much as she could to move away from the reach of the knife that was making its way to her throat. Mary knew that girl, she knew her in the farms, she knew her at the stream. She knew her at the moon lit playgrounds and she knew her now in her minutes of deathly struggle.
Mary did not need to think much, the decision was made in a flash. At least, devils had hands and legs and used knives, they had to have faces. She crept as silently as she could through the shrubbery and came directly to the back of the devil. Once there, she stood a few seconds, wondering how to kill a devil, not really sure what to do, she grabbed a big stone that was within her reach and without thinking at all, she brought it down hard on the part where she assumed the devil’s head was. The cry was loud and paralyzing, but the devil went down on his knees, and the girl with him. Shocked and not knowing if she had died or not, Mary did not wait to find out as her fear finally overshadowed her bravery. She hit the ground sprinting and was out of sight before the hapless girl could detangle herself from the bulk of heavy body that had fallen on top of her.
Once they were back home, dukes chatter stopped almost immediately they stepped foot into the house. She noticed it and she wondered why this was so. Before she and duke retired to their chamber. She faced her oga and got on her knees.
“ oga, thank you for all the clothes wey you buy for me o. abeg no vex about oga duke o. na my fault. Sorry oga no vex” she said.
He looked at her and smiled. The way mary talked with such timidity and humility, he just couldn’t fathom it. He was used to women who were societal, whose very existence was bold, sophisticated and their sex appeal ravaging. He was used to women who would face any man no matter who he was and what he did, he was used to women who constantly nagged and almost never said thanks for anything, and here was a girl for who all he had done was pay for a few dresses and she was on both knees, thanking him!
How could it be that the women who really deserved these thing didn’t get them. What a shame that she was a maid, he would have liked to befriend her and at least get into her head. At least that would help him know what it was that she seem to always be thinking about.
“ Mary… please get up, duke is your benefactor not me.” He smiled
“ yes … Mary, get up…”
The both looked around and fumbi stood by the door. The minute the oga saw her, he looked instantly to the place where duke had been standing, but the boy was gone. It was Fumbi, the lady friend from the other day. She looked like some sort of magazine model with her face looking like it had been specially sculpted and painted by some really good artist.
“ fumbi…” oga started to say but she cut him short
save it bolaji, this is the reason why you decided to cancel our date? Are you okay? Who do you think you are to set a date and then cancel?” she was saying. Recognizing the face of trouble, Mary scampered away to the room.
Fumbi and Oga”s voices could be heard starting to rise. She was obviously in the mood for a fight but he Was trying all his best to calm her down. All through he ruckus, Duke sat by a corner and pulled his legs up to his chest and rested his chin on his knees. Mary knew that posture, she had seen it before, hell! She had pulled herself into that position before. She watched him for a while, resisting the urge to pull him into her arms. But then he started to close his eyes and bite his lower lips,m she knew she had to act fast or there would be no sleep for anyone in that house. She lifted him out of the bed and into her lap, then she held his tense body in her arms and rocked back and forth. Repeating the process over and over again in a bid to calm him.
Surprisingly, the repeated movements calmed him down he rested in her arms and sucked at his thumb. She bloomed as him as he slowly drifted off to sleep and didn’t know when the tears came to her eyes and spilled over. She breathed and swallowed her tears as she held him close. Still consumed with the effects of seeing duo unlike that, she was starting to doze off when there came a knock on the door.
Story by Nancy Olakunle
To be continued soon…