Excerpt From Episode 3:
Chioma sat gingerly on the bed and stared at the red light of her Blackberry phone that was blinking. She picked it up distractedly till she saw it was a text message from David. She sat upright as she shakily opened the message and read
“Hey Chi, miss me? I got my eyes on you babe.” Read Episode 3: CLICK HERE
Chioma dropped the phone as if it was a piece of hot coal that had just burnt her. Her mother hurried to her believing it was part of the grief that was making her act that way. Mrs. Ugochukwu tried to embrace her daughter but Chioma rebuffed her.
“I need to be alone mother, I need to think. I need to let all this sink in. Please mother I would appreciate if I can be left alone right now.”
“We need to be strong my dear, I know you are hurting. Let me help you, Matthew’s death is equally as painful to me as well.” There were tears rolling down Mrs. Ugochukwu’s cheeks as she pleaded with her daughter who was now holding her temple like someone suffering from a headache.
“Mother please I will be fine. I just need some time alone. I will see you later in the day.”
Mrs. Ugochukwu sighed resignedly and left the room reluctantly muttering something about being around should she be needed.
Chioma dropped to the floor and sobbed silently as she read the text over and over again. It was like every time she read it, a flood gate of tears was opened and she would resume her crying and mutter “I’m finished.”
Her mother might think she was grieving for Matthew but receiving a text from a man she thought she had killed upset her more than the grief for a dead boyfriend. What she felt now was a fear of the unknown.
“Is he really alive?” she asked the empty room. She began pacing around the room, fighting the urge to lash at or break something instead consoling herself by wringing her hands together. She felt tempted to call the number while also resisting the pressing urge to confide in her mother.
Chioma remained locked up in her room although Mrs. Ugochukwu made sure to check on her at intervals. At around midday, she came running to the room with an excited animation on her face as she said quickly,
“Chi, it’s David, I just got a call from a hospital. Someone tried to kill him!”
“Did they say who?” Chioma asked with an intake of breath.
“Who what?” Her mother asked distractedly but didn’t wait for a response as she was already on her way out of the room and saying something about having to visit immediately.
Chioma sat on the edge of the bed and soaked in the silence of the house even as she heard her mother’s car starting and the sound slowly fading away as her mother raced towards her survivor boyfriend.
“What exactly is going on?” Chioma whispered into the air and she sat there staring into nothingness till the hands of sleep slowly lured her into sleep.
She had a fitful dream about David. He was hiding in the shadows of her room, it seemed as though she was there but wasn’t. She tried to say something but couldn’t and then Matthew came into the picture as well with a broad smile. She was about to hug Matthew in relief when David pulled out a knife and stepped out from the shadows. She tried to scream and warn Matthew but no sound came out and the knife was just inches away from Matthew’s unsuspecting back when she was jerked awake. She stared groggily at her best friend Maryam.
Chioma had known Maryam since they moved to Lagos and although Maryam was Yoruba and from a Muslim family, she was the first person she had hit it off with when she and her mother made to the move to Edmund Crescent. Their friendship was not approved of by Maryam’s conservative parents who didn’t like the idea of their daughter being friends with an Ibo girl. While Maryam’s father’s was tribalistic and seemed to bear a grudge against Igbo people, her mother was sanctimonious and had the belief Mrs. Ugochukwu being a single mother would have a bad influence on Maryam. This was despite Maryam’s explanations that Mrs. Ugochukwu was not a single mother but a widow and that she was a really nice woman with good morals.
“I have been calling you for like ever,” Maryam said with annoyance on her face.
Whatever it was she was saying was lost on Chioma who still had her mind on the dream. “Matthew is dead,” Chioma blurted, cutting Maryam shut.
Maryam gasped in shock and looked at Chioma to see if she was joking. When she found no trace of humour on her face, she asked, “What happened? When? How? What killed him?”
This was all the prompting Chioma needed for all the things she had been bottling inside to come pouring out and she began to tell her best friend all that was going on. Maryam listened without saying a word, a surprising thing for someone who usually talked nineteen to the dozen.
“Let’s go to the hospital,” Maryam suggested when Chioma was done talking.
Chioma looked at her as if she had gone mad but Maryam smiled and explained, “It is better you know what you are dealing with than living in this fear of the unknown.”
Chioma didn’t say anything as she quickly threw on a black Jean trouser and a white blouse. She tied a black scarf to avoid worrying about her hair while covering her eyes with dark sunglasses. His Healing Hands Hospital wasn’t too far away from Edmund Crescent so the girls decided to walk rather than take a bus. The hospital was a private one and when they explained that they were relatives to the patient who had been brought in last night with knife wounds, the receptionist directed them to the Accident Block, telling them he was in Ward 128. It was a big ward and there were many beds covered with hospital curtains, separating one patient from the other. After checking about two rows, they found who they were looking for. There were tubes and bandages and a machine that seemed to be helping him breathe. Chioma took in a deep breath as she stared at the man that had tried to rape her and a feeling of repulsion ripped through her. So she had turned him to this?
“You decided to come Chioma, I see you’re becoming more matured.” Mrs. Ugochukwu’s voice cut through her train of thoughts and she looked up to see her mother approaching with a tray of snacks and a drink. Mrs. Ugochukwu exchanged greetings with Maryam before checking to see that David was alright and nothing was out of place.
“Yes I came.” Chioma replied dryly, trying not to let her disgust show.
“But people are wicked, why would they do this to him? He is an easy going person and does not fight. The people that did this must be brought to justice.” Mrs Ugochukwu was saying as she took a sip of her Fanta and bit into a doughnut.
Maryam and Chioma exchanged looks and Maryam was about to say something when David’s hands moved feebly on the bed. Mrs. Ugochukwu’s eagles eyes caught the movement and she was out of her seat in a flash.
“He is awake!” She was by his side quickly with Maryam also moving closer, only Chioma took a step back. “What is it dear, what are you saying? Chioma…Chioma is here too,” Mrs. Ugochukwu turned around and beckoned, “come here Chioma, David is asking for you.”
Twenty is co-written by Akinwale Poshkid Akinyoade
Read Episode 5: CLICK HERE
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