SILENT CRIES - Episode 9

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - all the emotions that had been locked up inside, Water splashed all over the light blue fabric sofa, financial insecurity, taken a bullet to the heart, Cupid must sure be having a very good laugh, Vodka wasn’t really her thing, bank manager to put her job, First vodka and coke, now strawberry daiquiri.

Ijeoma stood up, “Sister, you have to hear what happened...”

That was the trigger; it was enough for her to lose it and for all the emotions that had been locked up inside her to burst forth like a broken dam. She threw the mug she was holding against the back of the settee.

Ijeoma cringed as it bounced and then fell to the ground. Water splashed all over the light blue fabric sofa and the matching floor tiles as the cup rolled to a stop.

“Hear what?!” Ngozi tried not to scream, to keep her voice low for Obi’s sake.

“When he doesn’t want to see me? I have cried every night for the past three years! I fought off his family who wanted to declare him dead! I held our son at night watching to make sure he’s still breathing! And James is not here. He’s alive, not decaying in a grave, he can walk and he can speak, so why isn’t he here? Ijeoma why isn’t he here? He left us, he left me….” She let herself crumble to the floor as the sobs filled her throat. 

When Ngozi looked up, tears had started to run down Ijeoma's face. She hated seeing her sister like that, broken. She was supposed to be the older one. Ijeoma crossed the distance between them, sat down and wrapped her arms around her.

“I have to see him Ijeoma, I have to see him.” Ngozi mumbled into her shoulder.

“You will, we’ll find him” Ijeoma said firmly.

 After she left, Ngozi watched as Obi slept, noting the rhythmic rise and fall of his small chest. She remembered the scare when those doctors had told her to prepare for the worst, when she thought that her world was coming to an end. If she had lost Obi, she would have had nothing left to live for. Luckily they passed through it. Obi slept now his face creased into the deep frown that signalled he was in deep sleep. These days he insisted on sleeping only in his pyjama bottoms and though he had been asleep for just a few hours, his small bed looked like a riot scene with his tiny frame sprawled diagonally across the bed. 

As she wandered into the kitchen to fix herself a cup of tea, she tried not to blame James but it was hard, especially having had to bear this burden of worrying about their child alone. After James had disappeared, their friends had been supportive, offering words of comfort and prayers but after a year the tune had started to change.

No one could explain why he abandoned his wife and child leaving them in such financial insecurity. They said he was dead and advised her to remarry while she was still young, while Obi could learn to accept another man as a father. She had refused and slowly one by one the friends grew tired and began to keep away. 

Ijeoma and her mother helped out as much as they could but she couldn’t depend on them solely, so she had fallen back on one of her hobbies and turned it into a lucrative career. She worked from home as a baker, and on her own terms so she could keep an eye on Obi. It had been hard when Obi had constantly asked after his father and she had told him the same thing each time, “Daddy travelled”. But now that he had stopped asking, how was she going to tell him the truth. What would she even tell him? Where was James?
If there was anything worse than shit, that was what Ijeoma felt like as she drove back home that fateful Monday night. It was almost eleven and she was still out. And tomorrow was another work day. At least her car had been repaired. She tried not to think of the incident with James and then Ngozi, and remembered she had wrapped the day up by “cooking beans”, a banker’s slang that meant she and thus the bank had not been able to balance their books for the day.

She prayed she wouldn’t lose her job for that.  Just as she was wondering what else could possibly happen, her phone buzzed and began to ring. Instantly she knew it was him. It was Nnamdi again. She hadn’t realized how much she had been waiting for his call until it actually came while she was with James earlier. She couldn’t take it then and had switched off the phone while with Ngoo but now she would.

She immediately parked by the side of the road and started rummaging through the junk she had dumped on the passenger seat for her phone. 

Damn”, she thought, it was now when she really wanted to pick a call that the phone would be under the pile. By the time she found the phone the call had ended, she read the text and decided to pay him a visit. She sent off a text to Tochi and then Bola as back-up of where she was going. It took half an hour before she got there. As she parked her car outside, she noticed a car that looked somewhat familiar but she didn’t pay it much attention. Just as she was getting to the door it suddenly opened; and out came…

“Bola?” Ijeoma couldn't believe her eyes.

“Oh, hi Ijeoma how you doing?” replied Bola with a smile on her face. 

“Wha…what are you doing here?” asked Ijeoma.

“I just came to pay Nnamdi a visit. You nko?” 

Nnamdi came out with a jacket in his hand “Bola, your…” The words were stopped in their tracks by the sight before him.

“Thanks darling.” Bola collected the jacket with a smile and walked away. Nnamdi walked closer to his new visitor.

“Ijeoma…” She stood there in his driveway like she had just taken a bullet to the heart. 

“Is that all she forgot?” There was so much shock in her voice.

“Ijeoma I can explain…”

“There’s really nothing to explain,” she scratched the back of her neck. “I guess I’ll just be on my way, goodbye.”  She turned away quickly to hide the tear that was making its way down her cheeks. 

“But you came here for something…”

“It doesn’t matter anymore!”

“No, wait. Ijeoma, it’s not what you think. Nothing happened I swear it.” 

“Funny, I don’t remember saying anything.” She ran the final steps to her car. To think that she had thought to ask his help for her sister's problem. She had been so excited to read his text, but it was all a sham.

“SHIT!” shouted Nnamdi as he punched his palm and let out a string of curses.  Cupid must sure be having a very good laugh with himself playing these silly games. He wished he had never opened that door, damn he so wished he had never opened that door.
Bola drove away smiling but she had not smiled over her glass of vodka at SWE Bar that night. Vodka wasn’t really her thing, but the way her life was going these days, a daiquiri didn't cut it.

When everyone had gone from work earlier that day, Adaku had called her to say that her name was on the list of those to be fired soon. Ijeoma was to have been laid off due to lack of experience but Ayo had exchanged their names.

Imagine! She tossed back her drink and gestured the bartender for another. Look at that ‘miss-goody-two-shoes’, the small girl has scattered my life.  Bola remembered the party last Friday and it pierced her heart. First Ayo and then Nnamdi fawning over that small girl! Both men could have been hers. She had slept with Ayo a few times soon after getting her job but he’d dumped her for Adaku. She had got her own back when he married someone else. And it helped that Adaku was on her side. But now for the bank manager to put her job on the line for Ijeoma. 

“Damn!” Bola tossed back another drink. Then Nnamdi. They had met at Cubes Lounge and he’d been paying her some good attention. They’d talked, they'd danced, they'd laughed. And then he’d asked about Ijeoma. From then, he was no longer looking into her eyes, no longer flirting, no longer touching her hips, no longer needing her. And why? Always Ijeoma, ‘Miss-oh-look-at-me, I’m- all-innocent, I-don’t-know-why-men-run-after-me.’ The bartender shoved the drink into her hand and walked away.

First vodka and coke, now strawberry daiquiri. She’d asked for a vodka! Bola hissed and wished she could throw the glass at his thick head, but knowing Lagos clubs, she’d hit someone else and the end wouldn’t be pretty.

Bola hissed again and walked to the opposite end of the bar. “Vodka.”

“What would you like that mixed with ma’am?” That bartender replied.

“Just give me vodka joor!”

She’d been about to gulp it down when her phone buzzed with a new text message. It was her nemesis, Ijeoma.

I’m on my way to Nnamdi’s place just in case. Call me in thirty minutes. Bola shook in shock and horror.

“Oh, no.” She gulped her vodka and stormed out. “You’ve taken over my work, everything that’s good, but you won’t go scot free.”

She knew Nnamdi’s address, had asked that first night. She was closer and would get there first.  “Danladi, I won’t need you tonight.”

“Eh, Madam.”

Bola hissed, slow people irritated her and this old man was painfully slow. “Go home Ladi, I’ll drive myself.”
She got there fast and pressed the doorbell. She heard a crash followed by a curse and there he was. “Hi, may I come in?” she said.

“Sure, come on in.” Bola chuckled knowingly. Her blue camisole always did that. She dropped her jacket and sat down uninvited. “I know I should have called first, but...”

“It’s no problem.” He cut her off.

“Are you okay? You seem aloof.” He was still standing.

“I’m good. How may I help you?”

“Would you like something to drink.” Bola smiled, “A glass of you would be nice.”

“Excuse me?” Nnamdi jumped a foot as though burnt.

“See, I don’t usually do things like this but I really like you and...” Bola got up and placed her hands on his chest. “...I find you attractive and I...”  She kissed him slow at first, tasting, savouring and then hot, passionate like he was her sustenance to life.  The alcohol fuelled her ardour till there was no possible way to turn back.

She played the imaginary encounter, conversation and well, the aftermath until it seemed to materialize itself before her. In her mind, he deliciously responded in kind. She could feel his muscles tense as he made intense love to her.

“Blood of Jesus!” He shoved her so hard she toppled over the futon.

“Ouch! Hey...”

“I’m sorry Bola. But what are you doing? You know I like your friend. I don’t want this. I want Ijeoma.”

It wasn’t like her thoughts. There was no Ijeoma in her thoughts. Bola shook in pure rage.

“Ha!” she spat. “Ijeoma? You want Ijeoma, don’t you? Ha!” She exhaled in pure anger.

“I’m sorry. Bola, I really-”

“Shut up! You’re not sorry, not as sorry as you will be when I walk out that door!”

“Now Bola, I don’t understand-”

“I said, shut up! You want to be with Ijeoma huh? Ask her about the bank manager.”

“Bola what is wrong with you?!”

“Aw, baby, I love you too.” She hissed and stormed out. 

Now she smiled as she recalled the expression on Ijeoma's face. Served her right!
                                           CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 8
Written by:
Ikpo Henry Chigozirim

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SILENT CRIES - Episode 9
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - all the emotions that had been locked up inside, Water splashed all over the light blue fabric sofa, financial insecurity, taken a bullet to the heart, Cupid must sure be having a very good laugh, Vodka wasn’t really her thing, bank manager to put her job, First vodka and coke, now strawberry daiquiri. An African Literary Blog
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