ONE NIGHT STAND
I woke with a start. It didn’t help me though. The images are still etched in my memory like they were fire branded to my brain and my riotous sweating; the effect of the consequent heat. Lifting my weight to get off the bed, the creak the bed makes sends chills down my spine. The confluence of fear and confusion I am experiencing prompts me to speed-walk into the kitchen without looking back at the creaking bed. I get myself a glass of water and lean against the table counter. I let a puff of air escape through my lips and I blame the visible mist drifting away on the harmattan and the air conditioning. It is a panorama in this head of mine; image upon image flashing, winding, convoluting behind my eyes.
Sparkly dress, lit candles, crystal clear champagne, Henry’s arms around… Henry?! Why is my sister’s husband in my head? With his arms around… Around what? I try to remember; try to rewind the slide show but all I did was buffer new pictures. Henry starring in each one of them: featuring his eyes, his smile and his hands. At this moment, I know I am in big trouble. What did I do? What would my sister say? I remember her eyes behind my I-phone screen. Face-time with a foreign number. The cry of the baby in her arms felt like a bomb detonated in my head. I am glad my memories now have audio but now my head is killing me. I recognise the feeling; I am hung over. We both were, Henry and I. I remember our hearty cheers to his promotion, glass after glass after glass. I remember us staggering out of the cab and into the house, landing on the floor. I remember how it felt as I landed atop him; the feeling of impending danger and tension so thick I could punch through it. I thought of my sister; she was in America to have the baby but instead of instilling fear in me all it did was awaken me to the awareness that she was thousands of miles away. I squeezed my eyes shut to keep from remembering what happened next but against my will the slide show went on. I see myself lowering my lips to meet his, I remember everything that followed. In an extreme state of panic I broke into a run, back to the room I came from. As I make my way across the house I hope and pray that I was the only host on the creaking bed. This is all a dream; just an exaggerated form of fantasy. I refuse to believe that I did it; I didn’t mean to do it. My sister will kill me!
As much as the baby in my arms makes my heart tingle, I know the tingling I’m experiencing right now is not because of her. I can’t believe I made my way back to Lagos under a split second of thought. What if Henry didn’t get the promotion? Would the emergency flight back home have been for nothing? I hope not, at least the piercing eyes and the rosy cheeks of his baby would cheer him up. I swallow countless times as the cab driver pulls up at the gate of our house; swallowing in an attempt to drown the butterflies in my belly. How am I so nervous? I’m just staging a surprise! I pay the driver wordlessly and walk through the driveway and into the house. I look at the ornamental clock in the living room and it is 5:15am. I can’t wait to get this surprise over with and head straight to bed with Henry’s arms around me. My sister Vivian would just have to watch the baby. I walk into Vivian’s room to hand her the baby and tell her that our bags are still on the drive-way but the room is empty. Where could she possibly be so early on a Saturday morning? The butterflies in my stomach were reversed as I could now feel the caterpillars crawling around the pit of my stomach. With every fibre of my being telling me not to, I walked towards the Master bedroom. The light is on. Why is the light on? Henry never sleeps with the light on. I was hyperventilating already so I decided to go to the nursery and set the baby down. I looked at her face and she was so peaceful, unaware of the chaos that was brewing. I walked back to the door of our bedroom, bracing myself for the worst that could possibly happen. With trembling hands I turn the door knob and enter. No amount of bracing would have prepared me for the sight I am beholding. Unclothed bodies intertwined in the sheets. Arms that promised to hold me till death do us part around the ingrate that I raised with my blood and sweat. It felt so natural to them. All 6 weeks i was gone, the agony alone in the labour room, the countless facetimes with these hypocrites and this was what they were up to all these while? The anger was boiling inside of me. Pure, unadulterated rage. My legs began to move on their own accord and I found myself opening the desk drawer and reaching for my husband’s gun. Thank God for the home invasion last year, he had bought the gun to protect us. By Us, was he perhaps referring to the harlot beside him as well? Have they been up to it since last year? I should have known better. I know she had always been jealous of me, I know of her nymphomaniac tendencies but I thought she left that behind in her university years. I remember how I had seen her with Collins while she knew he was asking me out. A cauldron of emotions began boiling up inside of me. I can’t believe I let the wench live for 3 years with me and my husband. My husband: the insufferable brother-in-law. All the rides he gave her to work, not interfering in our sisterly quabbles, asking her to run errands for him, their late night football arguments; it all made sense now. How foolish I had been. I cocked the gun and aimed. On second thought, it wasn’t as gratifying. I wanted to see their faces as they realised that i was no longer in the dark. I wanted to hear them beg and plead; because I didn’t deserve this at all. I didn’t deserve to be married to an idiot who could not tell my sister apart from me. I took hold of my wedding ring and hurled it at the floor. The clang the ring made seemed to draw my sister’s attention and she began to stir. I panicked. I put off the lights and made for the nursery. It was a miracle that I could find the nursery, what with the hot tears that burned my eyes. Flowing down like rivers of aching waters. The sight of my daughter made me all the more livid. I heard footsteps running back to the Master’s bedroom. With brazen resolve, I followed. They were going to pay for this. Very very dearly.
I rush into the room and my foot stumps on something circular, colder than even the tiles. I put on the lights and look at it. It is a golden wedding band. There’s a stirring on the bed and I close my eyes as if to stop the sheets from moving. I hope whoever is stirring would be anyone but Henry; even our gateman, I don’t mind. I open my eyes and I see Henry staring at me in a very confused manner. His eyes slowly begin to widen as his confusion morphs into terror at the realisation of what we had done. I had to give him credit; he was faster than I was. The terror on his face however cannot compare to the one on mine when I look at his left hand and find that his wedding band is still on it. I raise the wedding band to his line of sight and his eyes almost pop out of his head. The cry of a baby in another room startles us both; like choreography our eyes drift to the doorway. There stands my sister, his wife, with her mascara stained face, bloodshot eyes and most importantly, gun in hand.
Henry swallows hard and speaks up in a fear-ridden high pitched tone “Oluchi, wait I can explai…”
The gun shot is deafening. The migraine that ruptured my head is enough to drive me mad; the amplified cry of the baby isn’t helping either. There is nothing I could do with my head thumping and my feet frozen solid from panic so I stand looking at the gun in her hand.
Well I was right after all; she was going to kill me.