The Girl With Fire In Her Hands

Chapter 4

Ìbínú kì í pẹ́ sọ ilé olówó rẹ̀ dahoro.

Anger hardly takes long to render its bearer’s home desolate. [Uncontrolled temper can be self-destructive.]

Of course, she protested, saying I didn’t have to go to school that Monday but I wanted to. I just needed to distract myself. I didn’t want to admit to myself that anything had happened. Staying at home was an admission that something was wrong.

It was like I was letting him win. And I would rather die.

Nani came home that morning and there was an argument with a lot of shouting and words flying about. But there was one that caught my ear as I pressed it against their door.

Dahomey.

What was that? I had never heard it before but somehow, somewhere deep inside me, the word resonated. It was like a key to a door that didn’t exist.

My mother straightened her pants suit as she came out of the room. I had quickly gone to the living room and was pretending to be watching TV.

“Momo, let’s go,” she said, her voice a mere whisper. It was ragged, almost worn out. I could tell that with all this happening, she was struggling to keep herself together.

For me.

I nodded and followed her into the car and she just sat there, staring at the steering wheel, her eyes watering but not once did she allow the tears to fall. They were held prisoners, and she kept them there.

“Mọ́remi, I’m trying.” She said quietly, not turning to me. “I’m trying.”

“I know,” I said, rubbing her back.

She furiously hugged me then, as if trying to protect me from the world, or maybe, the world from me.

I hadn’t told her about what I did, how I had hurt him, but she helped bandage my scraped knuckles, not allowing a word slip as she did so.

But somehow, I could feel that she knew. Something had happened that night, something indescribable.

She started the car then and drove me off to school. As she dropped me, she said she’d pick me up. I didn’t protest.

School life passed like a blur. Mr Anisan, though, kept on strangely stealing glances at me. He’d pause in the middle of explaining something and just use his eyes to bore into my soul. I hated it and buried myself in my seat.

I saw Mr Chinedu in the school, walking to his office and he stared at me like a scared cat.

I noted his broken nose.

After school, I waited outside in plain sight for my mother but I felt odd, like something was wrong. I waited for almost three hours but she still didn’t show and it was getting dark so I took a deep breath and walked home.

Luckily, there was no one on the street at the time, which was weird. It was like all the sellers and hawkers on the road had gone home.

I just kept on walking with my head down and as I got home and was about to slip my house key into the lock. I paused.

My house had this smell that clung about it.

Cigarettes and ash.

But now it was different.

It was cigarettes and ash and… blood.

I barged in and my eyes widened as I saw the whole house in ruins. The chairs were broken and turned over like there was a struggle. I saw a long line of blood coming from the room directly opposite my mothers’ and I rushed to it.

The red door was slightly opened, the one I had never passed through and I pushed through it, my mouth wide open as I saw what was inside.

Weapons, a whole assortment of them. There were thin daggers and guns with delicate handles with engravings that shone even in the dim light of the room. The same engravings the hooded figure had all those nights ago.

The swords, bows and arrows were all littered on the floor. It was like weapons had been hurriedly pulled off their places among the shelves. There was a dark red desk on the far-left corner in the room with one of the engraved daggers stabbed into it. I walked carefully to it and I saw that the knife had been used to hurriedly scrawl something on the table.

It eerily read, SHED.

And I ran out of the house immediately with a small bag filled with some weapons, my feet leaping off the ground as I ran to the only place they could be.

The school.

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