A Partridge In A Pear Tree

I stand at the window, sipping my cup of coffee while staring out at the tree. It is a guava tree, one of my favourites. The harmattan fog is just starting to fade as the sun slowly washes the sky pink and orange. The crickets are still chirping, even as the birds begin their own call. I cannot tell from inside the house where I’m standing but I know the grass will be wet with dew. It’s quiet, apart from the sounds of nature and the hum of household equipment. The faint sound of the fairy lights which I’d strung around the house playing “We wish you a Merry Christmas” harmonized by the quiet hum of the fridge, which is interrupted by the ding of the microwave as the timer goes off. I step away from the window and turn it off, leaving the moimoi I was warming up inside. I look at the guava tree again. It’s not a particularly large tree, but I love it because of what it represents and its fruit too.

He had planted it for me when we’d first gotten married. I smiled at the memory; that was not something I could do before. He’d promised ‘a partridge in a pear tree’ after one of his favourite Christmas rhymes but I’d wanted guava instead.

My smile fades as I remember that rhyme playing on the radio that year, echoing in my head; as he’d kicked me in the ribs repeatedly. I hug myself, feeling a phantom pain where the very real one used to be.

Five gold rings…

There had never been a pattern to it. The senseless violence. I never could say what would trigger it. He could eat hot jollof rice today and tell me he loved it and then give me a vicious backhand when next I served it. We lived alone in the bungalow, he never allowed me have guests and he never allowed help. I did all the cooking and cleaning. I shiver as I remember the day he told me he had the house soundproofed. He’d hit me so hard, I’d fallen and broken a few pieces of furniture; and my arm. My screams had gone unheard as he leaned over me and said quietly

“Scream all you want. They can’t hear you. This house? Soundproof. Now nobody can know our business”

I have never forgotten the look in his eyes as he leaned over me and stated matter-of-factly that he was going to kill me bury my body under the guavas.

I looked down at my broken body and swore on my sister’s grave that that would not happen. He was the one buried under the guavas now. Everyone still thinks he’s missing, but I know exactly where he is. I smile and finish my coffee as the fairy lights continue to play Christmas carols.

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