Her red heels tapped quietly on the tiled floor as she clips over the pavement that led straight to the abandoned wooden bungalow. A soft sigh escaped her nostril. Adjusting her face cap, she looked down on the paved road, which was almost cracking. Nothing changed after all, besides the road were flowers, blooming in their season.
“Not so long” she whispered to herself, her gaze rested on the dusty glass door. Memories came flooding in, the sound of their giggles, hers and her twin brother whenever they ran across the garden, their mother following after shouting “Darlings, be careful”.
Priscilla shut her eyes, as beautiful as these memories were, she wanted it to stop.
“Face your Fear” she heard her father’s loud voice, and she turned in the direction of the voice. There, he stood in his grey t-shirt, his hands tucked into the pockets. Though his voice was tensed, she felt love.
“Dad” she screamed, running to him for a hug
“My baby, the spiders won’t do you any hurt. I’m always here” he smiled.
“But-” she replied staring long and hard at him, wishing he would see her fears and not compel her.
He bent down to cup her chin in his hand “Remember, God has not given you the spirit of fear, but power. You are to dominate over this little creature”
“Okay…” She mumbled taking tiny steps towards the spider silently calling the name her mother once told her to call on when afraid. ‘Jesus, Jesus’. Her chest pumped with fear
The first tear dropped down her eyes after the hours of travelling back home. This was her reality, one she hasn’t found the courage to embrace. She looked far away from the other side of the garden, the water hose was still on the grass, just like she remembered.
Covering her face with her sweaty palm, she bent down to cry.
Was she ever going to heal?
It had been 15 years, yet the memory felt fresh as she stood in front of the glass door.
Go back, you aren’t expected here. A voice whispered aggressively.
“Yes, you are right.” She answered sobbing.
“Hello…” a soft voice called, this time she felt someone was actually behind her. Priscilla turned her back, to the sound of the voice. Standing in front of her was…
A face she never forgot, smiling as always to her.
“Are you not Priscilla Nigel?” Her soft voice questioned, she saw worry, concern, and yet love as she last remembered in her penetrative gaze.
Priscilla sniffed, replying to her with a nod. “Come, my daughter” the middle-aged woman replied.
Mustering up strength, she rose to follow her.
The woman drew her closer in a side hug, leading her to the house across the street. Her free hand patting her lightly on the shoulder as they walked down. She walked into the kitchen to get her water. Her little but careful step across the stairs made Priscilla smile.
Whenever her parents weren’t at home, Mary, her mother’s best friend in the neighbourhood accommodated them. She remembered the delicacies she served them whenever they came visiting.
Mary walked down the stairs holding a tray in her hand, Priscilla rose to assist.”Don’t worry” she said as her foot landed on the red but woolly rug.
“I am glad you have ceased crying. Are you better now?” She placed the tray on one of the mini stools in the room.
Priscilla nodded.”That’s a relief. How about a warm soup, one of your favorite?” She asked watching her take a sip from the water. “I’m okay” Priscilla responded with a weak smile.
“Thank God” Mary replied, resting her back on the big sofa.
Holy Spirit, thank you for allowing me to step out in obedience. Thank you for bringing Priscilla back home. You have heard my prayers, I believe it.
Mary turned to look at her, was the sweet girl I once know still in there? She conversed within. She could see the lies, she knew Priscilla wasn’t okay. Perhaps, she was regretting coming back to the dreaded house that once had her memories.
“Are you stopping by, or you are relocating back to the neighbourhood?” Mary began studying her expression.Priscilla turned her gaze on the creamy mug in front of her. If she told her she was relocating, Mary wouldn’t let her be. She would drag her to church often, ensures she attend the weekly prayer meetings and all.
“I am stopping by for a short while. I should be on my way soon, back to Abuja” she found her balance in the lie, hoping Mary would believe her.
“Okay,” the response came quicker than she expected. Priscilla turned to look at her, widened gaze, instantly, a smile graced her lips. Mary returned the smile, and after a momentary pause, she spoke “If you will be staying around longer than you planned, I’m always here for you, Priscilla”
“Thank you ma” she mouthed, she was grateful Mary was understanding. Although they spoke little, she felt the love from her.
“But, before you leave, why don’t you let me make you Semovita and Vegetable soup? I also have catfish pepper soul in the fridge. Let me have that warmed for you, you have come from a long journey. You shouldn’t leave on an empty stomach”
“It isn’t necessary” Priscilla replied sharply.Mary looked at her, surprised at the tone. When Priscilla noticed her visage change, she regretted her response.
Mrs Mary was the last person she wanted to hurt with her words.” I will stay for 2 days” she didn’t know what pushed her to say that, but she was glad she did for Mary jumped up excitedly.”My girl is back, let me prepare something for you. What about your luggage?”
She had not seen any luggage box with Priscilla when she stood in front of her parent’s house.
“It will be delivered to me tomorrow” she clarified. Father, what is your plan for her? She looks okay to me, but I know there is something more I haven’t noticed about her. Mary dashed into the kitchen, praying within for Priscilla.
Her phone rang for the first time in hours, Priscilla retrieved it from her side pocket frowning at the caller ID. What was the manager calling her about? The phone beeped twice, and at the third ring, she picked up unhappily.
“Hello” she sounded grumpy
“W.T.F Prissy, where have you been? The office is a mess” he cussed. Was he drinking again? She wondered.
“I told you, I was traveling back home” she replied trying to calm her nerves.
“Travel?” He exclaimed
“So, you have the guts to travel when the presentation for the fund’s approval is tomorrow. Get back to the office right now, I mean right now”.
” I am sorry, I can’t” she replied calmly clenching her fist on the sofa. Mr Kinsley should be grateful she was at Mrs Mary’s place. She had words to throw back at him, she was barely holding herself back from pouring out cuss words.
“You are what?” He screamed over the phone, she had to let the phone off her ear.
“You know what, you are fired,” Kingsley said annoyed.
She wasn’t surprised, this wasn’t the first time she heard the phrase from him
“You are fired,” he said it the time she went on a long vacation to Dubai”You are fired” another time when she had intentionally arrived office late, missing the presence of the external bodies demanding for her expertise. She knew well, the office couldn’t run without her. Every secret of Kingsley was at the palm of her hands, and she wasn’t going to allow him to dictate how to live her professional life.
“You are joking, right?” She asked, grinning alongside
After a momentary pause, she felt him calm. His breathing was normal.”Okay, when will you be back?” He asked calmly this time around. The effect of the alcohol must be wearing off.
“I went to my parent’s home. It is going to be a temporal move, for a month or two”
“A month or two?” His voice a bit raised, muscles tensed and he was unhappy at her decision.
“I feel, I need it. I can still work online from home, and by the way, don’t you worry, I already sent the excel format of the fund approval to Mr. Kenneth yesterday before coming. He sent his reply this morning”
“What? Why do you like twisting things, Priscilla? You could have told me all this, I wouldn’t have cursed at you”
“Well, we all have our ways of doing things, and you can’t expect me to be irresponsible. You know what the company means to me. And remember, I am in charge.”
“Always, you are in charge. After all, it is your dad’s law firm” he responded with a defeated tone.
“And, that’s our little secret. I have yours, you have mine. Let’s keep the ball rolling, okay?”
“Okay” Kingsley answered with a sigh. Whatever the daughter wanted to do with her father’s company, it was no concern of his, after all, he was just a figurehead. The call ended.
Soon, I will have dad’s company back. She thought within. Perhaps, her nightmare will stop, and she would be sane to lead the company if she stayed at her previous home for a month. Her therapist had advised her to come.
She was suffering from Anxiety disorder and often, partial memory loss. The cause for the trigger wasn’t known yet, her doctor had referred her to a therapist, who advised she faced her fear, maybe that would help. And here she was, mustering up the courage once again. What would she do if the bad memories of the past come rushing in?
She watched as Mrs Mary walked down the stairs, she had her smile, she wondered what the source of her joy was, her mother had the same.
Her mother. She swallowed when she felt her chest throbbing with pain. There it was, the pain she didn’t want to embrace.
Mrs Mary’s smile brought back the memory, she didn’t want to face, not yet. “My baby, I love you” a weak reply came as she slumped on the floor in cold blood. What was happening? Why was her mother, father, and twin brother in cold blood, why had she lived? Why wasn’t she killed?
Priscilla looked down at her hands, she saw blood.”No, No” she screamed out loud, tears dropping.
“Priscilla, Priscilla, are you okay?” a familiar voice called. She looked up to see Mrs Mary watching her with concern. She pushed away her hand resting on her left shoulder “I shouldn’t be here” Priscilla spoke.
She remembered it all, Mrs Mary was the reason why she didn’t die fifteen years ago with her family, the woman had called her to come to pick some mango fruits in her backyard for their family. Mrs Mary insisted she come alone, her twin brother wanted to follow her, but her mother wouldn’t let him.
If only they had both come to pick the mangoes, she wouldn’t be the only one alive. She wouldn’t feel this way. It was her fault.It is her fault, blame her. She made your parents and brother die. Leave this place at once. The voice spoke to her again. She couldn’t agree less.
Picking up her phone, she stormed out of the house.
Her therapist was wrong,
Everyone was wrong,
Even her friends were.
There was no healing for her at home. Not when she could still remember the sad event, not when Mrs. Mary still had the same smile on her face even after the years gone by.
Did she ever feel guilty? That she had let her live, and her brother die? Maybe, she had another plan. Perhaps, the meal she wanted to serve her was poisoned. Priscilla’s mind roamed on many certainties, she wasn’t wanted in this neighbourhood.
Running as far as her feet could carry her, she stopped a cab, speaking to the old taxi driver who stared at her incessantly. She didn’t care if the old man knew her nor her story.
“Take me to the airport, and don’t bother picking up any passenger along the road. Whatever your money is, I will pay” she said, the man looked happy, driving off.
Priscilla rested her head on the window above the left door. Her heart beating fast. You are going to be alone for a long time, the voice whispered again, this time she felt it real, rubbing her hands across her shoulder. She sighed in despair.
Maybe Kingsley was right, there was nothing for her at home again. Her phone buzzed, unlocking it, she saw Mrs Mary’s text message. “I am praying for you, Priscilla, and I will be glad if you can come home whenever you are ready. I have a lot to tell you
“Was she going, to tell the truth? She didn’t care, she wasn’t coming back, not in months nor years.