A time to heal (6)

Mide’s Abor with Olamide Longe

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Continued from last week

When the silence lengthened, Maria stood up and cleared the table. She took the used dishes to the sink and stored the leftovers in the refrigerator. When she returned to the living room after she’d washed the dishes, her mother had moved to the sofa. She looked besieged. Maria went to sit by her side.

“What are you thinking, ma?” she asked carefully, thinking that perhaps she should not have told her what had actually transpired that day.

“Many things.” Her mother sighed. “But you are here now and you must visit her.”

Maria raised her brows. “Of course, I will visit her. That’s the reason I am here.”

Her mother nodded in approval. “I feared that you would change your mind. Forgiving is hard sometimes, but it is something we must get used to.”

“I have no intention of changing my mind.” She let out a loud yawn and rested her head against the backrest.

Her mum looked at her. “Maybe you should lie down for a while. I’ll wake you when your dad comes.”

Maria gladly accepted. She needed to be alone with her thoughts. When she got to her room, rather than lie down, she began to put her things in the wardrobe. Tucked protectively between her clothes was the picture frame that held Enoch’s photograph. She put it face down on the bed and finished putting her things away. Then she picked up her phone and stretched out on the bed. She called Emmanuel to tell him she’d arrived. He was effusive with his thanks. She told him not to tell his people that she was around. He didn’t like it, but she couldn’t be bothered. She told him he’d succeeded in getting her to come and he should be happy with that.

She ended the call and picked up the photo frame. She’d been unable to pack it away again at home and had decided to bring it with her. Enoch was here. And if she would be true to herself, she’d come more for him than for Elizabeth. She gazed at his face. She needed to heal on many fronts. She put it face down again by her side and closed her eyes.

The next time she opened them, it was very dark in the room. She didn’t feel disoriented. She knew where she was and she felt an inexplicable joy. She felt for her phone. Her hand brushed the frame; she pushed it out of the way. She found the phone. It was almost midnight. Her mother must have changed her mind about waking her. She was certain her father would have checked on her while she was sleeping. He used to do that when she was young. Whenever she fell asleep before he came home, he’d come and check on her. And not only her, her brother too. She longed to know his true feelings about her coming, but that would have to wait until morning. She closed her eyes. She had a difficult task ahead of her. She might as well catch some sleep while she could.

Her father engulfed her in a tight embrace when she greeted him in the morning and kept on repeating that he was happy that she had come home. She had to remind him that the visit was for only two weeks. He then clarified that he was happy that she had come to settle with her friend. He was sorry that it happened the way it did, but he was glad that she had proven to be a true friend in spite of everything.

After breakfast, her parents offered to go with her to Elizabeth’s house, but she declined.

She got out of the taxi she’d hired at the gate of the house. She introduced herself to the gateman and told him the purpose of her visit. She wasn’t surprised to see that he wasn’t the one that used to be there. That one was already old back then and was just some random person. This one wore an outfit that bore the insignia of a private security firm. She was however, surprised when he told her to go right in. She’d expected that he would call the house and announce her arrival, thereby ruining her plan to catch them unawares.

She thanked him profusely.

Suddenly her feet felt heavy. She forced herself to take the steps that would lead her to the front door. The place had changed little, or maybe she was too overwrought to notice. She pressed the doorbell. She used to just open the door and go in, shouting for Elizabeth. While she waited, she caught a reflection of herself in a window. She was glad she’d taken time with her looks. Nothing excessive, but she’d taken her time.

She heard the sound of footsteps, took a deep breath, and said a quick prayer for strength.

It was a woman who opened the door. Obviously a maid.

They exchanged greetings and Maria told her who she was and that she’d come to see Mrs. Oche.

The maid invited her into the sitting room and asked her to sit down while she informed her boss.

Maria sat and kept her eyes on her feet. She refused to look around and observe the faces on the wall. She brought out her phone instead and began to fidget with it. Then she heard footsteps, this time it seemed someone was running. She stood up quickly as someone entered the room and was unable to move any further.

It was Elizabeth. She stopped.

Her mother was not far behind. She however, did not stop. She brushed by Elizabeth and hurried forward to draw Maria into a tight embrace.

Continues next week.