Alternate Existence

Staring At Death

Sometimes I remember clearly. Most times I don’t. Sometimes it comes back in rapid bits and pieces so distorted that they make no sense at all.

I remember driving, we were going to Jos to visit my sister, Sandy. I remember stopping because little Rita wanted to wee-wee. I remember when Dozie took over the driving…shrill voices arguing from the back seat…laughter that stretched and became the air in the car as we giggled over Ikenna’s joke…Adaugo screaming, the car spinning out of control. Everybody screaming all at once. A voice that sounded strangely like mine yelling ‘Blood of Jesus’ over and over again. Voices that sounded reed thin, like rats squeaking in a tunnel. The overwhelming smell of blood.

Later on, I kept seeing the color white. So many people wearing whites, talking very fast. I could see their lips move but not make out any words. I saw pale blue walls that seem to stretch to no end. I heard, rather than saw movements, people coming and going. Once I thought I heard sobbing. I remember black. Lots and lots of people clad in black. Someone was holding me, sounded like my sister Sandy. I saw the ground opening its mouth in a wide encompassing yawn. I saw freshly heaped earth. I saw the end.

***

I smelt him before I saw him. He was the smell of freshly brewed coffee and omelet. I pretended I was still asleep but couldn’t hide the smile that curved its way to my lips when he kissed me. I yawned and stretched.

“Good morning Obim.” He set the food before me.

I feigned surprise. “Breakfast in bed?”

He smiled at me. “For the first time in so long we are both on leave at the same time so expect breakfast in bed, well, at least for the next two days.” He smiled again, leaning forward to place a kiss on my forehead. “I fed the kids and they are already watching cartoons.”

He sat beside me as I ate, occasionally nibbling at the bits I fed him and when I was done, he took the tray away. I had just settled back into bed when a knock sounded at the door and before I answered, the door opened and Sandy peeped in.

“You are up.” She sounded shocked. I was shocked too. Dozie didn’t mention that she was around. She shut the door softly and walked in bearing a tray.

“Yeah.” I sat up on the bed smiling. “Good morning.”

“Good morning. How are you?” She set the tray before me; moi-moi and pap.

Sandy knows I regard moi-moi and pap as an invalid’s meal and I wondered why she made it for me.

I made a face. “I already had breakfast.”

She looked surprised. Genuinely so. “You have?”

“Dozie made me breakfast in bed.”

Her eyes widened and I could hear the chatter of the glassware on the tray as her hands trembled.

“Who?”

I raised a brow. “Dozie. My husband.”

She looked stricken as she dropped the tray on the floor. “Do-Do-Dozie brought you food? And you ate?”

Her questions sounded moronic and I told her so. As she struggled with her words I took in her appearance, my usually fashionable sister looked like she had suddenly had ten extra years thrust upon her. She had huge bags under her eyes, the corners of her lips drooped like the elastic on old pants and she was wearing a totally unflattering black gown.

Her eyes welled up and she bit down on her trembling lips. “Amaka, Dozie is dead.”

******************

I hear the sounds. The smell of blood. The overwhelming whiteness. The memories come flooding back but disappear before I can grasp them. The flirts; those memories, like thrusting a rag to block a gaping hole, I feel the sudden flow of the memories and the crushing shock when I’m suddenly left with nothing.

They say my family died in an accident a few weeks back. They say I was in the accident too. The liars.

I hear the pitter-patter of their feet, their gay giggles, Riri crying out as she played with her dolls. I hear them. I see them. I feel them; Dozie’s arms around me as we snuggled at night, his darting tongue in my mouth. I feel him inside me, that special way he moans with each thrust. His voice, filling me with a million fluttering butterflies as he whispers ‘I love you.’

My family keeps trying to convince me. They talk about the accident. They show me the injuries I sustained, injuries I don’t see. They show me obituary posters, graves; four graves. They tell me, ‘Amaka, they are gone.’  But I see them, I feel them, they are as real as you and I and all those people who keep saying ‘they are dead.’ So tell me, does it mean that we are all dead too, seeing as I see them the same way I see everyone.

 

Please don’t forget to drop your comments. Here’s wishing you a fabulous weekend.

Cheers.

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