She feels herself rising into consciousness from the restless sleep she has had. Getting up as stealthily as she can manage she glances at the digital clock on the side of their bed – 4.31am. The time was right. She grabs her phone and makes sure there’s no light from it that can rouse him. Taking one step at a time, she reminds herself that she has to do this. A lot is riding on this so she takes another step towards the door and slowly opens it, praying that the tiny creak that sounded would not give her away. She pauses until she is sure she can still hear his snores which convinces her that he is still asleep. Then she closes the door, walks into the sitting room and picks up all the broken glass and furniture in her path. Each piece she picks brings memories of the night before. The screams still resound in her head. She is careful so she does not prick her finger against the sharp pieces. She is not cleaning up for him but for the safety of her children.
Before she slept off the night before- a sleep she did not know when she fell into, and one she was grateful for, because it made the pain she made up her mind. He would not be awake for the next three hours. Enough time to get away. She quietly goes into other room and it hurts her to realise Chika is awake. She can tell that the poor girl has not had any sleep. Who knows what must have been going through her head, especially with the screaming the night before. As Chika tries to touch the bruise on her mother’s face, Nnenna hugs her daughter, wakes Nonso and then she carries baby while leading the way for Chika and Nonso to move along as they leave the room, leave the house, get into the car and hopefully refer to this life as the past.
She finds hope in the darkness as she makes her way down the street and onto the highway. She gets to a ditch but does not slow down. There is no time for that. Osondu might wake up and realise they are not in the house and set out to find them. She gets to the traffic light just as it turns red, yet she does not stop.She keeps moving on, wondering why she never did this a long time ago.
“How did I make it through these years?“
It was not an easy decision to come to. There were children to think of. She looks at them through the rear view mirror and sees baby is comfortably asleep. He has no idea what has been happening. Nonso is holding onto Chika as he drifts off. Nnenna wonders how they would ever make it through this living nightmare. But the mind is an amazing thing. All Chika thinks about is how mommy is never going to go through all that again; and all Nonso dreams about is how he would get new toys and live with Mommy and Chika and baby in another town.
Nnenna smiles as she cannot believe she had finally made this move and gotten away from him. She would be a good mother to her children. She would find a cheap hotel and lodge for a week or so. She would get a job and take good care of them. She would buy them everything they wanted. She probably would not get married again, In fact she would not get married again. Why did she even ever marry Osondu? Why again did she ever wait this long before making this decision and being this happy? She had thought of all these earlier, there were children to consider.
She thinks about the children at the backseat, watches Chika smile as she falls asleep, watches Nonso wake up with a smile while saying, ‘Mommy I’m hungry’. She remembers baby would soon be awake and she would have to get milk, and go grocery shopping because the hotel they would get to lodge in would not offer more than two beds and a coffee machine. She remembers even the cheap hotel would require a deposit before they would be allowed in. ‘Nonso dear, you would eat soon, just sleep a little more’, she says as she makes a U-turn. She knows she has to go home.
(Inspired by Savage Garden)
Photo Credit: unitedwaysingleparent.wordpress.com
Amarachi Alisiobi is a geologist by profession, a writer by interest and a co-deejay by association.