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BN Prose: Freedom by Ethan Regal

Ethan Regal

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{Click here to read the preceding part of this story}

“What does she mean?” I ask. “Who did a good job?” He’s standing still, like a statute, staring blankly at the bed. “Can you hear me?” I place my hand on his shoulder.

“Can’t you see them?” he says with a shaky voice, there’s a hint of anger.

I furrow my brows at him. “See who?”

He looks my way with a creased forehead. “You can’t see them?”

“The dead can’t see the living, remember?”

“I can see them,” he says. He points at the bed. I can hear her panting. Goaded beyond endurance, he launches forward, swinging his fist through the air. Just standing by the bed and punching nothing.

“What’s wrong with you?” I yell.

“My wife,” he says. Grief crawls up his throat, choking him. Tears fill his brown eyes. His chest keeps rising. His hands are shaking. “My wife is having sex with another man.”

Quickly, I place my hand over my mouth. The words “Oh gosh” escape my lips.

How come he can see them? Death is torture. Perhaps this is happening to hurt him. Hell is designed in whichever way that makes us suffer. This is probably why almost everyone here is crazy. Who knows what they’ve seen or heard?

“Let’s leave,” I say. “Staying here, watching them. It won’t do you any good.” If he stays here any longer he could go mad. I could lose him.

“Where do we go?”

“Anywhere.”

For hours and hours, we roam the streets, in search of serenity which we knew never existed. Silence follows our steps. What do you say to a man who just watched his wife having sex? Nothing.

“Ayo,” he calls softly. “How did you die?”

I narrowed my eyes at him. Would that make him forget what he saw? They say misery loves company but is this it?

“Freedom is a myth, you know? Poverty is our reality,” I say to him. “We’re always lacking. For many years what I lacked was money. Growing up, we had TV at home. All that box ever does is show you that there’s a better life out there, it brings it so close to you, you can feel it but you can never grab it. I wanted the luxurious life, just like everyone.

“My parents couldn’t afford my education, I had other siblings, two older brothers. They focused on my brothers because they thought my brothers would get a career and rescue us from the evil clutch of poverty. My brothers, sorry to say but they had no ambition. I was the real talent in the family. I spent many years watching soap operas and films, admiring women in amazing dresses. My dream was to become a fashion designer and make glamorous dresses affordable. So poor girls like me can look and feel beautiful.

“Whenever I shared my dreams with my mother she’d laugh at me. Or give me a condescending grin. Sometimes she was blunt about it, she’d say that it is best I find a rich man to save us. My mother often invited me to owambe to find a catch. It was my mother’s goal to set my hopes and dreams below my feet.

“I was eighteen when I first met Nonso. I was visiting my brother in UniLag when he accosted me. He was funny. Just from a glance you could tell Nonso was rich. Even the blind could probably tell from the scent of his fragrance. I was hesitant at first. He seemed like one of those men who thought money could buy anyone. But when I got to know him I realized he was the perfect gentleman. He saw me for who I was. He saw my flaws and yet he loved me. He saw my dreams and potential.

“The moment I married Nonso that smile he wore whenever he looked at me disappeared. Those sweet names he called me never left his lips again. As soon as we got into his house he said to me, ‘You will never leave this house.’ He informed his guards to watch over me. I asked him about my fashion degree which he’d promised me and he replied, ‘What degree?’ He laughed. Nonso threw his head back and laughed like I just uttered the funniest joke ever. He laughed so hard he coughed. Then he exhaled loudly and said to me, ‘I make the money, not you.’ In Disney stories, the princess is locked in a castle and saved by her prince, right? In my life, I met my so-called prince and was trapped in a castle.

“He bought expensive dresses and shoes for me to wear whenever we had guests. I wore real diamonds, platinum accessories just to say hello to visitors. Just to wave goodbye at them, I had golden bracelets. If I told anyone that I hated my life they would never have understood. Not only did I have shelter but I lived in a lavishly furnished mansion. Not only did I have food but I had a talented chef and servants. I was imprisoned in a beautiful hell.

“Most nights I swaddled under silk sheets and struggled to sleep with the loud moan muffling through the wall. Nonso often slept with the maids in the room next to ours. We never had sex because Nonso didn’t want me to have a child. He hated condoms so he slept with the maids because they were willing to have an abortion.

“It was ok for him to cheat but it wasn’t ok for me to stare at a guard or servant for longer than thirty seconds. A few guards and servants had been rendered unemployed because I stared at them or because I called their names ‘seductively.’

“Whenever we were alone in the room, Nonso would smack my face with the back of his hand and say, ‘Don’t you know you’re a married woman?’ He would punch and kick me until I was curled up into a ball on the ground begging him to stop.

“For a week or more, Nonso would tell his guests that I went to see my family or I went for a shopping trip in New York or Paris or Milan or Tokyo and these people would nod their heads and say, ‘Lucky woman.’ No one knew I was locked in a room so they won’t see my swollen lips or eyes or forehead. The world mustn’t know about the bruises on my skin or my broken bones.

“The only great thing about my marriage was that the needs of my family were fulfilled. He ensured that they lived comfortably and never bothered him. Eventually, Nonso took things too far. One night he was livid and pushed me down the stairs. Fright clouded his brown eyes as he scampered down the steps, frantically bellowing, “No, no, no.” Although he would go scot-free after committing murder, at least I was free. Rigorously, he shook me in his arms, begging me not to die. His eyes squeezed shut with tears leaking, rolling down his cheeks and dropping on my skin. He shouted my name, over and over. And each call grew faint as time passed me by.”

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Sdeva

Ethan Regal is currently a fashion designer. While studying Economics with Politics at the University of Buckingham, he learnt that humans develop better when they exchange memories and ideas, this fueled his passion for writing. His works have been published by World City Stories, Fiction on the Web and more.

12 Comments

  1. ify

    November 17, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    Amazing read, wheeewhh will come back , the guy is a beast

  2. dunni

    November 17, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    @writer, I see what you did there!!! Smart one I guess. You took into account the comments on the last article where someone pointed out that he shouldn’t have seen his wife sleeping with a man, since you already stated earlier that they can’t see and be seen.
    Good one!!!!

  3. Josh

    November 17, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    Cool. Was not as ineresting as the first part buh cool nonetheless…

  4. Joy

    November 17, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    First isssssssssssssssssssssssssssssshhh! lovely writing. i held my breath while reading, that doesn’t happen often for me. so kudos Ethan BTW your profile picture is so cute.. ok i digress, Can he still be seeing his wife cos he s not truly dead. maybe a coma?

    Truth be told there are some women in Ayo’s shoes living among us. Locked up in their palatial mansions, sad and looking to be free.

    NIce read bro.. we look forward to other parts…

  5. Oyaga

    November 17, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    First time a post other than “Isio Knows Better” will thrill me. Guuuuuyyyyyy! This is good, i must say. I like to read about the “other side” and how both worlds can criss-cross invisibly.
    I also see what you did with the guy being able to see his wife and the narrative you spun behind that… Brilliant!
    Keep it coming. Make it more regular, you know… so people have it scheduled to always come and check.
    Well done!!

  6. Dee

    November 18, 2015 at 7:35 am

    Well put together, but Ayo’s story struck me as a little lazy- you have to give proper context for Nonso’s action- bullies and abusers always have a context for their actions. You don’t just marry a woman, then lock her up and beat her and not have sex with her cos you don’t want her to get pregnant. It was too one-sided. Maybe its all this westernization sef, but it might have helped if Nonso were gay, so he just married her to save face in society.
    Anyways bye and goodluck

  7. Ethan Regal

    November 18, 2015 at 10:53 am

    This short story has a word count, there’s so much that goes into a story but when there’s a limit you can’t tell all that’s behind it. Also, it’s not necessary for Nonso to be gay, it’s not even compulsory that his story must be revealed, there are various things that make people abusive, and I’ve realized that some people are abusive without reason. Some people just want to feel powerful and do reckless things. I, myself, I’m a victim of domestic abuse, I’ve shared my personal story on my blog. I know women who have suffered in the hands of men, one has been shot by her husband and she still stayed in that marriage for a while, I know one whose husband didn’t want a child and she had numerous abortions. We live in a society where there’s a lot of shaming. Some spend years in loveless marriages because they don’t want to be that woman who her husband left because even if she’s the one who left her husband the story will always be “Her husband left her”. There are several stories of men who are attracted to a woman because of certain things and then they have this woman and they start to make her feel ashamed of those qualities that attracted them. It’s really strange. There’s a lot behind this story, what some women go through, how people with money get away with crimes, who women should be encouraged to follow their dreams and not necessarily rely on finding a man first, how nothing is ever as pretty as they seem, and more. Thank you.

    • molarah

      November 18, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      I see what you are saying in response to Dee’s comment, but let’s be factual, there’s ALWAYS a second side of the story when it comes to abuse. We are falling into the ‘danger of a single story’ trap when we insist they don’t. Most of the narrative these days on abuse seems to focus on the victim, but I think its important for storytellers to remember that the abusers are humans as well and also have a side to the story. It’s kinda like the way terrorist attacks are viewed: spectators are all over the people affected, we say ‘Pray for Paris’ not ‘Pray for ISIS’, but ISIS members are human beings too? The example I share is from the perspective of story telling, which tends to have an amoral view to issues, so I’m not justifying terrorism here. Writers usually don’t like to show any leanings towards any moral views when they write about so they don’t sound too preachy, so why change the voice when it comes to domestic violence issues? Anyways, since you say there’s a word count, let’s leave it as it is.

  8. Ethan Regal

    November 18, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    I get what you mean, I’ve done that with some stories on my blog, I’ve written a lot about serial killers, I’ve also written about a guy who murdered his best friend and tried to tell himself he did the right thing. I’ve read a lot of Chuck Palahniuk and Bret Easton Elliot. I admire messed up characters. I have a novel I’m trying to publish about a man who was kidnapped by his gay lover who was abusive and you learn to even love the abusive guy, you get the the stockholm syndrome as you read. I get what you mean here, but like I said, when it’s a short story you have word count, You can’t focus on everything due to word limitation. I studied psychology, I know that some people become abusive from being victims of abuse growing up, also due to mental health issues, and so on. My main focus in the story was what I shared which is domestic abuse and so on. Thank you.

  9. Ethan

    November 18, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    ethanregal.blogspot.com.ng/2012/07/kill-kill-kill.html?m=1

  10. mzphunby

    November 22, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    Hi Ethan, m a regular but silent reader of BN. Ur story is beautiful, checked out ur blog n ur fb page (m nt stalking you) m jes curious. R d stories real or fiction?

  11. lola

    November 26, 2015 at 3:49 am

    Interesting read. However, I think you rushed the end part a little bit. Hopefully there is another part. Well done.

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