As the water slowly heats up, I smile at the image in the mirror. God really took his time creating me. At 33, I have the most amazing life every young lady wants and every little girl aspired for. There are few of us who do not have to wake up worried about how they look or how much balance they have in their accounts. And what’s more? A supportive husband to complement all that; who said you can’t have it all? I grin and check out my rear with a wink before I get into the bathtub.
“It’s going to be a beautiful evening,” I mutter to myself as I get dressed, taking a momentary pause just to stare into oblivion and enjoy the moment. Tobi and I will be celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary with an exquisite dinner in the finest restaurant in town. He already called to say he was on his way from work.
“Guess who’s coming to dinnaaah… Carolinah!” Tobi sings happily in mock patois as he enters the room and spins me around. Looking tired but sharp as always, I always wonder how his blazer manages to remain tailored throughout the day.
“Stop!” I giggle heartily as he pulls me into a deep kiss. “I didn’t hear you come in.” I smile and hand him my necklace.
“What can I say? Some of us know how to make an entrance,” he brags as he places the necklace around my neck, spins me around and plants another long, soft kiss on my lips, leaving me nearly out of breath.
Tobi and I head out to Kitchen Royalé, and leave it to my husband to be completely romantic. He rented out the entire restaurant just for us. Candles light up the beautiful space as a live band serenades us with beautiful symphonies.
Towards the end of the dinner, Tobi looks deep into my eyes as if searching for my soul, probing my very essence like he sees me for the first time. “You, Caroline, have brought me so much happiness. I hope this joy never fades,” he says.
“For as long as I live, Tobi. You will be my light.”
I break off, fighting tears. Tobi might relate it to tears of joy. But I know it is far from that. Feelings of shame wash over me, sending chills down my spine with every realization of the secret I have to carry. Sitting across me, is a man who has shown me what it means to be loved. The kind of man every woman prays for her husband to be.
“Please, let’s go home baby.” I put on the most seductive look my acting prowess can afford me.
“Hmm. I see someone cannot wait to get all dirty, ” Tobi teases as he pulls out of the chair behind him and helps me get out of mine. His hands are all over me as the chauffeur takes us back home.
“Why don’t you head upstairs and I’ll be with you in a second?” Tobi says as he walks toward the kitchen. I head straight for our bed and bury my face between the sheets, trying to shake off the guilt. I’m going to focus on my marriage to the most amazing man, I promise myself. I turn around and open my eyes to find Tobi standing over me with a kitchen knife.
“What are you doing?” I ask as my body tenses.
“What? Watermelons. I hear they help to aid digestion,” he replies. My eyes drift to his other hand holding a bowl of watermelons. “I didn’t think you’d be drifting off to sleep so quickly,” he adds
“I’m not sleeping. I’m just … resting my head a little.” I look at his face as I sit up. There’s something different in the way he’s looking at me.
“…so, why?” he continues
“Huh? Why what? ”
“I loved you with all of me, Caroline. Why did you do it?”
I have seen Tobi yell at very rare moments, but not like this. He is not the same person I just had dinner with. His face is blood red. He raises the knife with so much vigor that I shut my eyes tight in fear.
“Please Tobi, I can explain.”
“Then start explaining! Look me in the eye and tell me where I went wrong. Open your eyes, goddammit!” He begins to shake me violently.
Slowly, I open my eyes, and sitting beside me is Tobi, holding a tray and smiling down at me.
“Baby, you’ve been dreaming again. You quickly fell asleep when we got back last night, it’s dawn already. You’ll be late for your interview.” He sets the tray down and raises a knife from the tray. It is the same knife as in my dream. I feel the hair at the back of my neck rise as chills run down my spine. The room suddenly feels smaller, sweat beads begin to form on my forehead, my mouth goes dry.
“Are you okay, baby? You should have some fruits first while Barry makes breakfast.”
Jumping out of bed, I grab my phone and run straight into the bathroom. I begin to type ferociously on my phone. I send Gbenro a text asking him to forget about me and anything we had in the past few months. I just wanted a little thrill and that was that. I turn around to find Tobi standing at the bathroom entrance, knife in hand.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! Please Tobi, I am sorry! It was never supposed to happen!”
I scream as he advances wordlessly towards me. In one swift moment, I push heavily past him and I make a dash toward the living room. But Tobi won’t back down. I hear his footsteps closely behind me as I desperately try to make my way out before he catches up. I reach the door and try to push it open, only to find it locked. Desperate, I begin to kick the door rapidly, hoping to burst it open. But it won’t budge. Knife still in hand, Tobi approaches me with an evil grin. My brain seems to have gone on overdrive, trying to devise a quick escape. Nothing. I know he has me cornered now. There will be no escape. I have erred and this is my punishment. It is what I deserve. I shut my eyes and slowly accept my fate as I feel my own blood flow freely.
Her hair was looking disheveled as she stood on the pavement outside, her eyes completely dry. She could easily fool the onlooker to think she did not feel the pain of what had just happened, hide the thousand knives thawing at her from inside. She almost saw it coming too, after everything that had happened. She stood transfixed behind the yellow tape around her daughter’s front yard as a tall dark officer walked toward her.
“Mrs. Ololade, would you like to see her now?”
She recognized his voice, he was the same person who called her asking if she was Caroline’s mum. She knew exactly what had happened the moment she received that call.
“You might want to see her now before we take her away,” the young man reiterated.
But she heard him the first time. She just was not ready. She was not ready to put her girl’s face to the body in the bag she was seeing from afar, was not ready for her Caroline to be gone. Getting the message, the officer decided to proceed with a few questions of his.
“So we received a call from someone called Titus, claiming to have found the body of his boss while doing his routine cleanup in the house. He hadn’t been around for two days and he came back to find your daughter Caroline, dead in her living room.” the dark skinned officer said. “Her body was already decomposing and way past rigor mortis. It appears she has been dead for two days.”
“We found a CCTV footage. But I must warn you, it’s quite graphic. Would you like to see it ma’am?”
Mrs Ololade nodded slowly, as she followed the officer into the building.
The footage showed Caroline running towards her living room door holding a knife, and from the movement of her lips and flailing gestures, they could make out what she might have been saying.
“I’m sorry…” She banged on the door for a while before she proceeded to stab herself multiple times in the stomach.
“That should have been her wedding anniversary” she blurted, speaking to him for the first time without turning to look at him.
“I’m sorry ma’am. What?”
“24th of August, 2018, would have made it six years she was married to Tobi, her ex-husband” she said.
“My baby had suffered bipolar disorder from when she was a child. But she was so strong. She fought it like a hero and never let it hinder her dreams. However, she started acting really weird after the divorce about six months ago. I suspected she had started doing drugs, but I wasn’t sure. We’ve all been worried. I should have insisted she got help. You know, now that I think of it, she must have stopped her medications too”
“I’m really sorry ma’am.”
“I didn’t think it was this bad.”
Mrs. Ololade broke off, unable to fight the tears anymore, as they flowed freely down her cheeks.