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Sleeping With Yesterday (Episode 15)

Posted by on September 14, 2016.

Sleeping With Yesterday

Helen turns the key and the car coughs into life. She is about to bring her right hand back to the steering when she catches a smell, a faint one. Her nose hangs in the air for a second. Then she brings her right hand closer to her nose.

It is now that she perceives it fully. She turns to Nnafuka. “Did you touch a disinfectant?”

Nnafuka looks at her, fear growing at the back of her eyes.

“No… I didn’t.” She pauses, her gaze flat against the windscreen. “What about it?”

Helen hesitates, her mind running through something, a possibility. Then she says to Nnafuka, “Nothing.”

“Please let us get home.”

Helen does not say more. She turns to the side mirror, pulling the vehicle out of the parking space, out of the hospital and on the way back to Bida.

As she drives, the radio blaring away in the car, her mind swerves to the event at the hospital. She recalls seeing a form of liquid on Funmilayo’s son’s shirt, directly below the splatter of blood that had come from his mouth. She recalls the smell that had hit her nose as Funmilayo ran past her with him. It was this same smell, that of a disinfectant. She begins to ruminate on what must have kept Nnafuka away from the counseling session for a whole fifteen minutes. In her mind she thinks, ‘If it was grief, then she wouldn’t have come back with a smile on her face.’ At this point an oncoming truck zooms past them, the wind it carried slightly causing their vehicle to rock. It is the impatient honking of the truck that chases her mind from its maze and brings it back to the moment.

She turns to Nnafuka. Nnafuka is already asleep, her head tilted to the door, the wind spreading her hair on her face. Helen takes a look at her handbag on her laps. The handbag is ajar. From where she is seated she can see something that looks like a label. The two letters she makes out are F and E together. She takes another look at Nnafuka and continues driving.

A part of her urges her to look into Nnafuka’s handbag to see what she has in there. Another part of her accuses her of not trusting her friend well enough. She adds the fact that Nnafuka is going through a tough time at this moment and as such does not need such emotional burden as questioning her. Yet, her doubt persists like a stubborn fly, hovering above her, perching on her face until she says, almost out loud, “Okay.” She makes up her mind on what to do.

The first place she gets the chance she allows the vehicle run into a pothole. The sheer force of that makes Nnafuka’s head touch the top of the car, jerking her from sleep. She rubs her head and looks at Helen.

“Sorry,” she says. “Abacha and his cohorts will not pay attention to roads. All they know is to throw people in prison with flimsy accusations.”

Helen makes this statement as an avenue to draw Nnafuka into a conversation with her. She desperately needs a way to throw in the question.

“Please be careful, Helen. I’m having a headache.”

“I’m sorry, Nnafuka.” Helen keeps quiet, watches Nnafuka touch her hair as though she is repacking it. Before she knows it these words come from her mouth: “Talking about attention. Is the toilet in the maternity ward being taken care of properly?”

Nnafuka is confused by this question. She looks at Helen for some time. Helen keeps a smile on and adds, “In this country it is hard for people to pay attention to what they are supposed to pay attention to.”

“Yes. The toilet is okay.” What Nnafuka has now on her face is suspicion. She has known Helen for many years and is well aware of when this friend of hers is trying to pry a lock open with her tongue. “I am hungry,” she adds as a way of barricading something she holds inside. To know if the distraction she is trying to create is working, she turns to the driver’s seat only to see that Helen’s eyes keep darting from the handbag on her laps to the road, from the handbag to the road. Nnafuka throws her eyes on the handbag on her laps to see that it is wide open. The car running into that pothole must have thrown it caused it, must have exposed a bottle in there that has boldly written on it: DISINFECTANT. FOR EXTERNAL USE ONLY.

She casts her glance on Helen as Helen steps on the brakes and asks, “What have you done?”

To Be Continue

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2 Responses

  1. Wow av missed dis story ooooo

    by tolani on Sep 15, 2016 at 6:46 am

  2. Ghen ghen…..hope she won’t kill helen oh

    by Emitheo on Oct 3, 2016 at 10:25 pm

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