“There was a time when the sun used to shine,” he said, chin tipped skyward; the struggling straggles of hair that line his chin kiss the missing horizon.
“There was a time when we threw our curtains open and invited her rays to bathe our homes. We were warm then. Even when it was cold, we still felt warm.” He pulled me from my side of our battered sofa and held my hands in both of his.
I wish you’d left me in the dark. I wish you’d kept the thick layers of wool wrapped tightly around my head, leaving only slits for me to breathe. It’s not as though I didn’t know. We both know how sweet denial can be – thick, sickly, and comforting. I knew.
I’d caught a whiff of the dark lies rolled with the white ones – perfectly kneaded and skillfully served. I noted the shifty look – that thing your eyes do when your mask slips out of place. I never missed the involuntary tremor whenever your heart broke into a sweat when the call was too close for comfort. I’m seasoned at the game; and after years of hiding, I read the neon signs you fought so hard to gun down. But I chose to ignore them because it’s better for my fragile heart.
Ignorance may not be an excuse, but it sure can be bliss sometimes. I reveled in it; drank from the well until I was blinded by it. Out of sight threw it way past the back of my mind, but today… today you ripped off the wool and shone the truth in my face with such intensity that my blindness is now of another sort.
I’m hurting for you. Hurting to see you hurt yourself with the very hands I once held to seek strength. You’re sinking claws into your skin and bleeding rebellion when we both know you know better; can do better; can be better. We can all be better, but you smile – a bright crescent etched from eye to eye, draped in sadness. I see it beyond reason as there’s nothing to doubt. What is there to deny when each side of my face has been slapped with confirmation.
I’m trying not to cry. Holding the fort on the periphery of my dam that threatens to drown me with grief. I’m holding it back because I refuse to be overcome, overtaken, or overruled. I hold it back although you insist on touching the fire to see if it’s hot¹. I’ll keep my tears at bay even as you feel the burn but choose to hold on as though the heat will subside. This time I won’t cry. I won’t.
This was a freewrite where I had to write a piece in five minutes using five of the following ten words: enemy, magenta, bark, tile, thirty, grate, leave, mint, fly, shift. – LY.
“Owolabi! Owolabi!” Farida tightened her grip on the handful of material already scrunched in her fist. “Do you even know what your name means? Do you know how valuable your title is? Ehn? Do you?” The head above the collar she was close to strangling shook with each syllable as she barked the words.
“After all the struggling. All the work I do, this is what you leave me with, ehn? This is my reward after thirty years? This is my reward. Lord, God, help me. Help me with this man.”
She thrust her husband away from her and slumped into the mint green sofa that had more lumps than comfortable.
“The devil is a liar. My enemy. And I shall rebuke him from this house. I cannot allow him to stay in this house!”
She was back on her feet now, pacing the eight steps from one end of the living room to the other, her leg bumping into the scratched centre table. Owolabi shifted in the spot he’d been planted in, rubbing the red rings around his neck.
“Temitope…” He fumbled for the words. Anything that would make her stop shouting and still his hands from shaking. “Temi…” A whisper of her Yoruba name was all he could muster as he crumbled in fear of what she might throw at him this time.
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