He Said, She Said
“Reno would never do such a thing! Never! Mary is lying and God will punish her!”
I don’t care for Peace’s high-pitched voice screaming at me or her words conveyed in anger. I don’t care that my friends are split over the issue and the guys are giving me this look like I have just committed murder. I have done nothing but give Reno what he deserves. The doctor says he’s fine. I was not stupid enough to kill him; I only wanted him to feel pain.
“I will never forgive you, Jideofor! You or Mary! Never!”
I continue to act like Peace is an insect buzzing in some desert where no one exists. We are all settled in the waiting room of the hospital. My friends are here for Reno; I’m here for Mary. I am told she is still with Tola.
“Ah! Mary, you’re the devil!” Peace tempers on. “Mary that I took into my house when she was having accommodation issues?! Mary that I regard as my own sister?!”
Everyone is quiet, even the nurses at their station. They have tried to calm her but she is bent on raving like a mad woman. Let her carry on. I don’t give a damn. If this incident tears our circle apart, fine and good but I will not have any regrets over what I have done. In fact, if Reno steps out of that emergency room and he utters any word that pisses me off, I will continue where I left off.
“Jide, make we yarn.”
I look up to see Bobby standing over me. I get to my feet. As we head outside, Bright, Ibro and Shady join us.
“Did he really do it?” Bobby questions when we step out to the parking lot of the hospital.
“Don’t ask me that type of question, Bobby. No vex me dis evening.”
“Abeg, calm down,” he scolds. “We’re not saying Mary is lying. We just want to know the details.”
“I’ve known Reno for like twenty-six or so years, Bobby. He and Shady and I grew up together. We are like brothers. All of you know how tight we are, so does it make sense that I would just get up like that and accuse him blindly if I didn’t have proof?”
“What is your proof?” Shady chops my eyes with his. For the sake of our friendship, I relate almost word for word, what Mary shared with me. When I’m done, Ibro and Bobby think they may have reason to believe Mary, owing to Reno’s brazen sexual indiscretions. Shady, on the other hand is even more incensed now that he’s heard the story.
“Why didn’t you ask him his version before you went for his nuts?” he questions me.
“So that he’ll tell me it was consensual?”
“What if it was?”
“Shady, wetin dey do you? You think Mary would just cook up something this serious from nowhere? She has never lied to me. And you had to be there to see her. She won’t even let me touch or go near her. What will she gain by accusing Reno of rape?”
“She wants to ruin his marriage! What else?! She is desperate! Was she not the same person that stripped for you?!”
I cannot believe my ears. “Get off my face, abeg.”
“Guys, let’s wait for Reno to tell his own side of the story first,” Bright suggests. “Worst case scenario, it would be his word against Mary’s. But at least we would have heard both sides.”
“And then what?” I demand.
“Na wa o, Jideofor, calm down, dude.” Bobby rests a hand on me. “We’ll know what to do when the time comes.”
These guys have no idea the enormity of what just happened. This is beyond he said, she said. A woman has been violated. Whether we move past it or not, she will never be the same.
We head back in at the exact moment Mary and Tola are coming out to the waiting room. No one is on the alert, so we are unable to foresee Peace’s attack on Mary until she dashes towards her and claws her neck with her fingernails. Tola steps in too late. Mary is already bleeding from the onslaught. She holds her neck and keeps her head lowered.
“You will die in hell!” Peace screeches as Noka holds her back. “Liar! Prostitute! Ingrate! Devilish serpent!”
“Oh God, this is not happening.”
Celia holds a hanky to her eyes. Bimpe also looks distraught. As I walk towards Mary, an elderly nurse appears and requests that everyone, except relatives of patients, should leave. I ask Honey to stay behind. Peace also stays back, now having been calmed by Noka and Bimpe. I notice that the women have avoided Mary. None of them as much as utters a word to her. My heart breaks at the way things are going.
Tola leads us back to her office and commences on treating Mary while Honey and I sit back and watch. Jason Derullo is singing from a laptop on Tola’s table. The sound is somewhat soothing.
“In my SS3 I was raped by my Physics teacher,” Tola reveals as she applies antiseptic over Mary’s injury. “No one believed my story because they said I liked boys and wore my uniform shorter than everyone else’s, so they concluded that I had seduced the man and he rebuffed my advances and I decided to spoil his name. Even my own mom didn’t believe me. I was a disgrace to her; so she withdrew me from the school and sent me to a more conservative one where we were required to fast every Friday and pray every other second.”
She dumps a bloodstained cotton wool into a metal bin at her feet and reaches for clean gauze.
“I’m sorry, why am I telling you this story?” She stops for a bit and slants her head in my direction. “You should not let this pass, Jide. That beast should go to jail.”
She completes her work in silence and cleans up. The door creaks on her way out. Mary informs us that she is ready to go home. Honey invites her to sleep at ours but she declines. No one speaks in the car on the way to hers until I kill the engine just outside her apartment.
“I don’t want to report to the police.”
My fingers tighten around the wheel.
“Peace is my friend,” Mary continues. “She’s been good to me. I don’t want to do anything to hurt her.”
I inhale and release my breath quietly to put a lid on my inner hero that demands justice. I feel like a failure, not being able to convince Honey to fight for what is rightfully hers; and now, I’m going to sit and watch Reno get away with what he has done to Mary.
“I want to travel home to see my mom. I’ll be leaving tomorrow evening.”
“Mary, please don’t go.”
“No, Jide. I can’t stay here right now. Did you see the way them Celia were looking at me?”
“I wasn’t looking at you like that, Mary.” Honey turns around and stretches a hand to touch her. She shrinks away. “Jide wasn’t. Tola wasn’t. That should count.”
“No, you don’t understand, Honey. These women have been my friends for like forever. And now…” Mary slowly swivels her head left and right. She is tired. She is weak.
“Thank you, Honey. Thank you, Jide. But I don’t want this to separate you from them. I’ll travel for a while and come back when everything has cooled off.”
She opens the door and comes down from the car. I jab my forehead on the steering. Honey places a hand on my back.
“Everything will be okay,” she whispers. I doubt her words.
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
I know very little about Mary apart from the fact that she is Jide’s closest female friend and had recently expressed her feelings for him. I also know that she doesn’t really like me, evidence of this was at Emeka and Tola’s wedding where she acted as if I was non-existent. I can’t really say I like her too or even want to be friends with her but one thing I know is that for each time I looked at her last night, I saw a shattered woman. She reminded me of Saratu in our first year in school after she was raped by her cousin. The distinct similarity in both cases is the expression of shock mixed with wretchedness. It will take a while for Mary to heal; just as it took for Saratu, but that was only because Sara had a strong support system. Mary has only Jide and I.
I pick the breakfast tray before me and step out of the kitchen. I don’t know if Jide will like the scrambled eggs I have whipped up. I’m still new to this cooking thing but so far, I have learned to prepare quite a good number of meals. I wouldn’t call scrambled eggs a full meal, though. It was pretty easy to prepare and the presentation is flawless but I have gleaned that taste is what really matters. I pray Jide likes it.
I walk into his room. He is having one of those I’d-prefer-to-walk-around- my-house-nude moments. The sight of him is distracting, but I know he’s not going to be in the mood for anything right now. He’ll be off to work in the next hour.
“Have you seen my black Ralph Lauren t-shirt? The new one?”
He begins to fling clothes to the floor from his wardrobe. He is still carrying his bad mood from last night. I place the tray on the bed and stand to watch him mess up the room I have painstakingly organized. He and I need to have a talk soon. I plan to get myself an apartment far away from him. I don’t believe in shacking up with a man until marriage. I feel it undervalues a woman. You give him sex constantly, he sees you naked all the time, you part with your privacy, you provide wifely duties; and in the end, when he is tired he might just dump you. But when you live on your own, your worth and importance increases and the distance will no doubt, make the heart fonder. Apart from that, I have never moved in with a man before and I don’t intend to do so now. I love my freedom. Not long ago, a husband was all I needed but now that I’m just about to build my future, I see myself in all sides of light. However, I’m not sure Jide would like the idea of me getting my own apartment. He is already asking when I’ll move the rest of my stuff in.
“You made breakfast?”
I turn. I was actually on my way out of the room; I can’t stand his moody air. It choked me the whole of last night.
He softens in a smile. I mush up. It’s things like this that might change my mind from moving to my own place. He just knows how to get me with his smiles.
“You’re welcome. I hope I don’t poison you, though.”
He smiles again but with some distraction, as he faces his wardrobe.
“Jide, you have more than a dozen black t-shirts. Just pick another one.”
“No. I want the Polo.”
I stop to think. “This is not about the Polo, is it?”
He looks at me.
“You’re upset because you feel helpless over Mary’s case, the same way you still feel helpless over the situation with my siblings.”
He keeps on throwing things to the floor. “You’ve never been so wrong. What has a Ralph Lauren got to do with the things you just mentioned?”
“Jide, I told you things will be okay. Mary will get her justice and I’ll get mine.”
He pauses again. “You think so?”
“I know so. Bad times come but they go. Don’t let them weigh you down.”
“Okay. Still doesn’t help me find my Polo, though.”
The guy is just impossible. I go back into the kitchen for my breakfast. Because I was experimenting with making scrambled eggs earlier, I wasted a lot of fresh eggs and now all I have to eat is cereal. I don’t mind though. I throw in some of my special muesli into a big cup. I am on a fertility diet to restore my regular menstrual cycle which is yet to recover from flight mode.
I walk back to the room and see Jide gorging on his food.
He bobs his head up and down. “Really nice. Really, really nice. If you keep cooking like this, you’ll cause fight because I’ll just abandon momsi’s meals.”
I sit beside him and turn on my laptop. He starts to tutor on me on the basics of running the website he opened for my business. He’s impressed that I’m a quick learner. I get a kiss when I point out a shorter route to adding images to a post.
“So when are you moving in?” he asks unexpectedly, his lips behind a cup of coffee. I throw my eyes off.
“Nne is not going to be happy if she discovers we’re living together,” I reply.
“Nne is not your boyfriend, is she?”
“So tell me something else, not this Nne excuse.”
I can’t escape the seriousness in his eyes.
“Can I think about it, hotstuff?”
“Sure. But I hope I’m not pressuring you, though.”
I don’t know why I can’t tell him my plans. I guess I don’t want to hurt him, because he has all these other plans for us.
“Can I have Mary’s number?” I ask.
We continue eating.
“Mind I ask what for?”
I spill what has been on my mind all morning.
“Well…I approve, if that’s okay with you,” he says.
He looks at me and points out, “You remember I told you she stripped for me, right?”
“And you’re cool with that?”
“It’s not about me or you right now, Jide. She needs us.”
“And I need you.” I don’t miss the desire in his voice, and before I reply, I am wrenched by my feet and dragged towards him. He places himself between my legs and starts to kiss his way up my body. I complain that I’ve not showered; he ignores me. He weakens my resistance easily (see why I want my own place?) and I can’t stop him. I’m beginning to respond to his fondling when we’re interrupted by my phone. I don’t need to check to know it’s Jane calling. I have already assigned a special ringtone for her because of the way she has bugged me since the past day. This is the third time this morning and I’m just about fed up. I pick the phone and send her a quick SMS, informing her to text whatever it is she has to say. I dump the phone aside and continue with Jide. In-between taking him off my underwear and me biting his lower lip, I hear a notification sound alerting me that I have an SMS. I am too engrossed in my man to care abeg.
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
I hear the window on my right squeak open and a curtain sliding apart. I give a smile and wait. Not long after, the door before me opens and Mary stands, staring at me curiously. Her eyes are still swollen from last night. She has this overall sallow look on her.
“Hi Mary,” I greet.
“Can I come in? I know I should have called before coming but I suspected you would give me some excuse, so…”
She steps aside to let me in and locks the door behind us. I find she is not alone in the room; there is some chick who is glaring at me with hostile eyes.
“Hi,” I say to her and take the chair Mary has offered. I notice that the chick doesn’t reply my greeting.
“Tarela, meet Honey, Jide’s girlfriend,” Mary introduces.
“Jide’s girlfriend,” she repeats.
“Yeah. Honey, this is my friend, Tarela.”
Again, the arrogant human being doesn’t spare a greeting. I turn my eyes from her and absorb Mary’s comfy space. It is well-arranged and colorful. I notice a pair of matching pink suitcases on the floor. She had not been joking about leaving.
“Tari,” she faces her friend, “we’ll talk when I return from my trip. Right now, I have to do something important.”
Tarela doesn’t seem pleased to be dismissed. She stands up and forces on a phony smile whilst hugging Mary. After that, she breezes past me like I’m air.
Weird. And totally bitchy.
Mary locks the door after her and gives me her attention.
“Mary…” I move forward on the chair, “I know we don’t know each other very well but you are Jide’s friend and that means you are part of my life too. It means you’re my friend. And that is why I’m here to let you know that I completely stand behind you. I don’t know Reno or what he is capable of but I know that you were not lying. I saw it in your eyes yesterday and I still see it now. I can’t imagine what you went through, and if I were you, I’d probably find someplace to hide too. But Mary…you’ll only be giving him power if you leave. You will be giving your friends reason to doubt you…”
“They already doubt me.” Mary sits on her bed in a dazed manner.
“I know. I saw all that yesterday and it’s really sad.”
“You think you know someone until stuff like this happens.” She is staring blankly at the floor. “They actually think I cooked the story up.”
“And that is why I think you shouldn’t go. If you do, you’ll be giving them reason to think you’re lying.”
“I don’t care!” she lashes out. “They can think whatever! It’s not as bad as how I feel! I can’t even look at myself in the mirror! Today is Sunday and I didn’t go to church because I feel dirty!”
“You are not dirty.”
“I let it happen, Honey! I didn’t stop him, I didn’t fight, I didn’t scream! I just laid there and allowed him!”
I walk to her and put an arm around her. “Because you were in shock. It is not your fault, Mary.”
“Why did I let him in here?” she looks at me powerlessly. “Why didn’t I tell him to wait in his car?”
Her state threatens to put me in tears but I maintain my composure.
“I trusted him. I opened up to him these past two weeks about so many things. I trusted him, Honey. Why did I trust him?”
“It is not your fault, Mary.”
She doesn’t seem to believe me, so I hold her until she cries herself to weariness.
“Come and stay with us, Mary. Just until you feel stronger.”
She spaces out. “No.”
“Jide and I feel you need friends by your side. You can’t be alone.”
“I’m going to be with my mom.”
“Mary, we’re here for you.” I hold her shoulders. “Don’t run. Stay and prove your innocence. Stand and fight Reno. Don’t let him win.”
I know I sound like a hypocrite, having refused to struggle for what is rightfully mine from my siblings. Maybe I need to preach to myself as well.
“Jide is okay with me coming to stay with you guys?”
“Yes, Mary. You are most welcome.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
She neither seems elated nor soothed. I help her pack her things and together we stand outside her house and wait for a taxi.
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
“We just have to clear up everything, Jide. Reno is willing to narrate his own side of the story and he wants us all to be there.”
“Bobby, it’s past seven. Can’t we do this tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow is Monday. We’ll all be tired after work abeg.”
I massage my shoulder. I am so bushed after an annoying day at the hospital.
“So can we come over? I already called Mary and she said if the meeting doesn’t hold at yours, she’s not going anywhere.”
“Okay. You guys can come.”
Bobby dials off and I stretch out on my bed. I share with Honey the details of the conversation I just had with him.
“Well I’m curious to hear Reno’s side of the whole thing.”
“He’s going to lie,” I stress. “And they’ll believe him. Things won’t go well, I assure you.”
“Let’s just hear him out. And you, try and stay calm no matter what happens. No kicking anyone, okay?”
She leaves the room to the kitchen where Mary has been cooking. Earlier Mary had asked permission to prepare dinner, stating it was the only way to get her mind off what happened.
As I take off my clothes, I overhear both women talking. Mary appears to be tutoring Honey on the meal she is preparing. I don’t know much about the psychology of rape victims but I’m glad she is doing this and not locked somewhere, crying.
I open my wardrobe and discover that the clothes I had previously scattered are now neatly arranged. I find a gift box placed over them. When I open it, I see a note.
Here’s a new polo for all your stress. I found the other one in the laundry basket.
P.S: Girlfriend, not housemaid.
I laugh. Honey and her wahala sef.
I change into fresh clothes and lie down to read from Fifty Shades of Grey. I want to blow my brains out for even attempting to read it but I know if I don’t, Honey will be on my case. It’s not like Christian Grey can teach me anything when it comes to sex. I can do bad all by myself.
Dinner is ready some minutes later and the three of us sit at my rarely-used dining table to eat. Honey and I try to make conversation with Mary but she only answers in monosyllables. It is as if I’m looking at a different person.
“Please, excuse me.” She gets up halfway and retreats to her room. Honey’s shoulders slouch.
“It takes time, sugams. Let her be.”
“She said she doesn’t want to speak to a therapist.”
“She doesn’t have to. Just eat and stop stressing.”
Honey pushes a piece of boiled plantain through her lips.
“Thanks for the t-shirt.”
“And I got the post script too. I promise to clean my shit from now on.”
She laughs and then takes a drink of water.
“Hotstuff, who is Tarela?”
I shoot up my brows. I am about to answer her question when we hear a knock on the door. I check who it is.
Bobby and Kate walk in. I offer them seats but Bobby is interested in what’s left on my dinner plate. He goes for it, much to Kate’s disapproval.
“Kate, can I get you some?” Honey asks.
“No, thanks. I can’t keep anything down these days.”
“Ehya. Sorry. Water, maybe?”
Kate smiles and Honey goes for a glass of water from the dispenser. As Bobby and I launch into small conversation, there comes another knock. I open the door to let the trio of Noka, Celia and Shady in. Noka explains that Ibro is on his way. Moments later, Bright and Bimpe come in, followed by Reno and Peace who barely mutter a greeting to me. I find perverse pleasure seeing Reno walk in pain he is trying so hard to conceal.
Shortly, we all settle down and Mary joins us. She sits beside Honey while I pick the last available chair from the dining area. Bright, who is the oldest amongst us, decides to preside over the get-together. We do not wait for Ibro.
Bright begins by reminding us of the strong bond we share and how nothing should tear us apart. He expresses his disappointment in me for manhandling Reno. I show no remorse for what I have done.
Next, he turns to Mary and asks her to recount what really happened between her and Reno. Mary replies that she doesn’t wish to speak; I offer to speak in her stead.
“Oh, she can’t talk now,” Peace quips.
“It’s okay, darling,” Reno responds. “Let Jide talk.”
I clear my throat and retell Mary’s story, exactly as it was told to me. While I speak, I get muffled reactions, especially from Reno and Peace. When I finish, Peace claps her hands dramatically.
“Calm down, Peace,” Bright says. He looks at Mary. “Anything you wish to add?”
“Oya. Reno, over to you.”
I can see a smile in Reno’s eyes masked by a serious look. He moves in his seat.
“First of all, I want to tell Jide that if it’s not for God and my wife, you’ll be in a mortuary today.”
“You’re a bastard,” I toss back with much calm. “My craze just dey corner dey watch you. If dem born your papa well, come touch me.”
“Guys abeg, not this,” Bright begs. “Please, Reno, just talk your own. Leave Jide.”
“I did not rape Mary,” Reno states plainly. “I did not do to her anything she didn’t like.” He gives Mary a lewd stare and Shady’s eyes catch mine. “We had consensual sex yesterday just as we’ve been having for almost a month now.”
“Oh my God!” Celia gasps silently. Mary shows no reaction to his allegations.
“That is the only crime I have committed here,” Reno goes on. “I have begged God and my wife for forgiveness. I totally regret what I did and all I’ve been doing to hurt Peace who has been an immeasurable blessing in my life.” He turns to Peace. “I’m still on my knees, my love.”
I roll my eyes.
“You know I have forgiven you, baby,” Peace replies, patting his hand. I don’t find sincerity in her manner. Unless my eyes are lying to me, Peace has no affection whatsoever for Reno.
“You guys know me,” Reno continues. “Yes, I have strayed from my matrimonial bed but come on, guys, rape? Mary, for that matter? She’s like a sister to me.”
“And yet you went into her pants,” I tell him. He ignores me.
“She lived with us when things were hard for her. We took her in like family. Why would I hurt her? In fact, it was the fond feelings I developed for her that led us into the affair. I thought what I felt for her was strong and that is why it makes no sense that she will get up and accuse me of raping her. Mary, is it because I told you that we’ll have to end the affair soon because Peace was beginning to suspect? That’s why you called Jide and told him all these lies? Haba, Mary. Why?”
Mary keeps an expressionless face but I know she’s only trying to stay calm.
“Well Uncle Olajideofor?” Peace faces me.
“Well, Aunty Peace you think I don’t know Reno just spewed bullshit right now? You and I know he is lying. Your husband raped your friend! And you’re covering up for him! And I don’t know who is worse; you or him!”
“It is you, Jide! You and Mary!” Peace shouts back in her jarring voice. “Honey, you better beware! That witch beside you is a man snatcher and a home wrecker!”
“Peace, calm down nau! What is this?!” Bimpe chides.
“She is a home wrecker!”
“Your husband is the home wrecker,” Mary retorts silently. “He has slept with everything sleepable and you condone it and keep praying for him. How do you think it will end?”
“My friend, shut up!”
“No, you shut your mouth, Peace!” Mary yells back. “I’ve had enough! I have been silent because of the respect I have for you and because you are my friend but nothing about what Reno did to me was right!”
Her lips hold more words but she struggles to let them out. Her tone loses its power again and tears rush down her eyes. “He raped me. He pushed a pillow on my face and raped me. I could hardly breathe. I couldn’t even fight back. Why, Reno?”
He holds her eyes coldly.
“I let you in as friend, Reno. I opened up to you, telling you things I never told anyone before, and what I get in return is for you to force yourself on me and lie that we were having an affair? Why?”
The whole room is silent. Heavy sighs from unvoiced thoughts dot the tense air. I watch their faces and catch their uncertainty. Mary has to be a really good actress to pull off her present emotional state. One can literally feel her heart shattering with each word.
“Are you through with your act?” Reno asks.
“God will judge you.”
“Are you through, so you can tell them about the secret sex life you and I had eight years ago?”
Mary sucks in her breath.
“Oh, you conveniently missed that part out to Jide.”
“Shameless!” Peace interjects. Noka mutters something else to Celia’s hearing alone and the latter hisses. I look at Mary, questioningly.
“Tell them,” Reno pressures.
“Mary?” Bobby can’t hide his displeasure.
Reno’s eyes sweep over all of us. “Mary and I were friends with benefits for almost a year and nobody knew. I broke it off the moment I started dating Peace. Mary was devastated. She had hoped it would lead to marriage but unfortunately, I didn’t have any feelings for her.”
“You’re a dirty liar.” Mary responds.
“Mary, is he telling the truth?” I question.
“Jide, don’t believe him.”
“Did you guys ever have something?” Celia demands impatiently. I begin to feel uncomfortable.
“I have nothing to say to anyone.”
“Haba Mary!” Celia exclaims. “I just can’t believe you’ll do this.”
“Tread carefully, Cee,” Shady mumbles.
“No, it’s clear who is lying here, Shady. Why won’t she talk if she’s innocent?! We’re asking her a simple question and she’s keeping quiet!”
“Mary, please say something,” I plead. She looks at me with vacant eyes. I don’t understand what is going on. I study my friends’ faces; they are beginning to lean towards Reno.
“Mary, talk nau,” Bimpe urges.
“Please Bims, leave me alone.”
I try not to show my disappointment.
“Well, whether she talks or not, we now know the truth,” Peace comments snidely. “There has always been something between them and because he won’t take it past sex, she turns around and labels him a rapist.”
Peace is undoubtedly the stupidest woman I’ve met. Honey would be slapping me across the face by now if I was Reno.
I look at the bastard. He is smiling to himself because he has swayed the gullible minds of our friends. As for me, despite the twist, I stand by my conviction. I know him as well as I know Mary and I know that the person lying here is him.
“Well, having heard from both sides,” Bright sighs, “I still can’t come to a conclusion.”
“Me I can,” Celia states. “Mary is lying. She has been desperate and lonely for a long time and I mean this with no disrespect, Mary. I’m just telling the truth here. Any man could have found it easy to get into your pants. If Jide wanted, he could have done so without qualms. But Reno was an easier prey. Knowing how lose he was, (again, no disrespect, Reno) you went for him and I’m sure it was smoother this time because of what you guys once had. But what I don’t get is why you would label him a rapist. You’re not a spiteful person, Mary.”
“Exactly,” Noka concurs.
“Peace is your friend and she’s like the nicest person on this planet. You knew she and Reno were hardly having sex. We all knew, and yet you went to sleep with her husband. Were you planning to tear them apart and take her place?”
I butt in, stopping Celia. “You’re going too far, Cee.”
“How am I going too far?”
“Can’t you people see that Reno is the one lying here? He’s making fools out of all of you. I saw Mary’s medical report. She was bruised badly. He went at her like the animal he is. And why are you people even surprised that it would come to this? Reno has been a certified dog!”
Reno laughs with no remorse. The idiot had always had it in him to be immoral. If I know him, he is enjoying the drama and attention, and if given another chance, he would repeat the act.
“Jide, the only reason you are defending Mary is because she has slept with you too!” Peace accuses. I disregard her. Actually, I feel sad for her. She is an abused woman but she has no idea.
“Peace, enough of the accusations,” Bright steps in. “You guys, I have a feeling this will drag on if I don’t put an end to it now. I really don’t know who to believe but I know something went down between you two, Reno and Mary. And I am certain that as long as God exists, the truth will come out one day and the liar will be shamed. That being said, is there a way we can heal this rift? Reno? Mary?”
Reno answers first. “Sure. I can forgive Mary and move past this.”
“No.” Her voice is still. “I was going to forgive you, Reno, to let it all go because of Peace but since you insist on lying and cooking more stories against me, I will take you to the police. Anywhere this case wants to go, let it go. I will not let you get away with what you did to me.”
She stands up and walks out quietly.
“She is guilty, that’s why she’s walking away!” Peace says out loud. “Well, walk away all you want but God will give you a dose of your own medicine very soon!”
No one utters anything further. I know they all have a lot to say but nobody wants to voice out what’s really in their hearts. The one person that has surprised me in this whole thing is Shady. Yesterday, he was on Reno’s side. Today, I think he knows better.
One after the other, my friends leave and the house is quiet once more. I knock on Mary’s door. She steps out.
“You’re going to ask me if Reno was telling the truth about what happened between us eight years ago.”
“We were having sex. And it was I who broke it off. Not him; and just to get back at me, he proposed to Peace whom he had taken out on a date just twice. He never loved her. He married her to spite me.”
“So why didn’t you tell everyone this earlier?”
“There’s a saying that you don’t waste valuable time explaining yourself to others. Your friends don’t really need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway.”
“Mary, apart from Reno, nobody was your enemy here today…”
“You and Honey are the only friends I have right now.”
She retreats into the room and shuts the door, leaving me dumbfounded.
Dear God, please heal my friend and restore the person she used to be.
I walk back to the sitting room. Honey and I stretch out lazily on a couch on opposite ends. She has one foot over my shoulder and the other in my hand. I’m making an imaginary phone call with it, telling an alter version of her how much I feel for her. I sneak in a tickle now and then and she freaks out with screams and wild laughter. It’s during one of her screams that her phone begins to ring in that distinctive ringtone she has assigned to her family members.
“It’s Jane again.” Her appealing lips lose their laughter and push out in a grimace. “She replied my text in the morning that she’d rather speak with me.”
“Then hear her out.”
“I think they’re trying to bully me into signing off everything to them.”
“Maybe they suspect that you’re having second thoughts.”
“Just answer the call.”
Honey frowns as she takes the call, adjusting herself to a sitting position. I rest my head on her laps and she plays with my brows as she converses. I listen to her speak in her language as my finger plays with her belly button. I think Urhobo is sexy on her tongue.
Concerning her father’s will, I’m beginning to make her doubt her decision. Earlier I came up with this clever idea that she should first do a DNA just to prove to them that she is her father’s daughter; and then, hand the wealth to them out of a generous heart. She is falling for the plan and I am certain that once the DNA result is out, it will be a question of not wanting to be cheated out of what is rightfully hers.
“Okay, I’ll be there now.” She puts down her phone and looks at me with a disturbed face.
“Jane says she just got into town and I should come and get her.”
I sit up. “Your sister is in town? This town?”
“I don’t know.” Honey stands and begins towards the bedroom.
“Is she alone?”
“Yes. I have to go get her.”
I’m unsettled by this turn of events. I follow Honey in. “Let me drive you to the park.”
“No, don’t stress yourself.”
“I am not stressing myself. I’m making sure you’re safe.”
And that’s just the honest truth. I can’t let Honey out of my sight when it concerns her siblings. Jane might be the nice one but I think she has come for something sinister. And talk about timing. Only witches visit at night.
Image credits: geb.ebay.com, weheartit.com