Rachel – Part 1

What was one meant to do when they caught the person they loved cheating on them with the person they thought was family? Was one meant to cry? Lash out? Or simply stand and digest the image before them? Well, when I found myself watching my husband and sister make passionate love together, I found myself contemplating which of the three options I was meant to do.

At first I was sure I was going to break down and cry. I mean, after seeing the husband you devoted nine years of your life to, make love to your sister who you’ve known for the whole of your life – and good sex may I add – of course breaking down seemed to be the right thing to do. But before the tears had found a way to the surface, anger managed to find its way there first.

I’d trusted them both and this was how they repaid me? By going behind my back and abusing my love for them both. The sight made me furious and the more angry I found myself, the faster I wanted to jump in that bed and rip them both apart. But, eventually I realised that the muscles in my body didn’t have the energy or will to move. Even though I was boiling with unmeasurable anger, my muscles didn’t lunge me forward as I thought they would. Instead, I stood rooted. In my spot, just watching how my husband and sister made love.

To be totally honest, the way he moved around her body, made me realise it wasn’t his first time of roaming her. He’d been there before and the way she reacted to his touch, arched her back to his foreseeable action was another reminder that they had performed this more than once.

They wasn’t aware of my presence. It was a party, a crowded one at that. He’d snuck off a while ago, telling me he had to make a business call. I mingled for an hour or so, but it was then I realised how long he had been gone. So like any cliched scenario, I went looking for him. I checked everywhere. The house where the party was hosted at was absolutely huge, it was almost too ridiculous to be true. The owners were swimming in cash and that was all because of the investments and deals they’d worked upon previously that turned out to be a success for them. My husband (who was now passionately kissing my sister) had worked for them and was invited to the party. Along with my sister, who currently works for them, was also invited. So I was the tag along in that sense.

Anyway, after looking for my husband for almost 15 minutes, I stumbled across a room down a hallway. It seemed occupied, and with the amount of guests in the house, I wasn’t surprised one of the many rooms would be vacant by some horny men and women. But my curiosity got over me, and I just wanted to be sure it was no-one I knew who was being a little naughty in a billionaires house. But to my surprise it was my husband and sister.

So what is my next move you’re wondering? It was simply shutting the door. I know it sounded ridiculous, but I guess it was too fictional for me to believe what I’d just seen was true. I knew I was going to catch somebody misbehaving, I just didn’t know it’d be at my own expense. I crept back down the stairs, mind blank and hands shaking. Was I angry? Was I sad? I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. In a couple of seconds my whole equilibrium had smashed and I wasn’t sure what to do or where to go.

I decided leaving would be best. Get a taxi home and consider what to do next in regards of my husband and us living together. But in my daze I managed to bump into Damion. One of the hosts to tonight’s party. He gave me a sweet smile and it was then things rushed back to me. Pieces to the puzzle that I couldn’t put together seemed to slam into their places. Emotions that I couldn’t quite understand, began overflowing in my mind. With a everything so clear in my mind, the images of Craig sleeping with Camila, flashed in my mind causing the tears I was so sure had disappeared, reappear right in front of Damion.

“Are you okay Rachel?” I was considering how to respond to his question, but with more tears threatening to pour even more, I decided causing a scene was not in my nature. So I gently pushed passed him and rushed for the exit, hoping no-one else noticed the mascara run down my face.

Out in the cold, I began walking towards the gates that lead onto the streets. In hope I’d find a taxi and make my way home. People were drunk and laughing in groups near the exit, and being seen was the last thing I wanted, so I rushed passed the laughing and flirting before anyone had noticed Craig’s wife leaving without him. I managed to get to the gate without any questions about why I was crying, when I felt a firm hand clasp my shoulder. Turning around, I was met by Damion’s stare. Concern veiled his eyes and I could sense his worry grow the more he analysed me.

“What’s wrong Rachel?” I attempted to shuffle out of his grip, but failed as he made sure I didn’t run off from him again. “What’s happened? Why do you keep trying to run from me?”

“Don’t worry Damion.”

“Where’s Craig? Shouldn’t he be helping you?” The sound of his name made me wince physically and emotionally. I wasn’t able to hide the pain that came along with his name. Damion noticed my reaction and looked at me deeply.

“Please let me go Damion.”

“What did he do Rachel?” With my lip trembling, I knew I didn’t have the strength to bring myself to say what Craig had done to me and the nine years of my life that I’d given to him. Instead, I found myself crying harder than I had previously. Damion drew me to his chest, allowing me to cry on him whilst he soothed me rubbing my back and stroking my hair.

I didn’t know Damion as well as I knew his brother Chase. I’d gone to a number of conventions and events with Craig hosted by both Damion and Chase, but it always seemed to be Chase I spoke with. Whilst Damion conversed with the big shots. So having him hold me and soothe me in my time of need was more than a surprise to me. He gave me the chance to collect my emotions before raising my head from his chest, which was now damp with my tears.

“I’m sorry Damion, I’ve ruined your suit.”

“Don’t be silly, it’s fine. What’s wrong Rachel?”

“I don’t want to talk about it Damion.”

“But –”

“Please Damion, I just want to go home.” If home was what I could even call it now.

“Fine, let me take you home.”

“You don’t have to do that.” It was bad enough I’d cried on this man’s chest who I barely knew, but for him to leave his own party to drive me home was more than enough.

“But I will.” And with that he grabbed my hand and took me to one of his cars. The driver had stepped out to let us both in the back and then closed the door for us. In silence, I stared out the window too confused to comprehend what I’d just gotten myself into, but almost 100% sure the next wave of tears wasn’t too far from the surface.

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun

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HER

She’s dead…

I didn’t mean for her to die, it was an argument – an argument that didn’t stop. She kept going on about Eleanor, kept reminding me how imperfect I was, how my mistakes were unforgivable. What was I meant to do, I screamed my protests, told her it was enough. How many times must one hear they have made mistakes, let alone accept them? But she didn’t stop, instead she kept pushing. Pushing every button I told her, throughout our five year relationship, never to press. And tonight she pressed every single button. So I grabbed the nearest object beside me and hit her on the head. Once and then a few more times after that.

I wasn’t even aware of what I was doing until it was done. Now by my feet lays here limp lifeless body – another mistake staring me boldly in the face. How many more wrongs must I do, before I start to do right? I couldn’t process what was going on in front of me, don’t get me wrong, I knew she was dead, but what was I meant to do now? Was I meant to call the ambulance and turn myself in? Or was I meant to lie and say I found her like this? Either option had the same outcome, that being my life coming to an end. But I couldn’t drag her out into the backyard and dig a hole like in the films, which they make it look so easy to do. Not only was that ridiculous, but it was raining and I wasn’t a murderer, I hadn’t planned for this, so I was bound to get this wrong.

Instead I sat beside her lifeless body and held her hand. Stroking her hair just the way I knew she liked it and sang to her. Sang until my voice grew hoarse, and then I just watched. Watched her watch me. She was everything to me. She was the energy that made me wake up every morning, the reason I tried to become something.

After my family had abandoned me, Savannah took me under her wing, made me a home when there was only bricks in my hands. And look how I’d repaid her. After laying there for what felt like more than a few hours, I stood up and washed my hands. Had to get rid of the blood, the mistakes and every other failure I’ve managed to conjure up in my life. Then I went to the bathroom, unsure of what to do next, but aware something had to be done. The person staring back at me wasn’t the normal face I’d recognised. My hair was tangled and clumped, caused from where we’d had our argument. My skin paled ever so slightly, probably due to seeing a dead body for the first time and then for the fact it was my hands that had been the reason why the body laid there in the first place. The dark rings under my eyes had grown, they were always there, but for some reason, tonight it’d grown – maybe because I was tired, or because I my body knew after tonight I wasn’t going to get sleep for a long time.

But what shocked me the most was my lips. And how they’d curved into a weird shape, baring some of my front teeth. I hadn’t seen this look before and I wasn’t even aware I was doing it. But, it appeared that the person staring back at me through the mirror was smiling, a grim, sinister smile. She looked hungry, hungry for more of whatever had just quenched her desire… I didn’t like the person staring back at me – I didn’t even know she existed until now.

Perfect Life [Part 1]

I could never put my finger on what was truly the itch in my life that I could never reach. I was successful; young as well which was the icing on the very sweet cake that I’d manage to make for myself. When I’d graduated from university, I somehow managed to land myself in a very good position for a business firm that needed an eager graduate, like myself, who was determined to make a name for themselves. The first year I was trained, getting the hang of talking to clients, building relationships etc. After the first year had passed I’d somehow managed to get the hang of the procedure of how the company ran, and I was building relationships and sealing deals before my boss even knew whom I was.

Of course, after I hit target after target and started bringing huge bucks home, my boss called me to his office. I wasn’t sure what he wanted with a newbie like me, but when I sat in the leather chair opposite him, he couldn’t help but congratulate me for my progress and then asked me how I was doing it. How I was expanding the business with only one year’s training. I shrugged, being polite – because what else could I say? They wanted an eager graduate and that was what I was. That wasn’t the last time I found myself in my boss’ office, if anything it started to become my office with the amount of times he called me. Asking me about business ideas, moves he wanted to proceed with but was unsure about. I gave him advice which fortunately for him and I actually worked for the company.

As you can imagine I climbed the ranks very fast. In my third year of working for J’J Company, I was a senior manager. And as cliché as this sounds, I guess with more power came more desire. I had ladies at work saying hello to me, some who I knew of, others who I had no idea who they were and was sure had no clue who I was. All they saw was the three-piece suit I wore and the fact that they knew I was senior management. But I wasn’t interested in liaising with co-workers; I made sure I kept work and pleasure separately. So even though I had a few passes with some colleagues, I simply ignored them.

Then one night out, when I was practically forced to attend the Christmas-do at work, I saw her. Beautiful ebony who was also drinking with her fellow colleagues at their own Christmas-do. At first I didn’t take much notice of her, I ordered cider and took a seat beside my boss, who was far too drunk after only being in the bar for an hour or two tops. It was after I had a few more drinks when I’d started to watch her. Her laugh at a joke made by her colleague, her screaming over the loud music the DJ was playing and then giving up when her colleagues couldn’t hear her for a third time.

All the ladies around her table all abruptly stood up, and began pulling at her arm. It took me a while to understand what was going on, but after watching harder than I had been for the last hour, I realised they were trying to persuade her to dance with them. It took a few tugs; a number of shakes of her head and many no’s, before she gave in and started making her way to the dance floor. It was bound to happen, when someone realised I was no longer involved with the group conversation or group in general. A male colleague sat beside me, who’s name kept slipping through my mind.

“Which one has made you all glass eyed?”

I looked at Mark (I think) and shrugged taking another swig of my half empty cider bottle. “None.”

He chuckled and rolled his eyes. “Sure, mate you haven’t spoken for at least a good hour. You’ve just sat there watching those ladies.” He whistled, as one walked towards the table, with her dress hiked further up her leg than it should be. I didn’t want to be affiliated with whatever his name was. I gave him a slight chuckle, drank the rest of my cider and stood up to get more drink, maybe something a little stronger. If I had to endure the company of people I had no interest with, then I guess a stronger drink was needed. I wasn’t much of a drinker, mum and dad never really had it around the house and after doing a little during university and remembering how wrecked I felt the next day, I stayed clear of it when I could.

I started to make my way towards the bar, when one female colleague of mine pulled my suit jacket, stopping me in my tracks.

“Don’t tell me you’re off so soon?” She said slurred, her glass cup tipping from left to right. I gently tugged my jacket out of her clutch and pointed towards the bar. She smiled and I continued with my journey, feeling not only her eyes, but the other drooling females eyes watch my back. I was definitely going to need something stronger to handle the company I was surrounded with tonight.

Squeezing through the groups of male and females, the roars and dancers I managed to make it to the bar. I waited patiently, watching the bartender almost dance around as she poured drinks for customers with ease. She’d probably had more than three years under her belt of serving drunk customers, whilst the obvious newbie stood with an empty cup to her left, not understanding which drink they should pour into the cup. Maybe I should simply stick to cider, I was more on the newbie’s side and I didn’t want to stand here for 20 minutes just for a Disaronno. The crowd surrounding the bar barely shuffles and I find myself wishing I hadn’t left to get up. Especially after I seemed to be getting bombarded by a group of women who were drunk and excited to get more alcohol into their system.

I shifted to the right to give them more space, when I noticed a head full of tight curls stop beside me. I turned to see the same woman who I watched practically all night, stand beside me as her colleagues managed to weave further into the crowd. I turn my gaze away from her quickly, not wanting her to actually catch me looking at her. She tries to get her colleagues attention, but they’re too busy flirting with men to realise they lost a member of the group. Eventually she notices me. At first it’s the suit that catches her eyes, but what has her blushing is that I’m staring right back at her when she finally reaches my face. She smiles and shy’s away, looking down whilst I start to feel a little hot. She was absolutely stunning, and even more desirable up close. We finally get to the bar and I let her order before me. She smiles and yells her order at the bartender. A Sambuca shot. Four to be precise. I wouldn’t have pegged her as a Sambuca type of woman, even though I could imagine her being just as sweet and fierce as a Sambuca shot is to the throat. She turns, probably looking for her group, when she realises she’s alone. When her drinks arrive, I knew my few moments of admiration were over. The bartender looked at me, to order. I told her Disaronno, she nodded and was gone with my order.

I hadn’t noticed the small ebony hadn’t left just yet. I looked at her drinks and assumed she wanted some help – so me being the gentleman, I offered her a hand.

“Thanks but it’s okay. I was going to take it back to my table, but there’s no point.”

For a few minutes we looked from the drinks to each other, then she lifted two glasses, one for herself and one hand outstretched to me.

“Me?”

“Yeah, I know you’re probably too manly for the shot, but I can’t do all four. Have it…with me.” She gave me a small smile, which made me react involuntarily. I took the shot glass and we clinked it before downing the shot. The shot sparked small flames as it slid down my throat, which were quickly distinguished once I’d finished swallowing the drink. Before I had time to even process my drink was prepared and the bartender was waiting for payment, she’d placed the second shot in my hand and we clinked once again and downed the second drink. More flames burned my throat as I handed my card to the bartender who simply touched it against the card reader and handed my card back to me.

After getting my drink, she stood smiling, eyes just a little glassy after her two shots.

“You here for a Christmas-do?”

“Yeah, I didn’t want to come, but I was forced.”

She giggled and waved her hand in the air. “It was the same with me. Well, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to come out, but I just didn’t see the big fuss. Everyone makes a fool of themselves and then regrets it the next time we’re all in at work.”

I smiled understanding what she meant. I knew more than one colleague who was going to regret this night.

“I’d rather just spend my night in front of the TV, having a chilled night.”

Her eyes opened wide, she looked me up and down and shook her head.

“I can’t believe you’d be that boring. Come on, you look…cool? Gosh it sounds ridiculous but you don’t look like a quiet-night-in kind of guy.”

I shrug and take a swig of drink, feeling very warm.

“I’m very focused, so I guess I am boring.” She giggled and shook my shoulders.

“Loosen up! We’re too young to be that focused on life. I bet I can bring the fun out of you.” I cocked up an eyebrow, intrigued that this beautiful stranger felt like they could bring the fun out of me. It wasn’t like I was a square who couldn’t have fun, but I just didn’t have fun, because everyone I knew wasn’t fun enough.

At first she tried a few jokes, which made me chuckle, just because she looked cute trying to make me laugh. Then she persisted I down the rest of my drink within five seconds. I did it in four, not only to impress her but to remind myself it was okay to let loose once in a while. I seemed to always be focused on a goal, but what I hadn’t considered was when I reached that goal, what did I do then? I was in a rush to reach this goal I’d set myself that I hadn’t thought of what I’d do after I’d accomplished my aims. So we got more drinks, it was time i was going to enjoy my success, and enjoy my company.  We didn’t return back to our tables for god knows how long. We were far drunker than when we left our tables, but what kept us away was our company. I didn’t want to go back to females ogling me from across the table, and she didn’t want to return back to bitching and being forced to do things she didn’t want to do.

“So Mr, what do you do? I don’t see anyone else here in a three-piece…not like I’ve looked.”

She bit her lip, muttering to herself as she just admitted having her eyes on me. I can’t help the small grin that forms on my lips and answer her.

“It’s just a suit. I work at J’J – the business firm not too far from here. Worked my way from a rookie to now.”

“It’s paid off I guess?”

“Yeah, but I don’t want to talk about me, what’s a beautiful woman like you doing here? Don’t you have anyone waiting for you at home?”

She giggles, putting her weight on one leg and watching me with her head tilting. “Well I work in the building opposite yours, The B50 building. I work in recruitment and do some consulting also. Why’d you care if anyone is waiting for me?”

She nudges me and run my hand through my hair feeling myself get hot in the cheeks this time. She starts laughing now, realising that I’m embarrassed and tiptoes to reach my ears and whispers.

“There isn’t anyone.”

We spoke more, laughed even more and exchanged numbers. We didn’t plan on departing from each other, but I didn’t want to miss my chance of being able to speak to her when we were more sober. She decided that she wanted to dance, so we danced. Initially it was her beauty that attracted me, it was like a magnet and it kept drawing me to her, it wouldn’t let me leave her. But watching on her on the dance floor was exotic. The way in which her hips moved, the way she never missed a beat, the way she had me in a trance was something no one had done to me before. She grabbed my hands and placed them around her waist as she led our dance. I wasn’t the greatest dancer, but she was such an expert she made me look like I knew what I was doing. Her waist grinding into mine as we danced to the music was a moment I wouldn’t forget.

Eventually we pulled ourselves from the dance floor and it was then I drew her close to me, my body vibrating with desire. I wanted to kiss her, wanted to devour her, but that wasn’t the man I was. And being intoxicated does a variety of things to your mind and body, normally i had self control, but right now everything was slipping. My fingers itched for her body, the way she looked back at me wanting, full of hunger and desire. I could just follow my instincts and kiss her, but what would that make me? I took a heavy sigh and brushed her cheek.

“I wish we were sober. That I met you on another occasion.”

“Why?” She spoke breathlessly.

“Because I don’t want to be something you regret tomorrow.” She looked down and I knew that I was doing the right thing. I peeled myself away from her and kissed her cheek. I went back to my table, grabbed my briefcase, ignoring the ‘where have you been?’ and ‘who was that girl you was with?’ and decided to leave. I’d had my fun and it was time to get home.

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun

Big 6 [Part 1]

Harriett could read people in a matter of seconds. And it took her less than a second to realise she wasn’t going to like the woman that stood before her. Her stance and her atmosphere-oozed with power, power she clearly didn’t have once she’d left this school building. Harriett could have mentally listed approximately seven things about the woman that stood hovering over her that she disapproved, but the one she found herself repeating the most was the way she was looking at her. Like I was nothing. The woman’s chin lifted ever so slightly. Not in a defiant way, but more so challenging Harriett. This woman wasn’t going to be easy interviewing, and staying calm was going to be even harder, Harriett thought. It didn’t help that the woman was a foot or two taller than her, so any action the woman performed, like gesturing towards a chair for her to sit in, felt like a demand that she was forced to comply with.

Harriett politely declined the offer to sit, knowing if she sat down her height would further decrease along with the power this woman seemed to try to take away from her.

“What can I do for you detective…?”

The woman said sitting behind her desk, speaking whilst rearranging the items that were already neatly organised on the table.

“Costa.”

The woman nodded and smiled, in attempt to hurry her along with the conversation.

“Yes, so what can I do for you today?”

Harriett stood behind the seat that was offered to her and brought her pad of notes out, ignoring the blatant hint the woman threw at her showing her lack of interest.

“I have a few questions for you.”

“Regarding?”

“Regarding the two missing children from your school, Annabelle Adedun and Abiola Lawal?”

Harriett watched her face attentively to see how she reacted to the news about two of her pupils being classified as missing. But only felt angered when the woman shrugged nonchalantly as though she hadn’t taught or known both girls that were students in her own school.

“Detective, I have many pupils in this school. Calling out a name or two won’t help narrow down who you’re referring to. I assume you have photo’s, information or something more specific to help me remember these girls?”

Harriett controlled her anger and plastered a smile on her lips, she’s testing me, she thought. There weren’t many reasons as to why Harriett disliked teachers, but one reason for sure was that they never seem to turn off that patronising voice they used on their students. No matter who you were, teachers were most likely going to speak to you in the same tone they spoke to every child who walked through those gates every morning and who walked out every afternoon.

“I’m surprised you, as the head mistress, is unfamiliar with the names of pupils that attended your school. When I was in school my head teacher made sure she familiarised herself with all the students.”

“Well detective, I don’t know what school you were taught at,” She paused, far longer than needed. The unspoken words added to Harriett’s anger, but she calmed the roaring seas in her mind and allowed the woman to finish. “But it’s not a priority to learn the names in this institution. What is the priority is to ensure the students are learning in a safe environment and are getting the most out of the education we provide for them.”

“How safe can this environment be if two of your pupils were reported missing a week ago, whilst on school premises?”

This had gotten her attention. Straightening her back and squinting her eyes slightly, she looked at Harriett daring her to add to her last comment. With no further addition to her question, the head teacher leaned forward on her desk, resting her chin on both her hands that were intertwined with each other.

“Are you claiming that ­I – the head mistress – played a part in the disappearance of these two pupils or are you just being disrespectful about the way I handle and run this school?”

“Neither, I just want to know a little about the students and their progression in school. Whether they were failing or not, did they have behavioural issues, was there any complications between the girls and other students?” The head mistress dropped her hand and slowly rose from her chair, not breaking eye contact with Harriett. She slowly walked around the desk, sorting a loose sheet of paper and stood head to head with Harriett.

“You’ve come to me in the middle of the school day, insulted my procedures and as I will take it, have attempted to place me under the suspicion that I may be a suspect of the disappearance of those two girls. Whatever information you are looking for would not be coming from me detective. Maybe try their parents, or close friends but for now I suggest you turn around and leave my office – because there is nothing here to help a person like you with this little case you’re trying to build.”

“A person like me? Being a detective or being black?”

The head mistress bent down just a little so that their faces were a few inches away from each other and slid on a small smile. Looking into Harriett’s eyes, holding her gaze as she spoke, “Either, take your pick.”

Countdown [Part 2]

Last night was difficult for Anna and the cycling had only done so little to settle her nerves, which left her too restless to sleep. All night she stayed awake, remembering that night seven years ago. The memories fresh in her mind, reminding her who she used to be and who she is now after what had occurred. Her life was no longer the same. She was no longer the same. She was eroding away in front of her own eyes and there was nothing she could do to stop what seemed to be the inevitable. Dammit, she muttered to herself in her bed. One night was all it took to have her clutching onto her sheets again for dear life, when she was in no apparent harm. She thought about the letter again and the photo and shock inwardly. It was stressful enough to not know whether this was a just someone with sardonic humour, but something in the back of her mind screamed alarms.
The same voice that screamed alarms seven years ago, but she ignored. Anna had learnt her lesson and she learnt the hard way. She’d find herself rummaging through her memories to see if she knew the man in the photo, but nothing came to mind. Instead she’d try to remember the man laying dead in the picture and then remember Detective Sutherland.
There was something about Sutherland that made Anna feel protected. And that alone was what was scaring her. She barely knew the man, let alone spoke to him. But the aura that fed off him was something she treasured, a feeling she had no awareness that she desired, but had wanted so deeply. Anna wasn’t prepared to teach today, with her mind still wandering back and forth between Sutherland and the photo, she wasn’t focused enough to prepared students for upcoming exams. But she was sure as hell she wasn’t going to stay at home, where there was definitely no escape of the events of last night and Sutherland. She began to clear her mind and focus on the paperwork that was stacked on her desk as her students were reading, when the door knocked. She looked up to see Mike standing in her doorway, with that grin that made her skin want to turn inside out.

“Miss Phillips can I have a word outside please?” Anna excused herself from the class and made her way outside, hoping Mike wasn’t trying to ask her on yet another date, because she didn’t know what other excuse to give him to avoid his proposal. It was bad enough he kept asking knowing she wasn’t interested in him, but being her boss made everything more difficult. Mike didn’t know when to take the hint, especially when it came to Anna, and he didn’t seem to read expression very well too. Because if he looked closely for just a second, he would realise every time he spoke to Anna, she’d recoil within herself. Every time he stepped just a little too close to her, she made sure the gap between them was more than big enough to give her the space she needed. So whatever Mike thought he was seeing between himself and Anna was far from reality.
“What’s the issue?” Anna asked looking at Mike. He shrugged, directing her towards a figure that was behind her with his gaze. She turned around to see Detective Sutherland, standing just as large and confident as he did in her living room the night before.
“I have no idea, but I do hope you’re not starting trouble Miss Phillips – you’re too much of an asset to lose.”
She cringed at his comment, knowing what he meant and faced the detective.

 

Sutherland, who had caught every meaning to that slimy principals comment, clenched his jaw, watching Anna attentively to see if she’d received his subliminal meaning. When he saw her slightly flinch and turn away from him, he decided to react the same, there was no need to fight this woman’s battles just yet – even though he wanted to. No matter how much he tried to fight it, it was the first time in a long time he wanted to protect any woman who wasn’t family or his partner. The world was a cruel place, it gave when it wanted to give and took when it wanted to take. He thought of his life only just a few years ago and grew stiff at the sour memories. He needed to pull himself together, this was no time to reminisce on the past and the ‘what could have’s’, instead he focused on the now, and that was finding out more about Anna Phillips and who would send her a picture of a dead man.
“I have a few questions to ask you Miss Phillips, is there somewhere private we can talk?”
Kane wanted privacy, with the principal still lingering around like an unwanted smell, he didn’t want to ask anything that could possibly cause complications to the investigation. Anna looked towards the class and Kane.
“I hope you don’t mind sparing 30 minutes, I’m in the middle of teaching. But after, I’ll be free to answer any of your questions.” Kane nodded then faced the principal.

“Is there a place I can wait until Miss Phillips is finished?” He nodded and began walking down the corridor. Kane could destroy this weasel who thought he was a man in a second if he truly wanted to. Not only did Kane tower over him, but is was clear enough that physically, Kane weighed and worked out more than this principal did. As the man continued down the corridor, leading Kane further away from Anna, Kane dared to turn around to catch one more glimpse of Anna and did he catch an eyeful. Not only did her pencil skirt accentuate her curvaceous body figure, but the shirt she wore grew tighter around her breasts, almost making Kane salivate. Like a dog, because I’m behaving like one. Kane shook his head, trying to focus on the matter at hand. But when Anna hadn’t entered the classroom, he realised she too was watching him. When he caught her eyes staring at him, she disappeared in the classroom without giving him a chance to react. The principal led him to the waiting room outside of his office.

“Sorry,” Kane spoke. “Does Miss Phillips have many friends here?”
“A few,” the principal replied nonchalantly.”She does her job and leaves. I’d consider myself one of those few she classifies as a friend. I’ll always look out for Miss Phillips.”
Kane’s body tensed, this man was more than interested in Anna. It seemed he would do more that the average to get her attention, which made Kane dislike him even more.
Through gritted teeth Kane spoke, “what about teaching?”
“Oh, Anna always goes that extra mile for her students, there’s no doubt in that. She is definitely an asset to this school and losing her would be a major loss for me.”
How much more could Kane take before his primal instincts took the better of him. He took a deep breath and continued.
“So you’d say she’s a good colleague?”
“She’s amazing. Just very quiet.” A woman spoke from behind Kane. He turned around and was met by a tall, slim ebony beauty. She greeted him with a smile and stuck her hand out for a shake.
“I’m Toni, Mike you have a call on line one.”
In a flash Mike the principal disappeared into his office, leaving Kane standing alone with Toni.
“I’m –” Kane wasn’t sure what to address himself as. He didn’t want Anna’s business spreading like wildfire, and he wasn’t sure what the repercussions would be if he told Toni who he was. “I’m an old school friend.”
Toni smiled whilst looking towards Mike, who was now behind his desk, chatting away on the phone.
“Mike’s odd, don’t mind him. We’ve all guessed he has a crush on Anna, but if she’s going to ignore it, then so will we.” Kane looked at Mike then shook his head.
“A little unprofessional, don’t you think?”
“Hell, when it comes to Anna, the man acts like he’s never seen a woman before.” She huffed and continued. “Chasing like a dog without a leash, it’s embarrassing. The man just doesn’t know when to stop.” Kane made a mental note of Mike, and thought to conduct a background check on him when he got back to the office.

“Does he behave like that all the time?” Kane asked, partly to keep the conversation going, whilst wanting to know more about Anna.
“It went up a notch when Anna’s ex split with her…that was years ago now. But ever since then, Mike never stopped trying.”
There was an ex, Kane made another mental note and decided to ask Anna when he saw her. His phone vibrated in his pocket, whilst he was just about to continue his conversation with Toni. He grabbed it, seeing the caller ID and decided that the conversation could wait.
“Sorry excuse me.” He left the building, praying his partner Charlie had some good news about the case.

Runaway Girl

We hadn’t known what hell was until our mother had brought him to our doorstep. Mark. Mark was the devil’s name and would forever be burnt into my mind after everything he had put us through. Even as I lay here, I know deep down he cannot take the blame for the torture both my baby sister and I were enduring. I had somehow dragged her into this mess and allowed this devil to clasps his arms around her without a fight.

To even think we had experienced the worst. The men mother had brought around the house before Mark was beyond lower than low. But Mark was a new breed of bad. Completely different in all aspects and this was what had started the pain we now suffer. He wasn’t verbally abusive to us like how Kenny was. Neither was he as physical as Dean had been with my mother after a drink or two. It may seem surprising, but Mark was more of a father than I had ever had. Things turn into a blur when I try to remember how everything truly began.

 

  • May 2012

It was late in the night and the last time me and Belle had saw mother was when she had stood just in front of the door claiming she’d be back in a few minutes. That was at 12’noon, it was now almost 9’oclock and she still hadn’t returned home. It wasn’t as though Belle and I weren’t used to it. It was normal for her to leave at early hours and return home late at night, smelling of alcohol and other things that always made my nose scrunch up whenever I got close enough to her to take her to bed.

Belle sat on the couch coloring Velma from her Scooby-Doo coloring book, whilst I began cooking lunch. Which normally meant anything that could be cooked and worked well was what I normally prepared.

At the age of sixteen I was a mother to my baby sister Belle. I had realized depending on my mother was wasted energy. She’d either be too intoxicated to care for either of us, or be too preoccupied with company to even remember she had daughters. Belle was only eight, so she wasn’t fully aware of how she was being neglected by our mother, but I was attentive to the way she failed to be a mother to us and I knew it wasn’t an epiphany I wanted Belle to go through just yet. So by any means I was trying to prolong this realization by shielding her like a protective older sister.

After rustling up and eating our ‘make-shift’ dinner, I tucked Belle into bed, not wanting her to see mother stumble into the house around midnight like she usually did. I didn’t want Belle to witness her older sister stripping her mother and taking her to bed, so when she woke up she was in her bed and not blacked out on the corridor floor. Belle looked up to me as I tucked her blanket around her.

“Dara where’s mum?”

Half of me wanted to shrug, because I truly didn’t know where she was and it was exhausting thinking about where she could be. But instead I gave her one of the many lies I told her during our childhood.

“She’s at a friends house, then she’s going to grab some groceries for us.”

Belle looked at me, long enough for me to wonder if she realized I was lying, then looked towards the ceiling. She grabbed a handful of her blanket and spoke without giving me eye contact.

“But she’s been gone for so long!” I gave her a gentle kiss on her forehead and moved stray hairs away that fell onto her face.

“Belle don’t you worry, she’ll be here soon. I’ll tell her to give you a kiss goodnight when she comes in, deal?”

Belle nodded, obviously not convinced with my explanation, but I hadn’t given her room to voice her doubt. I turned on her lamp and turned off the room light, blowing her a kiss before shutting her bedroom door. With a sigh, I trudged back downstairs, awaiting my mother’s arrival. Knowing eventually she’ll stroll in. It was only once when she’d left the house and hadn’t returned until the next day. I can vividly remember the way I worried, thinking she was face down in a ditch, or that she’d actually forgotten she had kids. It was always a dark joke between myself that mother had forgotten she had children. But during her absence that night, I remember thinking how she could have actually forgotten about Belle and me and if only I knew those personal jokes could have actually been a reality. She eventually stumbled in the following morning, claiming she wasn’t aware of the time. No apology, no sign of worry that her kids were alone for more than 24 hours. Instead she walked in the house nonchalantly and headed straight to bed. The anger that boiled within me that day was uncontrollable. She hadn’t even cared for our wellbeing. I was sure to take Belle and myself to a care home that day. However when she awoke, she’d given Belle a fluffy toy that Belle, till this very day, clings onto and had gotten me earrings. It was her way of apologizing and I had accepted it. It was rare for us to receive any gifts from our mother, so when one came around, I was sure not to throw it away.

 

But sitting here, watching the time go by reminds me that no matter how many small gifts she throws our way, will not excuse her lack of maternal skills. Midnight was around the corner and there was no sign of her return. I’d somehow dozed off a few times, awaking to the sound of the television and looking straight at the clock, sighing when I realized it was later than when I initially slept and that she still wasn’t back. Just as my patience began to wear thin, the locks on the door began to unlock slowly. A few giggles were heard on the other side of the door. I stood waiting to catch my drunken mother, when the door opened and a tall man had his arm around her waist. Frozen, we both stood watching each other. My mother’s head swung left to right as she grew limp. The man watched me stand before him in what seemed like horror, then gave me a small smile and closed the door behind him.

“Could you help me with her, she’s drank a little too much tonight.”

I ran to my mother’s side, putting her left arm around my neck as the man started walking towards the living room.

“It’s okay, I can handle it from here. Thanks mister for bringing her home.” With a startled look, he watched as I took my mother into the living room. I sat her down on the couch and pulled her shoes off. It must have startled him how a sixteen year old was caring for a more than able thirty eight year old woman, because even after her shoes were off, he still stood in the corridor with awe written all over his face.

“I said thanks mister, but you can leave now.”

“You’re a special girl to take care of your mum like this.”

“Well, I have to do what I have to do.”

“Hmm.” He nodded his head and watched as I did the routine check on mother. I made sure I didn’t remove any clothing off of her, as I couldn’t really understand why the man still hadn’t left.

“I respect what you’re doing for your mother. She’s a good lady, under all the drink and addictions. She wanted me to stay the night, but I wouldn’t want to intrude. Let her know she got home safe because of Mark and she got to bed in one piece because of you.”

With that he left my mother and me alone in the living room. The front door opened and then shut soon after. This was the first time I’d met Mark.

 

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun

Sister Abigail’s Unfaithfulness

Questions. All I’ve received these last few months are questions. ‘But father, if what you have been preaching about is true, then why would other people go searching for answers that the Bible should have provided?’ How many times must I explain to them that those who search for answers that the Bible has already given to them are unwilling to see the truth that is brought to them by Christ?

But none of my responses ease their mind. It’s almost as though, the more time I spend answering their questions and giving them reasons for other people’s actions, I fuel them with more enquiries. Father what more can I do for your people? I am only human and for that reason myself, I cannot deliver the answers they all search and plead to hear. I try to teach your people in the way you’ve instructed me, but nothing seems to work. Instead, more questions arise.

A few weeks ago, Sister Abigail came to me after Sunday service with a look I knew far too well. She had wanted to confide in me, which was a regular thing for people to do. She stood in front of me as everyone had begun to speak in small groups after service, shifting her weight onto each leg, fiddling with her fingers and looking down towards the ground. Noticing her tense posture, I rested my hands gently on her shoulders and reassured her things would be okay. No matter what she told me it’d be in confidence and I would be willing to advise her the best way I could, with the help of you.

She sighed and proceeded, “Father, now that the niggers are claiming for civil rights, it’s made me wonder why we, as the church haven’t accepted them earlier. They are human, just like you and I, and today you preached saying ‘God made everything in his own image’. If that’s the case then the niggers should have been allowed to worship with us, right?” I wasn’t too sure how to answer her question, let alone process it. I don’t get asked regularly whether niggers should be allowed to worship with us, because everyone knows that niggers and us folk are two completely different beings. But here before me stood Sister Abigail, asking me why I haven’t let niggers into the house of God to pray with us… was the preaching I performed today all in vain?

I wasn’t angry, more disappointed. She should know how the world functions, and the world only functions in the way it does because of you Lord, so why would she question such things when this is way life is meant to be? I tried to give her an uplifting smile and explained to her, ‘You see Sister Abigail, the way the world spins is because of God, the way food grows is because of God, the reason why you and I are here is because of God. And the reason why niggers aren’t accepted into the world is because of God. It is just the way God made things. You see, they are examples for us, parables even. The way they are and the way they behave are ways us folk shouldn’t. We must deter from their behaviour and remain in the path of God. Did God not create the Devil?’ She gave me a small nod, still looking down at her feet. ‘And the Devil is nothing but wicked and disobedient, hence why he was abolished from the Kingdom of Heaven. Niggers are like the Devil in this case and we are like God. The niggers are disobedient, destructive and downright bad, so we must cast them out of society and out of our lives, like what God did to the Devil. You must understand Sister Abigail, everything in this world happens for a reason, because of the one and only.”

She seemed to understand everything I was saying. She listened attentively, nodded when I asked a question and then thanked me when I was finished and left. I knew I had done my job to answer her question and give you justice to the best of my ability. But this Sunday after service I heard rumours, and you know me God I don’t indulge myself in idle talk. But what was being said was that Sister Abigail had left the church. I thought about it and realised she hadn’t been to church ever since she confided in me and now she’s left. Of course I felt like her choice of action was my fault. Was it what I told her? Or was it something else that had bothered her? She’d been a member for almost twelve years now. I would consider her one of the most devoted and reliable members of this church.

That was until today. I needed to understand the reason behind her leaving, just in case if I was the cause, because at least then I could pray for forgiveness for losing a member of the church. So I asked the committee, who found, through word of mouth, that she had left to join a religious organisation, one that was very unknown, but was apparently known (told by Sister Agnes) to express equality. Equality between black folks and white folks, I shook my head after hearing this. No church that was built in that way was a church of Christ.

If that was the church Sister Abigail’s heart desired to go to, then I wasn’t going to stop her. It was obvious from her actions that she was the minority of white folk who seemed to believe niggers and us folk were meant to live together. There was nothing I could do for her anymore, no amount of prayer could save her from the clutch the Devil had upon her. All I can do is pray that nobody associates her abnormal behaviour with this church, because this church is strictly for whites and God fearing people only.

 

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun

 

 

The Little Girl [Part 1]

Reports had stacked up far beyond what she could even recall gathering. Amongst those were email requests from clients and reporters who had been more than intrusive on Olivia’s work and private information. She wasn’t interested in responding to those emails, all they wanted was to put their noses into places where it wasn’t needed. After hours of categorising her workload she began to put pen to paper when her phone rang. Dammit. She grabbed her phone and looked at the caller ID before answering, Lieutenant Young. Her thumb lightly traced the answer button as she stared at the name. How long had it been, five months? Olivia remembered her last time she’d been with Young, all her insides tighten at the memory. There was always something about Young that had Olivia tense in a way she tried to reject far often than need be. Remembering she’d left the phone unanswered, she picked up the call.

“L-Lieutenant?”

“Olivia.”

The connection that she had questioned for months hadn’t just been an imagination. It was there and still strong as it was five months ago. With a struggle, she put on her professional voice, ignoring how her body had reacted to his voice.

“Is there something I can help you with?”

“Yes,” he spoke with a husky voice. Olivia rejected the urge to feed into her need and desire and let him continue. “I mean, I’ve got a case here and need your help.”

He wanted her and that was obvious. But he hadn’t called for that, something was wrong and he’d called for help.

“I assume you need me now?”

“Yes, if it’s possible?”

Her eyes gazed at the pile that continued to gain in height and ran a hand through her hair. Whether the workload was a mass amount or not, she knew due to the fact that Young had called her, she’d oblige to any request he made. You’re pathetic Olivia, so pathetic.

“Sure, I’ll be there shortly.”

She cut the phone and with an exasperated sigh, stood up stretching her arms and wondered what case Young was working on that would require her expertise. She recently read in the news a case Young had been working on. A child had died in the hands of his own mother, yet the mother was still able to walk the streets free no matter how much Young had tried to put her away, due to her attorney.

Grabbing her car keys, she left her office sure to return after her visit to the precinct. Weary of the poor weather the Cincinnati skies had showered upon everyone, she slowly walked towards her Ford Fiesta, making sure the snow beneath her feet were solid enough to handle the pressure she applied.

It hadn’t taken her too long to reach her destination, which is probably why they called her, she thought, hoping there was more to Young’s invitation. Stop it Olivia, just find out what he wants. She buried her hope deep within a place where she was sure she couldn’t reach and focused on the task before her. Bracing herself for the frosty weather, she got out her Ford Fiesta and walked towards the building. Shaking off the snow, she looked around noticing how busy it was and found what looked like to be the reception.

“Hello.”

“Dr Lint?”

“Yes, is Lieutenant Young around?”

“You’re here.”

A deep voice rumbled behind her, making her turn around. He hadn’t changed. Lieutenant Young amongst two officers made their way towards her, giving Olivia enough time to get a glimpse of how Young had developed over the few months they hadn’t seen each other. Young was the youngest in the force to become a Lieutenant, yet held so much confidence. Whether that was because of his huge frame or his stern face, either or, no one attempted to cross his path. He not only strived to gain the best possible outcome, but he always seemed to have that golden intuition that helped solve his cases. As far as Olivia had known, he had only failed three times to close a case in the eleven years of being a cop and last month was one of them.

“Lieutenant, how are you?”

“No need for formalities, call me Nicholas.”

Olivia only realised how great his frame was after being so close to him. She wasn’t a woman who was dependent on anyone, but being beside Young made her feel small but not in a way which she felt vulnerable. I’ve missed feeling like this. It’s been so long. She didn’t despise the feeling, in an odd sense she enjoyed it, probably far more than she should have. She shook his hand, ignoring the electrifying shock that ran through her body and focused on the matter at hand.

“So what did you need me for Lieutenant?”

He gave her a quick but brief smile, noticing her obvious remark to ignore his previous request and angled her towards the corridor.

“I thought it would be better to let you see first hand with what we’re trying to work with.”

As they walked through the corridor, with the remaining officers behind both her and Young, she tried to ignore the gut wrenching feeling that began brewing in her stomach. She knew all to well that the last time she walked this path was to help solve a child trafficking case, and Olivia tried so hard to forget those memories.

“Another child I guess?” Without looking at her he nodded.

“Just step into this room.” She opened the door and walked in, sighing as she witnessed from the one sided mirror a small fragile girl, who probably lacked nutrition in a large black jacket. The little girl had her fists tightly balled in her laps with her head down, letting stray clumpy hairs fall.

“She’s so young.” Olivia murmured to herself.

“This is both Detective Dorian Moore, the lead detective of this case and his partner Detective Andrew Williams. Both detectives came across a blood bath this evening and the only living thing left is this little girl.”

“Jesus.”

“Jesus indeed-” Detective Moore spoke reaching his hand out for a shake. She took his hand, instantly comparing it to Young’s and then disregarded the thought. “After she was recovered from the scene all she’s done is sit, with her head down.”

“We can’t even get a reaction out of her, she almost seems as though she can’t hear us.”

Detective Williams said looking at the girl through the one-way mirror. She must have been through a lot Olivia thought, definitely nothing she hadn’t come across before.

“We tried to see if she was possibly deaf, but she was still unresponsive.”

“How did you try that?” Olivia asked Moore who seemed to hold a grave look on his face.

“My brother’s deaf, so I learnt how to communicate through sign-language.” She nodded then turned to the little girl who hadn’t moved an inch during their conversation.

“And she didn’t respond to that either?”

“No.” Young had said, closer to her than she had anticipated. She steadied her heart and focused on the girl.

“We tried everything.” Williams said rustling hair that once had been carefully groomed, but now held a rough look.

“Apart from you.”

Trying to ignore the double meaning behind his comment, knowing it was her alone who had caught it, she pushed those disobeying thoughts further away in her mind, and she stared at the child who’d probably seen more than her mind could comprehend and began devising a strategy.

“Before anything I can’t promise to give you any critical information tonight. This girl has probably witnessed too much to even function anymore, my main priority is to get her functioning again, have her involved in idle conversation and then I’ll begin working on pulling out information in relation to the case.”

“Anything is better than nothing.” His voice ricocheted around the room, leaving Olivia vibrating. Waiting until she had gathered her composure, she turned to face Young, who was no more than a foot or two away from her.

“Is there any other aspects of the crime scene I should be aware of?”

Trying to gain an understanding of how she could formulate her questions without pressing any trigger buttons.

“First we need your trust. What we disclose with you cannot be recorded or broadcasted, not until things play out in our hand more favourably than now.”

Olivia gave Young a firm nod, knowing far too well the extent of those bottom-feeding journalists. Once they got an earful of any of her cases, they piled up at her office requesting for a statement, she hadn’t needed Young to go on to understand what he was saying.

“You have my trust Lieutenant.”

With a dark look in his eyes, he looked to his colleagues who shared the same look as he did and took a deep breath, his jaw working as he faced Olivia.

“Nine, nine dead mutilated bodies were found with the little girl. So Olivia tread carefully.”

 

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun

Elliot & I [Part 2]

I hadn’t seen Elliot since our intimate moment on the balcony where we found ourselves confessing our love for each other one moment and then where I found myself being pulled away from him the next. I wasn’t sure what mother planned to do with me as she dragged me closer to the hall that evening. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I wasn’t even sure if she could do anything more to increase the pain I had begun feeling. But when she abruptly stopped near the rotating doors that led into the ceremonial hall and faced me and said,

“Love? You think you love him Alexandra? You no nothing of love, so get that out of your head.” It was then I realised that mother could actually somehow make this already bad situation worse. Even now as I lay on the bed thinking about that evening, I wouldn’t forget how she felt no sympathy towards my emotions. Instead she sent me to the toilet to get cleaned up (as she stood guard outside) and then told me to not utter a word throughout the rest of the night. Not as though I was planning to talk someone’s ear off anyway. It didn’t help that once we did return back to our seats, Elliot and his family had left. I couldn’t even have another chance to see Elliot and explain my love for him, explain to him how important his love is to me.

And here I lay, two weeks since I’d shared that passionate moment with him, I can’t help but find myself grow impatient. Every day grew more harder without speaking with him or seeing him. Not as though we saw each other frequently, but at least we had the opportunity to text. But ever since mother caught us, she made sure my phone was confiscated. Not only that she made it a necessity that anywhere I went I was to be guarded. I wasn’t under any threat, well – she’d say Elliot was enough to be a threat. But because of her lack of trust in me (I could only presume), the security men followed me wherever I went. I could barely leave my room without one of the guards trailing behind me, like an unwanted shadow. What still puzzled me was the fact my father hadn’t sat me down to discuss what had occurred. I was sure my mother would have instantly told my father as soon as we got into settled into the limo on our way home that night. But after he continuously spoke about business deals and future movements with other companies, I realised he knew nothing of my venture with Elliot on the balcony. Which surprised me as to why my mother would spare me? It’s almost to impossible to believe she would do anything to protect me, especially when it came to Elliot. But I knew she hadn’t told father, so I made sure I didn’t bring it up.

There was many times I thought about sneaking away from the guard that was allocated to watch over me. Last week I tried to lose Mr O’Neil in the hustle and bustle of the London streets. But after I believed to have gotten away, he showed up in front of me a few minutes later. These men were trained to follow orders and it was then I knew no amount of plotting or sneaking away would actually be successful. I sat up, tired of being caged away in my room with nothing other than my thoughts to keep me company. I was exhausted of thinking about how Elliot was or what he was getting up to. I didn’t want to think about how only two weeks ago did he confess his love to me and my mother and now I no nothing of how he currently feels. I had to do something to ease my anxiety. I slipped my feet into some casual slippers that were laid just near my wardrobe and opened my room door. I was done laying waiting for something to happen. I was going to make sure I saw Elliot today.

As I opened the door Fredrick stood firm, his gaze looking straight ahead, whilst his body remained upright and ready to defend. When he saw me walk out, he looked at me.
“Fredrick there’s somewhere I need you to drive me.”
“Miss Alexandra, I’ve received orders that you should remain at home whilst your mother and father attend their meal tonight.”
“Fredrick I understand you’ve taken orders, but there is somewhere I must desperately go. If you fail to take me, I will find my own way there. And there is nothing you can do to stop me.”
I looked at Fredrick’s build and slightly chuckled in my head. If Fredrick wanted me back in my room, there were more than ten ways he could do so without breaking a sweat. But I was determined to see Elliot today. Especially with my parents out having dinner, there wasn’t going to be an opportunity like this anytime soon. I had to seize the opportunity.
“And where would you be going Miss Alexandra?”
I hadn’t decided on the lie I was to tell Fredrick, but if I hesitated for just a second, he would know that I was planning on meeting Elliot.
“I’d prefer to direct you myself. It’s private.”

The guards had no right to intervene with our personal lives. They were there for a job and that job purpose only. Fredrick understood he had no right to question my privacy, which pained me to see him disobey his orders. But I had to start doing things for myself or else I’d never find happiness. He gave me a stern nod and walked me out of the house to the family car, ready for his directions. It took a while for us to arrive at Elliot’s house. I made sure the directions I gave Fredrick were beyond complicated so he couldn’t trace where exactly I was going. But as soon as he saw the road name, he parked the car and turned off the engine.
“Miss Alexandra –”
“Fredrick I won’t be a second. Please remain here whilst I just go and return something to someone.” Without another word, I left the car before he could stop me. My heart pounded against my chest as I grew excited knowing soon I’d see Elliot. Soon I’d be with him, in his embrace, digesting our newfound love for each other. I walked passed a few cars before getting to his property. Normally two or three cars would be parked in his driveway, however tonight, a row of cars were lined up, and even spilling to the street where other cars were parked. I quietly snuck passed the entrance and begun making my way to the back of his house, where a vine which clasped on tightly to the bricks of his home would be awaiting me to climb right into the window of his room. The vines were beside the kitchen window, where it seemed the event that must have been occurring at Elliot’s house was taking place. Different voices emerged from the kitchen, whilst cutleries were being played with constantly. Elliot could be amongst them and probably was, but I was willing to wait for him in his room, rather than check if he sat with the cluster that seemed to be going on in his kitchen.

After testing a vine or two, I started to climb up when a voice from the kitchen stopped me in my tracks.
“That fucking Harold Bennett, you know what if I had the choice to build my business or kill him…I’d kill him.” The kitchen burst out into laughter, as the male voice choked on his own laughter and continued. “No that man is a bastard. I still don’t understand how a nigger has managed to get what he’s got. Can you imagine Clifford is till this very day struggling on receiving clients for his upcoming technology program he’s starting. And there’s Harold Bennett, not even giving a fucking damn. I told him about Clifford and he said he’ll ‘sort something out’,” He huffed and continued. “Sort something out, the cheek like we need help from him, from people like him.”
“It’s ridiculous how things have changed.” A feminine voice spoke after the room had settled to listen to the mans story. Quickly climbing down from the vines, I slowly creep up to the window, just to see who was talking so poorly of my father. But recognised no one, just a room full of people in suits and dresses, eating a meal and bad mouthing my father.
“Don’t worry Jo, they always seem to fuck themselves up one way or the other. Am I right?”
The room fell into laughter again as these strangers mocked my family and my race. Stunned, I couldn’t find the energy to stop watching, to leave and tell Fredrick to drive me home. No, instead I looked around. Hoping to not see anyone I recognised, it was bad enough these people I knew nothing of was praying for my father to face a downfall, but if it was people I recognised I wouldn’t know what I’d do. But then I saw him. Elliot, sitting down with a plate full of food, chuckling with them. Finding the words that cut so deep to me amusing. I wasn’t sure I was seeing accurately. But the more I stared at him, the clearer everything became. He agreed with what they were saying. I shouldn’t be shocked, my father always made it obvious to him that he didn’t like Elliot. But I never assumed this would have had an affect on how he saw the rest of us. The scene that was before me was far too much for my brain and heart to comprehend. Who was Elliot? Elliot, the same man that I just recently confessed my love too, was the same man that sat amongst racists and found their disrespectful words amusing. Even as I stood there in what I can only assume was shock, I couldn’t help but remember my parents. Remember their own narrow mindset and how discriminating it was at times. They never truly gave me a reason why they disliked Elliot so passionately, but it was obvious his skin colour was a factor. So did that mean I had a right to be angry? My parents were just as bad as the strangers in suits and dresses that sat around the table hoping for my father to fail and belittling my race?

With the pain, hurt and confusion slowly slipping its way into my muscles, I found the energy to turn away. Not aware of Elliot’s mum who stood a few steps away from me, watching me watch them talk about my father. With a pained look in her eye, she followed my previous gaze onto Elliot and then returned her gaze back to me. With no words to say that could possibly explain or reduce the shock I received, I walked passed her and back to Fredrick. Wishing I stayed in bed.

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun

The Caller

With the keys loose in my hands, I wonder whether unlocking the door and stepping inside is worth it or whether I should go with what my gut is saying and simply turn away. Recently, nothing had been drawing me back here, apart from the fact it’s a permanent place to sleep, but even that I’ve had to question whether it was really worth it? The flame that was once ignited and alight a few years back has most definitely died out. But yet we still smile, put a façade on, not only to others but also to ourselves. It doesn’t help the situation, and maybe in the back of my mind for some unbelievable reason, I feel as though it’s the easiest option; another action I’ve questioned myself on for several months now.

I sigh and put the key into the lock of the door. This had become a ritual; nearly every night after work, I’d find myself slumped and lethargic always questioning why I’m at this door every night. And every night I find myself unlocking the door and entering with a cheer in my voice that never was there previously, but all in an act that my wife and I had coaxed.

“Evening Martha!” I loosened my tie and placed my briefcase on the ground near the umbrella stand and hung my key onto the key holder, placed just beside the coat hangers. I shrugged my coat off of my shoulders whilst using my ears to predict where she was. There were no footsteps in the front room; neither was any sound coming from upstairs, so with that in mind I made my way into the kitchen. It was only until I started making my way towards the corridor, did the aroma of mince and meatballs make its way into my nostrils. I lingered just a little longer, remembering how hungry I was until I got to the kitchen.

There she stood, in a big T-shirt that I used to wear until she’d claimed it, with headphones on, swaying her hips to the music. It took a while for me to comprehend what I was witnessing. It had been months since I last saw my wife this way, and it felt odd. Maybe the love that should have been there from the start was making a way back into my system, and that feeling was beyond foreign. The way she stirred the mince with not only her hands but also her hips had me itching to run towards her and shake her asking her what went wrong between us. I took a step further into the kitchen, with my eyes fixed on her and unfastened my shirt button. Seeing my wife like this, in a light I was so sure had died, began to make the impossible possible in my mind. So what if things hadn’t been going right these last couple months isn’t that what was meant to occur in normal marriages? There wasn’t a manual to the perfect marriage or a strict guideline we had to follow in order to ensure our marriage was crystal clear, and thinking about it now, I don’t understand why I panicked so much when things took a turn for the worse. Maybe I should have tried. Maybe I shouldn’t have given up so quickly. Lost in thought, I hadn’t notice she’d turned around, stunned to see me there.

“You nearly scared me half to death!” She said, clutching her chest with one hand whilst the other removed the headphones from her head. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, sorry about scaring you, I was just lost in thought.” She smiled and turned around resuming her cooking, with her music still audible from the headphones. I walked behind her, and gave her a hug. Something I hadn’t done in such a long while, show affection towards her. Even the act was strange to me, but soon enough that feeling dissipated and before I knew it, I’d put my head to her neck and drank her scent in. At first her body was stiff, also aware of the strange notion that I showed her, but sooner or later she stopped mixing the mince and meatballs and rested her head on mine. With no words shared between us, we both knew that whatever was occurring was something to cherish, whether it was something temporarily or going to last, we both knew that enjoying this current feeling was most important. Soon after what seemed like a long amount of time, she turned around and sighed, with her eyes closed.

“Richard, what happened?” She didn’t even need to complete her question because I knew instantly what she was addressing. With her hand on each of my cheeks, I take a deep breath and try to conjure up the best answer to explain our situation.

“I don’t know Martha.” I watched her bite her lip nervously, with her nostrils flaring and her eyelashes slowly turning moist. I hadn’t planned on her crying, I was never too sure what to do when I was faced with an emotional woman, but tonight everything seemed to just fall in place, almost like the gods has finally pitied us and allowed all the pieces to fall, so that our incomplete puzzle could get solved. I wrapped my arms around her waist and placed my forehead on hers.

“It’ll get better Martha, I don’t know why things have gone the way they have, but it’s not the end. I’m willing, I never thought I would be, but I am, and I really hope you are too.” Her eyes opened, allowing a couple of tears to escape. She nodded and sniffed back more tears that threatened to show.

“Will it Richard? Because I’ve been asking myself this question for months now and it never did.”

“I can’t promise you anything Martha, but I will try and that’s more than what I’ve been doing these last few months. If you’re willing to try, then so will I.” With the cards in her hands, she took a deep breath and nodded.

“I don’t mind. I’ve missed you…us.” With tears on her cheek and a sob close to her mouth, I embrace her fully, trying to prove my change. Because I have to be honest with myself, I hadn’t been the best husband, intentionally working late just to avoid Martha, lying about business trips just to get a few days to myself and that’s not even considering the other lies. But, in hope that’s all behind me, I focus on Martha. I pull away from her and wipe her stray tears.

“Don’t cry,” I look towards the food, “it smells good.” Then it hit me, she looks good, more than just the average good, for some months now she hadn’t enticed me, her appearance had merged with the annoying personality I’d seen and everything had blurred. But now, with things becoming slightly clearer, I could take in her beauty. Her chestnut hair fell passed her shoulders, a sharp contrast to her somewhat pale skin that I always enjoyed watch turn pink or red. Her freckles lightly decorating her nose and cheeks accompanied by a rosy colour, made me smile, it surprises me how long it’s taken me to truly observe and admire my wife. Her plump peach lips, swollen only just a little due to her biting it previously, had all those reasons I married her rush back at me full force. It was too late to right my former wrongs, but at least this was a start. With no hesitation I bent down, only being taller than her by a few inches, give it four of five and kissed her. Eyes closed and heart beating, I grabbed a handful of her hair enjoying the feel of her hair in my hands, the softness between my fingers was like no other. She, reacting in sync with me, grabs my shirt and pulls me closer towards her. Almost as though the proximity between us wasn’t enough, the time we’d wasted wasn’t something we could get back in reality. But between us, we know we had to make up for lost time. Now switching fluids, remembering her taste, I made sure it my personal duty to not let any go to waste. Everything I received was never going to be enough, her scent, her touch, her taste, it wouldn’t amount to the months of separation, but I was sure to make her forget about those years. It was the least I could do and it was written in my vows, so I had to abide by my words and fulfil my promises.

Even air was something I was prepared to sacrifice, just to get more time with her. She pulled away with the only noise being made between us was our attempt in catching our breaths.

“God I’ve missed you.” She said through breaths. Releasing my embrace, I kiss her once more remembering the sharp pain in my stomach.

“I’ve missed you more than you can imagine, and I could take you away here and now, but I want to be sure that when I do make up for loss time, I go for hours and right now I need to restore my energy.” With my eyes fixed on the spaghetti, letting her subliminally know that I’m hungry, she smiles and playfully hits me.

“Go get changed and I’ll make you a plate.” I give her another kiss, which takes longer than planned, but eventually stops as I pull away and dash upstairs, with a newfound hope in my mind. I get to the room and begin to change. Things would have to change, that I’m prepared to do. To be fair, I have to be prepared. This is my marriage on the line and with sense more apparent in my mind; nothing is worth putting my marriage at risk. I can’t actually define when things went wrong between Martha and I, her mother is a little intrusive and it doesn’t help that she involves her in every one of our issues, but that’s a hurdle I’m prepared to address and overcome when the time comes. Right now all that’s on my mind is how I’m about to devour my meal and then my wife.

Buzz Buzz

I reach for my phone in my suit jacket and unlock it, seeing that I have a missed call and a message. I open the message and there, Jennifer’s name pops up. I had a few lies during the months Martha and I were on a break, some worse than others. Jennifer being one of the ones I planned to bury deep in the ground with me. I wasn’t planning to read the message, but as soon as I was about to disregard it another came through, more alerting than the previous one.

Jennifer:

First message: ‘Baby I miss you and I can’t stop thinking about you.’

Second message: ‘I’m not sure with what’s been going on between us recently, but I hope tonight we could rekindle some of our love? Get back at me soon.’

Jennifer was one of my employees whom I worked with on a frequent basis. She just seemed to perfectly fit into my schedule. If she wasn’t working with me constantly, she was asking whether she needed my assistance and as you could imagine I grew very fond of her. Not only was she there, she was something I needed at that time, she enticed me in every way…or so I thought. Day by day her shirt became tighter and her trousers became skirts, which eventually became shorter. The first night I fully noticed her and acted upon it, I was physically drained with the problems at home with Martha, so I decided to stay at work late that night. I had no work to do, but the comfort of my office was better than home. I wasn’t aware that Jennifer had also stayed late, it was only until a knock was at my door and her head poked through the tiny gap between the door and the wall, was when I knew she was still there.

“You alright Richard you seem a little stressed?” I could barely merit a response, I thought I was alone and to find out I wasn’t was a shock. But I told her I was fine, of course that wasn’t enough for her, so she invited herself in my office and decided I talk about my issue. It was the first time I spoke to anyone about Martha, I’m usually the type to keep my own issues to myself, but that night, I guess I was stressed beyond reasoning. Eventually, she offered a back massage.

“Trust me Richard, if I wasn’t working here, I’d earn a good living off being a masseuse.” I chuckled and allowed her to massage me. At first her hands remained on my shoulders, then my chest and slowly my thighs. I couldn’t find it in myself to stop her, it was the first time in a while my penis had awakened, by someone other than porn. One thing led to another and that night I buried myself deep with Jennifer. After that night, I continued to bury myself deep within Jennifer, it was a place of solace and my escapism, I didn’t have to think about work, home or my failing marriage, instead I could just think about how her walls convulsed around me and had me shivering. I knew the risks, not only about my marriage but having frequent sex with a employee was dangerous, but Jennifer seemed to be understanding to those boundaries, so I continued. Before I knew it, I needed Jennifer more and more; I’d call her to meet me in various locations, just to escape again. To think about her had me involuntarily smiling; she was something to remember, but never something to keep. It was only recently, the place I used to go to for solitude began to lose it’s meaning. I could no longer escape in the clasp of Jennifer’s love; instead it was another place of strangulation. She began demanding, requesting for things she had no need in worrying about. Eventually, I grew distant and resumed my position of being stressed and tense, until tonight. Things are starting to work and I’d be damned if a pothole in the road is going to stop me from getting to my destination.

I took my phone and replied back to her text,

‘I think we need to talk, not tonight but later on in the week.’

It didn’t take her long to reply, she was always so responsive.

‘What’s this about Richard? You’re giving me this bullshit line that people throw around when things are coming to an end…’

This wasn’t something I could do over text, it wasn’t even something I wanted to do now, but with the way Jennifer was reacting, had me wondering how bad this could get if I didn’t defuse the situation asap. I went by the staircase and called out to Martha.

“Yeah?”

“I’ll be a few minutes, I have a business call, I won’t be too long, keep my plate warm for me.”

“Sure!” With that I walked back into the bedroom, closing the door behind me and called Jennifer.

“Well Richard?”

“Jennifer relax,” I whispered, “I just wanted to speak with you, I’d prefer to do this on a more personal level, but I could sense you getting agitated via text.”

“Fuck this business like shit Richard, what are you saying?” I could tell this conversation wasn’t going to go anywhere, no matter what direction I tried to attack this matter, the outcome proved to be the same.

“I think, with the way things are going between us-”

“And how’s that Richard, explain that to me? Because in my eyes, you were the one who changed, everything was great…that’s what I thought. And then one day you just lost your spark, so you tell me how things are going, because I was beyond eager to hear your side.”

With a sigh, I continued. “I think we should stick to a platonic relationship.”

“Bullshit Richard! What changed? You wasn’t talking about platonic when we were fucking, you weren’t complaining when I couldn’t speak because I was filled with your-”

“Okay! I understand Jennifer. Things have changed, but they changed even before things got better.”

“What are you referring too when you say ‘things got better’? What with you and Martha huh?” Damn, I didn’t want to bring Martha into this, because I knew that’d just anger her more. I lay on the bed and rolled my eyes, trying to find the words to explain what was inevitably happen between Jennifer and I but I just kept quiet, words failing me.

“So you have nothing to say huh? Well I have loads to say. How dare you do this to me? Do you understand how much I gave you and how much I did for you to use me and throw me aside like a rag doll? I will not be treated like this Richard, I won’t be kept in the dark like a damn secret, I will not! I am worth more than that and you treated me as though I was worth more than that, so I know you love and if it’s fucking Martha that’s got your mind clustered, then we can just clear that by simply telling her about us.”

“What?”

“You heard me, why not let her know about us, because what we have is far more valuable than that shamble of a marriage you were close in ending last month.” I told her far too much during our time together, which is evident now, but making her more angry is not going to help anything. I take a deep breath and try from another angle.

“Okay baby, maybe I was acting irrational, maybe this is just a phase with me and Martha and I don’t want you to feel used, so why not I take you out this Friday after work and we can work on us.”

“No Richard, let her know. It’s about time she knew, what’s the point in hiding anymore – tell Martha you’re done or I will.”

“Jennifer you will not get involved in my marriage, you’ve said enough tonight. Not only have you crossed a line tonight, but you continue to persist with this attitude that you must have assumed I’d take? I don’t, so while I spend tonight with my wife, I want you to relax and tomorrow when I see you at work I want you to speak nothing of this until we’re alone, where I can find a solution.” With that I dropped the phone and sighed in exasperation. I’d let that line of lover and boss get far too clouded and for that reason I had to cut our relationship off. Even though that wasn’t the main reason as to why I wanted to terminate our relationship, it was reason enough for me to tell her, she was beginning to turn into a nuisance, something that she didn’t normally do. However, I’m glad she’s an issue for another day and for now I can focus on the future between my wife and me.

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun