Toxic – Part 3

Throughout my journey home I can’t help but question who I really am, who’ve I become? It was bead enough that I had thought about cheating on my husband on multiple occasions, but the fact that I had actually committed the act almost left me bewildered. Who was the woman that sat in the black cab, wearing a body con on a early Saturday morning? Because I sure as hell knew it couldn’t have been myself… I risked my marriage for what? A night that I probably wouldn’t forget for the rest of my life, it sounds exciting when I think about it, but was it truly worth it?

I should have thought about my actions in more depth. Even though I’ve felt like this for a year, I’m not sure if I had truly contemplated the aftermath if I had went ahead and actually slept with Mike. I’m not even sure why now, sitting silently in the back seat of the cab driving me to where I thought was home, but sounds weird to call home now is where I contemplate my actions. I knew what I was doing yesterday – I could hardly blame it on the alcohol, I barely drank any. And even if I drank a cup or two…or the whole bottle, I knew what I wanted from the start, the way Mike had touched me in the club and even more so when our lips touched was enough to remind me that I knew exactly what I was doing.

My conscious was beyond clear at that point, maybe if I was intoxicated it would be a better pill to swallow, rather than having the guilt slowly choke and suffocate me silently in the back of the cab. Before I had even knew what I was doing, I asked the cab driver to stop and requested to walk the rest of the way. I paid him the fare and got out of the vehicle, clutching myself tightly as the cold London air blew wildly on my bare legs and in my short outfit, more suitable for 7PM than 7AM. I ignored the quizzical stares that Londoners couldn’t help but do and hugged my body as I walked home. Getting some air should help me think.

I needed to plan how I was going to approach Josh. What I was going to say, in which way would I say it and whether he would believe me or not. The lie Mike had told me to stick to sounded ridiculous. Far too close to the truth for me to remain settled, but the more I thought about other lies that could replace Mike’s one, I realised why Mike had wanted me to stick to his own lie. The guilt from cheating and the hint of truth would make it more believable to Josh and with Mike as a sturdy alibi – Josh would know I was telling the truth.

I cannot believe I have come to this. Thinking of ways to lie to my husband to get away with infidelity. Where was the determined and strong woman who knew exactly what she was doing the night before? Because if she could show herself now, then maybe confronting my husband wouldn’t feel as hard as it did now. I wasn’t strong enough for this, even as I think back to Mike, back to the night we shared, I can’t help but shudder. Thoughts of us constantly replaying in my head as I ponder when the next time will come…hoping it would be sooner rather than later.

But what was done was done, right? The damage has been created and it was now sealed. I was a fragile glass yesterday that shattered under Mike’s touch – my only hope now was that the cracks that were more than evident didn’t reveal themselves to Josh.
I was coming up to the house now. 17…15…13, the more steps I took the more my heart crashed into my chest. I have never feared my husband – never needed a reason to, but today the fear that resided in me, was wrapped around me like another layer of skin. It wasn’t welcoming, but I was aware I gave it room yesterday to take place in my body.

Sucking in my breather, I open my white wooden gate, wishing I was returning with a clear mind. But after having spent the night with Mike, my mind was far from clear. Even now, when I remember how our lips touched in the club makes my libido dance in excitement. God even thoughts of him can spark me to life, even in such situations as the one I was in currently. Before I get to open the door, Josh has it opened. Rushing to me like a mother reunited with their abducted child. He hugs me tightly, too tight and very one sided. I think because I’m too stunned to move my arms left alone my body, I am left in a one-sided embrace. He stands back to watch me and then draws me inside the house.

Walking in silence, my breath comes out shorter, he faces me again and embraces me once more. This time with less worry but with more love. It was then I realised I was a horrible human being, weak and selfish. My husband stood in front of me, me in his arms, his breaths coming out in short rapid spurts, and I can tell he is happy to see me safe. And there I stand, arms planted to the sides of my body, scared that if I touch Josh, I’d ruin him like I have done so with this marriage. I feared tainting him but was too emotional to pull away. That was when I found myself in tears, a flood of emotions rushing out of my chest before I could stop it.

What had I done? Was it truly worth it? Could I just erase such mistakes from reality and act as though none of it occurred – was that a possibility? Because if it was I was ready to do anything to undo my mistake and go back to the woman I was only just a few hours ago.

 

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun

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Toxic – Part 2

The sun had crept through the bedroom curtains and had teased my eyes awake. At first I was still in a dream-like state. Enjoying the warmth of the bed and the sun both massaging my body, pulling me back to sleep. Until my phone vibrated and with each vibration I was taken away from this bliss and was forced awake. At first I thought I was at home, laying next to my husband – but when I begun to remember the events of last night, I was mistaken.

It wasn’t my husband that had thrown me against the wall and had ripped my clothes off once we were out of the cab. Neither was it my husband who had me open and craving for more. Images of my husbands face flashed in my mind as I arched my back in ecstasy and when I had reached my climax for the third time. Yet, the more I thought about the night before, the more my husbands face morphed into someone else. Someone who has invaded my dreams, my thoughts – my life.

At first it feels too much like I’m still in a dream. Like soon enough I’m going to awake and  find my husband laying too close beside me. But after a few minutes, I don’t awake from what feels like a dream and when I dare to look at who is laying behind me, reality rushes back to me so hard my stomach begins to roll.

I’d cheated on my husband. It wasn’t as though I had forgotten, it was all in my face. The room I had woken up in was not mine. The dark curtains were key, yet I still chose to believe it was a dream. But now seeing Mike lay peacefully beside me, is enough to remind me of what I had done the night before. What was I to do? My phone vibrated for another time, stirring Mike awake.

It took him a while before he was awake enough to notice me. But once he did his arm slithered around my waist, pulling me closer to him. Even though I was aware of what I had done and guilt was starting to sing in my mind, my body tingled to his touch. Trembling in his embrace, my inner demons still having power to make me crave what I knew I shouldn’t, whilst my conscious was thinking about my husband at home. It must be him that was calling. Wondering where I have been throughout the night – if only he knew I was with someone he trusted, someone he thought would keep me safe.

Mike smelt me as I tried to decide what I was going to do next – stay and lay within this microcosm that seems too good to be true or run back to my husband and act as though none of this occurred.
“I love your scent.”
Without thinking, my body leaned back into his touch, so our bodies were as one. I felt his hard-on, making a small smile creep onto my lips. I guess no matter the logic that seemed so obvious to me, my inner demons decided what I did when it came to Mike.
“Thank you.” He had slowly begun grinding his hips into mine, using his left knee to separate my legs, allowing his access to become more easier.
“I’ve dreamt about this for a long time Sasha.” He was now between my legs. My thighs trembled as I knew what was to come soon. His hand danced on my skin and then made its way to where needed his touch the most, when my phone had begun vibrating again. My eyes shot open to where the vibration was coming from.
“Leave it.”

And I was sure that I would have left it, until it began vibrating again. I knew who was calling, and it was bad enough that I had cheated on him with his brother, but to make him worry was not something I intentionally wanted to do. Peeling myself away from Mike, I tried to find the phone that was still vibrating. Where was it? In my jacket pocket? Or did I take it out of my clutch bag? Before I had the chance to get off the bed, Mike had grabbed onto my hand, stopping me from moving.
“I need to get it Mike, we both know who it is.”
I made another attempt to get my phone, when Mike’s grip tightened.
“I know it’s him Sasha, but I don’t care. I just want you. Let’s enjoy this once more before we have to think about the consequences.”
It was stupid, I knew how dumb his suggestion was and how I know I had done more than enough damage, but I didn’t want to think. I just wanted to be in Mike’s arms again before I had to face reality. I had to choose, between the vibrating phone or being taken to new heights once more, before the guilt suffocated me and would slowly break me down and tear me from the insides out.

I let Mike crawl towards me, and take me again. Take me away from everything. It wasn’t as though my relationship…or marriage for that matter was in shambles. Josh and I were in a good place. It just was not as good as I wanted it to be. I wasn’t too sure what was missing, but when I laid my eyes of Mike at our wedding I hadn’t noticed it then. I was so drunk on love, I couldn’t see the way he held me too tight as we danced on the wedding night as a polite gesture from him to me. Neither did I see the other times he would linger around in my house for too long after guests had gone, a few months after me and Josh had moved in together. However, after three years I was no longer drunk on love – I was enjoying it with a more  sober mind. But that opened my eyes to Mike. To how he watched me, how when we hugged his hand lingered very close to my bum. And instead of these things to make me feel awkward or at least tell my husband, I enjoyed it. Enjoyed the thrill, the feeling of having another mans hands over my body. And not just any man, my husbands brother.

That was when I realised that my marriage was not enough. Josh was an amazing man, great at sex, was romantic and treated me perfectly. Yes, we argued but that was normal. But he no longer had the hunger in his eyes when he saw me walk through the door and neither I for him. Instead, I kept losing my breath when Mike and I were left alone together, when he tried to kiss me when my husband had gone to get us glasses to drink wine in. Or when we had been celebrating their parents anniversary, and Mike had managed to touch me inappropriately in a crowded area. I was sure that Josh had seen, but he didn’t mention anything and I heard nothing of it – so I tried to ignore it. But with the more passes Josh made on me, the more I felt for him.

So here I was, laying on my back. My mouth in an ‘o’ shape as Mike had now thrusted himself inside me for another time. Penetrating me in time of the vibration of my phone. He grabbed a handful of my breast as my back arched in pleasure as the strokes increased. With strength and speed, Mike continued to push me further and further to the edge. I knew it wasn’t long until I collapsed to his love, my eyes opened pleading with him to end it. He smiled as he continued to power through me, ignoring my plea and pushing himself to the brink before exploding. His whole body shaking in desire. Every muscle tensing as he tried to keep his body up above mine, whilst I crumbled below him. That was it, we had had our last fun in this world we had created for the night and now it was time to be true to ourselves.

I had a husband to confront and Mike had a brother he had just betrayed. After a few minutes of laying in silence, I sat up and went to hunt for my mobile. I didn’t put any clothes on as I had no need to hide something Mike had already seen more than enough in one night. I checked my jacket, yet couldn’t find anything. After looking for a few minutes, I found my clutch bag, which had my phone inside. I unlocked the phone and saw six missed calls from Josh and two from Clarissa. Then a few messages from both Clarissa and a few from a group conversation that I was in. I opened Josh’s message, which was frantic, he had called Clarissa and she claimed I was with her, but when failing to prove that I was there, he knew she was lying. He had started to get scared and also annoyed – the tone in his texts and voicemail had gotten a lot more serious. I needed to go home, before anything had gotten worse.

I turned back to Mike who was watching me.
“I have to go Mike.”
“I know, but I’ll see you again soon, just say you was with me when you speak to Mike. I found you a little too drunk and I took you here. I’ll come round later and explain it to him.”
“Are you crazy?”
“Trust me Sasha, say you are with me and I’ll handle everything.”
He stood up and came to me, pulling me close so that our naked bodies touched as he kissed me deeply. I was scared, but I wasn’t too sure what of. I don’t know if I was scared that Josh was going to wonder where I was, or whether this may be the last time I see Mike.
“God Sasha, if I had my way, you wouldn’t leave my side. But I know you have to go to Josh. Sasha…trust me, stick to what I said and we’ll be good.” I nodded nervously. He planted another kiss on my lips and helped me gather my things as I ran through the lie in my head. Well, it wasn’t even a lie, I did come home with Mike, but we did things I know Josh wouldn’t approve of. I just hoped my face didn’t have the events of yesterday night and this morning written all over it.

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun

The Big Apple – Part 1

I stumbled into the cab, vision blurred and stability definitely gone. I wasn’t too sure whether Dara gave the driver my home address or her own, but all I was aware of was that she’d gotten in with me and the cabman was driving to our destination. I was beyond embarrassed, I’d only been working with Dara for two months and already she’s seeing a side that I wasn’t even aware lived within me. She pulled my lifeless body against her own and began stroking my hair. It soothed my spinning vision and mind, I didn’t know how I was going to make it up to her, but I knew the treatment she was giving me was going to cost me a week of late nights in the office, but at that precise moment I didn’t care.

I’d embarrassed myself in front of my co-workers and my boss, all I wanted was to bury my head dead within my pillows and let this nightmare be forgotten. I closed my eyes, feeling like a little girl again and remembering the last words my mother told me before I moved out to New York ‘make sure you look after yourself.’ And here I was, a shambles. The cab stopped after a few minutes, which seemed like hours to me. Dara and the driver exchanged some words and before I knew it, she was helping me out the cab.

“Mind your left leg, the curb is close.”

I clasped her hands tight, afraid my footing would fail me and I’d land face first into the ground. Once I was upright and out of the cab, she began walking me towards some stairs that led towards a tall building. It didn’t look anything like the apartment I was staying at, but I wasn’t confident enough to believe my own eyes, so I fumbled carelessly towards the entrance, with her grip firm on my waist. I opened my pouch, in attempt to find my keys when Dara stopped me.

“What are you doing?”

“We can’t get into my place without my keys Vic!” The last words came out as a burp, causing me to cover my mouth.

“Katy, we’re at my place.”

She opened the doors with her keys and walked me through the lobby and towards the elevator. I stumbled after every few seconds, only highlighting how drunk I seemed to have been. She pressed the elevator button, causing the doors to open. We walked in, waiting for the lift to take us to her place. I wonder why she took me here? Why didn’t she just drop me home and leave me there and what floor does she live on? I leaned on Dara, feeling tired and looked up to her.

“Why’d you take me here?”

She looked at me with what seemed like a confused stare, “what do you mean ‘here’?”

I threw my arms in the air and signalled the building she lives in, instead of the building I live in.

“I wasn’t going to leave you all drunk by yourself.”

The elevator doors opened just as she answered. She guided me to her door, unlocking it with her keys, revealing a dark corridor. She led me through the darkness to what seemed like the living room. She forced me to sit on the sofa and then left me. I couldn’t believe I was drunk and in my boss’ apartment. I closed my eyes and felt the soft velvet sofa under my fingertips. The tiny hairs soothed my skin, calling me to sleep. I kicked off my heels and curled up like a ball on the sofa, ready to get lost in the call of this velvet masterpiece, when the lights flickered on. I groaned in annoyance and sat back up, confused with why it’d suddenly gotten bright.

“Before you even dare to sleep, take this tablet and drink this water.”

I obeyed her command, not thinking twice to answer back. I place the small chalky white tablet in my mouth and then gulp the water, that I hadn’t know I’d been craving.

“Do you feel better?” She asked walking back to what I can only assume was the kitchen area.

“Why am I here Dara?” I said, looking at the light that shone opposite from where I sat.

“I told you that already Katy.”

I looked down trying to remember when she told me, but failed to remember anything passed the lights turning on and waking up from a blissful sleep I was sure to have.

“Oh sorry. Is this your place?”

The light in the kitchen turned off, turning the intensity of the light within the room down. She came out with a plate in her hand. She laid the plate on the table and sat beside me. I looked at the sandwich and my stomach flipped twice, I shut my eyes, trying to burn the image out of my head as it began making me sick.

“Yes, it is my place.”

“It’s beautiful.” She sat besides me and chuckled.

“Are you tired honey?”

I nodded, too tired to speak anymore, just wanting a bed and sheets to cover myself with. She helped me up and walked towards the bedroom. It was dark, but with the light from the living room, I was able to make out shapes from the silhouettes casted by the objects. There was a huge bed in the middle of the room, must have been double, maybe even king sized, with a few cabinets and wardrobes resting against the walls. What caught my attention was the huge window that oversaw the busy roads and buildings of New York. Little lights danced across the roads, whilst buildings stood affirm in the midst of the party of lights, like security guards. The lights started to blur ever so slightly the longer I looked at it, making my head feel dizzy. Dara must have been aware, because she pulled me towards the bed, but it was too late. The drink had finally settled and my limbs had gone to sleep, causing me to fall to the ground. She sighed and crouched down, so that we were face to face.

“You alright?” Another nod, replaced speech. She lifted me up for another time tonight and managed to get me into her bed. At first she tried to undress me, and I tried to fight her off. I was drunk, probably more than drunk. But I still had enough sense that this wasn’t a good look at all, rolling around intoxicated in her bed was bad enough, but having her unzip my dress and try and pull it off was another. What was worse was that even though I felt I was putting up a good fight in attempt to stop her, it was all futile. All she had to do was move my defensive hands with force and they never lifted again. This was definitely something I was going to regret in the morning. Once I was down to just my undies, I closed my eyes, letting the silk sheets caress my skin and drag me further into the sleep abyss that had been calling my name.

As I slowly drifted deeper into sleep, it was as though I felt Dara hover above me and watch me. I’m sure she even muttered a few indistinctive words, but after I groaned and kept saying sleep, I felt the duvet fall over my shoulders and two soft lips touch my forehead. Then I was gone.

Hayley’s Story -Part 2

I woke up in my bed the following morning. I had no recollection of how I got there or what happened to me when that woman drove me home, but I couldn’t help but be annoyed with myself. I acted irrationally and it could have ended completely different if that woman wasn’t as nice as she was. I took a deep breath and thought about telling Veronica, but after contemplating about that option for a minute or two, I realised telling Veronica is a bad idea. I already have a headache, I didn’t need her telling me off on top of that.

I looked at my watch and saw I was only 20 minutes late in waking up for work. If I rushed and drove fast, I’d probably still make it on time. But who was I kidding? I wasn’t going to work today. With the constant thumping in my head, and the nauseous feeling that began rolling in the pit of my stomach, going to work was just a mere dream. I laid my head back into my pillow and sighed – never will I drink on a weekday again…said the alcoholic. I blindly  reached for my phone on the bedside table to call my boss telling him I won’t be able to come in today when my phone rang. I sat up again, groaning at the way my stomach felt from the fast movement and answered the phone.

“Hello?”
“Hayley! Are you awake? Wait what’s the time – you should be awake by now.” What was my boss doing calling me at 7 in the morning.
“Nick I was just about to call you.”
“No Hayley! Save it! I need you in today, there’s some clients that I need you to meet.”
“Nick, I feel like shit. I really don’t know any miracles that would help prepare me for any type of meeting today.”
“Hayley, I need you in.”
“But Nick, I’ve helped you with so many things!”
“Like what Hayley?”
“That time you needed me to write up those reports, the other time you begged me to take the Harrison Brothers out for dinner because they were investing loads of money into the company. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
He sighed. “Look Hayley, the meeting is at 1’oclock. Get in for 12 and I’ll let you leave after the meeting. That’s the best I can do.”

I rolled my eyes and sighed. Nick and I were a duo. I was almost his limbs and without me, sometimes he’d be lost. And without him, I wouldn’t have a job, that paid well. We understood each other very well, and he was eager to build me up through the company, which I appreciated. However, days like now, when I was hanging from my ass, I couldn’t be bothered. But because of what I knew Nick had and would do for me, caused me to have a soft spot for him.
“I’ll be there for 12:30PM.”
“Hayley!” He growled.
“Alright! I’ll be there for 12. Thanks Nick.”
“It’s fine. You owe me.” And with that the phone cut. I guess I wasn’t going to get a lay in like I would have liked, so I trudged slowly to the bathroom and ran a warm bath. I didn’t have to leave until 11Am. So I had time to shake this hangover off.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I had managed to shake off some of the hangover, not all of it, but most of it which was better than nothing. I’d worn my navy pencil skirt and white shirt with the matching blazer, knowing this meeting was a big deal if Nick decided to call me in the bloody AM for it. As I drove to work I couldn’t help but remember being slumped in the passenger seat the night before. I thought I’d slept, but images of me giggling and talking flashed in my mind. The memory was faint, but I do vaguely remember having some sort of conversation with that woman who drove me home. I remember dropping keys and her picking them up, but then everything faded.

I slammed my foot on the brakes as the lights turned red. With the way I was today, I couldn’t do anything but focus on one thing at a time. Which meant if I was driving, then that was all I could do. I couldn’t try to recollect of the events that happened the previous night, because that was way too much for my brain today.

Once Nick had briefed me on who was coming today, I finally understood why it meant so much for me to attend the meeting. It was the owners of Harriet&Co. One of the most popular upcoming businesses currently in the industry. And somehow, Nick had managed to get them interested in his future business plans and had let them know how much profit he could deliver to the company and how much they could save. Obviously after hearing profit and save, they were on board, so it was me that had to set up the meeting room, take notes and also explain our plans for the next 6 months.

It wasn’t a hard task as I’ve done this multiple times now, however, when I thought about how big of deal this was to Nick, I started to feel nervous. I wasn’t too sure whether it was still the alcohol in my system or the fact that I knew I couldn’t mess this up. Whichever one it was, it was messing me up and my stomach.
“Hayley, they’re on their way. Is everything ready?”
“Presentation is sorted, I’ve got my laptop to take notes, and the business structure for the next 6 months and previous 6 months are all printed and included in the slides.”
He smiled and nodded slightly. “That’s my girl.”

Just as we’d finished prepping, he received a call.
“Okay Hayley they’re here. Get Karen to bring some complimentary snacks in here and water and I’ll bring them up.”
I nodded and he was out before I finished nodding. I called Karen, asking for some food to be brought up here immediately and took a deep breath. It was time to get my game face on. I quickly put my phone on silent and threw it back in my bag when I noticed a white piece of paper neatly folded in my bag. I wasn’t too sure whether that was there before or maybe I just missed it earlier. I looked at the door and noticed no one was there yet. I reached for it and unfolded it.

Hi Stranger,

Is it bad that I didn’t catch your name? Sorry about that, but I do hope you’re feeling better. You was very friendly tonight, but that’s okay – it made me laugh. I hope you didn’t have to go into work, you looked shattered when you finally got home. 

I had to carry you to your bed which wasn’t easy. Carrying a drunk woman to her bed, whilst she’s undressing in your arms was really tough. I do hope you’re okay. I left my number below. Call me when you have a chance, you do kind of owe me now, right?

07473829574 – Melanie x

What in the world?! I must be dreaming, she left me a note. I am an absolute mess. I couldn’t even bare to read the note again. I couldn’t believe I was that much of a wreck that I couldn’t take myself to my own bed. This is beyond embarrassing. I guess I do owe her, but can I really see myself meeting up with her again? And live through that embarrassment, I’m not too sure.

A cough appeared from the doorway. I looked up and there stood Nick and the operational manager and CEO of Harriet@Co standing in the door way. Nick’s eyebrows were hunched with concern. I scrunched the paper into a ball and plastered a smile on my face. I walked towards the men, whilst throwing the paper in the bin on the way to them and outstretched my hand to the men.
“Pleasure to meet you, I’m Hayley.”
“Ah! Hello Hayley, I’m Simon and this is Conor, lovely to meet you.”
“Have a seat fellas, get comfortable.” Nick ushered them to their appointed seats as I walked to mine, noticing the food on the table. I must have been engrossed in that damn note that I didn’t even hear Lauren walk through the door and set up the table.
“Hayley, shall we begin?” Throwing the thoughts of the note that Melanie left in my bag out of my head, I returned my focus back onto the presentation and the meeting at hand.

© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun

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.”

Grendel’s Mother & Beowulf

He was here. And she wasn’t wasting anymore time. She’d watched her son crawl into their home, bleeding and in agony – barely able to conduct coherent sentences. He’d clutched onto his shoulder that was saturated in blood. She knew something wasn’t right, however due to her state of mind, she had no time to wonder what was missing.

She rushed over to Grendel’s side, in tears, mortified at the image that was before her. There he lay, her son, without his left arm, crying in pain. It was an educated guess that he had already began dying on his way to their abode, but it seemed as though now he was at his final breaths. She cried in anger and in discomfort, who would have taken her only son? She held him close to her, with only one question on her lips, who? He clutched his wound, and took sharp breaths in, attempting to reveal the name, but visibly struggling. He closed his eyes, using the last energy that dwelled within him, whilst she clasped his hand. Hoping for anything, but knowing reality was a cruel mistress. Beo…Beowulf…Beowulf was his name, and Beowulf was whom she was going to slay. To avenge her now dead son. She was going to slaughter him brutally, so that he felt every bone in his minuscule body tighten and crumble as she killed him. She descended her son into the murky lake that flowed between her legs, and stood looking at the crescent moon in the sky – she’d be patient, she told herself. Sooner or later, this Beowulf would come looking for her, and once he did, she’d destroy him. Destroy him along with any hopes and legacies that came along with the name Beowulf.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The wait was finally over. He was here and she was prepared. He crept through the cave, eyes alert and sword drawn. Slaying Grendel was not a task that Beowulf couldn’t handle, however he wasn’t going to assume the same for his mother. He knew the anger that ran through her veins and pulsated around her body was because of him – because he killed her only son. He’d come across a lake, but to proceed with his journey, he’d have to swim through the lake to enter her chamber. The path before him reminded him of his swimming contest with Breca, many moons ago. Even though he failed to win the match with Breca, he was sure he’d defeat any sea monsters that would cross his path. Just like he had during that contest. He placed the knife between his teeth, bit down and then dived into the lake.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Stupid human, she thought. She was the queen of her domain and now she was going to show him why he should have never trespassed her land. She saw his body swimming through the lake, without warning, her body lunged towards him, pulling him out of the water. As she held him, other sea monsters came to her side, attacking this outsider, clinging onto his armour and pulling at his weapon. However, this man was stronger than what she had anticipated. He summoned power from above and loosened Grendel’s mothers grip from around his waist, whilst pulling the sea creatures off of him.

Beowulf then proceeded to swim to the surface, revealing a golden aura within the cave. He drew his sword and faced Grendel’s mother, who was stalking her prey ready to strike. He turned to face her and for once was stunned; never had he imagined such beauty or elegance from such a monstrous creature like her. She managed to hold an unimaginable picturesque appearance that he physically couldn’t raise his arm to strike her.

But it wasn’t only he that was shocked, her son’s murderer was beyond any regular human, he was a god. A god with such features that any creature would bow to him under any command. She came close, not believing what she was seeing, she wanted to touch, wanted to feel, smell him even. The finest Gods from above made him. He was enchanted by her beauty, nobody had capsulated such exquisiteness like she did, he threw his sword to the ground and stripped himself of his armour. Not fearing the other sea creatures that lurked closely around him, instead he solemnly focused on Grendel’s mother and how a monster could hold such a beauty that would disarm a man without any words.

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.

 

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