Shade couldn’t breathe properly. The walls seemed to move in on her like zombies from a horror movie. She felt the floor move under her feet and she held onto the door of the bathroom for support. She entered the bathroom and splashed some cold water on her face. She felt better.
She returned to the room, brought out a valise from the wardrobe and threw it on the bed. She looked out the window at the setting sun. It would soon be dark. She didn’t want to spend the night in the same house with Gbenga and the maid.
She tried to arrange the clothes but she was depressed and order was the last thing on her mind. She opened a drawer, picked up some underwear and threw them into the case.
She stopped in front of the dressing mirror and looked at herself. She looked dishevelled. How she looked was the last thing on her mind.
Voices rose from downstairs. Ngozi asking Gbenga to confess his misdeeds.
“Why did you do such a thing to my friend?” Ngozi shouted.
” I didn’t do anything. I am innocent,” Gbenga insisted.
Looking at herself in the mirror, Shade realised that her job was killing her. She made a lot of money but she had aged in the past four years. She looked like a forty five year old woman but she was only thirty five.
The room swayed before her eyes. It felt like someone with absolutely no talent was using her head for drum practice. The pain throbbed. She slowly sat down on the bed.
“Mom, I am so sorry,” she whispered to herself. About two years ago her mom told her to give up her job, but she wouldn’t listen.
“Shade, I pray that this job will not be your undoing,” her mom started.
“Mom, what do you mean by that?”
“Hmm,” the old woman breathed deeply. “My daughter, money is not everything. You cannot pursue money and build a good home at the same time. The way you hold on to this job makes me fear for you.”
“Mom, I am in the human resources department of the bank. I am not a real banker.”
“But you keep the same hours, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do. But what has that got to do with anything?” Shade asked.
“My daughter, your marriage is young. This is the time to build it and make it strong. If the pursuit of money takes over your life, you won’t devote enough time to your husband and the children the good Lord will soon bless you with.”
Shade was stubborn. “Mom, we need the money to live a good life. It cost a lot of money to maintain this home. We have so many bills to pay. Gbenga cannot do it alone. I have to support him.”
“Shade, if anything goes wrong with his marriage, your money won’t be able to salvage it,”her mom said.
“Mom, are you placing a curse on my marriage?” Shade asked in anger.
“No, my daughter. It is not a curse. Don’t you have enough already? When will the money be enough for you? Why don’t you get another job that will give you enough time to pay attention to this marriage?”
“Mom, please don’t bring your superstitious beliefs into my home. I love my husband very much and he loves me too. Nothing will ever go wrong in our home.”
That was the last time her mom brought up the subject or even came to her home.
Shade sighed. She had been promoted twice in the past three years. That meant more money, but it also came with more responsibility and pressure at work.
How could she face her mom after her arrogant and rude behaviour? How could she tell her that what she predicted had finally happened: that the maid was carrying Gbenga’s child? Tears started flowing down her face. She held her head in her hands and sobbed like a child. How could she reverse this misfortune she had brought upon herself, with her own hands?
She packed the valise, opened a drawer, brought out three cheque booklets and put them in her handbag. As she descended the stairs she heard Ngozi shouting at Gbenga.
She got downstairs and headed for the door.
“Where are you going?” her husband jumped up to confront her.
“I can’t bear to spend another minute in this house. I am leaving,” Shade kept walking towards the door.
Ngozi stood up. “Where are you going?” She asked her friend.
“I don’t know. Anywhere but this house is good right now.”
“Darling, we should sit down and talk this over. The maid is a liar. I never touched her.”
“Right now I don’t know what to think or who to believe. I need some alone time.”
Ngozi held Shade’s right hand. “Do you want me to come with you?”
“I will be fine. I need to do this on my own.” Shade said.
“Where are you going to stay?” Gbenga asked.
Shade was silent.
Gbenga and Ngozi followed her to her car.
“Darling, this isn’t right. We should talk this over,” Gbenga pleaded with his angry wife.
Shade entered her car and started it.
“Shade, you should talk to your husband,” Ngozi pleaded with her friend.
“What do you want me to tell the pastor in church tomorrow?” Gbenga asked.
“You should have thought about that before you slept with the maid,” Shade said and moved the car forward.
Gbenga walked back to the house in anger.
Like an owl, Ngozi watched the tail lights of Shade’s car disappear through the gates and the gateman quickly shut them behind her. She entered the house, closed the door and stood there for a few seconds with her back against the door.
“This is going to be easier than I thought,” she said to herself.
She looked in the direction of the stairs, threw back her head and wicked laughter rose from her slim neck like a hyena in heat.
To be continued…