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After two days and Andy continued to go to work, Jessica became fed up with the pretense. She felt bored and useless in the beach house so she decided to go and see her friends. If Andy wanted to be unreasonable, she would show him that two can play his game.
She sat at the owner’s corner at the back while the driver which Andy had assigned to her drove the car. She had argued that she needed no driver but he won when he found out that she hadn’t perfected her driving skills. After their little drama at the beach, she and Andy had barely talked. The house had almost been as silent as a grave yard and for the umpteenth time, she regretted the decision she made.
She sighted the small shop a few feet away and smiled. Lizzy was a fashion designer who rented the shop in front of her rented apartment for her enterprise. She was a graduate who had no interest in working for anyone. Jessica always envied her independent lifestyle. She had wanted to visit Sonia but she knew that she would be at work. Sonia worked in a bank and was almost always unavailable. Paulina, just like her motherly nature, teaches in a big primary school and she seems to find fulfillment in the work. Only Jessica seemed to be lost in this equation. After her entire family perished in one day, leaving her all alone in a crazy and meaningless world, she had changed her mind from being a lawyer to being a doctor. She studied medicine in the university, thanks to her uncle and his supportive wife but after working for five years in a hospital, she finally decided that she hated the job. Initially, she felt that if she could be a doctor, she could save a family from dying but later she discovered that hospitals reminded her of what she had lost.
18 YEARS AGO…
Jessica bounced up and down the sitting room, expecting her family to return. It was the beginning of a long vacation and her parents had gone to pick up her brother from the boarding school which he attended. She had missed her brother immensely and she longed to play the computer games with him so she could show him how much she had improved. She smiled at the thought of beating him at the games. Even though she knew the sound of her dad’s car horn, she checked the gate every time she heard a horn.
“Settle down Jessie, when they come, you would see them” Miss Boluke said. Miss Boluke was their house help. She was more or less like a family and like a big sister. She turned and frowned at her.
“I have no home work since I am on holiday and the TV is so boring. I have nothing to lose by checking the gate a million times”. At 11, Jessica was a very bright and sharp kid. She was so mature.
“Yes you do. You are too small to develop high blood pressure. Come and help me in the kitchen”. Jessie groaned and Miss Bolu raised her eye brows. “I am baking some snacks; you know how much your brother loves them…”
Miss Bolu did not need any other words; Jessie bounced into the kitchen. The both of them talked and laughed together like two adults and Miss Bolu marveled at the questions the small girl asked. She had successfully diverted Jessie’s mind from the tense state it was in but when silence reigned some minutes later, Jessica asked. “They would be here soon right? They are taking too long” Jessica looked worried.
Miss Bolu was also slightly worried but she hid it well. Mr and Mrs Adams never stayed so long whenever they went to pick up Mark. She assumed that they got stuck in traffic and told Jessica the same thing. Lagos’ traffic was always unpredictable.
They removed the brown snacks from the oven and Jessica stared longingly at it. Miss Bolu took one look at her face and laughed, extracted one, placed it in a plate and gave it to her. Just as she was savoring the taste, the residential intercom rang and she flew there.
“Don’t touch that phone Jessica Adams” Miss Bolu roared. She had her mind set to disobey that order but Miss Bolu smacked her hand which was already on the phone.
“Hello” Miss Bolu said, knowing that the person speaking was at the gate. “Yes, this is the Adams’ residence… ok” she dropped the intercom and turned glaring eyes at Jessica. “I don’t want to see you outside, do you hear me?”
Jessica nodded with a meek smile, only she should have known that the ever stubborn Jessica does not listen to anyone.
Miss Bolu stepped out and opened the main gate. “Good afternoon” she greeted the man in front of her, who was looking like someone who just left the battle front. “Please, how may I help you?”
“My name is Tony; I came to deliver information.” He became silent. Miss Bolu urged him on, feeling dread creep into her system. “Actually, there was an accident along the express and after checking the valuables found on the victims, we noticed that they are the Adams Family”
Miss Bolu had frozen as her pale face stared at the equally pale face of the reporter. She did not hear the gasp behind her as she grabbed the pedestrian gate for support before she fell from the blow. An image caught her eye and she spun with alarm as she stared at Jessica who stood rooted to the ground.
“Jessica…” she gasped.
The words Jessica had heard continued to echo as she stared ahead, seeing nothing. It was until tears had slipped out of her eyes that she again saw the bad news bringer and Miss Bolu. She wiped the tears instantly and marched forward, standing in front of the man before Miss Bolu could even think of what to do or say.
“Where is my Mummy?” she demanded. The man looked totally at a loss. “Where is my dad and my brother? Their snacks are inside. Where are they?” she yelled.
The man bent down to her level, the way her dad usually did, holding her hands. As Miss Bolu placed her hand on her shoulder, she lost it. She snatched her hands from the man and grabbed his shirt with her small fists. She was shivering. “Where is my mummy?” she yelled, shaking the man with all her strength. “I want to see her. I want to see my daddy.” She gasped. “Where is Mark? Where is my brother? I still have not beat him at the computer game, where is he.” She wiped her tears furiously because it was hindering her from seeing the man clearly. Miss Bolu tried all she could to detach her from the man who just stayed with sorrow written all over him, without touching the child but she did not succeed. When Jessica discovered that shaking the man was not working, she started pounding her fists on his chest until he held her firmly with his strong hands.
“Ok, let me take you to them.” He said, smiling faintly but tightly. “Go and put on your shoes.” He said gently.
“No. I can go like this. Lets go” she wiped her eyes again. Miss Bolu could not even get a grip on herself, not to mention, console the child. Mr and Mrs Adams had been like parents to her. The man insisted until Miss Bolu went in to get Jessica’s shoes, and locked the door.
When they got to the car that the man brought, Jessica’s hand was shivering so terribly that she could not hold the handle of the car, not to talk of opening it. Tony opened the door for the ladies and went being the wheel. He could not even think of any word of consolation to use. He hadn’t exactly told them the worst part of the news but he knew that they had already drawn up their own conclusions. He would have been able to handle it if the little girl hadn’t been involved but seeing the girl tearing apart had almost driven him crazy.
When they got to the hospital, he hesitated but when Jessica opened her door, he hurriedly went out. Before he left the hospital minutes ago, the little boy had been alive, though in grave danger. He hoped and prayed that the boy was still alive but immediately they got into the hospital he knew that the prayer hadn’t been answered. There, Jessica’s life became altered. Without being told anything by anyone, due to her age, she was still able to fathom what the news was. A trailer had collided with the car; she heard someone say. Suddenly, the smell of blood and drugs hit her like a slap. She imagined that the blood of her parents and her brother was what she was inhaling. She grabbed her expanding head and screamed…..
She clutched her purse tight as the scene of over 18 years replayed over and over again. She had cried and cried secretly but never in the presence of others. She quickly wiped her brimming eyes and blinked. The driver was watching her now and she realized that they had stopped moving.
“Are you alright ma’am?” he asked softly with worry.
She smiled. “I am fine. Thanks.” She stepped out of the car and walked towards the shop, hoping that her friend would be able to lift her spirit. It was like life always threw her battled.
“Who am I seeing?” Lizzy yelled immediately she saw Jessie. “Jessie baby” she hailed. “The sexiest SU bride in town”
Jessica frowned at the endearment but internally, she was glad. If there was someone who could make her feel extremely happy with words, it was Lizzy. “Na who be SU”
“Who else my dear” Lizzy hugged her fiercely. “Hold it. What are you doing here? You should be on honeymoon. Don’t tell me you guys got fed up of each other’s company this fast. You both seemed so much in love that you got married barely two months after meeting.” They sat down on the chair. No one was in the shop except clothes.
“He had to quickly fix some things at the office so I decided to visit you”
“Wait” Lizzy raised her hand in surprise. “You are trying to say that your honeymoon was put on halt because of work? That Andy is really something”
“No, he had something very important to sort out at work today and I advised him to go. Besides, we still have the rest of our lives together” she lied.
Lizzy tried to think about it then shrugged it off, as her face brought on a ladylike smile. “Tell me babe, give me the gist. How was your honeymoon, most importantly, the wedding night?”
Jessica doubled up and almost threw up at the question. She looked pale. Jessica realized that it had been a very terrible idea to come to Lizzy. Lizzy was always direct and it was increasingly difficult to lie to her.
“OH… I had forgotten that my SU friend can’t divulge that information. In fact, pardon me, it was inappropriate. It was not like I actually wanted you to tell me, just wanted to see your reaction, and I got it” Lizzy said, misinterpreting Jessica’s reactions.
That was the lifesaver that Jessica needed. “I won’t tell you. But you can follow me to the beach. I guess Andy won’t be back until it is almost dark. You have been to the beach, you can teach me how to play in it and possibly swim”
Lizzy’s eyes widened and she stood up instantly. “You don’t have to ask me twice”
“What about the shop?” Jessica asked, laughing.
“It can do without me today” she closed the shop and they both went into her apartment where she fished out some beach-fitting clothes.