Sacrilege by Nissi Adeola. Episode 25

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It must be Croatia’s loss (really wanted them to win) that is moving me to tears, not this episode…or, I like to tell myself that… I know you forgive me for not posting yesterday even before I ask. You can’t be mad at me for too long. I’d see if I can squeeze in a bonus this week, if not, it’s till Saturday loves, do bear with me till the end. Love you all.

Episode 25

PRESENT

“Laura’s dad?” Teju shook her head, her eyes glazed with visions of the past. “I was too scared. I couldn’t take the hand he proffered. Imagine! He clearly heard that I was pregnant for his daughter’s husband…” she shook her head. “It was so stupid to have met with Dupe at the bar” she said and swallowed. The monitor of the room dinged continuously. For a moment there, she hadn’t heard the sound at all. Mark Johnson lay so still on the bed, no single thing suggested that he had heard an iota of what she was saying. It was all well and good. The only reason she had enough courage to even spill it all was because she had a feeling that no one was listening to her. Many times, she finds herself wondering if she actually did those things.

Teju stood up from the foot of the bed and moved a bit, her nylon apron covering making funny sounds. “He came into my apartment; walked around the room like a lion sizing up its prey. I remember being scared of what he was going to say to me, or do to me… but he didn’t seem angry at first, if anything, he seemed… pleased…”

***** TWO MONTHS AGO *****

The room was drenched in silence and Frank was the only person who seemed comfortable in it. He took his time, giving the room a quick survey while Teju fidgeted, keeping close to the door so she can easily flee in case things went south. He unnerved her. It was weird seeing someone that looked exactly like Mark, yet knowing he was not the one. Identical twins scared her. Yet, there was this air about this man… something about him called to her and she could not just place her finger on what it was.

Frank finally settled his gaze on her. A small smile touched his lips. “You should seat.” He nodded at the only chair in the room. “Standing too much is not good for your… condition”

Teju fidgeted with her fingers, so nervous. “Please sir… I… I can explain”

“No, you shouldn’t. You gave all the explanation I need at the bar. With very acute ears and lip reading abilities, there is nothing you said to your dear friend that escaped my knowledge.” He gave her a brief mirthless smile. He turned to take a small walk around the room like the place was of rare fancy to him. “Including the part where you spoke about aborting your child – my daughter’s husband’s bastard” his eyes connected hers, allowing the words sink in.

Teju swallowed. Her mouth went dry as her heart slammed in her chest. She was lost on what to say. “But I have a solution for you so you don’t have to murder your foetus” Frank continued, turning away again, his back to her. “You see, when I saw you at Laura’s wedding six years ago, clinging to Deolu the way you did, I knew this day would come.”

The words settled and Teju frowned. “But you… you were not at the wedding” she stared intently at the man again. He had said he wasn’t Mark, right? But Mark had been at the wedding, not Laura’s father. Close to Deolu as she was, she had first-hand knowledge that Laura’s father was not in support of their union. Mark had walked her down the aisle that day. So how could Frank have seen her at the wedding when he was not even there?

“Oh, I was there…” he said, turning to face her, his eyes poking into hers. “I walked Laura down the aisle, not Mark… I knew no one would notice the swap, even Laura had too much of Deolu in her head to be able to tell us apart; and she could tell us apart” A pained smiled flashed in his eyes, then vanished, replaced with a dark cloud of bitterness. “But I knew it was all he wanted to do… I knew all Mark wanted was to walk Laura down the aisle and I’d be damned if I’d let him have that… be damned if I’d let him have that happiness” Frank looked almost murderous as he focused on a particular spot on the wall. “I sneaked to the church, called Mark out and took his place. Of course, he resisted but he knew he had no choice. He had a secret to keep” he smiled drily; a bitter smile that Teju knew had a very terrible story behind it.

Teju frowned at Frank. It was like looking at someone with a personality disorder. How come he had swapped with his brother and no one had noticed. She had heard of the atrocities of identical twins but it was the first time she was actually witnessing it. She couldn’t remember how the topic had suddenly shifted from her but the issue at hand was puzzling. She kept quiet, studying Frank who seemed to be having a moment. His hatred and bitterness came out through his words, his facial expression and even his body language. Teju wondered what Mark did to Frank to make him so bitter. His eyes fixed on the wall seemed to have forgotten her presence. Then the glint in his eyes was gone as he turned his eyes back to her. “That’s why your pregnancy is so perfect”

Teju blinked, her frown deepening. “I’m sorry?”

“You are going to sleep with my brother”

Teju froze. Paranoia was probably affecting her hearing because she couldn’t have heard him right. “I am?”

“Yes, you are” he said, matter-of-factly.

Teju blinked, then shifted, distributing her weight evenly on both legs as she squared her shoulders. “I am sorry sir, but no one dictates to me. You need someone to sleep with your brother, there are so many tramps out there” Something must be wrong with the world if people thought they could just pop in from nowhere and tell her what and what not to do.

“I have found my tramp” his eyes gave no apologies for the obvious insult and Teju could feel her anger rising. She didn’t care how old he was, she was ready to walk him out of her apartment. She opened her mouth to speak when he continued, interrupting whatever she had to say. “Besides, I wasn’t asking, I am telling you what you’d do”

Teju’s brow lifted. “Oh… and why would I do what you asked… sir?”

“You are pregnant for Laura’s husband” he stated like that explained everything. “You really think I would seat back and watch you destroy Laura’s home?”

Teju shifted, uncomfortable with the way it sounded. “So, if I get you right sir, you want me to… impose the child on your brother by sleeping with him”

“I won’t see Laura’s home destroyed”

“So, you would rather destroy your brother’s life” she’d bet an entire fortune that this was not so much about protecting Laura’s home. Something told her it was more to get at his brother; the hatred she had seen in his eyes said it all.

Frank shrugged, looking carefully blank. “His life is pretty useless anyways.”

Teju was silent for a while then shook her head. “And to think I thought Laura exaggerated her dislike for you” she mouthed. Frank’s eyes narrowed. “Why? Why do you hate him so much?” she asked. “What did he ever do you to make you hate him so much?”

“Make me raise a child that is not mine is what he did” Frank snapped. Teju tensed. She sensed a dark secret about to be revealed. The bitterness was back in his eyes, in his voice. He gesticulated with his hands. “You don’t know what it’s like to look at a child, spend all you have to raise her and yet know the child is not yours. People said she looked like me, had my eyes and my hair, but I knew who she actually looked like…”he took a deep breath. “How could I forget?”

Teju swallowed. It was difficult to look at Frank as different emotions flashed through his face. Pain, betrayal, rage, hatred… the list was endless… at a point she thought she saw tears shimmering in Frank’s eyes and she felt his pain. His words stuck to her head and she began to piece the pieces. The frown on her face deepened with each second… ‘raise a child that is not mine’… ‘all Mark wanted was to walk Laura down the aisle’…

Teju’s eyes snapped up as her mouth opened. “Laura? Laura is…”

She didn’t need him to confirm it, it was all in his eyes. It was all in the way he looked away from her, too ashamed of the truth. Teju couldn’t believe it. Mark was Laura’s father! She had thought Mark had to be a good man. Laura never stopped singing his praises. She could just imagine how bad Frank would feel, having Laura love Mark even more than she loved him. So, Mark wasn’t so good afterall.

Frank finally looked back at her. “He deserves to raise a child that is not his… he needs to know how it feels”

*****

PRESENT

*****
Teju swallowed. “I initially refused… though a part of me wanted to go along. I didn’t want to abort the baby, I wasn’t enthusiastic about the saga the pregnancy would cause in Deolu’s home either. Putting the pregnancy on you seemed like the perfect plan but I just couldn’t see myself doing it. But when you have a secret to keep, you can be made to do anything. Mr Frank knew that, and in days, he found a secret, one I was not ready to reveal to anyone, most of all, Deolu.” She swallowed. “He told me when you’d be the most vulnerable. July 18th. He said you were always vulnerable then that it was almost the only day in a year you ever taste alcohol. That was how I met you at the bar that night.” She paused, turning to look at Mark’s form on the bed. “I was right to assume that you never noticed me at the wedding because you didn’t recognize me. It was all weird, you were a lot older than me. At first, it was like meeting Frank but it didn’t take too long to notice the differences. You smiled more, complimented more, a little tipsy as you were, I was surprised you noticed my eyes were brown and not black, no man in my life had ever noticed that.” The wonder was obvious in her voice. “It was easy to see why Laura loved you” she blinked back tears. “I became confused. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go along with the plan anymore. We got to the room and… you treated me with so much care… better than anyone I had ever been with. I felt so good… so… special… but I couldn’t go through with it. I knew I couldn’t. Despite all that your brother told me, I just couldn’t do it.” She swallowed. “But then, when I said ‘no’, you didn’t stop. Maybe you were too far gone, maybe my ‘no’ wasn’t convincing enough… you simply didn’t stop. And I was sad and angry. I shouldn’t have done that to you… I have been hurt by too many men that I thought most men are trash, I felt so terrible for doing what I did to you – the only man who actually treated me like I was special, even though you’d only just met me. I was mad at you for not stopping when I said no but I was more mad at myself. I got home and I wrote in my diary… I needed to make myself believe it was rape, that you were at fault, that all Frank said about you were true… I mean… when someone goes ahead even after you’ve said no, it is rape, right?” she wiped tears from her eyes. “But I knew you weren’t at fault. Probably if I had been more convincing, you would have stopped. I told your brother about what happened and it seemed to make him happier… The plan was to wait a month and then tell you I was pregnant for you, but as the weeks passed, and you tried to reach me… everytime you searched for me and called me, trying to check if I was okay… I couldn’t bring myself to burden you with a child that is not yours. I couldn’t do it to you. That was when I made the decision to tell Deolu’s mother about my pregnancy. She was so happy that the plan actually pulled through. She never knew that a lot had happened after I slept with Deolu. I lied to your brother that Deolu’s mother found my doctor’s report and did the math. It was enough to make him back down for a while. He was not so pained though. It all seemed to suit him quite well” she said with a bitter frown.

“But I had to meet Frank again. When Tito found my diary and started digging, I had to meet him to know what to do. I knew if she dug enough, she would find the secret I was hiding. It was there but she didn’t notice it. It was in one of the documents she took along with the diary… it was then he asked me to tell Tito that the child was yours, that it would destabilize her enough to get her off my back.”

She moved to Mark’s wrapped form on the bed. “I am sorry… I am so sorry I involved you in my mess… you are a good man. Whatever it is you have done, I know it couldn’t have been intentional or premeditated. I am so sorry, please forgive me” she swallowed, touching the wrapped arm, staring at the exposed eyes, hoping… hoping that she would see a sign, a blink, anything at all to signify that he at least heard her… but there was nothing. Nothing other than the constant beep of the machine.

Taking a deep breath, she kissed her fingers and placed the fingers on his arm. Unable to utter any other word again, she turned. She had to be contented with the fact that she had told him everything. She prayed… prayed that against all odds, he had heard her. She silently wondered as she got to the door, why the nurse hadn’t come to walk her out. She had started with the long story, hoping the doctor would interrupt her and save her from saying it all, but the nurse was either asleep or had totally forgotten she was inside. Then she opened the door…

A strangled gasp escaped Teju as she stared at the faces of Laura, Tito and the nurse. Her face turned pale. “Laura…” her eyes rotated from one to another. She needed no sorcerer to tell her that she had just revealed it all to not just Mark but also to Laura and Tito. She now knew why the nurse hadn’t interrupted her since. Her mouth opened to give an explanation, anything at all, but no words were coming out.

“Save it” Tito snapped, her eyes blazing. “Just save it”, she turned and marched away.

*****

Laura and Tito entered the waiting room. They looked so drained and exhausted. Laura couldn’t wrap her head around it all. It was just too much. She had heard too much for one day, she just wanted to sleep… she needed to forget it all. She thought of Deolu’s mother and what she had just found out she did, Frank and all she just found out, and Mark… Gosh… it was too much. July 18th… that was the day her mother died… Laura swallowed.

Deolu sighted Laura and Teju immediately they entered and instantly knew that something was wrong. Laura had too much running through her face and for a second, he feared the worst. But as he stood and went to her, he had a feeling it was something different. His suspicion was further confirmed when Teju emerged looking almost sickly pale as she made for the exit hurriedly, keeping her eyes to the ground. He knew what had happened then. He got to Laura, touching her waist lightly as his other hand raised her face to his. He stared into her eyes. “Hey, you okay?”

Laura stared at Deolu. He had that crease in his forehead that always appeared when he was deeply worried. She wanted to cry. “Ad…” she shook her head, trying to ward off the tears. “I just want today to be over” her body shook from holding back her tears.

Deolu pulled her into his arms, holding her to him as he kissed her hair. He gritted his teeth. He was angry. Angry that he couldn’t keep her from getting hurt. He had promised to protect her and keep her happy. He had broken more promises than fidelity. “Let me take you out of here” he said. “Please” he needed her as far away from all these as possible. It was the only way he could remain sane.

Laura withdrew slightly. Deolu could see in her eyes, that she wanted nothing more than to get away from it all. But she shook her head, her eyes taking in the people in the waiting room, she didn’t see Gloria and the rest and guessed she and Jane took Margaret and Tess home to rest. “I can’t. I can’t leave Tito alone” she said, staring at Tito who stood just a few steps away.

“I’d stay with her”

Laura turned to see Chris. He had been so wonderful. His support had been so immense.

“You should go” Chris finished. Laura couldn’t even argue. She needed a bit of air.

“Thank you” she whispered, touching Chris’ arm lightly. She went to Tito, giving her a tight hug that Tito barely returned. Deolu nodded at Chris, his eyes conveying his appreciation as he led Laura out of the hospital.

Chris watched them leave, then turned to Tito. Tito’s face was bluntly vacant. Her eyes were veiled and her shoulders had that rigid fix to them that made it seem like she was trying to prevent herself from doing something. She raised her eyes to his and looked away, avoiding his gaze as she searched out a seat. “They are gone. You can leave now” She sat, brushing off hair from her face and she bowed her head slightly. Her voice was so lifeless that despite all Tito had done and was doing to him, Chris had the strange urge to hold her till her shields fell off.

“I’m not leaving”

“Leave” she forced, raising her head till she was looking at him. “Please… Leave”

Chris swallowed. How could he refuse her when she said ‘please’? She had never used that word to his hearing before. But it was not the word that drew at his insides, it was the plea he had seen in her eyes, the yearning…

He nodded. “Okay” with that, he turned and made for the exit. He buried his hands deep in his pocket, his hands fisted. Today had been a shitty day! As he got to the exit, for whatever reason, he chanced a look at Tito and felt a tight squeeze in his chest as he saw her dash the back of her hand across her face, wiping off what he was sure to be tears. Gritting his teeth, he walked out of the hospital into the darkness of the night and this time, made it home without turning back.

Sacrilege.

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Sacrilege by Nissi Adeola. Episode 24

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Episode 24

Teju walked into the room and waited for the door to close behind her before she took slow steps towards the bed ahead. The white mass on the bed was nothing like the man she knew. Her eyes watered as she got to the bed. She had waited several hours, ignored the pain that had her gasping a few times, just waiting for this moment; the time she would be allowed to see Mark Johnson. And now… now, standing before the very person she sought, the words just wouldn’t find their way out of her mouth. But she knew she had to… she had to tell him the truth and hope against hope that just as she had seen in movies, a part of his subconscious could hear whatever she said. She couldn’t bear the thought that Mark might die without knowing the truth. He had to know. Even though she didn’t deserve his forgiveness, he deserved the truth.

A shaky palm ran lightly over the body covered in protective towel as tears coerced down her cheek, falling on the white mass. “I am sorry sir” she finally blotted out amidst tears that she couldn’t seem to stop. She put her hand against her mouth, biting into her finger. She shook her head. “I am so sorry. I never should have… I never should have done that to you… I never should have…” she shook her head again, turning a full three-sixty degrees out of paranoia. She felt so pathetic. “But you should have stopped! You should have” she ground out in bitterness. “But he knew you wouldn’t. He had planned it all, timed it perfectly… our meeting was not a coincidence… that night was not a coincidence… it was all part of a plan.”

She sat at the foot of the bed, not wanting to see Mark’s eyes as she spilled the entire truth. “It was all planned” she said again. “Deolu’s mother met with me and begged me to sleep with Deolu and I agreed for selfish reasons. She needed a grandchild, I needed a child, Deolu and Laura also needed a child, it seemed perfect to me. I found a way to get Deolu into my bed, also with the help of his mother… the part of me that knew I was wrong prayed the affair wouldn’t lead to pregnancy. I thought it wouldn’t, considering their fruitless marriage, but then… one month after, I was faced with another reality.

***** FLASHBACK – TWO MONTHS AGO *****

Teju paced her room, deeply worried. Another missed call. Laura had been calling endlessly and she was too scared to pick up. What if she had found out? She swallowed. A message popped into her phone, making a gentle ding sound. She picked up her phone and enlarged the message, growing pale as she read. Just what I needed! A gentle knock resonated through the room, making her jump.

“Yes?”

“It’s Laura”

Teju froze scarlet, standing transfixed at the middle of the room. Her heart slammed in her chest as she wondered what Laura was doing at her place. Ever since she slept with Deolu about four weeks ago, she hadn’t been able to look Laura in the eye. Her conscience ate away at her every time and she always tried to meeting up with Laura or even Deolu for that matter. But now, Laura was at her door… it wasn’t usual for her to come visiting. First she called severally, now she was here? Something was definitely wrong. Or had she found out? Had she found out about her evil betrayal and was here to give her exactly what she deserved? The hair on her skin stood as fear reared up in her. “One second” her voice finally called back.

Swallowing, she took steps to the door and creaked it open. Laura grinned at her as the door opened and Teju visibly relaxed. “Hey, pretty lady” Laura called.

Teju managed a smile. “Hey you… what are you doing here?”

“Paying a visit, I haven’t seen much of you of late” Laura answered as she pushed into the room. “I was heading to Tito’s place so I decided to drop by since you haven’t been picking my calls” she faced Teju. “What’s up with that anyways?” Teju opened her mouth to give a feeble explanation but Laura turned. “Never mind. You are going to help me with my husband.” She said and sat heavily on the bed.

Teju’s hand grew cold as she finally closed the door and turned to Laura. She frowned. “What do you mean?”

Laura sighed. “He is being too pertinent and stubborn. He wants us to celebrate our sixth anniversary with a small in house party”

Teju swallowed. Her conscience ate at her till she was sure she’d go crazy. She moved to a chair and sank on it. “You want me to do the décor?” she busied herself with pouring Laura a glass of juice.

“No. talk him out of it is what I want”

“You don’t want to celebrate?” “Would you?” Laura’s voice dropped a notch as she accepted the glass of juice and stared intently into it. “It’s been six years, Teju… you really think an anniversary is what I want to be seen celebrating?”

Teju was silent. Her mind went to the text message and quickly discarded it. “Marriage is not only about children, but companionship, love and so much more. If Deolu wants to celebrate, you should” she said. She knew that’s what Deolu would have told Laura also.

Laura blinked looking away. “I knew you’d say that. You and Deolu are always standing together and against me in everything”

Teju froze. “I am sorry… I…”

Laura looked up in surprise with a smile on her face. “I didn’t ask for an apology, I was just kidding” she said.

Tito swallowed. “But you were right” she said, trying to sound casual.

“Well, yeah. It would be nice to have your support sometimes, you know, girl power” Laura said, grinning. She sighed. “But thank you. You know, I never knew I could trust a woman with my husband till I met you. You are amazing. And though guys haven’t been treating you so well, I’m sure God’s only saving the best for last. You totally deserve to be happy, Teju”

***** PRESENT *****
“And those are the words I know would haunt my dreams. I sat there, in front of the woman I had knowingly and consciously betrayed for selfish reasons, unable to say anything as she sang my praises.” Teju shook her head, tears dropping from her eyes. “It was then I understood what Judas felt. It was then I understood why he had to kill himself.” She swallowed. “But evening came… evening came with its own twists and surprises.”

***** TWO MONTHS AGO *****
Teju walked into a small bar. Unlike other bars, its music was always minimal, always giving people the blessing of talking without screaming out their lungs. Teju scanned the tables until she saw the person she was seeking. She walked straight up to the table, pulled back a chair and collapsed into it. Her friend – Dupe, leaned over the table, peering at her. “Well?”

Teju blinked and shrugged, looking down at her lap.

“What’s” Dupe imitated the shrug. “You got the text message, right?”

“Uhn”

“So… Are you going to tell me what it is or not?”

Teju looked up into Dupe’s eyes. She shrugged again. “I don’t know”

Dupe frowned. “What do you mean you don’t know? You didn’t check?”

Teju swallowed. “I couldn’t. God, I’m so scared”

Dupe rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Well, hand it over then” Teju ignored her, staring at her lap. Hissing, Dupe stood fractionally and grabbed Teju’s bag from her lap. She searched the content till she found a white envelope. She tore it open and brought out a white paper which she stretched. Teju seemed to have gone white as she looked up into Dupe’s shielded face. “Well?” it was her turn to be impatient.

There was a brief silence, and then Dupe lowered the paper, giving Teju the full view of her face. “Oh Teju…”

“What?”

Dupe’s face broke into a wide grin. “You are pregnant!”

Teju froze, growing paler. “No…” she gasped.

Dupe was beside herself with joy. “You’re pregnant, girl, you are pregnant”

“Keep your voice down… oh my God” she put her face in her hands. It was what she had wanted originally right? Why did it feel so different now? So… scary…

“I can’t, I am too happy” Dupe jumped to her feet. “Hey guys, I’m about to be a godmother” she said on top of her voice. “Drinks on me”

Teju felt the eyes of the people in the bar poking into her back as they cheered. Shame washed over her face. She wondered if the people would be so enthusiastic if they knew that the father of her child was her married best friend. She blinked back tears as Dupe finally settled in her seat. “I can’t do this, Dupe, I just can’t”

“Can’t do what?” there was a warning in Dupe’s eyes, a deep knowledge of what Teju was about to say.

“He is my best friend, Dupe, and he is married to Laura…” she buried her face in her palms. “Oh God, Dupe, I can’t have this baby”

“Like hell you won’t”

Teju shook her head. “I thought… since they have been married for years without a child that…” she swallowed, looking at Dupe. “Gosh! It was only once”

Dupe grinned. “Why do you think I am so proud of you?”

“Shut up! Shut it, okay? Don’t you get it? Not only does Deolu trust me, Laura does as well. I can’t do this to him… I can’t do this to them. God knows they don’t deserve this” Just the thought of Laura in her apartment as she said those haunting words with so much sincerity in her eyes made her mind up. It didn’t matter that she wanted the child more than anything, what mattered now was that she do the right thing. But what was the right thing? Killing an innocent child? Nothing seemed right.

Dupe rolled her eye, anchored her elbow on the surface of the table and propped her chin on her arm. “Why’d you do it then?”

Teju froze. She hadn’t been expecting that question. “His mother… she… she manipulated me…I told you, right?”

Dupe shook her head. “You sound pathetic; even you do not believe the crap you just spilled. Deolu’s mum’s request didn’t make you do this and you know it. The decision was yours to make”

She swallowed knowing Dupe was right, even more than she could imagine. There were several reasons she had actually gone through with luring Deolu into her bed but the main reason was entirely selfish. And now, the reason she wished to terminate the pregnancy was also partly selfish. Though the thought of the wreckage this fetus would wreck in Deolu’s home scared her, she was also scared to death for another reason. Carrying this pregnancy was at a great risk to her as well. “You won’t understand” Teju finally muttered.

“You’re right, I can’t understand why you would want to let go of the child that holds the keys to everything you always wanted. Like it or not, you are having this baby, even if I have to tie you down for the next eight months, you are having this baby. Do you understand?”

***** Present ***** “I drove home after meeting with Dupe. There were so many unanswered questions. I didn’t know what to do. A huge part of me wanted the child, another part… the coward in me wanted to put an end to it. A part of me was scared to death and remorseful when I thought of the havoc the child would wreck in Deolu’s home, another part of me smiled when I thought of the outcome because I knew somehow, it just might end well.” She shook her head and sighed. “But then I got home and made for my apartment. I didn’t know I had been followed until you showed up… or…” she smiled bitterly. “I initially thought it was you”

***** TWO MONTHS AGO
***** “Congratulations” Teju heard and whirled around. She saw a familiar face. He gave a meaningful glance at her tummy and gave her a cocky smile. “On the baby”

Teju’s heart slammed against her chest. She had seen Tito’s handsome dad at the wedding, it was impossible not to notice someone that looked that good even at his age. She had also seen him on scarce occasions but she didnt think he noticed her. “Mr Mark Johnson” she gasped as he drew nearer. “How did you… How…”

He smiled. “I was at the bar and you were not being too discrete. I have a proposition for you and it’s not Mark.” He stretched his hand. “Frank Johnson”

Sacrilege.

See you on Saturday. Love.

Sacrilege by Nissi Adeola. Episode 23

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Episode 23

“Oh father…” Laura whispered as tears fell from her eyes, falling on the overall nylon apron she had on. She stood before the bed looking at the semblance of a man lying on the bed. Mark Johnson was wrapped all through in towels from head to toe. Only his eyes, nose and mouth were exposed with oxygen attached to the nostrils. Laura’s hand stuck out brushing against the towel cautiously. She wanted to hold his hand, even if it was wrapped with towel. But she was not sure, she was not sure if it would cause him pain and if anything, she didn’t want anything that would give him more pain than he was feeling now. “Oh father…” she whispered again amidst tears. She was lost on what to say. “I am sorry… I am so sorry… I never meant it” she swallowed. “Everything I said to you, I was just upset, and I never meant them, never! I love you father… I love you very much… and I don’t want to lose you” she raised her hand to wipe off her tears. The nylon covering her hand brushed at her cheek.

“I can’t lose you, father. You have always been my father even when I didn’t know it. I forgive you for everything you did to my mum, I forgive you for everything just please… don’t leave me.” She swallowed. “I need you to weave my hair, to apply my make-up, to listen to me when I talk, to hold me when I laugh… I need you… I need you now more than ever dad… please… please live; for me, for Tito, for everyone.” Her lips trembled and she moved restlessly. “The doctors are saying there is no hope but I know there is because you are going to fight this” her voice shook. “You are a fighter, you thought me how to fight and that’s how I know you are going to fight this”

Laura lifted her hand to touch Mark’s head and nearly jumped when she heard a voice. “Time up” a nurse called from the door.

“One more minute, please” Laura pleaded.

Unrelenting, the nurse opened the door wider. “You were given two minutes, you’ve spent three. You need to leave, it is for his good”

Laura took a deep breath, looking back at Mark. “I’d be back, father. I love you”

*****

Tito pushed into the room with her heart racing in her chest. The overall nylon apron she wore made her steps a little weird but she knew it was not just the overall. Seeing her father for the first time ever since she heard of the accident was making her panicky. Her eyes went to the bed as she moved closer, her heart increasing in pace. The heady stench of blood was heightened, nervous veins stretched out her arms but she would not let her phobia deter her this time. Despite the fact that she had done everything to keep him away, Chris had stayed back. He only stayed because of Laura, she had told herself. No idiot could miss the concerned love-struck look he always gave Laura. But a small voice had told her that he was worried about her, the voice which had echoed in her head when he had tried to follow her, saying she shouldn’t be left alone. His concern touched her but she wasn’t about to do away with her time alone with her father.

She stared at the form on the bed, rolling her eyes from the wrapped head to the equally wrapped feet. “You sure look dressed up” she croaked out through patched voice. Her voice was thick with emotions. She wasn’t a cry baby, Laura was, but tears had been the highlight of her day. Tito found a small space on the bed and sat to keep her legs from shaking. She ran her hand lightly over the towels that housed her dad and blinked at her tears. “It is surely different from your usual clothes but… at least, you are covered, right?” her voice shook. She was rambling. She raised her hand to her lips to stop their trembling. “Oh dad…” she teared up, unable to stop herself. “I hate seeing you like this. You’re not talking, you are not moving, you are not even looking at me” she pushed to her feet, she was becoming restless and she had to mentally caution herself to calm down. Her restlessness was not going to help her dad any more than it could help her.

“You know I picked out some clothes for you, so like it or not, you are going to have to change out of these towels.” She nodded at the body with a familiar glint in her eyes. “And that means you are going to have to wake up. You are going to wake up right?” she bit her shivering lips. “I know you are probably tired of me and my problems and are enjoying this break but… I need you” tears dropped from her eyes. “I need you so much, dad. And I am sorry for the times you have needed me and I have not been there. I am sorry for the years that I wasn’t patient enough to listen to you. I wish I had known… dad, I wish you had told me about her… about… Gloria. I wish I could have been there for you, dad” she touched the padded hand. “I don’t care about whatever you have done. All I know is that I love you and I am not leaving you.”

She sat back on the edge of the bed. Talking was making it easy for her. “So yes, you are stuck with me. I am not going to let you take the easy way out like Daniel and Ken did, I won’t” she shook her head against the memories. “I might just lose my mind. So… like always, I need you dad… I need you to stay alive and keep me sane. I can’t lose you too dad… I just…”

The door flung open and Tito’s head snapped backwards.

“Time up” the nurse said from the door, looking indifferent.

Tito looked back to her dad raising her nylon covered hand to wipe the residues of tears on her face. “I’m not done yet”

“You’ve overstayed already. You have to leave now”

“You would not be the one to dictate to me how long I stay with my father, do you understand?” Tito glared at the nurse over her shoulder.

The nurse took some steps in. “I understand how you feel but it is best for your father to be left alone now to speed up his recovery”

“What do you mean? My father just went through a horrid experience, you people have him here wrapped in crap with only weird machines to keep him company and you think he wants to be left alone?” Tito glared at the nurse while trying to moderate her voice, keep it as low as possible.

The nurse looked impatient. “It is not about what he wants; it is what’s good for…”

“Okay listen” Tito cut in as she pushed to her feet and served the nurse an eyeful of her fury. She glanced at the top of the woman’s chest. “Felicia. It is Felicia, right?”

The nurse nodded.

“Alright, it seems we would be spending some time together, so we might as well get off on the right foot. Here is the deal; I stand by whoever I love through thick and thin and if you tamper with someone I love, you can have the worst kind of enemy in me. So, if you people think you’d subject my dad to solitude till you slowly drag him to his predicted demise, you’d better think again.”

“Predicted demise?”

“Yes, your wide-eyed doctor was only short of telling us to commence burial plans. So, here is how it goes. I am not about to leave this room, so you can either leave this room now and let me have more time with my dad or you win for yourself a formidable enemy. It’s up to you”

The nurse shifted. The glint in Tito’s eyes must have told her that she was not bluffing as she weighed the options. “I’d give you five more minutes” she finally said as she turned.

“I’d take ten” Tito answered, turning to her unconscious father.

***** Gloria stepped into the room amidst tears and all but rushed towards the bed. Her tears ran down her face as she stared at the slightly bruised face of her husband. Frank was not padded all through like she heard Mark was. Frank’s legs were padded; there was a small plaster on his head and on some other places. “Oh Frank… what have I done?” she cried. “I should not have called you… if I did not call you, maybe…” she shook her head. “None of this would have happened”

There was enough room on the bed, so she sat down. “But you would get better, right?” she caressed Frank’s pale cheek. “You have to. There is so much I need to tell you, darling… I have been lying to you, Frank… there is so much you need to know” her eyes watered and tears slipped down her face as her lips shook. “I found my daughter, Frank…” she whispered amidst tears. “I found our daughter… our baby…” she smiled. “Our Tinuke…”

*****

“He suffered severe injuries during the accident, hit his head pretty hard, his legs were severely wounded, even had some fractures here and there, not to mention the shreds of glasses that pierced through so many parts of his body. He is strong; I’d give him that because I am really surprised that he is still alive now”

Deolu and Gloria stared at the doctor who sat at the other end of the table, looking about as emotional as a dry log of wood. The doctor removed the recommended glass over his eyes and dropped it with a clink on the table. He gave them a nonchalant stare. “That’s very reassuring” Gloria muttered drily.

“I am just saying it as it is” the doctor responded.

Deolu tapped his feet in impatience. The doctor was tugging at the reigns of his patience. “And how is it? You are trying to say there is no hope for them?”

“No. I have stayed long enough in this profession to know there is no hopeless case where miracles exist, but that would not stop me from preparing you for eventualities. I don’t want to get your hopes up.” He paused, picking up his glass again as he looked into a document on the table. “But the other one seems to have more chances though.”

“Frank?” Gloria shifted.

The doctor glanced at her over the rim of her glass. “Who’s that? Oh yes…” a small smile appeared on his face, transforming him a little. Deolu thought he was better off with the permanent scowl. “… They both look the same. Frank is the one on the passenger’s seat, right?”

“Yes, what about him”

“His wounds are not so fatal. He is actually in a medically induced coma to suppress the pain until it is a lot bearable for him. He should be fine in a couple of weeks”

“Weeks” Deolu repeated.

The doctor removed his glass with a little frown. “Yes. Weeks”

*****

It was already dark and almost everyone had made rounds, visiting Mark and Frank. Though neither was conscious enough to hear whatever they had to say, they still spoke to them anyways, hoping that somehow, they could hear. After they refused to leave, Deolu and Chris had gone to get the ladies something to eat.

Laura walked over to where Jane sat. She sat by her side and put her arms around her, giving her a small squeeze. “You should see him” Laura whispered.

“I have seen uncle. He still looks sexy”

Laura smiled a little. “And dad?”

Jane sighed, looking at her lap. She looked so young, Laura wished she wasn’t so big, she wanted to hold her in her arms and rock her on her lap like she always did when she was a lot smaller. “I don’t think he wants to see me”

“Sure he does.”

Jane shrugged. “And what do I say to him? I barely know the man even though I have known him all my life. Many times, I think he even forgets I am his daughter”

“You don’t mean that”

“He has never remembered my birthday. Ever!” She shook her head. “If I go in there, I surely would not have anything to say to him. He blames me for mother’s death” she said bitterly and Laura shook her head. “She died shortly after giving birth to me, right. Maybe it’s my fault. I killed her”

Laura swallowed. She pulled her sister closer to the circle of her arms and kissed her head. It wasn’t the right time to tell her about all she had found out. But Laura could not lie either. She remembered vividly that Frank had almost never checked on the child and she had almost singlehandedly raised Jane. But there was that time, that night she had seen Frank staring at Jane in her cradle as she slept late in the night. “Don’t say that. He loves you. He might not show it but I know he does” she pulled back and smiled at Jane. “And I know you love him too”

Jane looked away. “I am incapable of hate”

Laura smiled and sighed. “We’d all be alright”

“Las las” Jane grinned and Laura chuckled. Jane had a way of making her better. She was like the child she never had.

“That reminds me. You said you had something to tell me when you called. What is it?”

Jane blushed and shifted. “Not now. This is not the right setting for good news.”

Laura groaned. “You enjoy tormenting me, right?”

Jane grinned. “That’s the idea”

Laura looked up as she heard raised voices. Frowning, she stood and walked towards the two women who faced each other.

Tito’s eyes blazed as she faced Teju. “What is going on?” Laura asked.

Tito nodded at Teju, looking at Laura. “She wants to see dad”

Laura turned her eyes to Teju. Teju had been there for a long time, hovering in the background and amidst the worries, Laura never gave her presence much thought. It seemed a little odd that Teju would want to see the person she claimed raped her. A lot odd, actually. She had a bad feeling about this. “For what?”

“Ask her”

Teju shifted. “Please, I just need to see him. I just need five minutes”

“The hospital gives two” Tito said haughtily.

Teju nodded. “I’d take it”

“You are taking nothing. I am ‘not’ letting you see my father” Tito emphasized.

Laura stared at Teju for a prolonged moment before she returned her gaze to Tito. Tito read the look in Laura’s eyes. “Oh no, Laura, don’t think you can convince me” she was already resolute.

Laura rolled her eyes, facing Tito squarely. “Tits, c’mon”

And that was enough to convey the message. Tito saw the look in Laura’s eyes. Tito glared at Teju and moved out of her way. “Try anything funny, you have me to answer to”

Teju could not begin to think about the wordless exchange between Tito and Laura, she had been given the chance to see Mark alone and that’s all that mattered. “Thank you” she muttered and quickly rushed towards a nurse.

Tito watched Teju follow the nurse and glanced at Laura. “So what now?”

Laura smiled. “We follow”

Tito’s eyes lit up. “I see why we are sisters”

Sacrilege.

Sorry I didnt post yesterday. I apologise. The next episode would be on Saturday. See you then. Love.