STARLESS NIGHTS by Nissi Adeola. Episode 12

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Hi family, it’s a beautiful Tuesday. Please read, comment and don’t forget to share. Much love. 😘

Episode 12

George left his brother’s house a little more lightened than he initially was. He dug his hand into his pocket, feeling the Naira notes brushing against the back of his hand. He pushed away the fact that his brother could do more than this. Surely thirty thousand Naira was nothing where his brother was, but he refused to think about that. He was grateful for the money he was given and knew that the God that brought this would bring the remaining. There was that nagging thought though. This was just thirty thousand Naira, where was he going to get the remaining two hundred and seventy thousand Naira?

George’s tired legs moved methodically by the side of the road, he barely felt them beneath him. His feet were sore and achy, emitting enough heat to roast a chicken. The sole of his shoe announced the level of his tracking louder than words but George couldn’t care less.

A bitter taste eroded his mouth as he remembered Fred. George had preached about forgiveness more times than he could count, but this? No! George didn’t think he could forgive Fred for what he did. He couldn’t forgive Fred for adding to his pain and sorrow. He couldn’t forgive Fred for being the cause of his current misery. He just couldn’t. That was one of the many downsides to being a pastor. How could he be seen to be contradicting what he always preached about?

George pushed that thought aside and tried to think of another place he could get money. He had been to five people before he put aside his pride to visit his brother; where could he go from here. He surely wasn’t going to ask money from any church member, but the days were running out. He had just three days left, three days to give Mr Haruna his money back. Yet, Timothy was still in the hospital. He needed money. He needed money especially now that they had taken him to a very expensive hospital. Money was needed now more than ever. Yes, Mrs Pascal had asked them not to worry about anything but George couldn’t just sit back while someone else took charge of what was his responsibility. Nothing frustrates a man more than his inability to help those he love.

A car horn blared and George jerked out of his reverie, letting out a loud yelp as his leg slipped into the deep gutter by the road side, causing him to lose balance and tilt dangerously towards the gutter. A passerby grabbed his hand almost instantly, pulling him out of the gutter before he fell face first into it.

“Are you okay, Sir?” he asked bewildered, looking at George with concern.

George nodded. His leg hurt so much, it was almost unbearable. “Thank you” George murmured as the guy turned to leave. He stared down at his leg and saw a small dash by the side of his leg. George moved away from the road and leaned against the fence of a building to recoup his strength. His phone rang and he quickly removed it from his pocket.

“Hello” he murmured.

“Hello Pastor, It is Brother Isaac, please where are you, sir?”

“Hope there’s no problem sir” George asked. God just healed Brother Isaac’s daughter, surely she was fine now.”

“Yes sir, everything is fine. I just want to give you something.”

George reminisced on it briefly. “Okay. I’m not so far from your house, I’d just come there” he said finally.

“Oh, thank you sir; I’ll be waiting”

George dropped his phone in his pocket and took a cleansing breath. His foot, though sore, felt better now. Pushing away from the fence, he made for Brother Isaac’s house.

*****

Mrs Pascal stared at the DPO in stunned disbelief. Her husband, seated right next to her was also shocked beyond words. “No, I’m sure there’s a mistake somewhere” she murmured. “I mean… You can’t be serious” She muttered, looking stunned.

The DPO shrugged his shoulder. “Unfortunately, I am ma’am” he looked towards the door and yelled. “Bring her in”

Teju stared at her husband, still finding it hard to believe that Cynthia wanted her dead. It had been four days since the incident at her office and yet Teju couldn’t get the incident off her head. After waiting in stunned silence for about a minute, the door of the office opened and Teju turned as a police officer pushed Cynthia into the office. Teju stood up slowly, her mouth slightly agape as she stared in shock at Cynthia. Cynthia had been Teju’s friend for so long. They were so close, even got married in the same church… But where Teju was rich, Cynthia was poor. While Teju got married to a wealthy politician, Cynthia married a struggling entrepreneur. Teju – as always – took it upon herself to change this, by setting Cynthia up in a business. She initially wanted them to work together in her plaza with Cynthia as her assistant, but her husband had warned her against it. She never knew a day would come when she would be eternally grateful for not doing that.

Teju had instead opened a boutique for Cynthia and furnished it perfectly; even at that, Cynthia still always asked her for money every now and then and Teju never hesitated in giving her until…

“Cynthia” Teju gasped out, staring at the battered face of her friend. Her face was swollen from severe beating and torture. “Cynthia, you? You sent assassins to kill me?” Cynthia couldn’t meet her eyes as she looked at the ground. “How could you? How could you, Cynthia?” Teju yelled.

“I’m sorry” Cynthia said unevenly, the swell in her mouth muffled her voice as she winced painfully.

“Oh, you’re sorry ehn? If you had succeeded in killing me, I’m sure you’d be passing your ‘sorry’ condolences to my family by now, isn’t it?” Teju yelled.

“Calm down, baby” Mr Pascal said calmly.

Teju ignored him. “I’ve dedicated my life to making you better; what did I not do for you? Yet, you sent assassins to kill me…” Teju shook her head. “Is it because of our little fight? Because you asked me for money some weeks back and I refused?”

“She asked you for money?” Comprehension dawned on the DPO as he stared at the scene in front of him.

Teju turned to the DPO furiously. “She came to me about three weeks ago and asked for five hundred thousand Naira. I refused. How could I? I don’t pluck money from trees, do I? I opened a boutique from her but despite that, she’d always come to me for money.”

“Interesting” The DPO said, running his fingers around his stubble.

“I always gave it to her but that last time, I refused because I expect her to be financially stable by now.” Teju continued. “How was I to know that she’d go as far as hiring people to take my life?” Teju’s eyes were ablaze as she glared at Cynthia.

“I… I am sorry… Teju… Please forgive me” Cynthia fell on her knees, crawling towards Teju. Teju scrambled out of reach.

“Please get her out of here” Mr Pascal said forcefully and the DPO nodded at the policeman standing by. Cynthia was dragged out of the office pleading and crying. Teju could hear the furious undertone in Pascal’s voice when he spoke. He could keep calm in the face of a storm and that was what Teju loved most about her husband. “Come here, baby”

Teju stared at the closed door and exhaled deeply, wishing she could release all the anger she was feeling as she moved closer to Pascal, sitting beside him again. He squeezed her lap lightly, in a comforting manner as he looked directly at the DPO. “I want this case charged to court as soon as possible. She has to pay dearly for this.”

“She can’t escape it. I am just glad she is being charged for attempted murder and not murder.” the DPO smiled at Teju. “You really handled the situation well before the police arrived.”

Teju shook her head as her eyes turned thoughtful. “Believe me sir, I am not the one who deserves the credit”

*****

Timothy looked up as the doctor approached him. It hasn’t taken anything to like this woman, she was just so likeable. Her smiles made him feel less pain and gave him hope of one day leaving the confines of a hospital. Timothy received the doctors big smile with a smile on his own.

“How is my favorite patient doing?” Doctor Kemi asked, smiling at Tim like he was the sweetest thing she had ever seen.

Tim smiled. “I am better, Doctor, I always feel better when you come around”

Doctor Kemi raised her brow with an amused smile on her face. “Oh, a flirtatious lil boy, eh?” she muttered and Timothy grinned slightly. She noticed the slight wince of pain Timothy quickly hid but she made no comment. “Okay, if you are flirting with me, I think that’s a good sign; it means you are getting better”

Timothy suddenly turned serious. “Am I?” he looked so hopeful, Doctor Kemi already used to this kept her face straight, with her smile not faltering. “I want to go home”

Doctor Kemi feigned a sad look. “You want to leave me so soon?”

“It’s not that… It’s just…” he looked away. “I miss my siblings”

Doctor Kemi stared at Timothy’s sweet face and felt an unfamiliar emotion. In this profession, it was always advised not to get too personal or attached with patients. Doctor Kemi often succeeded in being perfectly professional without getting emotionally attached to her patients, but where Timothy was concerned, she seemed to be failing woefully.

She lowered herself, sitting at the edge of the bed. “What are their names?”

“Loveth, Tessy and Jerry” he answered automatically.

Doctor Kemi smiled. “You’ll see them again, I promise you”

Timothy’s eyes flashed with hope. “Soon?” Doctor Kemi nodded. She couldn’t remember ever seeing Timothy so enthusiastic.

“Why haven’t they visited you?”

“No” Tim said almost instantly. “I don’t want them to see me like this.” he looked away, feeling sad. “I don’t want to see them cry for me again”

Doctor Kemi blinked then smiled forcefully. “Well, I guess I’m happy I have you to myself now” she got what she wanted because Tim smiled. “Your mum?”

“She went out to get something to eat” Tim explained.

Doctor Kemi nodded. “I noticed you hide what you feel, Tim. I don’t want you to do that; whatever it is that you feel, I want you to tell me or anyone around, do you understand? That way we can treat you faster and you can go home faster, how about that?”

Timothy nodded. “Okay ma”

Doctor Kemi straightened, did a few routine checks and left, promising to return soon.

*****

George still couldn’t believe that Brother Isaac had actually given him a hundred thousand Naira. It had taken all his willpower not to burst into tears right there in Brother Isaac’s sitting room. God always had a way of pulling him out of whatever mess the devil had in store. And to think that Brother Isaac didn’t even know that he was in financial crisis… didn’t even know that his son was hospitalized. George knew that one hundred and thirty thousand Naira was not even halfway through what he was expected to pay but he had faith Mr Haruna just might give him more time; probably wait till Timothy was out of the hospital before demanding the rest. He couldn’t be going around, searching for money to pay off money he didn’t spend while his son was in the hospital.

George felt the throbbing pain from his injured leg as he walked towards his office. He had called Mr Haruna to meet him there. On getting there, he met Mr Haruna already waiting for him. “Good afternoon sir”. George was certain that Mr Haruna was way younger than he but that wasn’t important.

Mr Haruna had that hostile look in his eyes. He didn’t come with his wife and George knew it was a deliberate act just so his wife wouldn’t interfere with his decisions. “Do you have my money?” Mr Haruna ignored George’s greeting and asked without preamble.

“I have part of it” George brought out the One hundred and thirty thousand Naira.

Mr Haruna scowled. “I didn’t give you part of the money, I gave you three hundred thousand Naira” he stated emphatically.

“Excuse me sir, but you gave Fred, not me” George pointed out.

“You asked me to pay to Fred when I was ready didn’t you? How sure am I that this is not part of the money? Besides, how could you have gotten the money so fast if you didn’t get your share from your accomplice cousin?”

George swallowed and took a calming breath. He stretched the money wordlessly. “This is one hundred and thirty thousand Naira, it’s all I could raise. Please give me more time to get the rest; my son is hospitalized and I have to be with him now. I promise to pay you back every penny once my son is out.”

Mr Haruna looked at him like he had gone mad, still not collecting the money. “I should wait for your son to get better? Mr man, I don’t think you know who you are dealing with. If I collect this, I need the balance tomorrow”

“I can’t. It was a struggle getting this money, please understand me.” George had been hoping that Mr Haruna would at least be understanding but now, it seemed that was an impossible task for the man.

“Does it look like I care?” Mr Haruna’s voice rose. George wasn’t ready for another embarrassing scene. His name was smeared enough as it is. He took a deep breath. It was decided! He was going to do it.

“Can I give you my car?” George asked suddenly.

“What?”

*****

The mechanic stared at George like he had gone completely crazy, then stared at Mr Haruna. “Pastor, don’t do this” he finally said when George was done explaining the situation. “Someone promised to come get this car next week for four hundred thousand Naira” he explained.

“I need my money now” Mr Haruna said stiffly. His eyes brimmed with concealed delight as he gave the car a thorough look.

George sighed. He was tired of this. He had his name to protect and if he had to forfeit his car to free himself from this mess, he was ready. “Mr Haruna, I believe this car is enough payment. This car is worth four hundred thousand Naira but I’m willing to let it go as payment for the money my brother took from you.”

Mr Haruna walked around the car, feigning a look of indifference when they all knew for a fact that he was probably jumping for joy internally. The car was worth much more than the mechanic wanted to sell it, George had bought the car when he was financially buoyant, he knew the value of what he was giving away.

Mr Haruna finally turned. “I’d take this car under one condition” he looked directly at George. “I’d take the money also”

“What?” Baba Sodiq yelled. “Ah! Eeyan ma nika o” People are wicked. “How can you be so heartless?”

Mr Haruna ignored the mechanic. He was a business man, he was used to being called names. “I already have a car, this is more or less, a liability. If I am taking the car, I am taking the money, or no deal”

George smiled painfully. He just wanted this over. “I can only give you hundred thousand because I have to pay the mechanic. He repaired the faults and has been the one marketing the car, I’d give him the rest”

Baba Sodiq just stood, looking stupefied.

“Alright.” Mr Haruna conceded.

George counted a hundred thousand Naira and gave Mr Haruna. They signed undertaking stating that George had paid Mr Haruna back fully and with that, George watched Mr Haruna drive away in his car until the shiny black car disappeared from view. George closed his eyes briefly and turned to the mechanic. He was supposed to pay the mechanic about twenty thousand Naira but Baba Sodiq collected only five thousand and told him to forget the rest. George thanked him for all he did and left. That chapter was closed.

*****

“I want to know what can be done about Timothy’s health, Kemi” Teju Pascal sat facing her doctor friend. “I know cancer is a serious disease, but tell me categorically, Kemi; what are his chances?”

Doctor Kemi sighed and leaned forward, bracing her hands on the table. “Honestly, Teju, his case is a peculiar one. His best chance at survival would be get a bone marrow transplant. I say it is peculiar because the rate at which the cancer cells spread is way above the normal, making me feel, despite my medical ethics, that there’s something above the ordinary at work here. However, the good news is that he is responding very well to the chemotherapy treatment. I’m actually very impressed.” Doctor Kemi took a deep breath and looked straight at Teju.

“I have some doctor friends abroad who have been successful with similar cases. I forwarded his case to them and they are positive that he can be cured. I’m sure, Teju, if Timothy is flown abroad, with lots of prayers, he’d survive this”

Teju let out a breath she had unconsciously been holding. “What you are telling me now, Kemi, is that there’s hope”

Kemi smiled. “Yes, Teju. There’s hope”

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STARLESS NIGHTS by Nissi Adeola. Episode 11

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Hi everyone, happy Tuesday 😊. Please read, comment and share with friends, enemies and frienemies. Love y’all. Kisses

EPISODE 11

Loveth watched her siblings talk excitedly on the phone and smiled secretly to herself as she waved the hand fan in her hand, blowing breeze on Mr Peters. Mr Peters was a heavy sweater and the heat had him sweating so much, water beats rolled down his exposed chest, down his stomach and disappearing into his trouser. Sweat beads formed on Loveth’s brow and her hands ached as she fanned Mr Peters but that was the least on her mind.

Loveth watched her siblings with keen interest as they passed the mobile phone around talking to none other than Timothy. Oh how she longed to hear his voice again. It had been so long. It was nothing but three weeks but it sure did seem like three years to her. Tessy and Jerry laughed from time to time and Loveth felt jealous. She should be at the receiving end of her brother’s words and jokes, oh, what she’d give to see her brother again…

Tessy walked up to Loveth suddenly and propped the phone before her. Loveth blinked.
“Timothy wants to talk to you”

Loveth froze, staring at the phone in Tessy’s hand with confusion and fright.

Mr Peters looked up at her. “Loveth? Are you not going to speak with your brother?” Loveth stared for some seconds then shook her head. “You don’t want to talk to him?” Mr Peters looked as shocked as Tessy. Jerry didn’t understand much of what was going on but Loveth was sure. She wasn’t going to speak with her brother. It was the price she was willing to pay to see her brother again. Loveth shook her head stiffly.

“I don’t want to speak with him” she muttered with a sober look.

Mr Peters collected the phone, looking confused and put it against his ear. Loveth couldn’t listen, she dropped the hand fan and walked out of the sitting room. She really wanted to speak with her brother but she knew that beyond hearing his voice, she also wanted to see his face so badly. And weirdly, she had the feeling that starving him of her voice would make him stay alive long enough to not only hear her voice but see her as well. She only hoped that she wouldn’t regret it… she prayed that the time wouldn’t come when she wished she had savoured the sound of his voice while she had the chance.

*****

Teju Pascal sat in her seat, her fingers shook violently where they lay on her laps as she smiled tightly at the men seated across from her. The silence was so deafening and Teju couldn’t begin to imagine just how silent the graveyard would be. “I’m sorry, I didn’t get your names” she muttered, breaking the silence with a smile frozen on her face.

“Our names are unimportant” one of the guys dropped stonily. He was the taller of the two guys, the one with the most frightening look and also the one Teju spotted a gun on. “We prefer the anonymousity.” he finished with a small frightening smile.

Teju swallowed, keeping her frozen smile on her face. “Oh… Well, be my guest, sirs, I am Peju, by the way. Would you like me to… call my sister for you?” she said, stretching her hand across the table to pick her big phone.

The eyes of the second guy snapped. “No, don’t. We’d just wait for her. We want to… surprise her” he smiled, revealing smoke coloured teeth.

Teju dropped her phone, making sure that they saw her do that. She relaxed somewhat nonchalantly against the backrest of her chair, then snapped up, with an audible sigh. “Please excuse me guys”,
Teju’s heart raced wildly as she noticed the fastening of their eyes on her, watching her like a hawk. “I have to visit the convenience” she quickly explained, looking as casual as possible, “but do make yourself comfortable, I’ll be back in a bit”

She turned her back on them, walking towards the bathroom with her heart in her mouth. Her hands were shaking beyond control and she carefully kept them in front of her in order not to give herself away.

Finally, she opened the door of the bathroom and entered, closing the door firmly behind her. She leaned against the door, breathing heavily with her eyes closed. Snapping her eyes open, Teju searched the inner part of her skirt and grabbed the small phone she hid before those men walked in. She knew who those men were. She needed no one to tell her before she knew that she was face to face with assassins. What had she ever done to anyone to warrant this?

Teju swallowed as her shivering hands punched in her husband’s number. She dialed and placed the phone agaibst her ear, turning to stare at the door as though she could see the assassins through it. She hopped nervously as she waited.

“Oh Cal” she whispered immediately she heard her husband’s voice on the other end.

“What’s wrong, baby?”

“Cal, you have to come back here with your bodyguards, police, army, anything” she ranted as she started pacing the bathroom nervously.

“Calm down and tell me what’s wrong” her husband snapped.

“There are two men in my office now, Cal. They look like assassins and I saw one of them with a gun, I am so scared Cal”

“Turn the car around” Mr Pascal bellowed, obviously to his driver. “We’ll be there soon, baby, we are not so far from the plaza. Where are you now?”

“In the toilet” she muttered. “I lied to them, they don’t really know I’m me”

“I don’t understand that but stay in the toilet there, lock yourself up there. Don’t get out, do you hear me?”

“I’ve been here for a while. If I stay longer, they’ll suspect a thing, I’ll go back in. Hurry up” she whispered.

“No, Teju don’t-”

Before her husband could argue, she hung up. She made sure the phone was silenced before hiding it perfectly in the folds of her skirt. She knew her husband wouldn’t agree to her going back in there but she had to go back. On one hand, staying back could alert the assassins that she knew something; the could break the bathroom door and kill her anyways or flee out of danger of being caught. She couldn’t allow any. If anything, she needed to know who hated her so much that he wanted her dead.

She pushed down the flush button of the toilet, took a calming breath and exited the toilet.

“Sorry for keeping you waiting” she murmured, smiling awkwardly.

The faces of the men, if anything, looked more ferocious than before. Teju turned white. They couldn’t have found her out, could they? Her stiff legs carried her to her seat just as shorter of the two guys asked her bluntly.

“Are you sure you are the sister? I never knew Mrs Pascal had a sister” he was looking so impatient, angry even.

“I told you already, I am Peju, my sister is Teju. Why do you need her anyways? Whatever you want to discuss with her, you can also discuss with me” Teju tried to convey bold seriousness but she knew she was failing and they were disbelieving her words more by the minute.

Suddenly, the door of the office opened and the men jumped out of their seats. Teju looked up, surprised that her husband arrived do fast but discovered with horror that it was her secretary. Why was she earlier?

“Madam”, the secretary – Nike – stared into the office, Teju tried her best to communicate with her eyes but her secretary was just too unobservant. She looked surprised to see people in the office. “I’m sorry ma, I didn’t know you had guests, someone is here to see you” she muttered, looking uncomfortable. Teju jumped out of her seat as the men looked from Teju’s secretary to Teju, looking furious.

“She is Teju Pascal” one of them barked.

“Yes”

“No”

Teju and Nike chorused. Oh no! I’m dead. Pascal, where are you? Teju yelled internally.

“I told you Mac, I told you she’s lying.” The shorter guy snapped as the other guy brought out his gun. The secretary shrieked and tried to escape. Immediately, Mac fired a shot in her direction, connecting with her upper arm.

Teju’s scream merged with Nike’s as she fell on her face, kneeling before the guys. “Please… please don’t… don’t shoot… don’t kill me, pleeease” she cried guarding her head with her hands.

“Lift your head” Mac snapped and Teju obeyed without a second thought. “Ehen, so you had the guts to lie to us abi?”

“Nooo… Please…”

“You thought you are smart, but you cannot be smarter than death” he hissed through clenched teeth. “I would have given you the chance to say your last prayers before but you don’t have that grace now. Say hi to the devil when you get there” he said smiling devilishly.

“No… Nooooooo…”

He pulled the trigger.

*****

Timothy stared at his parents with a sober look on his face. “Loveth refused to talk to me” he muttered with a frown.

Bola and George were equally as stunned as Tim was. Now that they thought of it, Loveth hadn’t spoken to Tim ever since they left for the hospital. Could something be wrong? Loveth was always weird, she always thought and acted older than her age demanded. “I’m sure she was upset over something. Maybe Tessy or Jerry got her angry.” Bola tried to pacify Tim. She didn’t want anything to upset Tim again, not now.

“We’ll call again in the evening, I’m sure she would talk to you then” George added.

Tim shook his head. “She won’t”

Bola and George frowned. “Why? Do you have a quarrel with her?”

Tim shook his head. He knew what she was doing. He knew Loveth so well and he could tell the reason why she didn’t want to speak with him. Many times, Loveth had stunned him with her actions and this was definitely one of those times. But why on earth was she freaking wise?

*****

It took Teju almost a full minute to realise that she was still breathing. She wasn’t dead! In fact, she couldn’t remember hearing a gun shot. She raised her pale face, staring at the shocked faces of the assassins. Mac pulled the trigger again and yet, nothing happened. His companion brought out his gun, trained it on Teju and pulled the trigger, all to no avail. Their faces registered fright as they stared at Teju. Teju still couldn’t process what was going on.

As the assassins started backtracking, the door busted open and policemen filled the office, guns in hand. “Freeze” they yelled at they stumbled over Nike who had obviously passed out. Teju was too frozen to even move a finger.

Mr Pascal rushed into the room, grabbing Teju off the floor and holding her against him. “Oh, thank God…” he murmured breathing heavily like he had been running a marathon race. “Thank God you are alive”

He pulled away from her slightly. “Are you okay, baby?”

Teju stared blankly at him. Her brain was too frozen to even process an answer. ‘What just happened?’

STARLESS NIGHTS by Nissi Adeola. Episode 10

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EPISODE 10

No sooner had they arrived at the hospital than the nurses raced out of the hospital, pushing a stretcher hurriedly towards them. The private hospital was the biggest Bola had ever had the misfortune of entering, the good thing though was that the hospital was also the most equipped she had ever entered.

As Bola and George raced after the stretcher carrying Tim into the hospital with Mrs Pascal and Nurse Abigail though, the structure of the hospital was the last thing on their minds. All they could think of was Tim; Tim and only Tim. Bola and George couldn’t erase the memory of the pained lifeless look of their first son as the jeep sped down to Wickins Hospital. It was a picture stamped in place in their memories.

In no time at all, they stretcher was wheeled into the hospital and unlike the general hospital they just left, everyone was up and doing, their concerns and compassion was clearly written on their faces. Bola and George raced at either sides of the stretcher, eyes completely fixed on Tim.

“Don’t leave me my son…” Bola cried with tears on her cheeks. “Don’t leave your mummy… Please Tim” her throat was squeezed tight as she swallowed heavily.

A nurse pulled Bola back gently, sending George a subtle warning with her eyes. “Please stay back, you can’t go in with us. Your son would be fine” she smiled affectionately as the other nurses pushed the bed further into the ICU.

“No! I want to be with my son” Bola snapped. “I am his mother”

George moved around and pulled Bola into his arms forcefully. “Come on, honey”

The nurse smiled gratefully at George and rushed after her fellow nurses. A rushed movement made them turn to see a female doctor as she hung her stethoscope hurriedly around her neck. As she neared, Bola knew without a doubt that she was going to attend to Timothy. Bola left George’s arms and intercepted the doctor immediately. “Please save my son. Do all you can, please doctor” she pleaded.

The doctor hurried past her without as much as a word. Bola buried her head in George’s chest as she wept. She needed the burden on her shoulders to be lightened. It was weighing her down. She couldn’t be crushed now, she had to be strong; she had to be strong for everyone.

George felt Bola’s heartbeat beating in fast succession agaibst his chest and his heart tightened painfully. He closed his eyes briefly. “Tim would be fine, Bola” he whispered.

Bola couldn’t count the number of times she had heard this but weirdly, she believed him. Bola looked up at him, her eyes teary and fearful. George ran his thumb down the line of tear on her cheek. His face was a conflict of emotions; it was then that Bola realised that she was being selfish. George was probably going through more than she was, currently. What she couldn’t understand was where God was in their lives. Why was God allowing them to experience something much misfortunes? She hadn’t heard from Loveth and her siblings for several days and she had no idea what was happening to them. They were stuck with Tim’s health but now they had to face something different; they had to pay up three hundred thousand Naira within a week. Where on earth were they supposed to get that?

Something occurred to her and she pulled slightly away from George, wiping her eyes. “George” she frowned up at her husband. “What was Doctor Felix talking about earlier?” George seemed to freeze. Bola glared at him. “You can’t be keeping things from me, George”

George swallowed. “It is not important, Bola”

Bola squared her shoulders. “It was important enough if it stopped the doctor from attending to Tim” George hesitated. “George”

George took a deep breath. “He said we should… forget about Tim”

Bola froze. “What… what does that mean?” her eyes widened fearfully. “He can’t mean……” she shook her head. “Surely not” her voice came out clipped.

George grabbed Bola by the shoulder. “Forget it, Bola. We only accept God’s report” he said forcefully. “All would be well, Bola”

Bola looked unconvinced. Her eyes had a vacant effect as she blinked away the tears blurring her vision. “George” she mouthed, long fearful. “Is God still with us?”

“Stop it, Bola. We are here, remember? In an hospital that we definitely cannot afford because God brought a help just in time. God hasn’t left us”

“But why are we facing all these? Problems seem to increase instead of decrease. I am tired George… I am so… I’m so tired” she wiped the lone tear that trekked down her cheek.

George pulled her into his arms, holding her so tightly. He kissed the top of her head continuously and held her closely to himself. The scent of her made things seem a little better. He blinked, looking down at Bola’s chest on his head. He took a deep breath. “Maybe we should let him go”

Bola bolted out of George’s hands like he had suddenly caught fire. “Let what go, George?” she looked at her husband incredulously.

George swallowed. “Tim’s suffering is too much, Bola. I know he is holding on for us, he is still alive because we refused to let him go; maybe it is better to release him… maybe-”

“What are you talking about?” Bola’s voice rose with each word. “I am not releasing him! My son is not going anywhere, you hear me?” she yelled at George. She looked around, not seeing anything as George’s words echoed in her head. “Timothy is my son and I would not bury my own son, do you hear me? We’ve come a long way, don’t lose hope on me now, George” her voice shook. “Please don’t”

George took a deep breath. “I’m sorry” the most painful thing ever was watching someone you love suffer and being unable to do anything about it. Watching Tim suffer, watching his family go through the turmoil of saving Timothy was killing him faster than the disease was killing Timothy. He couldn’t bear to see Tim go through anymore pain.

Bola walked back to George and put her hands agaibst his cheek. She could see his struggle, his pain and his fears clearly displayed on his face. He was good at hiding it sometimes but other times – times like this one – it was as clear as day.

“We’ll get through this, darling. We’ll get through this, but we have to stay strong. We are not giving up just yet, okay?”

George nodded and pulled Bola into his arms.

*****

They waited. Seconds turned to minutes, minutes turned into hours. They sat, they paced, they talked with Mrs Pascal, thanking her profusely for her help and explaining Timothy’s situation to her in details, all in the bid to stay sane as they waited for the doctor.

Immediately George sighted the female doctor, he rushed towards her, followed closely by Bola, Mrs Pascal and Nurse Abigail.

George caught sight of the tag on the doctor’s chest almost absently. “Doctor Kemi, how is he? How is Tim?”

“Please tell me my son is okay, doctor” Bola pleaded.

Doctor Kemi smiled gently. “You don’t have to worry, your boy is out of the woods now.” she paused as everyone heaved sighs of relief. “But he would remain in the intensive care unit for some time, I guess you already have his diagnosis”

George and Bola nodded grimly. “With Chemotherapy, I’m positive that he would scale through this, all I want is that you don’t create any negative energy around him. Make sure he is constantly happy, remind him of happy times; this would help him slot and of course, pray. This would help him more than you can imagine.”

Bola sagged against George. “Can we see him?”

“Yes, I want to see Tim, please” she wouldn’t rest until she saw that her son breathing right before her eyes.

“You would see Tim, but in a few minutes” Bola noticed that the doctor had caught Tim’s name. She liked the woman already. There’s light after all. “He needs a few minutes to rest” Doctor Kemi said with a soft smile. She turned her eyes to Mrs Pascal and smiled. “Good to see you again, Teju”

“And you too, Kemi. Let’s talk in your office.” The doctor nodded then glanced at the couple before her. She squeezed Bola’s hand and smiled at George.

“Your son would be fine” she whispered with a smile then walked away with Mrs Pascal.
George left Bola for a while to fill some paperwork. Nurse Abigail stepped forward. “I should be leaving now”

Bola blinked back tears. She had almost forgotten that Nurse Abigail was with them. How could she forget such a sweet person. Completely stunning Abigail, Bola hugged her. It was the only thing Bola could think of. She had no money, nothing to reward Abigail with, Bola only hoped her thanks and prayers were enough. “I can’t thank you enough, Abigail. God knows I can’t thank you enough for all you did for my son”

Abigail blinked. For a second, she almost seemed tongue-tied. “I know what you’re going through” she blinked, looking down briefly. “my daughter, she…” Abigail shook her head. “It was the least I could do”

Bola blinked. She had been so blinded by her own pain, she had forgotten that some people must have experienced exactly what she was experiencing. “I’m so sorry”

Abigail smiled softly. “It’s been two years”

“May God reward you, wipe your tears and make you smile again, Abigail. I don’t have money to give you, but God who sees my heart would repay all your good deeds.”

“Amen” Abigail muttered. “Take care of him”

Bola watched Abigail leave with a heavy heart, full of gratitude. The general hospital wasn’t all bad after all.

*****

Bola and George sat on either sides of the bed, watching Timothy as his eyes slowly opened up. Bola’s mouth shook as she summoned her brightest smile. Damn, she shouldn’t be crying at a time like this.

“Tim, sweetie” she managed as she bent and kissed Tim’s forehead.

“How are you, son?” George asked with a soothing smile on his face.

Tim looked around briefly. “The room is different”

Bola smiled. “Yes, honey, we are in another hospital, a very big hospital”

Instead of Tim looking happy, he looked really sad as he stared from George to Bola with tears in his eyes. “Thank you daddy, thank you mummy… thank you for taking care of me” his voice was weak as he smiled shakily. “I never wanted you to go through this”

Bola smiled tightly. “C’mon, don’t say that, Tim. You didn’t do anything, I’ve told you to stop saying that” she warned subtly.

George cut in and he stood. “I want you to meet someone, Tim”

George rushed out of the room and came back in with Mrs Pascal. “Tim, this is Mrs Pascal” George introduced with a smile. “She bought these for you” George raised a big bag of provisions for Tim to see. “She also brought us to this hospital and paid the bills”

“Say thank you to her, Tim” Bola urged.

“Oh c’mon” Mrs Pascal muttered as she rolled her eyes before smiling down at Tim. “You are such a strong lad, Tim, your mummy has told me so much about you. How do you feel now?”

Tim smiled. “Much better, ma’am” he said. “Thank you so much, ma” his eyes grew slightly intense. “May God reward you in multiple folds”

Mrs Pascal looked taken aback. She hadn’t expected such words from a thirteen years old boy. Simple as the prayer sounded, something about those words seemed surreal. Tim didn’t say much after that before he fell asleep but even as Mrs Pascal left the hospital, Tim’s words echoed after her.

*****

Teju Pascal sat in her office two days after her encounter with Tim. She owned one of the largest malls in the state, thanks to her entrepreneural skills and the influence of her husband who was a politician. Thoughts of Tim remained constant in her mind just as his words replayed in her mind. Teju sighed and stood. Maybe it would be better to visit the family again. Something about Tim drew her in ways she couldn’t explain.

As she stood to leave, she felt a strange unease. ‘Beware… Beware’ a gentle voice repeated. Something wasn’t right. The warning came again and her unease increased. She stood and moved towards the window. Just then, a knock startled her and she stared at the door with fright. The warning came the third time and she swallowed. Why didn’t her secretary tell her she had guests. Something was wrong. Taking a deep breath, she moved back to her seat and sat pensively. She put her small phone inside her dress and put her hands on the table.

“Come in” she muttered.

The door opened and two men walked in, dressed in black. Their appearance wasn’t half as unnerving as their unsmiling faces. They closed the door firmly behind them. Teju took a deep breath and tried to smile. “Yes? Please have your seat, gentlemen” she said.

The two men sat, unsmiling.

“How may I help you?”

The two men exchanged looks, then one of them spoke up. “We’re looking for Mrs Teju Pascal”

Teju smiled shakily. “She’s not in”

The taller of the two men frowned. “But you look like her”

Teju chuckled freely. “I get that a lot. Actually, we are sisters, so, we look alike”

“I see, so where is she?”

Teju blinked, thinking fast. “She had to attend a business meeting with a client so she asked me to fill in for her” she lied. “She should be here in an hour. If you want, I can attend to you or you can wait for her”

The two men shared a look then the first guy put a small scary smile on his face. “We’ll wait”

Teju smiled shakily. “Good. Refreshments?” Before they could answer, Teju stood up, walked to the small office fridge and pulled out a pack of juice with two glasses. Her heart raced as she moved closer to the guys, serving them. As she filled the second cup, her eyes caught sight of the hilt of a gun poking out of the taller guy’s trouser. Her heart nearly stopped right there. Her legs shook as she walked back to the fridge. I don’t want to die, God, not today!