Olivier woke up with a very heavy head. It was not just that her head ached, she was sure a sledgehammer was being knocked on her skull. She rolled to her hand-held phone on the foot of the bed, lifted it and checked the time, 7.07am! She should have been awake over an hour ago. Now, she would be late for school. For a second, she couldn’t remember why she woke late. Then like a bell, the reason rang on her mind. She was pregnant; last night, Tony tried to force her to drink the abortion medicine, and she had stayed awake till 2am pondering over the situation. She—

Olivier rushed to her feet and dashed into the bathroom to vomit. She soon returned to her room, her hand on her belly and her breath heavy. She was tired of her early morning sparks of nausea, tired of the dashes to the bathroom, tired of her marathon lies, tired of the dangerous drama she was playing with Tony; tired of everything! She just wanted to put an end to all these! I will take the medicine today, she decided. She mustn’t miss school. It would cause intense questions and scolding from her step-mother (and father even); so she would go prepare for school; when she returned, she would sneak into her step-mother’s bedroom and take a sip from the medicine bottle. It was a fair conclusion, she assured herself and rose to her feet.

‘What is wrong with you?’

The voice pierced Olivier’s body like needle. She looked at her step-mother standing at the door, her hands across her chest. How long had the woman been standing at the door? Olivier wondered with terror.

‘What is wrong with you?’ the woman repeated frigidly. ‘If you mention headache again, I will kill you!’ The asperity in her voice and the aggressiveness in her eyes killed any puerile manoeuvrings Olivier could attempt.

Olivier didn’t know what to say.

Like a fierce masquerade, the step-mother took an angry step forward.

‘It is vomit, vomit,’ Olivier shouted.

The step-mother stopped. She looked straight into Olivier’s eyes. The girl couldn’t meet the woman’s eyes. Then with the calmness of a grandmother, the step-mother dropped the bombshell, ‘Olivier, who is responsible for your pregnancy?’

#                                  #                                  #                                  #

Tony had been awake since 5am. It was now six-thirty but he still lay on the bed worrying. He had slept very little; Olivier’s pregnancy pricked at his heart mercilessly like giant thorns. She was a silly, unintelligent girl that was bound to cause him a truckload of troubles if he didn’t act fast. His sister was a witch and every second that the pregnancy survived drew the dangerous cloud of discovery closer. His future shone so bright he always compared it to the sun that he couldn’t look at without sunshades. Now, Olivier was letting the deadly cloud threaten his sun. No, he must do something about it. Not even a thousand pregnant Oliviers should temper with his future.

He would have to get the medicine. If he had to prostrate before Olivier to get her drink the medicine, he would do that!

Tony knew his sister kept the bottle of the medicine in her bedroom. He must sneak into the bedroom and get the medicine before his sister’s husband returned around seven. As it was morning, the only thing his sister would do in the kitchen was boil water for tea and her children’s bath. He couldn’t steal into her bedroom when she was in the kitchen. The only safe time to sneak into the room was when his sister bathed her kids in the children’s bathroom. So he plastered his ears on the wall. The children’s room was between his and Olivier’s which meant he shared walls with the kids. He would certainly hear the angry voice of his sister when she began to bath his niece and nephew. Then he would run upstairs to his sister’s bedroom and get the medicine.

His sister entered the room, interrupting his thoughts. He barely glanced at her.

‘Good morning,’ he said dutifully. When would she learn to knock at the door before entering his room?

‘What are you doing?’ she asked. It was actually a demand.

‘Nothing. I am just woke up,’ he added quickly.

‘Their bathing water is ready. Go into their bedroom and bath Andy and Sandra immediately.’

Tony shut his eyes with defeat.

‘Their school uniforms and socks are on the bed,’ she added. Tony heard the door hit shut. It was as though his future had been shut against him. He stepped out of the bed and cursed Olivier aloud!

#                                  #                                  #                                  #

Tony was done bathing the kids. He was now putting on their dress. He wanted to monitor his situation so he had brought the children’s school dress into the sitting room. His sister normally dressed the kids in their room, but Tony didn’t care a damn whatever his sister thought! His sister had never impregnated Olivier! He was in deep water and would do anything to swim out with his future intact.

Tony was squeezing Andy’s leg into his sock when he saw his sister open Olivier’s door. His heart began to beat wildly. What was his sister doing in Olivier’s room? Could Olivier’s chicken brain know better than spit the whole truth? He was shocked by Olivier’s excellence in lying her way from taking his medicine last night. But it was a fluke that could not repeat itself. His sister could intimidate the truth out of Olivier’s mouth!…

With shaky hand he took a sandal up and brought Andy’s leg to it.

‘It is not my shoe,’ the five year old boy protested.

‘It is my own o,’ Sandra chipped, wild-eyed.

‘Uncle want to wear me Sandra’s shoe,’ Andy said. The kids began to laugh ‘kikikikiki’.

Wrath ate deep into Tony’s bones. He would have knocked Andy’s big head and given Sandra’s big mouth a backhand, but he didn’t want to invite the more destructive wrath of his sister. His nerve was already too battered for that. Tony looked up and saw that his sister had now fully entered Olivier’s room. Without thinking he dropped Andy’s leg, rose to his feet and ran upstairs.

‘Uncle have not finish wearing my shoe,’ Andy called.

But Tony had enough trouble than bother about wearing sandals on bony legs. He reached the end of the stairs and crashed into his sister’s matrimonial bedroom. He had been in this house for seven weeks now, but this was his second time of entering the king-sized bed dominated room. The first time he came in here was to steal a can of milk after his ravenous consumption of them had made his sister transfer the cartoon from the kitchen to her bedroom. Today, he was in here for more than a can of milk; he was here for the bottle of the abortion medicine, a can of his future!

He made straight for the chest of drawers, flung them out but didn’t see the bottle. He looked around with fright. The room suddenly became as big as a stadium. Where could the witch have hidden the bottle? he asked himself over and over again as he checked under the bed, lifted the pillow and opened the fridge. He didn’t think the medicine could be kept in the fridge but he wouldn’t put anything beyond a witch. His sister could hide a needle in her bra! Witch!

Tony opened the wardrobe door and the bottle fell on his feet. He allowed a hurried sigh of relief. He bent down quickly, picked it up and pocketed it. He closed the wardrobe door and began to hurry to the door. He opened the door and lo, his sister stood on his way!

‘What are you doing in my room?’

Like doves at the lifting of a stone, Tony’s lies flew away from him. ‘I-er, I-I…’ Even words were miles away.

His sister’s powerful fist landed on his cheek. It wasn’t the type of slap that sent thousands of stars from the eye. No, it was a different variety; this type of slap shook the gum and the cheekbone. Tony’s nose twitched with animosity; he looked down on his clenched fists. Before she got married, Tony and his sister who was just four years older had been involved in series of serious fights. His sister had once pursued him with raised knife. It was that bad, but it was nearly a decade back. The hammer that his sister just knocked on his face had caused these memories flooding back. But Tony was no fool. It was better to be slapped than pushed to explain what he was doing here.

‘Although I am in your house, and you feed and shelter me, I am still an adult,’ Tony said and walked pass her. As he reached the stairs, her metallic voice stopped him.

‘When my husband comes back,’ she said. ‘You will tell him who is responsible for his first daughter’s pregnancy.’

Tony’s breath seized. He turned sharply in time to see his sister’s back disappeared into the room. He didn’t know which one happened first—his world stumbling before him or the bang of his sister’s door!

To be Continued…

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