Welcome, Guest: Join Nairaland / LOGIN! / Trending / Recent / New
Stats: 2,483,100 members, 5,622,737 topics. Date: Thursday, 28 May 2020 at 06:01 AM

Once Upon A December - Literature (5) - Nairaland

Nairaland Forum / Entertainment / Literature / Once Upon A December (7712 Views)

(2) (3) (4)

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (Reply) (Go Down)

Re: Once Upon A December by martins18(m): 2:10pm On Jan 22
They faced each other and David sighed. As if that was the signal, tiny raindrops began spluttering on their faces but they still stood there in the rain. Keren started by earnestly apologising for being the reason for David’s attack and promised to reimburse for the cost of treatment.


“Don’t worry,” David assured her, “I’ll be fine.

Thanks.”


The thunder boomed in the clouds. “About yesterday,” Keren said, rubbing David’s arms, “I’m very sorry for the way my mother treated you. She can be frustrating at times. But I hope that doesn’t change anything about us.”


David took a quick breath and bit his lower lip. This was the moment. “Keren,” he began, “I think we should listen to your mother.”


“What are you saying?” she questioned as the rain intensified.


The words were too heavy for him to spill out. “I mean…we must stop seeing each other.”


Keren shook her head. “You’re kidding right?”


David inched closer to her and said softly, “Keren, can’t you see I am coming between you and your family and your future.”


“What are you getting at, David?” Keren asked, baffled, her chest rising and falling conspicuously.


“Keren, you’re more than just a friend to me.


And I want what is best for you. Keren, look at me, what can I give you? I have nothing.


But there are other people out there who can afford to take good care of you. I don’t want to jeopardise your future.”


For a moment, she was speechless with mouth partially open. “David,” she whispered. “I don’t need anything from you except…your love.” Her hands were going up and down his arms as the rains showered on the two already soaked friends. “You know I love you…don’t tell me you don’t know. Just return the love, that’s all I ask.”


David felt like tearing up, but he held it back. “I can’t give you what you seek, Keren,” he said sadly.


Then the tears sprang up into Keren’s eyes and she dropped at once to her knees, tugging at his sleeves and pleading, “David, please, I beg you, please don’t do this. You will kill me if you do this, please.”


David couldn’t watch this. It was so heartbreaking. He had to try hard before he could bring her up to her feet. Keren shivered and David knew it was more than the cold rain. He wished he could be there for this amazing girl but he felt it was out of his hands.


“Keren,” he said to the lady with teeth chattering, “You will always be one of my best friends if not my best friend. But please, forget about me and move on with your beautiful life. Please.”


“Oh David…” she sobbed, clutching her chest as lightning flashed brilliantly, “…don’t do this to me.”


“Keren…” he tried to take her hand but she wriggled it away and in a flash, spun around and took to her heels crying as she disappeared through the narrow bushy path.
“I’m sorry, my friend,” David whispered into the air, bottled up with guilt and grief.


***


Keren’s parents received a heart-stinging shock when their beloved daughter came home crying in soaked clothes. That was a frightening sight to the parents whose daughter had a fragile heart. They rushed to her at once and sat her down between them on a couch in the living room.


“Look,” Ackah said to his wife, “get a towel quickly.”


Aya flew upstairs and was back with a white towel in no time. “Avola,” she wrapped the towel around Keren. “Duzu debie ɔ? What is it?


Daddy couldn’t bear the sight of his daughter crying like a baby no more. “Please stop crying and tell us what happened.”
With trembling lips and chest heaving up and down heavily, she muttered, “It’s – it’s Henry.”


The first thought that came to Ackah’s mind was that Henry must have laid a finger on his daughter. He prayed not. “What did Henry do to you?”


Keren looked at her father’s face and he didn’t like what he saw. “Henry attacked David. And now David doesn’t want to see me anymore.” Aya looked partly relieved.
“Oh, why did he have to do that?” Ackah showed some concern, hoping that will calm down his golden child.


“We are sorry about what happened,” Aya said bluntly, “but we don’t approve of you and that barber boy together. That you have to understand.”


“Yes, my dear,” Ackah wrapped his arm around Keren and rocked her gently, “that boy is definitely not good for you. If it’s Henry you don’t like, there are other boys who are ready to love you".


Keren shook her head and rose up. With deep breaths, she plainly said, “It’s either you bring back David to me or be prepared to carry my corpse back to Esiama.” Her words shook them to the core and tossing the towel back at them, she ran off, flying upstairs and crying, leaving her parents behind to exchange looks of shock.


“I don’t like this,” Ackah sounded desperate, “I don’t like what is happening.”


“I don’t as well, but I just can’t accept that boy,” Aya shook her head.


Ackah rubbed his temples. Aya added, “Let’s hang on for a while. For all you know, she may be trying to scare us to get what she wants.”

Ackah gazed at his wife, deep in thought.

1 Like

Re: Once Upon A December by jupitre(m): 6:26pm On Jan 22
Nice......
Can't wait for the next update bro...
You're doing really great..
Re: Once Upon A December by martins18(m): 2:49am On Jan 23
Keren wasn’t joking. Within a few days, her health had deteriorated at a frightening rate and she refused to eat or leave her room. This sent her parents panicking. They invited Dr Ben over but Keren refused to co-operate with him. Things were getting to a head. Ackah managed to get Stacy Evans on the phone. Keren agreed to speak with her though.


Keren told her everything, crying during some parts of her story. The experienced psychologist and close friend of Keren advised her father in plain language to get David back into Keren’s life before things got too far with her condition. Ackah knew she was right but it wasn’t an easy decision.


“I can’t believe we are going to freely give our beautiful girl to-to that poor thing ,” Aya said one evening when the old couple debated the issue in their bedroom late into the night.


“I know,” Ackah said. “But it’s our daughter’s life at stake here. Another heart attack can be it. We have to let go of our ego and save our child.”


Aya sighed, pulling the blanket over her head. “I still can’t believe we are going to be giving our daughter away to that thing .”


***


The following day, her parents informed Keren about their decision to do everything possible to get her relationship with David back on track since that would make her happy. At first, Keren didn’t believe them. However, after giving them directions to David’s shop, they kept their promise and visited him.


David didn’t believe that these rich folks were literally pleading with him to return to their daughter. When they informed him about how sick she had become, he wasted no time in agreeing to come home with them to see Keren.


Keren was in bed when she heard a knock on her door. “Keren?” her father called from behind. “There’s someone here to see you.”
She turned. “Who’s it?” she asked feebly, her face looking thin.


To her absolute shock and exquisite delight, David walked in; one last plaster posted right above his left eye. Keren’s facial expression brightened up in a flash. “David,” she smiled, forcing herself to sit up as David pulled a chair and sat close to the bed.
“I’m here now,” he said and took her hands. “And I apologize for the last time.”


“I missed you so much,” she brought his hands up to her lips and kissed it.
“I missed you too.


From behind the half-opened door, Aya and Ackah were peeping through. They looked at each other and shook their heads.


***


Just as her health had deteriorated rapidly, David’s reunion with Keren rapidly improved her health. About three weeks later, David found himself waiting for Keren’s father in their hall whiles Keren helped Aya prepare lunch. He didn’t know why the man had summoned him to his house, but at least David was certain it wasn’t going to be confrontational.


Ackah came walking down the stairs, all the while keeping his eyes on David sitting in the mono sofa. The young man couldn’t hold the man’s piercing gaze for long. If there was another thing David was sure of, it was that deep down, Keren’s parents didn’t like him.


David rose up to greet when Ackah was about to take his seat on the couch. Ackah motioned him to sit down, likely saying it in his mind that David should spare him the fake courtesy.


“Keren told me something last night,” he began and David listened on, looking very attentive. “So I just want to know when your people are coming.”


David was baffled. His people? Coming where? Ackah noticed his bewilderment and snapped impatiently, “When are your folks coming to do the customary rites? Didn’t you tell my daughter about your plans to marry her?!”


What the…? Did Keren just tell her parents he had proposed to her? Oh no, this girl. David didn’t feel ready.


It took only 5 seconds for the words to fly out of his mouth out of a desire to put Keren’s happiness above his and to protect her from embarrassment. “Yes, yes,” David gave a crooked smile, “It’s just that I, I don’t have a family, sir. I never knew my parents and the person who chose to look after me died a few years ago so I’m-I’m kind of on my own, sir.”


Ackah sat back and clasped his hands on his laps. “Hmm…what a pity,” he said without any feeling. “We will see how to go about this.” The man rose up and David followed suit. “I hope she has told you about her condition. If she hasn’t, ask her because I will like to send this warning across; my daughter is in your hands now and she’s the only one I have got. If ever something should happen to her, mark my words, I will not forgive you.”


Those were not words of a man happy to give out her daughter’s hand in marriage.


David had nodded as a promise to take care of Keren before the man stormed upstairs leaving him alone in the hall looking silly. It wasn’t too long when Keren came out of the kitchen to the hall. There was this guilty look on her face that David couldn’t miss. And what was Keren’s condition? He wondered.


“You,” David grabbed her hand and whispered, “We need to talk outside…the gate.”


Keren giggled. “Okay.”

1 Like

Re: Once Upon A December by martins18(m): 2:51am On Jan 23
Grabbing her hand, he boldly dragged her out into the yard and then outside the gate.

Taking her to one end of their wall, he confronted her, “What did you tell your father?”


“What did you tell him?” Keren fired back with a mischievous smile.


David was short of words as he threw his arms in despair. “I feel like stabbing you; you know that?”


“Just deny that you love me.”


David stared at her without a word.


“Fine,” she folded arms with a frown, “I’ll go and tell them I was kidding.”


David sucked his teeth lightly and scratched his head. “My mouth played along before my brain could decide what to say.”


“You agreed! I knew you loved me!” Keren went wild and without warning, she wrapped arms around his neck and gave him a full kiss on the mouth. It was David’s first kiss from a girl and he didn’t seem too happy about it.


“Sorry,” she apologised but unable to hide her joy, she hugged him again without warning. By then, David knew there was no turning back. Loving Keren was not a difficult task. The girl was amazing except that her love was way ahead than his. She was head over heels in love with him.


On that day, under the scorching heat, on the street, he, for the first time, said, “I love you very much, Keren.”


“I love you too,” she grinned.


They kept looking at each other with Keren out smiling David. “I’m so happy, David.


Thank you so, so much for coming into my life.”


They linked hands. “Thank you too, my love. The only downside is that we get to become the first couple to get married before actually dating.”

Keren laughed.

***


Martin wished David would never end. He laughed at those last words David had said to Keren about 11 years ago. Martin now understood better the circumstances behind David’s marriage to Keren better. Her parents’ reaction on that day they were informed about Jasmine’s death quickly came to mind.


“So you see, my friend,” David said to Martin, looking at the big red sun sinking behind the ocean, “I didn’t need to decode Keren’s heart. She handed over the keys to me.”


Martin nodded with a slight smile. “I now get it. I think I now know where Jasmine got 15% of her rebelliousness from. The other 85 I am not sure of.”


David giggled. “Keren has always been there for me, always finding a way to get me out of trouble especially through the tragic circumstances of Jasmine’s birth. She almost died, and again it was due to my fault. She lied to her parents and hid me from trouble. In turn, I gave her the privilege of naming our child. Much about that story another day.”


David turned away from the rails and sat down at their table which was next to the tracks. Martin joined him and started sipping from his glass whiles David looked at him speechlessly, his jaw in his palm.


“Everything will be fine,” Martin said calmly.


“The doctor is coming.”


“But will she come to meet Keren alive?”

David asked. “Keren is like a time bomb, ready to explode anytime.”


Martin placed the glass aside and looked thoughtfully into David’s eyes. “Look, David, just give Nadesh what she wants. We can’t gamble on Keren’s life.”


David took in a deep sigh and threw his gaze across the gold shimmering ocean.

1 Like

Re: Once Upon A December by martins18(m): 11:35am On Jan 23
Chapter fourteen


He was in his favourite seat as the evening news was being reported on TV. With his elbow on the arm of the sofa, his forehead resting on his hand and his eyes closed, David was lost in the wilderness of thoughts. Martin had helped him get a clearer picture of the motivating force behind Nadesh’s blackmail. Even though David wasn’t there during their school days, he knew Keren was innocent. He knew his beloved wife so much that he was ready to bet his life on her innocence. Poor Keren, she had believed Nadesh.


There were times when David felt the urge to reveal to his wife the kind of friend she had. But that would be game over. The consequence of such a move was too scary for him to even think about. Afiba came to the living room and settled down on a sofa, looking at David. The disease had finally infected her also. The housekeeper had her hands between her thighs, feeling cold not because of the air conditioning but the cold way life suddenly treated the family she loved so much.

Behind David was the dining table. Afiba had brought in his dinner half an hour ago.


At first, she would have reminded him that his dinner was ready if he hadn’t gone near the food. That wasn’t the case that day.


Afiba understood what David was going through and she sought not to bother him. It was her madam she worried most about.


Aunty Keren, Afiba whispered inside her, how will she take the news of Jasmine’s death? If there was one thing Afiba quickly discerned when she first arrived, it was Keren’s poor health condition. She used to ask herself why such a gorgeous and healthy-looking woman would take so many pills in a day.


She knew something was seriously wrong with her madam. Her curiosity was satisfied when Keren informed her about the “no salt” policy in the house. Her madam had hypertension. But she was too young, Afiba had thought. Keren didn’t stop there. She told Afiba that her condition was more than just being hypertensive and that every day, she stood the risk of a heart attack. Afiba didn’t know why Keren had to tell her all that.


“Aside from the salt, what else shouldn’t I do?” Afiba had asked earnestly.


Keren had given her a light smile, sensing Afiba’s concern. “Just be a good girl.”


A car suddenly beeped outside the gate, its headlight piercing through the gaps into the yard. That got everyone in the living room jumping back to reality. David sat straight at once as Afiba ran outside to open the gate.


He rubbed his palms on his face roughly, hoping to clear all traces of worries on his face. By the time Keren entered, David was watching TV, his attention entirely concentrated on the screen. Dropping her bag on the centre table, Keren plonked down beside David in the couch. She leaned back and touched her forehead as Afiba came walking across the living room.


David gave her a sideways glance and held her hand tight. “Hope you had a great day.”


“I won’t say that,” Keren leaned forward and looked at him, her voice very soft. “But there is some good news.”


“Okay?” David faced her.


“I called the bank,” she said softly, “and they said the cheque hadn’t been cashed.”


David raised eyebrows.


“So I told them everything and they worked on it. Your money is safe.”


David’s sigh of relief couldn’t have been more natural and he earned a wry smile from Keren.


“I hope that is it, then,” she said. “I don’t want to see you crying again or pulling a long face.”


David nodded, forcing a smile across tight lips. “Sure. My worries are over. Thanks, honey.”


“No, problem,” she stood up.


“Hey, have you heard from Jasmine?” David asked and regretted.


Keren gazed at him without a word, her face starting to crumble. Her lips trembled imperceptibly and a tear trickled down her cheek. “I’m not calling them anymore. I’m tired of being lied to.”

“Keren…”


“David,” she said gently, looking very convinced, “something has happened to our daughter. I just can’t help it.”


“Look,” he took her hand and gently pulled her back to her seat, “we spoke about this earlier. If something had happened to Jasmine, your parents would have told us.”


Keren shook her head lightly as David wiped her tears. “I know you miss her. But, trust me, Jasmine is fine and will be back in about two weeks’ time. Just relax, okay?”


She looked at his face for a while. “You think if something has happened to Jasmine, my parents will be quick to tell me?”


David couldn’t answer that.


“David,” Keren looked away towards the TV and placed a hand on her chest, “my heart is heavy. Jasmine is killing me. I can’t stop worrying that something bad has happened.”


“Keren,” David wrapped an arm around her and rubbed her shoulder, “please, for our sakes, calm down. Jasmine will soon be back into your arms before you know it.”


Keren slowly got up, her eyes still on the TV.

“Goodnight,” she said as if to whisper and left, heading towards Jasmine’s room.
David sighed and slouched on the couch. Things were looking bleak. Nine days more for Stacy’s arrival. David wondered how this doctor would break such a heart-wrenching news to a mother who can’t go a week without her daughter. Even much more worrying was whether Keren could make it until the 25 th looking at things. He swore to himself he would do all he could to calm her fears down. That would mean…he had to bed another woman this coming weekend. When that thought hit him, he facepalmed and sank deeper into the couch.


***


That was how she had lived for a few years now; a single lady in a modern flat. It wasn’t that men weren’t approaching her. Nadesh seemed to be getting proposals daily. But she kept turning them all down. Ever since that scandal , as she put it, she had lost that desire for a man until David came along.

The man stole her heart in an instant.

Nadesh remembered vividly that day Martin brought David’s family over to her apartment..


It was meant to be a joyful reunion for old best friends. Keren was elated when she met Nadesh while Nadesh acted ecstatic and at the same time couldn’t believe the stage life had set for her to pay Keren back in full terms. Here was a man she couldn’t stop thinking about since the first day they met. This same man was the husband of the one lady Nadesh had sworn to punish.
Re: Once Upon A December by martins18(m): 11:38am On Jan 23
What better motivation could she have asked for? Keren cheated with the one person Nadesh felt would be her first and last love. Desmond had promised to marry Nadesh once they completed University.


Nadesh could foresee a beautiful future with him. They had often talked about where they would have their honeymoon, the kind of house they would live in with their three kids – two boys and a girl – and which country they’d spend their vacations in. Only for that ailing and wretched traitor to ruin Nadesh’s beautiful future with Desmond. It’d been years now but now, it was Nadesh’s turn to strike. She wasn’t going to lighten her strike at all. She would hit so hard that Keren would break into two like a piece of wood.


She lay on the couch in the living room, legs resting peacefully in the cushion as she flipped through a photo album. Beside her was a coffee table carrying a plate of fried chicken, a bottle of red wine, a glass half-filled with wine and a digital camera. She flipped a page of the album. There it was; the photo. Nadesh and Desmond had taken a photo together at the beach during the school holidays. Right below that photo was another picture of only Keren and Nadesh together. She remembered that photo very well. Keren’s parents had visited her at school and she had asked her father to take a picture of just her and her best friend.

That was before the scandal.


She stared at that photo, fixing her eyes on the girl with the ponytail who smiled the broadest. The look on Nadesh’s face that evening as she looked forever at the photograph was scary. It was the look of revenge itself squealing to be unleashed. Nadesh kept her gaze as she took a sip of the wine from her glass. After a while of staring, she poked a finger repeatedly at the head of Keren’s image in the photograph.


Finally, she closed the photo album and dropped it on the floor.


Nadesh straightened up and picked up the camera. In her hands was her main arsenal for destroying Keren. As she turned the new device over in her hands, a cunning smile crept up on the corner of her lips. There were other things that could kill Keren in an instant. The news of Jasmine’s death was only one of them.


***


It was past midnight. Keren was still awake, lying in bed in Jasmine’s room. As if the big teddy bear was Jasmine herself, Keren hugged it tight to her chest and soaked the poor bear’s fur with tears. This was the same place she last saw her beloved child.


What has happened to you, she thought and turned flat on her back, looking at the ceiling with the bear held tightly to her chest.


Out of the blue, Keren grimaced, tossing the bear away and clutching her chest tight. She had just felt a quick sharp pain surge through her heart. She wasn’t a stranger to this. That’s how it always began before the big blow. Keren knew what to do to evade another attack; she had to relax her thoughts about Jasmine. But how could she?


***


Keren wore a jacket to face the cold morning. Strangely, her husband had already left the house. That was rather unusual for him to leave for work so early. It was a quarter to eight when Keren walked across the living room towards the door that led outside. She didn’t want to worry about Jasmine today. For all her worries, there could be a slim chance that Jasmine was alright and that it indeed was just coincidental that she had been calling at the wrong time. She needed to throw away her anxiety over her child before she suffered another fatal attack that could end her life.


What would be the point if Jasmine returned home only to find her mother dead? No! Her daughter shouldn’t be motherless.


She wore a smile as she looked forward to a bright day in her life. Half-way across the living room, Keren somehow glanced at the glass window and suddenly froze in her tracks. Her bag dropped out of her grasp as with widened eyes and partially opened mouth, Keren edged closer to the window till she touched it. She saw her. Her child. Out there in the yard, playing on the swing. The girl swung back and forth gleefully and waved at her mother. Then almost as suddenly there was no one on the swing anymore. Keren’s eyes fluttered and a tear broke free. What had she just seen? Was it real or an illusion? Was her brain playing tricks on her? Whatever it was, it saddened the poor mother.


Quickly, she turned away from the window, picked up her bag and stormed out of the house, wiping her tears with the back of her hand. Keren had wanted to spend the day free of worries. Her mind was thinking otherwise.


***


The weather that morning paralleled David’s life. Gloomy clouds hanged above in the sky whispering of imminent rain. As he drove along, he observed everyone begin to pick up their pace and in front of some houses, women quickly taking clothes off the line.


They seemed to have control of their lives. That was not the case in his life.


At the helm of David’s life was a certain lady. A lady he dared not anger. If he did, the consequences would be unbearable for him.


It wasn’t a promising decision he had taken but David felt he had to give it a try. That was why he was headed to Anaji – a suburb of the city - to visit the lady.
Re: Once Upon A December by martins18(m): 11:42am On Jan 23
After about ten minutes on the road, he finally reached his destination and parked in front of a walled house. He rang the gate bell and stepped back, rubbing his hands as he waited. In no time, he heard the sound of a door close and quick footsteps approach the gate.


The gate was opened and a pretty lady in tight shorts and a camisole appeared in the gateway. She raised eyebrows briefly before a smile curled up on her lips. “Wow,” Nadesh folded arms and leaned against the gate. “I presume you’ve come for a practice session ahead of the weekend.”


“No, please,” David said softly across tight lips.


“Okay,” she bit her lower lip, batting her eyelashes, “to what then do I owe you this unexpected yet very welcome visit, baby boy?”


“Nadesh,” he began and swallowed, “I know why you’re doing this. And I also know you had it all wrong about Keren during your secondary school days. She is innocent.”


“Were you there?” she asked instantly, her face tightening.


“Okay, I wasn’t there. But even if you think Keren did it, find a place in your heart to forgive her. This is the same person you once called your best friend. You should be helping us to save her instead of threatening to kill her. Please, Nadesh.”


“You know something?” she threatened with narrowed eyes, standing straight. “The next time you dare talk to me about this, I’m cancelling my offer and breaking the news to Keren. Is that clear?”


David didn’t utter another word. He sighed and dropped his gaze while Nadesh cocked her head, looking at him callously.


“It’s even a good thing you’re here,” she said and inched closer to David. “I am leaving for Cape Coast tomorrow to get preparations for our weekend underway. Do you have any place in mind?”


There was no reply from David and he didn’t even look up.


“Okay,” she whispered, scanning around fleetingly. Then she said, “I have a place in mind. Tiara Beach Resort. I’ve been to the place and it’s like no other. The atmosphere is nothing short of romantic in the evenings.


You’ll love it, baby.” She gave a flirty smile
She heard a sniffle from David that baffled her and when he looked up finally, his eyes were filled with tears.


“Nadesh, please…” he sniffled, rubbing his fingers together.


Nadesh dropped her shoulders, looking fed up. “What is it with you and tears?” she inched closer and wiped his tears away with David looking on helplessly. When she was done, she wrapped both arms around the neck of the despondent-looking man. “Look, there’s no point in feeling guilty about this thing we are going to do. You’re doing it to save your wife and that’s a good thing.


Martin will make you believe it’s for revenge but that’s not entirely true. If I wanted to harm Keren, I would have harmed her back then. So, don’t push me to pull the trigger.”


She touched his nose. “I love you and I just want to have a feel of you, that’s all. After this weekend, when I’ve got what I want, I won’t bother you again. Let me assure you; Keren won’t know anything about this, okay? Besides, we will use condoms so no risk of pregnancy, baby boy. Just chill and enjoy it.”


David shook his head lightly and took off the weight resting on his shoulders. “Nadesh, please ask for anything else and I will give you but this-”


“Hey,” she pointed a finger at him, a tight look on her face, “enough of that, okay?


Now, Saturday, I’ll be waiting. You don’t want to end up killing your wife like you killed your child.” She placed a hand casually on her waist. “Hmmph. Your in-laws would have a field day with you.”


David exhaled. There was no point pleading with this determined lady. He passed a hand through his hair and started to walk backwards.


“Going so soon?” she asked with a wry smile.


David turned around and walked to the car door.


“Just call me on Saturday when you’re coming, okay? David.”


He had just opened the door when she called his name. He turned around and received a kiss blown in his direction.


***


As much as she tried, Keren couldn’t get her mind off Jasmine. She cried to herself from time to time at the office, gazing at a photograph of her cute daughter. She came home in the evening feeling downhearted as she had been of late. It was when she entered her room that she received a shock that almost gave her a heart attack.


Sprawled on the bare floor with the head leaning against the bed was her dear husband soaked in tears with a bottle of beer in hand and another empty bottle lying beside him. Keren gasped and clutched her chest, grimacing. A sharp pain had just pierced her heart. She took slow breaths for a while, slowly approaching the man who looked like his world had come to an end.


“David…” Keren dropped her bag and knelt beside him, scanning his face for a moment. “What is the matter again?”


David inhaled, tears streaming and lips trembling. “Keren…” he said softly, lifting a hand and touching the side of her face.


Keren took his hand gently. “Yes, my love, what’s wrong?” she asked gently, tears welling up in her eyes as well.


“I love you so much, Keren,” he sobbed.
Re: Once Upon A December by martins18(m): 11:46am On Jan 23
Keren shoved her hair from her face, trying to understand what was happening to her beloved husband. She had thought his problem was over after she blocked the cheque. “I know and I love you too. But tell me, what has happened? I’m your wife, talk to me.”


David looked up at her face and caressed her hair. He sighed and shook his head lightly. There was something he had to say but couldn’t. He could see the anxious tears trickling down Keren’s cheeks and he felt sorry for making her feel that way.


“Okay,” Keren said softly after David didn’t utter another word, “you, just take your time and when you’re ready to talk, tell me what’s worrying you, okay? Whatever the problem is will be fine. But please, stop doing this to yourself, you’re killing me.”


Oh, how those words touched him. Here was a woman who understood him. She knew there was a problem, but at the same time, she didn’t want to pressurise him into confessing what it was. It seemed what Keren wanted was for David to end his tears because it made her feel sick.


“I’ll tell you,” David promised, wiping a tear from her eyes with his forefinger. “I promise.”


“Great. Anytime, I’ll be ready to listen, but please stop this…since when did you start drinking?” She stood up and helped him sit on the bed. Once seated, David dropped his head, holding his forehead.


After a short moment of silence, she leaned in towards him, rubbing his shoulder. “Have you eaten anything?


He shook his head slowly.


“Hey,” she held his chin and turned his face to her, “please, for my sake, eat something even if it’s a little.” She tried to fish out a smile from him by smiling herself. “We’ll eat together from the same plate, okay? But please, don’t cheat me. Come on.” Keren rose up and pulled David up with her. He managed to give a crooked smile at her efforts to cheer him up.


***


Aya sat on the edge of the bed, watching her anxious husband anxiously. Her eyes flicked from side to side as her husband paced here and there in their room that evening.


This was unusual. Ackah had been trying to call Stacy since yesterday, but his calls kept being forwarded to voicemail. That wasn’t the norm. Stacy usually picked their calls in a jiffy and called the family more often.


Aya was shaken the previous day when Keren begged her to release her from her misery by telling her what had happened to her child. Keren’s mother knew at once that not only had her daughter begun to sense something had happened but she had started to feel the effects already as well.


That was a red flag. Aya had been restless since then. They wanted to tell Stacy what was happening and listen to what advice she would give them for the meantime. Unfortunately, they hadn’t been able to reach her.


So many thoughts were going through their heads, but the old couple wanted to remain positive. This doctor was their only hope left. As Ackah went past the window, he suddenly stopped.


“Hello, hello,” he said with relief. “Thank God.”

Aya placed a hand on her chest and sighed deeply.


“Please, can I speak to Dr Evans?” Ackah requested, placing a hand on the windowsill, as Aya studied his facial expression closely.

But then, seconds later, his expression changed. Ackah’s eyes widened and his jaw sagged.


Aya could hear her heart pound louder than the sound of pounding fufu in an eatery.

“Ackah, what is it?”


The cell phone fell from his hand onto the floor and ignoring the smashed device, he turned at Aya with the gloomiest of faces.

“Dr Evans…is dead.”


Aya gasped, hands on her chest as tears sprung quickly into her eyes.
Re: Once Upon A December by Josipov: 1:35pm On Jan 23
Oh God!!!!
Why should Stacy die now.
This is not Good for David and Keren
Re: Once Upon A December by Dnight(m): 2:10pm On Jan 23
Wow
You are good
Re: Once Upon A December by cassbeat(m): 2:38pm On Jan 23
Pls op dont hang up on this beautiful work you are giving me... Keep it coming you just earned yourself a follower even if I dont comment more often just know I am ghost reading... More updates yo!!!!
Re: Once Upon A December by Teedah: 2:43pm On Jan 23
Dear Writer, the suspense this writing gives is causing so much heart attack than the ones your character 'Keren' has. Kudos!!! Any site to download the full text?
Re: Once Upon A December by jupitre(m): 3:50pm On Jan 23
Don't stop here ooooo
You can't kill me yet. .
Re: Once Upon A December by martins18(m): 5:54pm On Jan 23
Teedah:
Dear Writer, the suspense this writing gives is causing so much heart attack than the ones your character 'Keren' has. Kudos!!! Any site to download the full text?
No site for now but there might be a link for the part 2
Re: Once Upon A December by Teedah: 5:58pm On Jan 23
Kk. Well-done. Can't wait though
Re: Once Upon A December by martins18(m): 5:58pm On Jan 23
Chapter fifteen


Keren woke up suddenly from sleep. Nothing had caused her to wake up actually.


It wasn’t a dream or a sudden sound; she just woke up. The room was still dim and the outside world, stone silent. She checked the time on her cell phone and it was a few minutes past three. Keren turned on the bed and faced David. As if she knew, a pair of eyes were still open and staring at the ceiling.


She propped her head on a hand and stared at him for a while. Keren expected him to turn his head to face her but he didn’t. It was as if he hadn’t realised that she was staring at him. Finally, she shook him gently on the shoulder, but that didn’t make any difference either. Keren knew he still thought about the problem he had promised to talk to her about at the right time.


“David?” she said barely above a whisper.
He only swallowed and still maintained his gaze upwards.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

David sighed.

Keren dropped her head back to the bed and joined her husband in gazing at the ceiling.
After a moment’s silence, he spoke up.

“I’ll be leaving for Accra.”

Keren turned to him. “When?”

“Tomorrow morning.”

“Okay,” she said and guessed, “Is it connected to your problem?”


“Yes,” he said and sighed heavily. “I have a case to settle with someone.”


“Okay,” she drawled, getting a bit worried about hearing that. “I hope you’re safe.”


David took her hand and tightened his grip.

“Don’t worry. No one is getting hurt.”


“Alright. Just be careful.”


“Sure,” he turned to face her for the first time. “How is the heart?”

It was Keren’s time to look upwards whiles David looked at her. “Honestly, I’m scared. I am so anxious about our child. If only my parents would just ….” She turned to him and their eyes met. “I don’t want to die, David but it seems as each day passes by and my fears about Jasmine grow, I can’t stop feeling that I’m going to…” She couldn’t complete her line.


David made her lay her head on his chest and wrapped arms around her. “You will not die. I won’t allow that to happen.” He planted a kiss on her cheek. “Go back to sleep, Keren.”


***


Debbie paused for a moment, a hand resting on her waist and another holding the broomstick. She watched as the flashy car drove into their yard and stopped beside her brother’s car. A familiar face stepped out of the vehicle and approached her.


“Hey,” Keren smiled broadly.


“Hello, Aunty,” Debbie smiled back.


“How are you doing?”


“I’m good,” Debbie passed the broom to the other hand.


“Is your brother inside?”


Debbie glanced at the door. “Yeah. Do I call him for you?”


“Um,” Keren cocked her head slightly. “Let me go to him instead.”


Debbie nodded and as Keren passed by, she gave Debbie a double tap on the shoulder. After Keren had entered the house, Debbie returned to work. Her shoulders dropped when she realised the enormous part of the yard still waiting to be swept.


Elizabeth had just left her room, about to go outside to do her chores. However, just before entering the living room, she hit her brakes when she caught a glance of Keren and Martin sitting together on the couch and talking. The girl hid behind the wall and sneaked a peek at Keren intermittently.


She was about to steal another peep when she found Keren’s eyes looking at her direction with a warm smile. Elizabeth quickly hid behind the wall, finger on lip, wondering if Aunty Keren was really smiling at her. Did she see correctly? She had to confirm, but this time, she will hide better.


Barely had the least fraction of her head appeared in the doorway than Keren called her loudly.


“Lizzy, won’t you come and say hello, my good friend?”


Martin turned and gave a withering look at the empty doorway. Slowly, his little sister appeared from behind the wall and walked towards them slowly, looking crestfallen.


“Good morning, Aunty,” Elizabeth gave a quick bob of courtesy, head dropped.


“Good morning,” Keren grinned. “How are you feeling this morning?”


Elizabeth gave Keren a brief look before dropping her head. “I’m fine, Aunty.”


“Great.”


“Have you watered the flowers?” Martin came in, looking suspiciously at the shy girl.
Elizabeth shook her head.


Martin pointed to the window. “Out. Now!”
As if that was the command she had been praying for, Elizabeth vanished through the door. Keren turned to Martin, shaking her head slightly. “You know, you and David really need to learn to be gentle with the kids.”


“I am gentle,” Martin shrugged and sat back, resting an arm on the couch. “Most of the time.”


Keren chortled. “So, as I was saying, something is eating your friend.”


“You came home to meet David…drunk?”


“He would have been if I hadn’t arrived on the scene in time. What’s worse is he refused to tell me what the problem was. I don’t know…” Keren trailed off, eyebrows wrinkled in concern as she stared at the similarly concerned face of Martin. “…But ever since Jasmine went on holidays, David hasn’t been himself. He is always carrying this look on his face which he tries to hide.”

Keren sighed. “At first, he said he was worried because he needed money for some business and so I gave him money. It wasn’t long after when I caught him crying and kneeling before the house help, begging her not to tell me.”


“Tell you what?”


“That the friend he was doing the business with had run away with the cheque. Great. I verified from the bank just in case his friend hadn’t cashed in yet and to my surprise, no money had been withdrawn. So, I informed him, that was on Tuesday and I thought that was it, only to find him sprawled on the floor in our room, crying and attempting to drink himself to death.”


Keren landed, looking at Martin as if waiting for an answer. He sighed and leaned forward.


“And he didn’t tell you anything?”


“Nothing,” she shook her head.


“Hmmph,” Martin tapped his foot on the floor, looking thoughtful.


“Martin,” her tone changed. It was a pleading tone. “Please, you are his friend. If there is anything, I know he will tell you.

Please, tell me the truth, what’s the problem? What’s going on?”


“Keren, if there were anything, I wouldn’t hesitate to tell you, you know that.” Martin’s face looked honest enough.


Keren sighed, smoothening her eyebrows with her fingers.


“But,” he placed a hand on her shoulder and shook it briefly, “don’t worry, I will talk to him.”


“Please, do,” she implored.


“Don’t worry,” he took off his glasses to wipe it clean.


Keren immediately looked away, looking disgusted. “Jeez, put it back on. I don’t want to see your face.”


Martin giggled and wiped the lenses quickly.

“I thought you were used to it by now.”

1 Like

Re: Once Upon A December by martins18(m): 6:04pm On Jan 23
When Martin came out into the yard with Keren, Debbie sat on a brick with the broomstick lying beside her. Elizabeth held a watering can, plucking a flower when she spotted them and swiftly hid her face and resumed work.


“It’s not as if I have not been trying,” Martin said, following a smiling Keren to her car.

“It’s the ladies. They won’t give me a chance.”


Keren turned around when she got to her car. “Really? Why? You’re cute, caring and have a good job. I don’t see why they should reject you.”


“Maybe,” he said and paused, raising his shoulders. “I am overqualified.”


Keren laughed, shaking her head. “Why don’t you try Nadesh?” she suggested and Martin’s expression changed in an instant.

“It seems she is still single.”


“Not a chance,” Martin wagged a finger.


“Oh, why? She is-”


Keren paused and clutched her chest, biting her lip with a wince she tried to hide from Martin.


“Keren?” Martin grabbed her arm gently, his forehead wrinkled with deep concern.
“I’m fine,” she breathed, dropping her hand from her chest, “I’m fine.”


***


Nadesh had a serious look on her face as she sat in front of her computer when she heard a knock on her knock. “Come in,” she said, eyes focused on the screen and fingers striking the keyboard. The door opened and Abu entered, hands behind him as he approached his boss’ desk.


“You called me, madam,” he said softly.


“Do you believe in life after death, Abu?” she asked strangely without looking at him, still focused on her work.


Abu was nonplussed. It took him a few seconds of silence before answering. “No, madam. Not at all.”


“Really?” Nadesh smirked. “That’s quite strange.”


“Is there a problem, madam?”


“Yes. Because, yesterday, after you asked permission not to come to work so that you could attend your uncle’s funeral, he came here looking for you.” She paused typing and gave him a withering look. Abu couldn’t hold her gaze as he nervously scratched his hair.


“You,” she wagged a finger at him, “be very careful. Abu, I’m warning you.”


“Madam, I’m sorry,” he pleaded in a soft tone with palm in hand, looking rueful. “I’m sorry, please.”


Nadesh scowled at him for a brief moment.

“I’m slashing your salary into three parts this month. After I give you one part, I’m donating one part to charity and the other to finance your uncle’s funeral.”


Abu gave a mandatory nod and swallowed.


“Now,” Nadesh sat back, hands clasped on her laps. “I’m not going to be around tomorrow and as such, I want to make this clear to you. Under no circumstance, Abu, should you enter this office or allow anyone in here. Have I made myself clear, Abu?”


“Yes, madam,” he gave a firm nod.


Nadesh motioned to him to leave and quickly he did. She sighed and leaning forward, rested her elbows on her desk.


Looking forward to the coming weekend, she broke into a crafty smile as she propped her cocked head on her hands. Saturday seemed to be taking forever to come.


***


Martin left the office in the afternoon to deliver documents to a client and he used that opportunity to pass by David’s. He told a gloomy-looking and quiet David about Keren’s visit when they sat in the living room.


“I knew she would,” David said with a wry smile as Martin sat beside him, leafing through the family’s picture album.


“Wow,” Martin was taken aback when he flipped a page.


David glanced at the page and gave a crooked smile. “It’s striking, right?”


Martin giggled and shook his head, looking intently at two photos placed side by side on a page. One was of Keren when she was about Jasmine’s age and the other was a more recent one of Jasmine.


“It’s like I’m looking at two photos of the same person.” Martin sighed and flipped on to the next page and was caught taking a keen interest in an old and slightly greenish photo. “Who are these?” he pointed to the photo of a group of teenage students.


“That’s my father,” David pointed to a boy in uniform with shirt tails untucked and then pointed to the girl standing beside him, “and my mother.”


Martin turned to him then with eyes lifted to the ceiling, he tried to recall something. “I think I remember Keren told me that you never knew them.” He looked at David curiously, “What happened?”


David exhaled. “They had an affair in school and my mother got pregnant. They said my father was afraid of being arrested and so he ran away and never came back.”


“And your mother?” Martin asked softly.


“I killed her,” David replied and swallowed, turning his face towards the TV. “She died giving birth to me.”


“I’m sorry,” Martin gently rubbed his shoulder.


“It’s okay. I’m pretty good at this killing of people.”


“No, don’t say that,” Martin put the album back on the centre table. “It’s not your fault that your mother died during childbirth nor is Jasmine’s death your fault.”


David scoffed and turned to him. “I know you’re trying to lessen the guilt but I’m squarely responsible for the death of my daughter and if Keren doesn’t survive this also, I’m guilty.” He sighed and looked back at the TV. “It’s all my fault,” he uttered barely above a whisper.

1 Like

Re: Once Upon A December by martins18(m): 6:07pm On Jan 23
Martin also sighed and dropped his head, running both hands through his hair. “It’s my fault Nadesh is blackmailing you.”


David turned slowly and rested his gaze on him.


“If I hadn’t informed Nadesh about Jasmine’s accident,” Martin said in a rueful tone, looking out the window, “she wouldn’t have known about her death to use it against you.”

“You keep saying that. It’s not your fault,”


David said, placing a hand on Martin’s shoulder and their eyes met for a moment.

“I just have to fix the problem I caused.”


David sat back and held his neck. “I just don’t think I can do what Nadesh wants.”


“I know how it feels-”


“Trust me, you don’t,” David slid his hand down his chest. “I promised my wife to be faithful and loyal to her no matter what happens.”


“I know that. But David,” Martin sat on the edge of the seat and implored him, “you don’t have a choice here, do you? Look, Keren is not in good shape now. I hope you’re aware she’s beginning to sense something is wrong with her daughter. It’s weighing on her mind and it is making her sick. I saw it today.”


Martin inched closer to him as David looked down, pressing his fingers against his temples with eyes shut. “David, if Nadesh should break the news to Keren in the manner she’s threatening to, Keren would not be able to take it. I know how you feel about this whole Nadesh thing. You’re a good guy and I know you wouldn’t cheat on Keren, but this is out of your hands. You will only be doing a little bad for the greater good. Okay?” Martin shook David’s shoulders.


Slowly, David turned to him with an uncertain face. “You’re asking me to sleep with another woman-”


“To save your wife,” Martin cut in, looking at David in the eye.


***


“Two weeks?” the man who was almost her father’s age asked as he walked Keren to the parking space outside the orphanage.


She had visited during lunch break hoping the sight of the lovely children would free her mind of the anxiety plaguing her.


Unfortunately, the children reminded her of her child whose welfare she was in the dark about. Keren had asked to meet the owner of the orphanage and gladly Dr Denzel invited her to his office where they talked for over an hour. At first, it was about the needs of the orphanage to which Keren wanted to lend a helping hand. As their conversation reached its climax, Keren found herself talking to Denzel about her daughter whom she hadn’t heard from for about two weeks.


“Yes,” Keren said as they stopped beside her car. “And anytime I call my parents to speak with my kid; they have an excuse that prevents me from talking to her.”


“What are some of the excuses?” Denzel questioned, his hand in a pocket of his trouser.


“Like, she’s sleeping , even if I had called in the afternoon and I know my child very well, she doesn’t sleep in the afternoons. Or I will call and they will tell me she’s in the bathroom or she’s out playing or- you can name it.” Keren folded arms and leaned against her car, frustration written all over her face. Denzel listened attentively. “The last time I called, it was not even six in the morning. I had called my mum and I asked her to give the phone to my child and that even if she was asleep, she should wake her up so that I can just hear her voice.”


Denzel narrowed his eyes, keenly interested in Keren’s next words.


“My mother told me that I had called at the wrong time because my father and my child had gone jogging.”


Denzel smiled wryly. “Well, that’s quite strange,” the man admitted softly. “I mean it can’t be a coincidence that you have always been calling at the wrong time for almost two weeks.”


Keren hugged herself, rubbing her shoulder, looking intently at the man to hear his next words.


“You feel something is going on?” he asked, looking thoughtfully at her.


“Hmm,” she sighed. “I can’t stop thinking that something may have happened to my child.”


“You believe your parents would hide it from you if something happens to your child? Is she your only child?”


“Yeah, the only one I have. You see, I was born with a heart defect so to speak.” The man folded arms and nodded. “I had a heart attack when I was 10 – the first of three, was confirmed severely hypertensive as a teen and was told by my doctors that I wouldn’t be able to survive another heart attack. You get where I am getting to?”


He nodded. “I am sorry to hear that,” he said. “But then, your fears are warranted. It’s only reasonable for a mother in this case to sense something must be wrong. May I ask, how about your husband? How is he reacting to this?”


“My husband?” Keren shook her head lightly.


“He doesn’t seem too worried about our daughter though he hasn’t been himself lately. Ever since our daughter left, he has changed. He’s been down way too often these days. The truth is, almost everyone around me has changed. It seems…” Keren narrowed her eyes and continued, “… they’re hiding something from me. Even my daughter’s classmate tried to lie to me about my daughter. I’ve been trying to put it all together, but I just can’t find the right picture.”

1 Like

Re: Once Upon A December by martins18(m): 6:15pm On Jan 23
.
Re: Once Upon A December by martins18(m): 6:18pm On Jan 23
Denzel heaved a deep sigh and for a moment, stared at Keren thoughtfully.


“Something is obviously wrong somewhere, but it will be unwise and dangerous for you to be spending your waking hours getting consumed with such thoughts. Don’t you know someone over there, a friend or a relative, who could check on your daughter and see how she is doing without even letting your parents know?”

“I wish I could, doc,” she said.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t really spend my childhood in our hometown nor did my parents introduce me to my other relatives that much. The only relative I was pretty close to was probably my grandmother and she died a few years ago.”


He inched closer and leaned against her car too. “Okay. But once again, let me ask, where is your hometown?”


“Esiama. You probably haven’t heard of the place. It’s a town in Nzemaland.”


“Oh, Nzema. I don’t know of many places in Nzemaland, but I know of a town called Axim.”


“Oh ok, Axim,” she smiled lightly, “that’s not too far from Esiama.”


Denzel folded arms and inquired, “So tell me, how far the journey from here to Esiama is?”


“It’s a bit far but not too far at the same time. About an hour and a half journey.”


“Oh, my dear,” he stood straight and faced her, “But that’s not too far. Why haven’t you paid your daughter a visit and see her for yourself?”


“Doctor,” Keren said in almost a whisper, “That’s what I’ve been thinking this week.”


“Yeah, yeah, you should. That’s the only way.”


“But,” she began and paused for a second, “I can’t drive there.”


“Why?” he asked curiously with furrowed eyebrows.


“Because I almost died a few years ago driving alone from Accra to Esiama. My daughter was seven at that time, my grandmother was severely ill and I was so worried and wanted to see her. I had almost completed half of my journey when I had a heart attack while driving in the middle of nowhere. It was incredible that at that time as my car run into the thicket, a farmer and his sons were emerging from the bush.”


Keren sighed. “They rescued me and got me to a clinic nearby. I should have died. It still baffles me that I made it.”


“That was amazing,” remarked the man who was awed by what he had just heard.


“Yeah,” she gave a crooked smile. “That was when the doctors told me I was one more heart attack away from the pit. So since then, my family made me swear never to drive alone on a long journey for fear that something could happen to me on my way.


Now, the journey from here to our hometown has greater parts of the road more flanked by endless stretches of vegetation than actual settlements and that…scares me.”


“I understand,” Denzel took her hand and walked her away from her car slowly. When they had gone a few metres, he turned to face her. “But, my dear, don’t you think you’re risking your health worrying so much about your daughter? From what you have just told me, it seems anxiety is your number one enemy. Worrying about your grandmother was likely what triggered the attack.”


Keren gave a gentle nod with tightened lips.


“Yeah, so my point is, it’s better you find out what’s happening and relieve yourself from the mental stress you’re facing now.” He leaned closer and wrapping an arm around her shoulder, he suggested to her in a soft tone, “You should go with your husband.”


“No!” she rejected it in a loud whisper. “He’s a suspect and so are my friends. I feel they know what’s going on and I don’t want to get them involved in any investigation. If I have to go, I have to go alone.”


Denzel straightened up and took a deep sigh, looking at the troubled face before him. “Then I guess you must defy the odds and pay your parents a surprise visit as early as possible.”


“Definitely,” she said softly.


Denzel gave her a brief embrace. “I wish you the very best. You will be fine.”


“Thank you,” she smiled lightly after the embrace and immediately Denzel’s phone rang in his pocket.


“Oh,” he said after a glance at the phone’s screen, “I’m sorry we may have to end here.

I-I have to take this call.”


“No problem,” she said as the man skipped to a distance to answer the call. Keren went back to her car and opened the door but didn’t enter immediately. She cocked her head and narrowed her eyes, thinking for a while. Then after moments of deep thought, she shook her head and got into the car.


***


It was a cool and windy afternoon. The lightning flashing across dark clouds above whispered of imminent rain. Keren was driving home when she caught sight of someone on the side of the road that made her immediately pull her brakes, screeching her tyres in the process. Once she had parked beside the road, she flew out of her car in a flash and banged the door shut behind her.


Keren’s eyes were brimming with joy and relief as she couldn’t wait to cross the road to the other side to meet up with her daughter. However, the road was busy and vehicles were speeding by almost every second. Keren grew impatient but at the same time, she wondered why her daughter stood alone at the roadside. Where were her grandparents? As she thought briefly about these and waited for a chance to cross quickly, it happened.

Suddenly, without warning, Jasmine came running across. “Jasmine!” Keren screamed in horror as her daughter came running at her with cars forcing themselves to an abrupt halt and tyres screeching all over the road in an attempt to avoid hitting the little girl. Jasmine was past halfway across when a speedy minibus knocked her violently off her feet and into the air –

“Jasmine!” Keren woke up suddenly, waking David up from sleep. As if she had been running a marathon, she panted rapidly with her hand on her chest.


David sat up beside her and wrapped an arm around her. “Hey, are you okay?”


“I’m fine,” she responded and looked away, taking in slow but deep breaths now. “It’s just a dream.”


“Okay. Just calm down and let’s go back to bed.”


Keren exhaled and with a tight face, she announced with an air of conviction shaking her head, “David, something has happened to our child.”


“Hey,” he held her chin, “it’s just a nightmare, okay? You’re just too worried about Jasmine, that’s why. Don’t worry, she’s fine and we’ll soon hear from her.”


Keren looked at him, unconvinced. Without saying another word, she lay down and turned her face away from him, hugging her pillow tightly to herself. Unknown to the other, neither one went back to sleep as they were both thinking deeply on two very different subjects.


***


Like he had informed her the day before, David was already prepared to set off on his journey by the time the first rooster crowed. He had thought long about it and felt he had to take that decision. As he waited for Keren to come and see him off, David stood in the middle of the living room wearing a backpack and gazed intently at the family’s portrait hanging on the wall. He turned his attention away when he heard Keren’s footsteps approaching.


As Keren walked with him outside into the yard, the sun was nowhere to be found and the neighbourhood had the subdued quiet of dawn.


“I’m not taking my car,” David said when Keren turned to the direction of the garage.
“Why?” she asked, baffled.


David sighed. “Truth is; I fear I may lose concentration whilst driving.”


“Oh David,” she held the sides of his face with both hands, looking sympathetic. “I can’t wait to know what is killing you.”


“I will tell you everything,” he promised her in a sombre tone, smoothening down his wife’s hair. “When I return on Monday.”


Keren nodded and dropped her hands onto his shoulders. “Please, stay safe.”


“I promise you I will. Don’t worry.”


Without any warning, she kissed him fully on the lips before they hugged each other tightly, a hug David caused to last longer as if it was the last time he would be seeing his wife.


“Let me give you a lift to the bus station,” she suggested after the hug.


“Don’t worry, Keren. I’ll be fine,” he replied, walking backwards to the gate, “I’ll be fine.”


“Goodbye,” she waved as she stood watching her husband approach the gate.


“Call me when you arrive,” she called out before David disappeared outside through the gate.


***


It was still early in the morning when she waited in the traffic at the crossroads. She had to be back at the office early to prepare for an upcoming meeting at noon. There were three roads before her. She had no business with the one straight ahead. The one on her right would take her to the workplace. On her left was the road she kept squinting at as she waited for the red light to change to green. That led to the answer that could put her worries to bed.
A bold face slowly formed on Keren as she kept looking at the road on her left, tapping her hands softly on the steering wheel. Then suddenly, the lights changed to green.


***


The old couple sat around the dining table while a tomb-like silence hung over them.

Aya’s head rested on her hand with her elbow on the table. Ackah slowly stirred the porridge in the cup before him with his spoon. They had been like this since Aya served breakfast minutes ago. The sudden creaking sound of the gate outside snapped them out of their deep thoughts. Then they heard the sound of a car driving inside.


“Are we expecting a visitor?” Aya asked softly.


“I’m not sure,” Ackah said and immediately, the sound of the doorbell was carried over to them.


Aya stood up with a slight wince on her face, holding her waist. The bell rang again.


“I’m coming,” she answered as she made the journey across the living room as if she was being forced to. Yawning, she opened the door and received perhaps the greatest shock of her life.


“Avola!” she gasped, eyes widened and jaw sagging.


“Mum?” Keren’s smile faded.

1 Like

Re: Once Upon A December by Teedah: 6:38pm On Jan 23
Please don't let David lay with Nadesh embarassed embarassed embarassed embarassed embarassed
Re: Once Upon A December by Ann2012(f): 9:54pm On Jan 23
Nadesh is devilish
Where will Keren's parents say Jasmine is now
Thanks for the update
Re: Once Upon A December by Odoogu(m): 9:58pm On Jan 23
Ann2012:
Nadesh is devilish Where will Keren's parents say Jasmine is now Thanks for the update
can I send you a private message?
Re: Once Upon A December by Ann2012(f): 3:15am On Jan 24
Odoogu:
can I send you a private message?
Yea
Re: Once Upon A December by martins18(m): 6:45pm On Jan 24
Chapter sixteen


“Mum? Duzu debie ɔ?” Keren was caught between the battle lines of smiling and looking bewildered. Then she asked, “Why’re you acting like you’ve seen a ghost?”


It called for wisdom and composure despite the increased rate of heartbeat. Her mother didn’t need to be told why Keren had visited them. Whatever the case, they simply weren’t ready to break the news just yet. She had to think of something.


“Avola,” Aya said in a slightly shocked tone as she looked over Keren’s shoulder as if searching for someone. “Did-did you…come alone?” She ended the question with a look of disbelief.


“Mum,” Keren glanced up, “I know. I shouldn’t have made the trip alone.”

Aya folded arms and gave her a condemning look.


Keren sighed. “I…I came to Axim actually-”
“You’re lying,” Aya pointed a finger at Keren.


“You have no business in Axim. I know why you’re here.”


“Great,” Keren touched her forehead.


Aya snorted and shook her head. “Just two weeks, Avola.” The old woman turned around and started to walk back inside.


“Well, I wouldn’t be so anxious,” Keren followed her mother into the house, “if you people would just allow me to speak to my baby.”


“Well is it our fault that you always call at the wrong time?” Aya looked over her shoulder and asked Keren who was behind her as they walked across the living room towards the dining room. “You’ve risked your life driving alone all the way from Takoradi just to see your child who is just two weeks away from returning. Shame on you. What if something had happened to you on the way?”


“Oh, mum,” Keren giggled, feeling a measure of relief she hadn’t felt for days now. Her mother’s tone and words calmed Keren’s waves of anxiety. “You have no idea how I’m feeling about the whole thing.”


Ackah nearly missed a heartbeat when he heard the voice. Had his daughter arrived? He panicked. When the sounds drew nearer, he dragged his chair forward and started eating. The curtain hanging in the doorway was shoved aside and two women entered.
“Keren?” Ackah gaped at the guilty-looking lady taking her seat.


“Dad,” she said quietly.


Ackah opened his palms as Aya gave her daughter a withering look. “What are you doing here? And did you drive alone?”


Keren’s shoulders dropped. “Look, everyone, I’m sorry, okay?” she apologised and sighed, covering her face with her palms. She had no idea about the voiceless communication that went on when she facepalmed. “I was getting so anxious about Jasmine.” Keren laid her hands flat on the table and asked the question of the day. “Where’s she by the way?”


***


It was almost 8:30 am when Nadesh’s PA and accountant approached Abu’s desk. He closed the folder and looked up at the man and woman before him.


“We need the key to madam’s office,” the PA in suit and tie said in a commanding tone, one hand in pocket. “There’s a piece of information we need from a document she keeps in her office.”


“Oh, Madam said no one should enter the office o,” Abu objected in his usual respectful tone, glancing at their faces with honesty.


The accountant frowned and placed a hand casually on her waist. “Look at this thing,” she sized up Abu with a hand, giving him a scornful look. “My friend, give us the key and let’s do what we have to do.” She sucked her teeth rudely.


“Hey,” the PA came in before Abu could file another objection, “we have to submit a report before nine o’clock and what’s the time now?” He glanced at his wristwatch.


“We have barely thirty minutes to complete this task. If you delay us and we are unable to complete it, we will let Madam know who’s responsible.”


“And you’ll see what she will do to you,” the accountant pointed a finger at him.


Abu looked at their faces with uncertainty.


He could imagine Nadesh throwing things at him on Monday if he was responsible for the delay of a report. At the same time, he had received a stern warning from his boss just the previous day about her office. Abu had this morbid fear of Nadesh that scared him from disobeying her orders even in her absence.


“Come on,” the PA drummed the desk after Abu kept staring speechlessly at them.


“Madam is not even here.”


“Hmm,” Abu sighed and pulled the drawer in his desk. He retrieved the key and was about to hand it over to the PA when the accountant snatched it from his hand and sucked her teeth rudely. “Please, be careful when unlocking the door,” he expressed his fear as the two left his desk in haste. Abu swallowed in dread, hoping they wouldn’t leave any trace that Nadesh might find out.


***


Her temper flared up. She walked out of the dining room, tossing the curtain behind her.


Her parents called her name but she wouldn’t stop. “ Herh , Avola,” Aya called, following Keren into the living room. “Avola.


Avola, are we not calling you?” Aya caught up with her and grabbing Keren’s arm, she spun her around. “Ei, this your temper,” her mother wagged a finger at her but spoke in a soft tone, “it will kill you.”


“Mum,” Keren said sharply, “if it kills me then it’s you and father who have killed me.”


Aya looked straight at her without a word.


“Mum,” Keren’s face was one of disbelief and fury. “How could you allow my daughter to go with someone to their farm?”
“We tried to stop her, but you know how stubborn our grandchild can be. She wouldn’t even listen to us. But don’t worry, Akuba is in the company of her friends and their parents, she will be fine.”


Keren sucked her teeth softly, feeling restless. “What if something happens in the bush? She could get bitten by a snake or something?” her voice softened.


“Oh, Avola,” Aya sat her down on the couch, “you worry so much-”


“I have to worry. She’s the only one I will ever have.”

1 Like

Re: Once Upon A December by martins18(m): 6:48pm On Jan 24
“Okay, I understand. But please, limit the worries. Otherwise, you know what can happen.”


Keren looked away, glaring at the wall with folded arms.


“She will be fine, okay?” her mother rubbed her shoulders, hoping that would soothe Keren’s flaring spirits.


“You know what,” Keren got up suddenly. “I think I need some fresh air outside.”


“Oh okay,” Aya said quietly as Keren stormed out of the living room into the yard outside.


Her father had just walked into the living room with his phone in hand when Keren left through the door. “I was listening behind the curtain,” he revealed softly and took his seat quickly beside his wife. “She’s not going to take any fresh air-”


“I know,” Aya said quietly and with a tap on his thigh, quickly added, “She’s going to the house to verify. Fast, call Ariza.”


***


Abu looked up and saw Mr PA and Ms Accountant coming back to his desk. Great, he thought, now he will go and check if they left any trace of intrusion.


The PA handed the key to him. “Come and open the door. We’re finding it difficult.”


“Ah,” Abu’s forehead wrinkled as he rose up from his desk. “But … it’s not that difficult.”


He grabbed the keys and led the way to the Nadesh’s door. He inserted the key into the lock and tried to turn the key in the usual direction but it wouldn’t turn. Abu pulled the key out and gasped in horror when only half of it came out of the lock. He slowly turned around, eyes widened and jaw sagging as he held in hand the broken piece of the key.


The PA and accountant looked at the key and gaped at Abu. “ Herh ,” the accountant said quietly, covering her mouth with a hand. “Abu. You’ve spoilt the lock?”


“No, no,” Abu shook his head, his heart racing fast as he glanced across their faces.

“I didn’t mean-”


The PA came in. “What do you mean by you didn’t mean-?”


“You can tell that to Madam when she comes,” the accountant told Abu with a withering look before starting to take her leave.


“Oh, Aunty,” Abu sounded as if to cry.
“It seems you have some explaining to do on Monday,” the PA added softly before leaving too.


“But, but,” Abu glanced at the door and back at the two people going, feeling helpless.


“But you made me to.” He mumbled those words to himself, tears springing up into his eyes. Then leaning back against the door, he slid down and settled on the bare floor, his head hanging.


***


She had barely hung up the call when a gorgeous lady approached her kiosk. Ariza sat on the bench when Keren greeted with a quick bob of courtesy.


“Good morning, my daughter,” Ariza’s smile was warm. “What do you want to buy?”


“How much is the bottle of water, please?”


Keren asked the woman who looked slightly older than her mother.


“One cedi. Do I get you one?” the old lady rose up.


“Yes, mum.”


Keren scanned the open compound. The house was silent. Indeed, everyone else wasn’t at home.


“Where’s everyone, mum?” she asked the old lady when she was in the kiosk.
Ariza slowly stepped out of the kiosk, supporting herself with the door frame. “My son and his family have gone to the farm and your mother was left behind because they think I am not strong.” The old woman smiled and received a brief smile from Keren as she handed the bottle to her.


“Thank you,” Keren received the bottle and handed the old lady a twenty Cedi note. “Did someone else go along with them?”


Ariza untied a knot she had made at one corner of her cloth to give Keren her change from the money she kept there. “Err…” Ariza stopped untying the knot and looked up at Keren. “I think there is this young girl with them. Yes, a new child in the area who lives in that mansion,” she pointed to Keren’s parents’ home, “Akuba, yes. Yes, I saw Akuba go with them.”


Keren was back to feeling slightly relieved again. At least, her daughter was okay.


“That’s my daughter,” she said with a wry smile.


“Oh I see,” Ariza raised eyebrows, nodding.


“That’s a good lass you have. Very submissive and calm, your daughter is. She has really exerted some positive influence on the kids here…”


Keren’s eyes slowly grew wide and her eyebrows raised.


“… You and your husband deserve praise for raising up such a good child.”


“Um, mum,” Keren said quietly as the woman sorted out currency notes. “Please keep the change.”


“Oh,” she said and smiled. “Thank you, my daughter. God bless you.”


“Thanks,” Keren said softly with a look of uncertainty as she slowly turned away.


Keren felt strange. The old woman’s description of her daughter had caused her to start worrying again. She knew her daughter really well and submissive was not a word to describe Jasmine with, at least not yet. Calm? No. Something was strange about the way the old woman had spoken. It looked as if she, she – Keren sighed and shook her head, shying away from conclusions.


Keren entered the living room and found her parents sitting together on a couch in awkward silence. She walked to the centre and asked, “Where’s Jasmine’s room, I need to rest and wait for her to come.”


“Upstairs but locked,” Aya answered.


“Okay, the keys?”


“Hmm,” Aya sighed and sat back, “she wouldn’t leave her keys behind. You know your daughter.”
Re: Once Upon A December by martins18(m): 6:52pm On Jan 24
David had been at the beach since he arrived at Cape Coast and booked a room in a beach resort different from the one Nadesh had mentioned. As he paced along the white sand beach, he was lost in deep thoughts over what he was about to do the next day. He had chosen to arrive a day before to go over his decision again. David wanted to be alone in a serene place and that’s why he had chosen the beach and also put off his phone. He didn’t want to be bothered.


Infidelity was the last thing he would have ever thought of ever since he married his beloved wife. Though he had already made his decision before coming, his mind and heart couldn’t just bury the hatchet as to whether he should give in to Nadesh’s demands or not. By sunset, the two parties were still at war.


He looked at the diamond ring on his finger and slowly turned it around. That was when a tear fell on the finger. No, it wasn’t from his eyes. It seemed the sky grieved with him. More drops fell and splattered on his face. David didn’t move an inch as he kept turning the ring and looking intently at it. The tears of the sky fell rapidly and not only soaked him but also drowned David’s tears.


***


Afiba had one of the busiest Saturdays of her life. Her madam had never looked so lively on that same Saturday. After informing Afiba in the evening of the imminent arrival of Jasmine, it was all party preparation. The housekeeper lost count of the number of times Keren drove with her to the market to buy party stuff when they popped in her mind. A great party was at hand. Keren had taken a day off from work to prepare a homecoming party for her daughter who was due to return the next day.


She wanted it to be a surprise for her little princess. After shopping for several foodstuffs and groceries, both madam and housekeeper had spent much of the afternoon decorating the living room with brightly coloured balloons and streamers. Outside, there was a banner hung over the porch which read, “WELCOME HOME PRINCESS.”


As Keren gleefully poured herself into making the party a great one, Afiba couldn’t help but feel deeply grieved and frightened as to what may happen the following day when Keren finds out that she had been deceived into believing that her daughter was alive. With the pretext of washing debris from her eye, Afiba had gone to the bathroom and cried, feeling so sorry for her madam and the family she had come to love.


After the decoration, Keren had asked for a break. Even though she was joyfully waiting to see her child, something else bothered Keren a little. Since Friday when she surprised her parents with that visit, she had wanted to inform David that Jasmine was coming home on Sunday. But as many times as she called David’s line, it never went through.


It was just a few minutes past 5 pm when she called her husband’s line again as she sat on her bed. She sighed when once again it didn’t go through. Keren tapped her palm with her cell phone, wondering what could be wrong. After a brief moment, she shrugged and dialled another line. It was time to invite friends over for tomorrow.


***


Sitting in the yard and enjoying some fresh air, Martin peered at his phone’s screen, browsing through posts on his Facebook wall. Suddenly, he had a call from Keren which he answered in a flash.


“Hey, girl,” he said.


“Hi, Martin. What’s up?”


“Cool. Your side?”


“Couldn’t be better. My parents are bringing Jasmine tomorrow …”


Martin’s eyebrows furrowed in and his forehead crinkled.


“…throwing a party for her so I want you guys over.”


Martin scratched his chin, wriggling in his seat. “Um-um-okay, that’s great. We’ll be there.”


“Nice. Hey, by the way, have you heard from David?”


“No. Any problem?”


“Yeah…his phone has been off since yesterday after he left for Accra. Did he tell you he was travelling?”


“No,” he answered quietly, his mind still trying to wrap itself around what Keren had just said about Jasmine’s homecoming.
“Oh okay. Alright, I’ve got to get going. Bye.”


Martin couldn’t say ‘bye’ back before the call ended. He was baffled. Keren’s parents? Bringing Jasmine home? Wait. Has the doctor arrived already and they’re bringing her? No, he thought, Dr Evans was to come alone on a visit and that was days away. Is David even aware? Or is it just another lie from her parents only to keep Keren free from anxiety for a while? Martin simply couldn’t make any sense of it.


Quickly, he rose from the chair and took a walk behind the house as he tried to call David. The call failed to go through. Martin didn’t bother to call again. He concluded that, David must be busy satisfying Nadesh’s wicked desires and didn’t want to be disturbed. That thought saddened him as he felt sorry for the husband who was being forced into an act he never dreamed of, because he wanted to save his wife.


However, Martin kept thinking about what Keren had just told him.

1 Like

Re: Once Upon A December by martins18(m): 6:54pm On Jan 24
***


Though she wore a frown, Nadesh looked as pretty as ever. Arms folded, lips pursed and eyes glancing at her watch almost every second, she grew impatient. Intermittently, she would get up and pace back and forth in the lovely hotel room with roses sprinkled on the floor and the bed, punching her palm with her fist. Her cell phone lay on the snow-white sheet on the mattress, waiting for the one call its owner eagerly anticipated.


Nadesh stopped by the window where she could see the ocean. After a brief look at the waves, she glanced at her wrist watch. It was half past 5pm.


“This guy wants to tempt me, right?” she said softly and nodded with a straight face, looking through the window. “Okay, we shall see.”


Nadesh had barely started tapping her foot on the floor when the phone rang. Swiftly, she flew onto the bed like a swan and answered the call.

“Hello, Nadesh.”

The voice did wonders on her mood.

Immediately, her countenance changed. Her face brightened up with a lovely smile curling on her scarlet lips.


“Hey, baby boy,” she drawled and lay back on her bed.


“I’m in Cape now. Where are you?”


“Oh, I’m at Tiara Beach Resort.”


Nadesh heard David say, “Driver, Tiara Beach Resort.” She grinned, biting her lower lip. “Okay, I’m coming. I’ll call you when I get there.”


The caller hung up before Nadesh could utter another word. “Yes!” she balled her fists. Quickly, Nadesh grabbed the camera from the bed’s headboard and dragged the chair towards the wardrobe. She had barely climbed onto the chair when her phone rang again on the bed. Thinking it was David, she quickly jumped onto the bed but immediately frowned when she saw the caller.


“Hello, girlfriend.”


“Hi, baby girl,” Nadesh crawled out of bed and returned to the wardrobe. “What’s going on?”


“What’s going on is that I’m throwing a party tomorrow morning and I need my bestie with me.”


Bestie, indeed, Nadesh sneered, her phone locked tight between her arm and an ear as she climbed onto the chair and booted the camera. “Oh, girl, bad timing.”


“Oh why? What will you be doing?”


“I’m not in Takoradi by the way,” Nadesh pressed the record button of the camera and set it on top of the wardrobe. “I’m in Cape Coast, chilling my life out with my baby boy.”


“Really? Good for you. Too bad, then.”


“Too bad, girl, too bad.” Nadesh sighed, holding the phone to her ear with a hand now.


“No, problem. Just introduce this baby boy of yours to me soon.”


“Don’t worry,” Nadesh tugged a sly smile at the corner of her lips, adjusting the position of the camera. “You’ll know soon, very soon. In fact, I have a surprise for you next week.”
“Really? What surprise?”


“Just wait and see but believe me, it’s worth dying for.”


“Wow, I can’t wait to see it then. Anyway, I’ve got to go. So much food to cook. Ciao.”
The call ended.


“Ciao, bitch,” Nadesh said and sucked her teeth loudly, slipping the phone into the pocket of her shorts. Nadesh brought out some skirts and blouses, and clothed the camera with them but saw to it that the lens wasn’t blocked. She stepped down from the chair and looked towards the top of the wardrobe. Fantastic, she thought. The camera was indeed concealed. Looking at the manner in which the clothes were scattered on top, no one would suspect a camera among them.


She placed her hands squarely on her hips and smirked at the hidden camera. “This will kill you faster than Jasmine’s death, Keren,” she said.

***

Afiba watched her madam with sadness in her heart as Keren added a pinch of salt to the boiling soup. She wanted to surprise her parents with their favourite soup – Palm nut soup in the typical Nzema style; thick. That required over an hour of boiling over the fire.


Keren wanted the soup prepared already so that they could focus on the savouries at dawn.


Her parents had never been a fan of cakes and other savouries. Soup was always on the menu during her childhood days. She wondered what her parents might eat the soup with.


“You think we should pound fufu for them?” Keren asked the opinion of her housekeeper with a giggle.


Afiba forced a smile across tight lips. “I think so.”


Keren motioned Afiba to get her the ladle. “My mum will kill me if I serve the soup with rice.”


“She hates rice?” Afiba gave Keren the ladle.
“She abhors it,” Keren chortled, fetching a sample of the soup. “Get me a bowl, please.”


Afiba quickly reached for a container and held it as Keren transferred the soup from the ladle into it.


“Check out the pepper and salt while I tease my mum,” Keren tugged a sly smile and picked up her phone lying on the counter.


“I think a little more salt will do, Aunty,” Afiba suggested after a quick taste. “But the pepper is okay.”


“Oh, okay,” Keren said.


It happened in a flash. Keren was careless. She held a phone in one hand over the bubbling soup, searching for her mother’s number as she added the salt with the other hand. Suddenly, a bubble burst and spluttered on her hand forcing a reflex action from her. There was little she could do to save the device that landed in the hot soup. Keren jumped back to evade the burning liquid the phone spluttered when it fell into the pan.
Re: Once Upon A December by martins18(m): 6:57pm On Jan 24
Afiba acted quickly. She searched for the device with the ladle and having found it, fetched it out of the soup and dropped it into the bowl on the counter.


“Oh, no,” Keren slapped a hand over her mouth, looking at the steaming phone in the bowl.


“I’m sorry, Aunty.”


“I’m sorry too, Afiba,” Keren approached the counter and looked intently at the whitened screen of her phone. She turned to the housekeeper. “Do we throw away the soup?”


Keren asked with a face of uncertainty. With lips sucked in, Afiba shook her head slowly.


***


A taxi cab stopped at the entrance and David stepped out. Biting her lower lip with a flirty smile, Nadesh walked up to meet him as the car drove away. She opened her arms, inviting a hug. David gave her a brief hug-a half-hearted one actually. However, before he saw it, Nadesh had given him a kiss on the cheek.


“Hey,” Nadesh said looking disappointed after David shoved her back for the unwanted kiss. “What’s wrong with you?”


David exhaled and shook his head slightly.


“We’re going to do more than this, you know,” she inched towards him with a flirty smile and took both hands of David, wrapping them around her waist. “So, stop acting like a kid.” With a few inches between their faces, Nadesh wrapped her arms around his neck. “It’s going to be the best honeymoon experience,” she whispered and then said with a crafty smile, “why don’t we heat up our body at the bar first?”


Feeling numb in the lady’s clutches, he objected lamely. “I-I don’t drink.”


She placed a finger on his lips and said quietly, “I’ll teach you.”


***


Aya sniffled noisily and wiped tears from her reddened eyes. Her husband sat beside her on the bed, his arm around her and rocked some hope into Aya.


“It’s okay,” Ackah said softly, barely above a whisper. That was like the thousandth time he had said those words. “It’s okay, don’t worry. Let’s hope for the best.”


“Ah, ah, my daughter,” Aya lamented, her hands crossed over her chest as she swayed her body from side to side. “May your heart be strong, my only one.” Then she resumed sobbing, covering her eyes with the tissue.


“Oh, don’t cry,” he held her tighter to himself as he tried to hold back tears. He had to look strong for her. “It shall be well.”


“God,” Aya briefly paused sobbing and looked upwards, spreading her palms, “are you going to watch me bury my only daughter and only granddaughter in one month.” Bowing her head, she resumed sobbing. “Oh, Ampofo! You have killed me!”
Ackah said nothing as he passed a hand down his face.


She looked at him, her face covered with tears. “Ei, Ackah, so are we really telling our daughter tomorrow? Ackah, she will die o.”


Aya broke into sobs again and this time tears welled up in Ackah’s eyes. “Our daughter will die.”


Ackah’s jaw clenched for a moment, looking straight at the wall. “We can’t keep it from her forever. We must be prepared for whatever will happen tomorrow.”


The old woman fell backwards onto the bed and spreading her arms, wailed like a mother at her daughter’s burial.
***


“Look,” Nadesh said, placing the glass of beer on the table as they sat at the open-view bar. “There’s no need feeling like you’re some kind of bad husband or something. In today’s world, there is no husband who doesn’t cheat on his wife.”


“You’re lying,” David objected softly, his arms wrapped around himself to provide some warmth in the cool breeze blowing from the sea.


Nadesh giggled and took a sip. “Really?


You’re telling me you have never cheated on Keren?”


David exhaled noisily and glanced around the bar where African hiplife songs had been playing in the background since they arrived. “Nadesh, not everyone cheats as you think. There are some of us who are faithful to our wives, okay?”


Nadesh held her glass aloft, looking into his eyes as a cunning smile formed on her lips.


“You’re soon going to join the cheat list,” she said and took another sip.


David set his elbows on the table and palm faced. “My hands are tied,” he whispered but Nadesh heard him and she rolled her eyes.


Just then, a new song started playing and David slowly slid his hands down his face.


David got up when she came returning from the kitchen. “Thanks for the meal and everything, Keren, but I have to go.”


“Why?” she asked, looking surprised as she picked up a remote control lying on the coffee table at the centre of the hall. “You just came. You’re not going anywhere.” She pointed the remote at the home theatre set and Marc Anthony’s“I Need You” started playing. The sound seemed to be from all corners of the hall and it was saccharine sweet. David found himself looking around, searching for the hidden speakers that he didn’t spot Keren stand right before him.


She took hold of his hands. “Do you know how to dance?” Keren asked with a voice that was just above a whisper and a flirty smile. “Let me teach you.”


David dropped shoulders. “Oh Keren, come on. I have to go.”


The girl wasn’t going to buy that. She wrapped arms around his neck. “Let’s dance.”


“Hey,” Nadesh waved across his face and David was back to the present. “Where did you go?” Nadesh looked nonplussed. “Are you still thinking about tonight?”

1 Like

Re: Once Upon A December by jupitre(m): 7:20pm On Jan 24
More more more
Re: Once Upon A December by martins18(m): 7:26pm On Jan 24
“I er – I …”

Nadesh stood up, looking icy. “Time up. Let’s go,” she clapped. “We have a long night.”


“Can’t we wait for a while?” he asked flatly, still in his seat.


“David?” she warned with her eyes and after a silent sigh, he rose up from the chair and followed her out of the bar.


On their way to the hotel room, she was a few steps ahead but as they started to climb up the stairs to the second floor, Nadesh walked beside him, trying to engage him in conversation. Finally, they were in the corridor of the second floor. That was when his heart started racing.


She kept talking but David’s sense of hearing seemed to have been lost out of sheer fright. Indeed, he was scared.


Room 064…Room 065…Room 066.


“Finally, we’re here,” Nadesh stopped in front of a door and started to open with her key.


David stood a few steps away from the door. “Voilà!” she smiled as the door opened and she stretched her hand to him, “Let me take you to heaven.”


David swallowed, his eyes darting from her hand to her face. Nadesh’s forehead wrinkled and she dropped her hand. “What are you waiting for?” she asked crossly.

“Come.”


A rose petal flew out of the room and landed in the corridor. The terrified looking David looked at the petal and then back at Nadesh who looked baffled. “I-I can’t,” the words flew out of his mouth softly.


Nadesh couldn’t believe it. She swiftly closed the gap between them. “What is wrong with you? Are you a man at all? Have you forgotten what’s at stake?”


David swallowed, his breathing growing louder. “Nadesh,” a tear trickled down his cheek, “as much as I want to save Keren…I simply cannot do this. Please.”


Nadesh licked her lower lip and said softly: “David,” she started, “look at me and let me tell you the truth. I love you, David. I want you all to myself and not with Keren.”


David shook his head amid streaming tears.


“Look,” she took his arms, “soon, either through this or something else, Keren will die. Her heart is tired. When she’s gone, what do you think will happen to you? Her parents will chase you out of their lives and you will be left with nothing.”


Nadesh paused for a moment, looking intently into his eyes. “Come to me,” she said tenderly, passing her hands gently down his arms and finally taking hold of his hands. “I will always be there for you. We can start a family and enjoy life with our kids without opposition from anyone.”


David watched her slowly pulling him towards the door.


“Just come,” she batted her eyelashes and bit her lip. “Don’t think about Keren. Think about me in your arms. I’m all yours.”


He was just a step away from the door when he halted and wriggled his hands free from her seductive grip. “I’ve told you. I can’t,” he cried.


Nadesh sighed and in the next second, she


glared at him. “David, if you don’t do this…” Nadesh trailed off, breathing heavily, “…you won’t meet your wife alive at home.”


With lips trembling and head shaking, he retreated slowly.


“David, don’t let me do this.”


Without another word, he spun around and bolted towards the stairs. “She’s dead! She will-” he heard Nadesh scream as he descended the stairs with shaky knees.


She pulled her phone out of her pocket and leaning against the wall with pursed lips and noisy breaths, Nadesh made the call.


***


Keren’s phone had incredibly survived the dunk into the hot soup. At least, it still had power running. She was with Afiba in the living room as the housekeeper cut Keren’s nails when her phone started to ring beside her on the couch.


“Aw, come on,” she cried, picking up the phone and looking sadly at its blank and unresponsive screen. Afiba stopped and watched as her madam swiped across the screen in vain to answer the call. The phone stopped ringing and Keren dropped it beside her.


Seconds later, the phone started ringing again. Keren turned to it and addressed it, “I’m sorry but I can’t pick up.”


***


There was no answer. Nadesh’s hands trembled as she tried for the third time. Once again, it went through but was not answered. “Pick up your phone, bitch!”


She continued to try even as she entered the room and slammed the door shut. After several fails, she took another alternative.


Sitting on the bed with her mood raging with anger, she sent the heartbreaking pictures of the dead school girl to Keren on Whatsapp. There were only two grey ticks.
“Come on!” she balled her fist and punched the bed. Nadesh wasn’t done. Facebook.


Within seconds, the pictures were all over Keren’s Facebook wall. She believed it was only a matter of time before Keren found out or someone contacted her.


Exhaling noisily, she turned her face towards the wardrobe. The camera’s lens stared at her. Disappointment and frustration had sapped her strength. Feebly, she climbed up and reached for the camera.


How she wished to have sent a sex tape of David and herself to Keren! That would have been a perfect revenge. Keren would have had a taste of what it feels like when the one you love cheats with your best friend.


Nadesh knew that was a more potent killer than the death of the girl.

1 Like

Re: Once Upon A December by martins18(m): 7:29pm On Jan 24
In an instant, without warning, the camera flew across the room, smashing against the wall.


***


Not even in his worst fever did he shiver like he did when he slowly tapped the dial icon on his phone’s screen. David had Keren’s number lined up in his phone’s dialler ever since he boarded a taxi to bring him to his hotel. He would gaze at the number and the contact icon of his dear wife but wasn’t brave enough to make the call. David feared the news might have reached Keren already and that the worst had happened.


Once he arrived in his room, he plonked down on his bed. David’s heart rose and fell like never before and his widened eyes stared intently at the phone’s screen while his finger refused to touch that dial. But after a brief moment of living in the shell of fear, his finger finally touched the dial and the call was made.


Slowly, with fearful eyes, he brought the phone to his ear. The call went through but wasn’t answered. His heart shifted to the fifth gear. He tried again and received the same result. Three more tries and David glanced at his wrist watch. 8:21 pm.


“No…” David whispered and trailed off as his head turned slowly towards the window. All things being equal, Keren was watching her favourite Telenovela at this time. She never missed it for anything. Her cell phone was always stuck with her like a leech. In the kitchen or the bathroom, her phone was always with her. Unless of course his wife…


Suddenly, Facebook notifications – comments, reactions and messages came in thick and fast, nearly vibrating the phone out of his grip. David had never had this many notifications that were causing his phone to freeze. Puzzled, he was left wondering. Wait. A thought hit his mind.


This was even more difficult than making the call but after a while of hesitation, he launched his Facebook application.


It was faster than a reflex action. With both hands clapping together at his mouth after a gasp, his phone had nothing to grip it and down it dropped onto the tiled floor, the screen turning into a spider web in a flash.


Slowly, with a dam of tears breaking open, he fell backwards onto the bed and buried his face in his palms. Keren wasn’t answering the calls because dead people don’t answer phone calls. It was over, he felt.


***


21 st December, 2019. The morning was cloaked in a thick fog. Cars had their headlights shimmering through the thick mist and the white SUV carrying Keren’s parents was no different. They sat in the back seat where Aya sniffled and exhaled loudly, her head resting on Ackah’s shoulders. The man’s hand was around his dear wife, rubbing her arms.


“Have you called Ampofo?” she asked her husband quietly.


“I tried before we left but he didn’t pick up.”
Aya exhaled deeply. “I will never forgive him if our daughter dies because of him,” the old lady swore with jaw clenched.


The man said nothing and he looked through the window as the car slowed down at the last checkpoint before entering the city of Takoradi. Ackah swallowed after they passed through the checkpoint. The time had drawn nearer than ever. His heart did a backward flip.


***


A taxi slowed down to a stop in front of the gate and David alighted. The car drove off, flying brown leaves around the feet of the man who was being welcomed back to his home not with the sounds of wailings as he feared but by the sweet aroma of savouries lingering in the chilly morning air. His eyebrows furrowed in confusion as he entered the very quiet yard, wondering if the smell was indeed coming from their house.


The first sight he was greeted with, threw him deeper into the abyss of confusion.


WELCOME HOME PRINCESS. That was the reading on the banner hanging above the entrance to the porch. This was surely not a funeral banner. David tried to solve the puzzle of the aroma and the flag as he slowly walked towards the porch. He heard unending clanging sounds emanating from inside the house. Was a feast coming on?

He needed to go inside to find out.


Before he could get any nearer to the steps leading to the porch, his wife came running out of the house, full of life with the broadest of smiles leaving him dumbfounded. Surely, this wasn’t a woman who had heard bad news. Keren didn’t wait for him to open arms before embracing him heavily. “So relieved you’re home,” she said during the embrace.


David received a full kiss that forced his facial muscles to push out a plain face.


“What happened?” she asked. “Why weren’t you picking my calls?”


David opened his mouth but no word came out.


“David?” she asked, tilting her head back with eyes narrowing in suspicion. “What’s wrong? Did something bad happen?” Keren tracked his eyes; they were looking above her. She glanced back at the banner behind and turned back to him in a flash, her face brightening with joy in an instant. “My parents are bringing Jasmine home this morning!”


“What?” David had never been this bewildered in his life so far.


“My parents are bringing her home and I’m throwing a party for her,” she smiled as if she hadn’t noticed the look of shock on her husband’s face. “You were right, honey.

Maybe, I was worrying too much.” Finally, she seemed to take notice of his facial expression.

2 Likes

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (Reply)

Do Nigerians Read/Buy Comic Books? / Our Rebellion Against Soyinka, Achebe – Osundare / 4 Nigerians Shortlisted For 14th Caine Prize Award.

(Go Up)

Sections: politics (1) business autos (1) jobs (1) career education (1) romance computers phones travel sports fashion health
religion celebs tv-movies music-radio literature webmasters programming techmarket

Links: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10)

Nairaland - Copyright © 2005 - 2020 Oluwaseun Osewa. All rights reserved. See How To Advertise. 850
Disclaimer: Every Nairaland member is solely responsible for anything that he/she posts or uploads on Nairaland.