safe haven

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The loud banging on the door woke the whole house up. The knock was so loud and disturbing, it was frightening but Demilade got up at the sound of the shrill ringing of her phone. Grudgingly, her hand automatically found her phone beside the bed and she looked at it through heavy lids- it was her brother. A worried crease formed her temple as she looked at the time; it was a little after 12, too late for a phone call unless it was urgent.

She pressed the call button but the loud bang on the front door startled her again. She got out of the king sized bed and hurriedly pulled on the robe hanging in its hanger on the wardrobe. The knocking had stopped with the loud opening of the door. Demilade rushed out of her room seeing Tunde downstairs. She was shocked at the sight of him looking wild and disheveled.

“Tunde…”

Her father rushed out of his study downstairs with his reading glasses still on the bridge of his nose.

“Tunde!” He shouted at the sight of his son. “Tunde what is this? What is happening?”

Tunde staggered back a bit, his whole body reeked of alcohol and his fist bloody from slamming it against almost every object he met. Demilade stepped back into the shadows of the corridor upstairs, her heartbeat loudly in her chest and her mouth went dry sensing there was something going on. She watched as Chief Ariyo looked around as if hiding something.

“What are you doing here at this time?” he lowered his voice angrily.

Tunde sat on the cream leather couch raising his eyes to look at his father in contempt. “She cheated dad”

“Who?” his father asked confused “What is this entire ruckus about?”

“The wife you gave me, dad”, he spat out the words in anger. He looked down at his bloodied hands. “Priscilla cheated.”

Demilade swallowed the information with difficulty, watching her father.

He swayed and pressed his hands on the bridge of his nose placing the glasses on the centre table

“Your mother is asleep thanks to sleeping pills and your sister’s room is right above this place.  They can’t wake up to find you here.”

He looked up at the man standing before him again, he had regained a bit of composure though his body ached violently. “So”, he replied with difficulty in swallowing. “What are you suggesting I do?”

“I think you should go back and settle this amicably with your wife.”

Silence reigned between them with only the sound of an owl piercing through the quiet. Finally, Tunde got up and spoke “I’m afraid I won’t do that dad because I’m done, I can’t live with a cheating wife.”

“Well you would have to!” Tayo replied cautiously, he scratched his grey head still in shock of his son’s revelation. “You know why you can’t end things now. It would be a matter of time before Sola starts threatening me again.”

“So this is more about you than me?” Tunde moved back wincing a bit “I am not going back to that hell-hole, I am not going to cover up your mistake anymore.”

Tayo said nothing at first; letting his words sink deeply into him. “So what do you want to do because this is bigger than the both of us and you know it. There is a child involved now.”

“A child whom may not be mine?” his voice rose to that “It’s time everyone knows what’s really going on”, Tunde stalled a bit. “I can’t do it anymore; I won’t live my whole life trying to cover up for you.”

“Don’t be stupid, Tunde!” his father exclaimed angrily. “How do you think your mother would feel if she gets to know what this is about? If you try to divorce Priscilla she would come at you with everything, and with the way things are going, our company would be split into almost half.”

“Not when I can accuse her of adultery and question the paternity of the child in court”, he let out a ragged breath. “Sooner or later, Sola would come out with the truth about your affair with her when her husband was alive- after all that’s what led to everything” , he sat down again. “She’s not the kind of woman to want to go down alone.”

“You have to go back Tunde, at least for now”, Tayo’s tone was desperate with his eyebrows furrowed together.

Tunde said nothing and got up from the chair again, he staggered a bit and winced walking towards the guest bedroom.

“Where are you going?” his father asked

“To the guest bedroom” he called back without turning around

“Tunde”, Tayo walked up to him in growing fear. “You have to think carefully about everything, I know I have asked for too much already but…”

“Not this time, dad”, Tunde replied flatly opening the door of the bedroom. He walked into the darkness like a drug man and slapped the door behind him.

Tayo stood for a while looking lost and defeated, he let out a loud audible breath and looked back at the cream colored door beside him with that he moved back to the study brooding on what to do next.

She stood back in the shadows, her fist was in her mouth as she fought to hold back loud sobs, her eyes were pregnant with tears even when Demilade kept on hearing those words echo in her head. She slid down the wall and crouched on her feet weeping silently.

***

Tunde woke up with a fierce headache; it seemed to penetrate right at him. He opened his heavy eyelids a little, his vision was cloudy but he saw the yellow walls and the chocolate painted wardrobe.  His hands splayed on the soft mattress, the fan was on. He did not remember turning it on the night before but then he wasn’t in his bedroom, he wasn’t at home, where was he? His eyes opened more and it took effort to clear his grinding head, he was in his parents’ house.

His mother sat at the edge of the bed with a glass of water in one hand and a glass of water in the other. She offered it to him stretching out her slim hands and he took them mumbling a thank you in return.

Silence reigned in the room while Tunde adjusted to rest his back on the bed slab. He didn’t want to think about yesterday, the fight he had with Priscilla or the way she had begged and pleaded, he didn’t want to think about how he felt betrayed and sore…heartbroken…

“Tunde”, his mother called his name in a gentle tone.

He did not realize he had closed his eyes but he slowly opened them to look at her, she placed her hand on his and squeezed gently.

“How are you feeling?”

“My head feels sore.”

“You know what I mean”, she looked at him and smiled a bit. “Your father told me what happened.”

Tunde looked down at his mother’s hand on his, reluctant to speak.

“I understand if you don’t want to talk about it now.”

“Thank you.”

“I just want you to know that we support whatever you decision you take”, she pulled her comforting hand away and let out a rugged breath.

“Did dad tell you that?” Tunde asked skeptical “Did he say that he supports whatever decision I make?”

“I’m sure your father wants the best for you”, Mrs Ariyo replied smiling lightly.

“He wants what’s best for his company,” Tunde stated in a bitter tone.

“Honestly, I don’t know much about what’s been going on with the company but I knew it was a bad move getting into an arranged marriage over business. Marriage is a different matter altogether.”

He made no comment on that. “Mum, I just want to relax now and make a decision on my turf. I don’t want to make a decision with someone’s voice telling me what to do.”

“Yes dear and we support your decision whatever the case is.”

“And if it is to get back with her…”

“You know I never get involved in my children’s personal lives, you are old enough to decide on what you feel is best”, she gave him a broad smile “I trust you to make the right decision after all I trained my children well.”

“What if it causes a lot of things to go wrong?” Tunde asked his mother searching her eyes for an answer.

His mother gave him a puzzled look in return, “What do you mean, Tunde?” she asked confused “What could possibly go wrong?”

He forced himself to smile “Never mind mum.” He touched her arm. “Thank you for the pills.” Tunde laid back on the bed.

His mother stood up. “Just feel free to stay as long as you like.” With that, she walked out of the room, leaving him to his thoughts.

His eyes found the wall clock; it was past one in the afternoon. Was she waiting for him? Hoping she could convince him to forgive her or did she just give up on everything? Give up on the nights of passion and the sweet words he whispered in her pretty ears, did she even like it when he touched her or she pretended?

Tunde closed his eyes and sighed heavily trying to control his emotions. Could he ever forgive her? Could he even trust her again after everything? He knew the answer. Even if the incident had not happened something else would have brought them back to reality but he loved her, he still loved her beneath all the anger and resentment he was feeling, he missed her so much – it hurt.

***

She pulled up in front of the gate of her mother’s compound and parked. Priscilla let out a deep breath. Her eyes met her withdrawn expression in the mirror. She looked like a ghost. Overnight she grew into a zombie as she packed her things into a suitcase; she wanted to get out of the house, suddenly claustrophobic.  Her hair was a mess, she did not bother combing through the short length, her eyes were red and her face drawn; she looked a mess.

As she was parked seated in the loneliness of her car, Priscilla cleaned her tear-stained cheeks. She did not want to get out, it was not even about her mother’s disapproval but that she was fed up and it took her husband to find out about her affair before she finally broke free of her mother’s hold. Priscilla sniffed rubbing her nose with the back of her hand.

She opened the car door with more force than necessary and got out of the car, it took her a longer time to lock the door. Finally, she dragged herself into the compound and knocked on the iron security door of her mother’s house.

The sun peered at her even through the sunglasses she wore, Priscilla knocked again with more determination and her mother opened the door with irritation plastered on her face.

“Priscilla” Sola spoke in surprise; she shifted for her to enter the house and closed the door after her.

Priscilla removed the glasses from her face and turned around to face her mother whose shock had tripled at the look of her daughter.

“What happened?” she almost whispered the question as she moved to hold Priscilla.

Priscilla moved back “Don’t.” Tears formed again in her eyes. “Please don’t”, her tone was weak.

“Priscilla” Sola spoke confused “I don’t understand what this is about.”

“Why didn’t you say you had an affair with Tunde’s father?” her tone was full of resentment for the older woman standing in front of her.

Her mother moved back surprised by the question, she held a nearby chair feeling suddenly weak “Where did you get that?”

“I asked you a question mum” Priscilla replied shakily, she slowly began to heave with her anger brewing again.

“Priscilla…”

“Tell me why!” she screamed at her mother who stared at her in horror.

“Yes, yes” Sola replied hastily, she regained her balance “Yes, I had an affair with him!” she completed defensively.

“God” Priscilla looked away from her in disgust, she burst into tears in disbelief and disappointment; she hoped she would hear that it was not true she had even prayed to hear it was a lie at least to seek solace with her mother.

“Priscilla…”

She raised a quieting hand up “Don’t.” It took her a minute more to catch her breath. “I am so disappointed in you, I am disgusted and embarrassed. For Christ sake you are both married!” she said in a hopeless tone “You kept this from me and asked me to marry his son!” Her voice rose at that.

“Are you judging me?” Sola asked defensively “You have no clue of anything and you are one to judge!”, she laughed derisively.

“I am sick of this, I am sick of you and everything!” Priscilla replied shakily. “In one night I lost my marriage and I found out my mother had an affair with my father-in-law!” Tears began to rake through her body again. She shuddered.

Her mother scoffed “You think I’m such a bad person?” she asked in abrasion, “I sicken you?” Sola laughed, it sounded ugly. “Who put you in a home and fed you? Who gave you the car you drive and the money in your account? You think it was Santa Claus or your weak father? If I sicken you so much, you shouldn’t have agreed to get married in the first place!”

She flinched at what her mother said, she felt sickened by the words as every letter stung deeply at her heart.

“You went too far sleeping with your husband’s best friend” she replied in anger “You ….”

“You think your father was a saint? You think he never cheated the ever faithful husband?” Sola gestured at the sarcasm “I put up with his philandering, I put up with the shame he brought home, I put up with the smell of other women hung on him as we slept on our matrimonial bed.” Her voice was raised in bitterness. “You think your father was a saint? Here we are! I put you in that house and gave you that car, I saved you the stress of getting back to poverty where you came from!” she spat at Priscilla, her eyes were filled with disgust and hate

Priscilla stumbled back at her mother’s words “The poverty I came from?” she echoed in confusion “What is the meaning of that?”

“Ask your saint of a father when you get to hell!” she hissed and began to pace. “I fed you and gave you everything, yet you come here judging me, me!” her voice was shrill and laden with deep buried anger.

Her breathing became difficult and her eyes were becoming full with tears “What is that supposed to mean, mum?” Priscilla asked in a small voice “What do you mean by that?”

Sola stopped pacing and looked at her “The next time you come here barging in and demanding for answers, you will hate what I would become.” Her tone was as monstrous as her gaze was.

Priscilla looked at the woman who had transformed into a stranger before her. Fragile tears fell from her aching eyelids, she was shaking her head wanting to remove the words her mother just spoke, what was she trying to say? That she was a product of one of her father’s numerous affairs. It could not be true, not her, never. She kept sobbing. She could not stop.

“What are you trying to say?” she screamed at the woman she knew as her mother.

Sola heaved out a sigh; she made no move to comfort Priscilla. Instead, she stood there watching as the girl cried; her jaw was set; set on forgiveness. Her eyes blazed with resentment and bitterness enough she did not have to speak. Finally she spoke “You had better get back with Tunde” her tone was cold and impersonal.

Priscilla wiped her face with the back of her hand “I won’t!” She replied insolently “I am done, I am tired of this. I do not want you telling me anything anymore! I have done everything you have asked from, whatever happens next we will learn to live with it!”

“Not while I am alive!” Sola exclaimed walking to her “You will do as I say, you will get back to your husband and you will patch up that marriage”, she spoke shakily in contempt “You think I brought you here for the show? You think this is one of those B-rated romance movies you watch? This is reality and if you so much as think of giving that man a divorce, you are done!”

“Then let me be done!” she screamed at the woman she knew as her mother with shock of contempt. Her body raked in tears and her eyes let it fall by default, she was emotionally drained but she was done with the woman standing in front of her. “I don’t care if I have to beg under a bridge but I am not going back to deceiving and living in a lonely world because you want to maintain a fake lifestyle!”

“Priscilla you are testing my patience very badly. You are really unwise”, she replied through gritted teeth “Do you know what it means to be a single mother? Do you want to carry such a responsibility because of your stubbornness?”

Priscilla shook her head; she let out a frustrated laugh in tears “I am done with everything, if I get back with Tunde it would be at my own terms without you telling me what to do!”

Sola searched her eyes in anger “I am sorry for you this girl, you think this is about me?”

“It is always about you!”  Priscilla threw her hands in the air “It has never been Priscilla’s happiness, always about you!” she stopped to rub her temple in resignation; “You blackmailed them didn’t you? To marry me, I kept thinking, thinking of it all morning and I know you are not above it.”

“It’s what gave you all this” Sola replied in a chilling voice. ” I put you for your own good”

Priscilla shook her head sideways at the statement “No, I won’t believe this reason you are giving. God, I can’t believe this” she raked a hand through her hair “You slept with him and blackmailed him and yet you had the effrontery to marry me off to his son to keep your life style?”

The slap stung across her cheek and the house fell silent, she could almost hear her heart beating loudly in the sitting room. Priscilla gave her a rueful smile, she had nothing else to say and she turned around and walked to the entrance door placing her hand on the door handle.

“Priscilla if you walk out of here now that’s it, I won’t forgive you.”

She stopped and looked at the mother whom she had once respected. She could not even find her voice, only pity for herself and more for her mother who had grown so bitter over the years. Priscilla walked out of the house with a soft click of the door shutting behind her.

Safe Haven: Episode CONTINUES HERE
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 Oyindamola Dosunmu 😀 😉 

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