Parousia Short Story Contest Shortlist

I held him close as he tossed and turned on the bed. I could feel the harmattan air creeping in through the windows, I turned to check if the windows were open but they weren’t. I love the harmattan season, it came with air filled with joy, happiness and above all the feeling of family which summed up to Christmas.

He turned to my side and smiled in his sleep. In that split second, it dawned on me that I could trade my life for this young lad. I knew, at once, that I was going to give him everything and anything. He was so dear to my heart; my all in all.

“Thank God I had kept him against all odds,” I thought as I looked up to the ceiling and smiled with gratitude filling my heart. The events that occurred  years ago were still fresh in my memory.

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“Asi ocha, Adaku!” my father screamed.

“Lies, Adaku, white lies!” he yelled again.

“You cannot stay in my house carrying that bastard,” he said, hurling his Bible at me.

I ducked. Luckily, the Bible missed its intended target and hit the wall.

“Nkem, calm down. Your BP is rising,” my mum said as she tried to calm him down.

My father had already gone into hysteria mode. He was literally vibrating with rage; but who wouldn’t react the way Dad was  reacting?

He had sent his only child to school so she could get a degree and secure a lucrative job; but what did I do? Just few weeks to my final year exams, I came home with a 4 months old pregnancy.

“Onye bu nna ya?”

“Who is the father?” Dad repeated in that voice that made me shudder and cringe with fear.

“If I repeat my question, Adaku, you will not like it oh,” he threatened.

He didn’t need to explain the repercussions of keeping mute. I, of all people, knew how short-tempered Dad could be always getting angry at the slightest provocation. So now that I had committed a heinous crime, I knew he could even strangle me if I didn’t answer immediately.

“I don’t know Daddy, I…”

My explanation was cut short when I saw Dad advance towards me with a menacing look. I jumped up from where I was, sprawled on the floor and immediately took cover behind Mum.

“You spoilt her,” he said, pointing accusing fingers at my mother.

“From this day henceforth, I have no child. I have no one bearing the name Adaku Ahamaefula Odinaka. My wife didn’t bear any child, living or dead”

My head began to spin as the reality of those words struck me. My father had just disowned me. The tears, which I had fought so hard to keep in, rolled down my cheeks instantly. They flowed uncontrollably as though my eye faucets were damaged. I saw Dad pick up his Bible and I knew he wanted to throw it at me; but I couldn’t move. This time, the church weapon landed on me.

“I’m sorry Dad,” I sobbed as I lay on the floor again, desperately begging for mercy.

“Dad, I’m sorry. Mummy help me beg Dad. Mummy, I’m sorry too,” I mumbled, rubbing my palms together as a sign of remorse.

“Adim s-sorry. It w-will not h-happen again,” I stuttered, saying nothing useful.

I was kneeling to beg them now. I was ready to assume any posture if it would make my Dad reverse his decision; but my pleas made no impact.

“Adaku, I don’t want to see you here when I return,” he said, storming out the door.

“Mum, I’m sorry. Adim very sorry,” I begged my mum who had stood rooted to the spot throughout the whole scene. I could tell that she was shocked.

“Ada,” Mum called me, shaking her head and drying her tears.

I didn’t mean to hurt my parents. Who would have known that just one round of drunken sex would destroy me? It was even my first time! Maybe, if young girls were allowed to engage in family planning, I wouldn’t be in this situation. If abortions we’re easy to get, I would have ended this issue a long time ago.

“Ada! My question is, how long were you planning on keeping this from us?” she asked, trying not to cry.

“Like when were you going to tell me, your mother?,” she asked sniffing with a fake smile on her lips as I stayed kneeling and rubbing my palms together.

“If Doctor Janel had not known the family surname, would you have told us?” she asked amidst tears.

Honestly I did not know when I would have told them. I, probably, would have never told them because the day I was to go to the clinic with my best friend to abort it, my Father bumped into his friend at a pharmacy who spilled the whole story. Ill-luck! The bad thing about having a doctor as a father is that somehow, he knew other doctors and other doctors knew him too.

“Why did you choose to bring shame to us,” my mum said, dabbing her eyes with the end of her wrapper.

“Do you know who we are?” she asked, picking up the Bible that was already looking tattered.

“I’m sorry Mum. ” I blurted out in tears.

“We are respected people in this place,” she continued as she tried to install the television back into its position. It had fallen amidst the hysteria and I stood to help her carry the television.

“Don’t help me!” she shouted with irritation immediately I came closer. “Go back there and kneel down!” I obeyed instantly; it’s not like I had any other choice.

“I am the President of the Mother’s Union of the whole South East and your father? He is the Bishop’s warden. Not just any Bishop, Ada! Not just any Bishop,” she said, all the while emphasizing her and my Dad’s hallowed positions in church.

“It was a mistake Mum,” I cried. I have always lived a secured life with my parents providing all my needs according to their riches in glory. I was the girl in school who always reported to her parents and the next morning, my parents will storm the principal’s office demanding justice. How on earth will I survive without my parents now?

“When you say it was a mistake, I expect you to also include that you were raped or at least give us the name of the boy that impregnated you,” she said rounding the big table to get the broom. “But it’s obviously not a rape and you seem to love this particular guy to be protecting him so much,” she said as she finished cleaning up the broken television.

“Your father will soon be back,” she said with her head bent and tears dried up.

“Please Mummy,” I sobbed.

“This is your road and battle, Adaku. Mine is with my husband,” Mum declared looking up at me who had been kneeling for over an hour.

“We have no child, living or dead and I suggest you leave now before he comes back,” she coldly proclaimed. She turned immediately and left me on the ground, crying.

That day was the very last time I saw my parents. I left the house with nothing but my transport fare. When I got back to school, I ran straight to my best friend’s house.

Ifechi was my only source of succor. She assured me that she would stand by me all through the process no matter the line of action I chose to take.

Of course I wanted to abort the baby! What other better decision to make than that? The conception of this child had brought untold misery into my life and I was already entertaining evil forebodings about its birth.

I told Ifechi my plans for the unborn child and she went into her room to make the necessary calls while I paced about on the verandah, pondering over the decision I had just made.

“If I abort this cursed child, my parents will take me back,” I thought.

“What if you die? You are not going to do this!”

“No, you just have to, you need to get your life back biko!”

“Thou shall not kill.” This last thought was whispered by a very tiny voice and somehow, I knew that this wasn’t me speaking to myself. That voice was laced with traces of reassurance; it managed to spark flickers of hope within me –– hope for the unborn child.

For the first time since I found out I had a life growing inside of me, I touched my stomach and felt its curvy flatness. It seemed as though I wasn’t even pregnant; my stomach had not yet protruded with the 4-month old pregnancy. I silently wished that it were all a lie; I just hoped that somehow, the pregnancy test result was defective.

“We are scheduled for 6pm,” Ifechi announced, interrupting my thoughts.

“The clinic is very far; it’s in town so we’ll have to leave early. We will leave by 5 and I promise to always be there,” she said, smiling and stretching out her arms to embrace me.

“You know I will still be here whether or not you do it,” she whispered into my ears as I stayed locked in her warm embrace.

“But I have to do it,I need my life back,” I retorted and immediately withdrew from her arms.

“No, you don’t have to do it, and there is no guarantee that you will get your life back,” Ifechi said as she found her way to the bench that was positioned close to her door, against the adjoining wall.

“Two wrongs don’t make a right, two sins don’t constitute a righteous act,” she said, looking up at me and gesturing for me to sit down with her on the bench.

“I thought you were supporting me,” I asked angrily, ignoring her offer.

“Yes I am, I will support whatever you want to do but that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t air my view,” she said, standing up.

“Keep your views to yourself,” I hissed. “It’s my life, not yours.”

“Okay,” Ifechi shrugged, glancing at her watch. “It’s almost time.”

We ordered an Uber to take us to the clinic. I wore a black hoodie with a matching pair of joggers while Ifechi was dressed in a navy blue hoodie jumpsuit. We didn’t want to run the risk of someone identiying us in the clinic.

I looked out the window, watching the trees zoom past us. We had earlier told the driver to speed up so we won’t miss our appointment. My mind drifted to the abortion that was about to take place in less than no time.

“Two sins don’t make a right.”

“Stop saying that,” I blurted out.

“Ada, I didn’t say anything oh,” Ifechi said, showing me the candy crush game she had been playing and we both knew that when she plays games, her whole attention gets glued to her screen. Ifechi is so obsessed with games to the point that playing them makes her oblivious of her surrounding. She’ll only stop to complain about how the level was hard or how the game was a scam but she wouldn’t still quit.

“Sorry,” I apologized and focused on my locked phone.

“The wages of sin is death.”

“Really? Ife? Really?” I cried out.

“Ogini? What is it again?” she asked, with confusion written all over her face.

“Stop talking na, stop judging me,” I murmured.

“Have I ever judged you before?” she asked me. “Infact, Oga, did I talk now?” Ifechi asked the driver who shook his head to show that Ifechi had said nothing.

“Sorry,” I apologized again.

“The plans I have for you are good, to give you hope and an expected end; not the type of end you are heading to,” the voice came again. This time, I found myself replying.

“Who said I am ending today?” I inquired.

“The wages of sin is death.”

“That was then; but the Son died for us so we can live,” I replied again.

“It’s funny that you, who doesn’t know about the Son can talk of him in such a way,” the voice said, chuckling as if to mock me.

“He died for all of us,” I reminded the voice in my head.

“His death doesn’t give us a ticket to misbehave,” it said, hitting the point.

“Others do it and survive it,” I replied sternly, giving myself hope as I sat up and stared outside the window. It was getting dark already.

“Others have premarital sex and don’t get pregnant,” the voice gave me a hit back.

“Get behind me, Satan! I will abort this baby and I will live to declare the works of the Lord in the land of the living,” I said with a tone of finality. After that, the voice didn’t speak to me again .

Few minutes later, we arrived at our destination. As we walked into the compound, I held myself back from asking Ifechi how she found out about this illegal clinic. I didn’t want to see her get angry besides, she had done so much for me already.

The compound was surrounded by tall trees and the environment seemed to be enveloped by an unmistakable air of eeriness.

“It’s probably because of the large number of trees,” I concluded, trying to dismiss the weird thoughts that were tugging at my heart.

“Or many dead souls,” I heard someone say behind me. I spun round immediately to find out who said that but I didn’t see anyone.

“So it will be very cool if…” Ifechi’s voice trailed off as she stopped in her tracks and stared at me.

“Ada, what is even your problem?” Ifechi asked. “ I’m talking to you and you’re acting as though there’s someone else you’re communicating with that I’m obviously not aware of. Who are you looking for?” Ifechi queried and from her tone, I noticed that she was angry. She thought I was snubbing her.

“Ife, I’m sorry. I didn’t even realize you were talking to me. I heard a voice behind me so I turned to know who it was,” I replied.

“You’ve been acting strangely since,” she said, peering at me suspiciously. “Are you sure you’re okay?” Ifechi said holding my hands.

“ yes I’m fine, I’m doing this” I said reassuring both myself, and the tiny voice.

We walked into the waiting room and Ifechi went to affirm our appointment while I sat admiring the light blue walls of the room. Unlike every clinic this one had no cute pictures hanging on the wall, not even the random baby pictures that we’re always in the hospital. I made myself comfortable but not too comfortable because I didn’t trust the chair I was sitting on.

“ You are carrying a Prince, a ruler,a Chancellor a gift, children are gifts” the voice came again as I sat in the waiting room.

“ Don’t give me that old line biko” I replied it

“ I’m not joking, I know everyone and I have loved everyone from the moment they were conceived”it came again.

“ exactly so you knew this day would come so deal with it, I’m doing it”

“He is going to be so powerful and great don’t do this!” It said this time louder as my name was called. Ifechi had registered with her own name and not mine which was shocking.

“How will I and your prince survive” I asked mockly.

“If the father in heaven provides for the birds of the sky, the trees ,the grasses in the field what more of the one he created in his own image? “ The voice asked as I walked into the room holding my best friend

“I have nothing, I don’t even have parents, I don’t even have anything to do” I say almost crying.

“Matthew 7 vs 7” the voice spoke as I laid on the bed. The doctor was asking questions and Ifechi was replying him.

“Will you give me my parents back? “ I asked the voice

“ Matthew 7 vs 7”

“ Will you give me my life back?”

“Matthew 7 vs 7”

“Please I can’t” I found myself saying.

“ If you don’t do this now ,it will be too risky Adanne” the doctor said in a smoothing voice.

“ I can’t” I said standing up and looking at my best friend to join me.

“ It’s not so painful in a snap” he urged me on.

“ In a snap I will throw away a gift ,a Prince” I replied him back and then with my best friend holding me we walked out.

“ What’s the plan?”Ifechi asked me as we found a taxi back to school.

“Matthew 7 vs 7” I said looking out through the window but not before I caught her smiling .

“You shall sit among Kings and Presidents”

Truly I sat among Kings. I had gone back to school that evening ready knowing that I was with someone. Although school became tough as everyone I knew avoided me, I finished my University with a Second Class upper and Merits. I got my Nysc posting on a platter of Gold and during that I had gotten a great Job due to the influence of my best friend’s family . I lost my parents but I gained another. And whenever things got too hard I always remembered Matthew 7 vs 7.

I pulled Chancellor closer when he stirred again as aroma from the freshly baked Chin chin hit his nose. Ifechi had decided to spend Christmas with us and when ever she was excited she baked. And as she hummed along to the jingle bells playing on the radio I closed my eyes letting family carry me to the dreamland

 David Vera Sorochi is a 400level law student of Abia state University Umuahia Campus, and in lives in Umuahia, Abia state Nigeria.

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