Kelvin was turning and tossing in his sleep, desperately trying to awaken from the grips of the nightmare that had haunted him for the past twenty years. When he finally succeeded in forcing himself awake, he stepped out of his bed and went to open both widows of his bedroom.
With no shirt on and with sweat dripping from his forehead, Kelvin flung the curtains open and starred into his dark backyard like a man trying to master all his strength for the battles awaiting him ahead.
He stood like that for close to five minutes before turning to look at the time on his alarm clock resting on his bedside table. It was about the only thing in the room he could clearly make out from where he was standing.
02:21, the alarm clock announced in its blue visionary wonder.
“Looks like it’s already my birthday,” Kelvin said to himself, a severe expression on his face as he slowly walked back to lay on his bed; his whole body facing up while his head rested on his arms over the pillow.
Suddenly struck by a thought, Kelvin reached out to the bedside table and grabbed his phone. He quickly went through his call log and messages and found tones of them from Moola and some from his friends, obviously wishing him a happy birthday.
“Nothing from you mother,” Kelvin said as he tossed his phone to the other side of the bed in frustration.
“Nothing,” he lamented. “What was I expecting?”
Are you happy dear sister? Does this make you happy wherever you are? Kelvin thought to himself.
“You could have picked any other day to die…why did it have to be my birthday?” Kelvin asked himself as an image of a truck ramming into his sister’s car flashed through his mind.
“Happy birthday?” He scoffed.
How could he possibly celebrate his birthday when it coincided with the day he lost his sister, the apple of his parent’s eyes?
The memory of that day was engraved on both his heart and mind and it kept replaying itself very so vividly whenever his birthday came.
* * *
Ten year old Kelvin had jumped out of his father’s vehicle the moment it was parked in front of his sister’s house.
After driving for so many hours, he was more than excited to have finally arrived. It had been such a long time since he had seen his older sister.
“Slow down young man before you lose a leg!” His father shouted behind him. But Kelvin wasn’t listening. He ran passed Irene the maid who was standing outside waiting to welcome them.
He was so consumed in his excitement at finally getting to celebrate his birthday with his sister that he did not see the distraught look on Irene’s face as he ran passed her.
“Nora! Nora!” he ran into almost every room of the house expecting to find his sister but there were no signs of her.
“It’s a good thing you are here sir,” Kelvin found Irene talking to his father when he ran back outside.
“Where’s my sister Aunt Irene?” The ten year old Kelvin had asked the woman who appeared to be crying.
“What’s wrong Ba Make Joe?” His father had asked. “Did something happen to my daughter?”
“You just missed her Sir,” Irene replied. “She got into her car and drove off after talking to Ms Melody on the phone.”
“Ms Melody? Isn’t she the lady….”
“Yes that same one sir.”
“What did they talk about to make her leave home at this hour?”
“All I know is that she had an argument with her husband, she kicked him out and then she called Ms Melody to ask for an address. I think she has gone to see Ms Melody’s daughter Beatrice.”
“What?” Alfred Kangwa had asked.
“That girl is very evil sir; you have to follow the madam just in case something happens. She is a very dangerous girl that one and Madam is in a delicate situation right now.” Irene informed him.
“What do you mean by delicate?”
“She is pregnant sir.”
“Do you know her address?” He asked.
“I can write it down for you. I had heard her say it when she was speaking on the phone.” Irene quickly ran into the house to write down the address while Kelvin’s father got back into his vehicle.
“Where do you think you are going?” Alfred asked his son who had just joined him in the car.
Kelvin banged the door and strapped his seatbelt on. “I also want to protect my sister if she is in danger dad.” He innocently yet determinedly told his father.
“I have no time for your drama young man; you better get out right now before I lose my cool.” But just then, Irene appeared with a piece of paper in hand. She handed it to him and stepped away from the vehicle.
“I am only taking you with me because I have no time to enter into an argument with you,” Alfred told his son as he turned his vehicle around.
“There’s her car dad, over there!” Kelvin was excitedly pointing in the distance to the side of the road where his sister’s car was parked.
“And there she is!” He pointed to her as she came out of the gate. “Drive faster before she leaves dad!” He shouted at his father.
“How are you even able to tell it’s her at this hour and from this far?” Alfred asked his son.
“Because I know her car and I know her very well, she’s my sister.” He proudly said.
“And she is my daughter,” his father laughed.
“But she is closer to me and she loves me more,” Kelvin answered back. But his father was no longer listening to him. Something in the distance had caught his eye.
“What’s going on?” Alfred asked, looking at the scene just ahead of them. “Isn’t that Herbert? What is he doing here?”
Kelvin quickly rolled down the window and put his head out. “Nora!” He shouted towards his sister’s vehicle. “Why have you slowed down dad? She is going to leave!”
Completely ignoring his panicking son, Alfred parked his car to the side of the road just a short distance from where his daughter’s car was parked.
“It looks like her husband still wants to talk to her. Let’s give them some time. Your mother interferes too much in her business; I don’t want her to think I have become the same.”
“But dad,” Kelvin had turned towards his father and was ready to launch an argument with him when the look of horror on his face stopped him.
And then came the sound of tires screeching against the tared road, the sound of metal against metal and when he turned his head, it was only to confirm his worst fears.
The ten year old boy saw his sister’s small vehicle reduced to half its size as the sound of broken glass and tired tyres filled the late evening air.
Kelvin had passed out.
* * *
Kelvin was forced out of his reverie by the ringing of his phone on the other side of the bed. He grabbed it and answered without checking his screen.
“Hello,” he said, his voice sounding almost out of breath.
“Son, are you okay?” His mother asked.
“Mum,” Kelvin sat up on his bed.
“I saw that you were online just a few minutes ago…so I thought I should check up on you. You can’t sleep?”
Kelvin shut his eyes and pressed his fingers hard over them, as if to force his tears back.
When he opened his eyes again, they were flaming red, like a man that had just risen from the pits of hell.
“It’s one of those days,” was all Kelvin could tell his mother. “What time is it over there?”
“It’s daytime,” she replied. “How are you holding up?” She asked in a very low tone.
“What do you expect mum?” Kelvin answered. “I am even surprised you called.”
“I know, me too.” She said. “Something you said to me last year made me realise that I was being very unfair to you.”
“What did I say?”
“Well, you didn’t say it directly per se…but I could tell just how much this whole thing affected you. I know that I have changed a lot ever since your sister’s death. I lost control….I was too busy mourning her and your dad…and doing everything possible to avenge their untimely death that I forgot to be a mother to you.”
“Let me speak,” her voice was shaking, as if from crying. “I need to get this off my chest. I am sorry son…I am so sorry that I wasn’t able to celebrate your birthday with you. Instead of mourning a lost daughter, I think it’s better for me to celebrate the life of the only child I still have.”
Kelvin couldn’t help but cry. How long had he waited for this moment to come? However, he couldn’t help wondering what had happened for his mother to turn around like that.
“I am grateful enough that you are helping me avenge her wrongful death and that’s good enough for me. Wherever she is, she will always be in my heart…in our hearts Vinny. So…, happy birthday son. I love you. I love you with all my heart.”
“Mum,” Kelvin said as tears streamed down his cheeks. “Mum…thank you. You have no idea how much this means to me.”
“I know son,” she said. “I am happy to hear the smile in your voice on your birthday. It’s been a long time coming.”
“I love you too mum.”
“Have yourself a great time today and don’t think about anything else, okay?”
“Yes…thank you so much mother.”
“I am going to look for a giant present for you so you go back to sleep and I will skype you later in the night. Happy birthday Kelvin. Go back to bed now.”
“Goodbye mum,” Kelvin was grinning from ear to ear as he put his phone down.
“I guess this calls for a celebration,” he said to himself with a tear stained face. “How about I give you and me a big present sis? We both deserve it on this special day of ours.” He picked up his phone again and dialled a number.
“I have a job for you in the evenings,” he told whoever was on the other side. “Meet me at our usual place at 2pm today for instructions.”
“Yes boss,” said a very deep masculine voice.
After ending the call with her son, Mrs Mervis Kangwa put her cell phone back into her handbag and walked out of the airport.
She found her driver waiting outside, holding the door open for her. “Welcome back Madam,” the middle aged man smiled and bowed his head slightly.
“Thank you Stephen,” Mervis replied and got into the car.
“Is Lucy at home?” She asked Stephen who was now behind the wheel.
“Yes ma’am,” he replied. “She is expecting you.”
“Good,” Mervis said and put her sunglasses back on, shifting slightly to make herself a little more comfortable.
* * *
After cleaning up her desk for the day break, Evelyn knocked on her boss’ door to say goodbye.
“Come in,” Sibusiswe said from the other side of the room.
Evelyn opened the door slightly and peeped in. “I’m heading out now boss,” she said.
Sibusiswe slowly got up from her chair, revealing her six months old pregnancy in the process. “It’s time already isn’t it?” She checked her wrist watch. “It’s amazing how time moves so fast when you have too much work to do.”
“You look like you are going to pop any minute,” Evelyn teased her.
“This is what I get for marrying a man whose family has a long history of twins,” Sibu said, placing her hand on her side to cushion the pain from her back.
“Do you need a ride?” Sibu asked. “Ted should be coming down any minute. We can leave you somewhere close to home. You can get a cab from there. It gets dark fast these days you know.”
Evelyn laughed. “You worry too much Madam Pregnant, I will be just fine. I actually think that it’s quicker to get on a bus than to use private transport. Those bus driver’s show no mercy on the road.”
“You should try describing them when you are using your own private transport; you won’t be smiling like that then.” Sibu said, picking up her handbag from her desk.
Evelyn chuckled. “You are so right. I know I would hate them if I was driving my own car. Do you need me to help you with your bag?” She was pointing to Sibu’s handbag.
“Pregnancy is not a disability Eva, stop acting like my husband.”
“And just what am I being accused of in here?” Ted popped up from behind Evelyn. Evelyn quickly stepped away from the door to give him space to enter.
Ted went inside and gave his wife a hug. “Been waiting the whole day to do this,” he said.
“We were together during lunch Ted…and you did way more than this.” Sibu accused.
“Okay, am gonna leave you two lovebirds now,” Evelyn announced and turned to leave. “See you tomorrow and have a good night!” She waved to them.
Ted released Sibu from the embrace and laughing, he said, “I think you made your secretary blush.”
“It’s about time she found herself a boyfriend that one,” Sibu said. She tried to get her coat from the hanger but ted beat her to it. He removed it and helped her put it on. He then grabbed her handbag from her, took her hand into his and led them out of the office.
Evelyn was lucky to find a bus already waiting at the station. She ran to secure a place before it filled up and managed to find a seat at the very back by the window side. Four more people and the bus was off.
She put her head sets on and turned her volume on full blast to keep anyone from trying to chat her up. Whenever she was on the bus, there was nothing she hated more than some peculiar stranger trying to engage her in an awkward conversation all in the hopes of getting her number or using her as an audience for exercising bragging rights.
As the music played in her ears, Evelyn couldn’t help smiling at the thought of Ted and Sibu. She had never seen a happier couple before.
Will I ever find something like that? She wondered.
She told herself.
If my own mother wants nothing to do with me…who the hell would give me that sort of happiness? That kind of luck only happens to those blessed from birth. I was cursed even before I came out of that woman’s womb.
Anyway, it doesn’t hurt to wish.
When the bus finally stopped at Marshlands, Evelyn came out and with her headsets still on, she walked the remaining distance to her place.
She was so engrossed in her music that she did not hear the van pull up in front of her just as she turned into the street leading straight to her home. Two strong looking men approached her from the sides and while one grabbed her by the head and held a cloth to her nose and mouth, the other scooped her up from the ground and carried her into the van.
She had no time to scream or kick in protest. She was knocked out by the chloroform the moment she was put in the van.
When Evelyn came to, she found herself alone in someone’s bedroom.
The room was very dark so she could not make out much of her surroundings. However, she could make out the bed with its clean white linen positioned right in the middle of the room.
When she lifted her head slightly to look around, she saw other movements around her from every corner of the room.
“Hello, is anyone here?” She asked.
But there was no response.
Evelyn quickly examined herself and found that she was still intact. Apart from her throbbing head and slight dizziness, she didn’t feel any kind of pain from certain parts of her body she was most concerned about.
How long was I out? She wondered.
She checked her pockets again and discovered that her cell phone was gone. She touched the places around her but felt no signs of her handbag.
She saw the same shadows of movement around her again but it was too dark to make out anything. She started wondering if she was hallucinating or not.
Where the hell am I? She asked herself as panic started rising in her.
Evelyn slowly got up from the floor and using her hands to find her way around the room, she moved towards the bed.
It was then she realized she had no shoes on as she felt the carpeted floor under her feet.
She resumed walking.
And so did the dark shadows around her.
And so did they.
“Hello,” she said again. “Is anyone there?”
She had now reached the chorus of panic.
Whatever room she was in, it was big. Now in complete panic and fear mode, she quickly felt her way around until she found the door.
She banged against it with all her might, screaming at the top of her lungs for anyone to rescue her.
“Is anyone there?” She shouted.
“Who are you?” She yelled. “Why are you doing this to me?”
“What do you want?”
At the back of her mind, there was only one person she could think of that was capable of doing such a thing.
“Beatrice!” She screamed the name. “I know it’s you Beatrice! Get me out of here you demented woman!”
But there was no response.
After hailing all sorts of insults at whoever she thought was behind her captivity for close to three hours, Evelyn had no fight left in her any more.
Feeling cold and dejected, Evelyn wrapped her arms around her and dropped to the floor in resignation, awaiting whatever doom was in store for her.
She was coiled on the floor like that when the room suddenly lit up.
Evelyn was immediately on her feet.
And so did the dark shadows that had been following her around for the past three hours.
Now that she could clearly see her surroundings, a few things started making sense.
There were no dark shadows following her around.
It was her own reflection…or reflections…from all the mirrors covering the four walls of the room.
Evelyn moved around in a circle to take in the rest of the room.
The huge bed with its white linen was right in the centre of the room. And apart from the carpeted floor and the mirrors around, there was absolutely nothing else filling up the spaces of the large room, not even windows.
She finally understood why the room had been so dark.
She was about to start banging on the door for attention when it suddenly flung open. Running back into the room to pick up the only thing she could use to defend herself, Evelyn grabbed a pillow and stood back; waiting for whatever demon was behind all this to appear.
But no one appeared.
And the door remained wide open.
“Who are you?” Evelyn tried to communicate with her silent and invisible abductor.
“What do you want from me?”
“Beatrice, is that you?”
She was holding the pillow in front of her like a weapon, ready to attack whoever came through the door.
However, when five minutes went by and no one appeared, Evelyn grabbed onto whatever hope she had left in her and tip-toed towards the door.
She was just about to peep out when a tall figure appeared right in front of her and blocked her view.
Evelyn slowly lifted her head up and found herself gazing into a very familiar pair of brown eyes.
“You!” She yelled.