Beatrice staggered out of the bank like a drunk woman, her mind replaying those moments with Shadreck when she should have questioned things instead of blindly putting her trust in the love of a sixty year old man over his much younger wife.
Beatrice’s confidence that age was enough to keep her man had made her so shallow that she could not imagine Shadreck betraying her or leaving her for another woman. In her head, he was the lucky one for having found himself such a beautiful young wife who could love him as much as she showed him she did.
She was aware of Shadreck’s wondering eyes once in a while but what man wasn’t like that? She had given him a home and a family that he so desperately wanted and she had faith that these things together where enough to seal their fate together until such a time when he died and she would start afresh with a much younger man.
Not once had she pictured that scenario playing the other way round.
The foul taste of the betrayal and the shock lingered in her mouth and made her stomach churn in disquietude. She clutched her stomach as she started walking towards the parking lot, stopping once in a while to find something to hold on and to catch her breath.
Her heart was racing, fast and loud, blocking out all other sounds around her. One of the shoppers at the mall, a gentleman in his early thirties approached her and placed a hand on her to help steady her.
“Are you okay madam?” the young man asked the emotionally and physically drained Beatrice who was holding on to a wall, anxiously waiting for her vision to become steady so she could cross the road leading to the parking lot.
Beatrice slowly lifted her head up to look at the man holding her and she shrugged his hand away.
“Get away from me!” She yelled at him, drawing the attention of everyone in sight.
“Calm down, am just trying to help.” The gentleman said. “You look a little disoriented. I am a doctor….”
“I have my own personal physician,” she snapped. “I don’t need some random stranger touching me and trying to take advantage of me. Leave me the hell alone.”
The poor man raised his hands in surrender and walked away from her.
Beatrice rushed across the road and was almost bashed by an oncoming vehicle. The driver went at his hooter with all his might and Beatrice stopped to shout at him.
“Run me over if you dare you jerk!” She shouted.
The man simply gaped at her in absolute disbelief and waited for her to cross over to the car park.
She got into her car and drove like a mad woman to her house, all the while desperately trying to get hold of Shadreck on his cell.
I lost my phone in the process and didn’t bother to get a new one since I knew I would be home soon. His words echoed through her head and she sent her phone flying in the air.
Finally at home, Beatrice busted into her house screaming her husband’s name but no response came.
“Mum,” Mark was standing at the bottom of the stairs calling out to his mother who was busy banging doors and shouting upstairs.
“Where is your father?” Beatrice shouted from the top of the stairs.
“How the hell am I supposed to know?” the teenager answered. “I got here just a few minutes ago.”
“And your sister, is she back yet?” Beatrice asked. “Moola!” She yelled out.
“Mum!” Mark yelled back. “You are going to break all the bulbs with your screams. Calm down. Did something happen? Is this about Moola’s wedding?”
“It’s none of your business young man,” Beatrice turned and walked to her bedroom.
Down the stairs, Mark was shaking his head slowly. “Tsk tsk tsk…menopause,” he said and went into the living room to watch TV.
Beatrice was on her computer furiously and desperately trying to log in to her bank account online but her password kept getting rejected. She was about to throw the laptop down when she heard the door downstairs open.
She ran out of the bedroom and peered down the stairs and saw Moola enter the house.
“What’s wrong with you too?” the oblivious Mark asked his sulking sister.
“Don’t talk to me today if you want to live.” Moola said and started heading towards the stairs.
Beatrice met her at the bottom of the stairs. “Why is your phone off!” She asked her daughter.
“I have been trying to get hold of you for hours now. Did you talk to your father? I saw that you were the last person he called from the landline. Do you know where he is?”
Moola’s eyes as she looked at her mouth were packed with contempt and scorn.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Beatrice asked.
Moola started shaking her head slowly. “You disgust me.” She told her mother and tried to walk past her to get on the stairs.
But Beatrice grabbed her hand and pulled her back. “How dare you talk to me like that young lady!? So what if you were dumped? That doesn’t give you the right to be this disrespectful to your mother. Are you the first person in the world to be jilted?”
“Respect?” Moola pursed her lips at her. “Did I just hear you talk about respect, mother?” She deliberately stressed the last word and then scoffed. “You are one to talk.”
“Why are you talking to me like this?” Beatrice demanded to know.
Meanwhile, Mark was watching the two women in amusement, saying out scores depending on whom he felt gave the most astounding retort.
“I should have been recording this…if only my battery wasn’t low.” He said to himself, looking at his phone to see his battery life marked in red.
“I’m too tired and depressed to fight with you right now. I’m going to take a nap.” Moola said and started stepped away from her mother to get on the stairs but again, Beatrice grabbed her back.
“What do you mean I am one to talk?” Beatrice asked.
Moola looked down at the part of her hand where her mother was gripping. “You are hurting me,” she said.
“I won’t let go until you tell me why you are being such a brat!” Beatrice yelled.
“You want to know?” Moola asked. “Okay, am going to tell you. Dad is gone and it’s all your fault!”
The smile on Mark’s face disappeared within the blink of an eye.
“What do you mean your dad is gone?” Beatrice asked.
“He is gone! He has left us!” Moola shouted. “He got so tired of your lies that caused him to lose all of our money and he just couldn’t deal with all the misfortunes you’ve brought this family.”
“What are you talking about?” Beatrice asked, shaking all over and her eyes dancing in confusion.
“What are you talking about sis?” Mark had joined them at the bottom of the stairs to echo his mother’s words. “What do you mean dad is gone?”
Moola turned towards her younger brother, the puzzled look on his face immediately brought tears to her eyes.
“What’s wrong Moola? Did something happen to dad?” Mark asked again, his voice too shaking from the imaginations running through his mind.
“Answer your brother!” Beatrice shouted and started shaking her daughter. “Where is your father?”
Moola pushed her mother away with so much force and sent her tumbling backwards.
She then turned to her brother. “Go to your room right now and park all your stuff. We are leaving this house today.” And she ran up the stairs living her brother and mother in shock.
Beatrice quickly got up to her feet and ran after her daughter, catching her right outside her bedroom.
“Why are you behaving like this?” Beatrice asked. “What did your father tell you?”
“He told me everything mother!” Moola said. “About the lies you’ve told us all these years, your dirty secrets, how you seduced someone else’s husband, had a daughter with him and when he refused to marry you, you abandoned that child.
“I know that that child is that Evelyn girl who it turns out is now married to Kelvin, the man I was scheduled to marry tomorrow, the man who it turns out is the brother to the woman whose husband you seduced twenty something years ago.
“That woman died right outside your place and her father committed suicide a few days later because he could not live with the guilt of watching his daughter die right in front of him and not being able to protect her.”
The shock of Moola’s words sent Beatrice reaching for the top rails of the stairs. However, Moola was not, even for a second touched by her mother’s desperate and unfortunate state. She was not in the mood to be taken in by her manipulation.
She followed her where she was, crouched and desperately gripping the rail for support.
“How did you…how….” Beatrice’s quivering lips were keeping her from uttering anything sensible. She stammered her way through her sentences and Moola could only shake her head in disappointment at watching her mother crumble down so easily.
Unaware of Mark’s presence who was still standing at the bottom of the stairs, Moola went at her mother again.
“Mrs Kangwa?” Moola continued. “You remember don’t you?” She asked. “Of course she looks different now but that only goes to show just how determined she was to make you pay for what you did to her family.
“Because you were so greedy for other people’s things, things you did not deserve, you dragged us all down with you and now look where we are; I was engaged and then jilted by a man that didn’t even love me, dad’s businesses kept hitting stumbling blocks because there were people out there punishing him for the wrongs that you committed.
“He lost all of his fortune due to a trap that Kelvin’s mother set up for him and now we have nothing. Thanks to you, some woman was sent into dad’s path to seduce him and take him away from you and now he would rather be with that family instead of us. That’s how much he detests you mother.”
Beatrice appeared almost out of breath. She was gasping for air, hitting her chest with one hand and using the other to steady herself against the rail of the staircase.
“It can’t be…that’s…that’s…not…true….” Beatrice was whispering, her hand softly hitting her chest in her desperation to calm her racing heart.
Slowly, the walls around her started drawing closer and closer, threatening to squeeze her into oblivion.
When everything else around started fading, Beatrice could no longer make out her daughter’s screaming words. She could see her mouth move when she tried to look up at her but she could not hear her.
Tasting for the last time the saltiness of all her sins now painted in liquid onto her face;
Beatrice hit the ground and right before losing consciousness, she heard her two children call out to her from a distance.
* * *
Somewhere in Zanzibar
Evelyn was awakened by the smell of bacon in the room. She opened her eyes and found a smiling Kelvin holding a tray of breakfast over her sleeping figure. She slowly sat up and rubbing her eyes said;
“That smells sooo good.”
“I know,” Kelvin said, laying the tray on her laps.
However, no sooner had Evelyn come in close contact with the food than she rushed out of bed and into the bathroom to throw up.
But nothing came out.
Kelvin was right behind her, watching her struggle to vomit with a proud grin on his face.
Evelyn raised her head to look at him in disapproval. “How can you smile like that when I am close to vomiting?”
“I told you,” Kelvin was saying, leaning the side of his body against the door frame and crossing his arms over his chest. “You are pregnant.” He said, still smiling.
“I am not!” Evelyn said. “It’s that shrimp you made me eat last night. I felt like vomiting the moment I put it in my mouth. I told you, am really not a fun of sea food.”
Evelyn spat, flashed and walked over to the sink to wash her face.
Kelvin went to stand behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist from behind.
She smiled and stopped whatever she doing. “What do you think you are doing?” She asked him.
Kelvin laughed. “Hugging my wife good morning.” He proudly stated.
“It still feels so surreal,” She told him, raising her hand to look at her ring. “Are we really married?” she asked.
“Of course we are,” Kelvin said. “And you could be carrying a Minnie-me or Minnie-you in here.” He was gently rubbing her tummy.
Evelyn grabbed his arms and pushed him away. “I told you, I am not pregnant. You can even iron something on my stomach without hitting any bumps.” She grabbed a towel from the rail, dried her face and walked passed Kelvin back to their room.
Kelvin followed her and grabbed her by the hand. He turned her to face him and with a serious expression on his face, he asked, “is it that you don’t want to carry my baby?”
Evelyn chuckled at the absurdity of his unexpected question. “Why would you think that?” She asked.
“I don’t know,” Kelvin shrugged his shoulders. “It’s just that…that first time I suggested lying to my mother about you being pregnant, you freaked out…and every time I ask you to get a pregnancy test, you insist that you are not. I was kind of hoping that you would be as excited as I am at the possibility of….”
Evelyn put a finger on his lips. “Shhh,” she said.
Kelvin stopped talking.
She put her hands on both sides of his face and pulled him down towards her, gave him a long deep kiss and then released him.
Satisfied by the sudden turn of events, but still confused by the meaning of it, Kelvin was smiling and giving his new bride a questioning look at the same time.
“I’m scared,” Evelyn said, this time wrapping her arms around his waist.
“What are you scared of?” Kevin asked.
“What if we take a test and it turns out I am not pregnant?” She said. “I really want to be pregnant with your child but I also don’t want to jinx it by hoping. The only reason I am safe and alive is because we told your mother that I was carrying her grandchild. What if it takes a while for us to….”
Before she could finish, Kelvin grabbed her by the back of her head and planted a kiss on her forehead.
“I know you are pregnant,” he said with so much conviction.
“How can you be so sure? Have you ever made a woman pregnant?”
Kelvin laughed. “Hell no, you are definitely and most certainly my first womb.”
She laughed. “Then how can you be so sure?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “I just feel it.” and then he walked over to the dressing table, opened the top drawer and removed a pregnancy testing kit from a box.
“What?” Evelyn said in surprise. “When did you buy that?” She walked over to him and took the tester from him. “Unbelievable,” she said.
“I got it this morning while you were sleeping. There’s a pharmacy right outside the hotel. Go in there and try,” he was pointing to the bathroom.
“I am just from peeing!” Evelyn reminded him.
“Dammit!” he said.
“Can’t you force it?” Kelvin asked. “There’s always that bit that remains after….”
“Kelvin!” She threw him a disconcerting look.
Embarrassed, Kelvin turned and disappeared into the other room of their suite.
Evelyn followed him and went to sit on his lap, blocking his view of the TV. She held his head in place and told him, “I pee every five minutes, have you forgotten?”
Kelvin’s face completely lit up. He scooped her up in the air and started spinning around.
“I think I am going to vomit now,” Evelyn protested and he immediately put her down.
“I think breakfast might hasten things up,” She suggested. “What do you think?”
Without saying another word, Kelvin rushed back into the bedroom and came out with the tray they had left on the bed.
Thirty minutes later, Evelyn came out of the bathroom with a blank expression on her face and handed the stick to Kelvin who had been anxiously waiting, pacing around the bedroom.
“Two red lines, do they mean what I think they mean?” He asked as he examined the stipe.
“Umhu,” Evelyn replied and watched her husband lose control.
“We’ve been gone for more than a month now,” Evelyn said to Kelvin as they drove around the Island in their rented car a few hours later. “Isn’t it time to go back now?” She asked.
“I don’t have any motivation whatsoever to go back,” Kelvin answered honestly. “If I could have it my way, we would stay here forever.”
“Do you still think am not safe?” She asked.
“No,” he quickly answered. “It might take a while for my mother to get close to you but I know that she will eventually.” He assured her. “Before this revenge thing, she was a good person, strong willed, but still a good person.”
“I don’t expect you to say otherwise about your mother,” Evelyn said.
Kelvin chuckled. “Not my mother,” he said. “I have been through enough with her to know she is no saint. She has done enough things that could put her behind bars for many years but she’s been too careful in her plotting to attract the attention of law enforcers.”
“And what about you?”
Kelvin gave her a puzzled look. “What about me?” he asked.
Evelyn thought for a moment before opening her mouth. “How far did you go…as in terms of breaking the law to get revenge?”
Kelvin chuckled again. “You are asking if I killed anyone aren’t you?”
Evelyn looked away and gave no response, holding her breath as she waited for his answer
“I didn’t go that far Eva,” he told her. “I never took anyone’s life.”
Evelyn let out a sigh of relief.
“Ah,” Kelvin said upon seeing her release the breath she had been holding. “Did you actually think that I….”
“I don’t know!” Evelyn covered her face with her hands in guilt and shame for having doubted him, even if for a second. “You kidnapped me, stripped me naked and tried to rape me a couple of times. There was so much anger in your eyes I feared you might kill me.”
Kelvin shut his eyes for a few seconds as if to block out the horrible memories that made him feel the kind of shame he had never ever felt before in his life.
“Not my proudest moments,” he said, almost whispering the words. “I promised to make it up to you for the rest of my life and I intend to keep that promise. Do you believe me?” He was looking at her to hear her response.
“I believe you,” Evelyn answered.
Kelvin smiled. “Thank you.” he said and fixed his attention back on the road ahead.
“When did you tell your mother that we would be going back?” Evelyn asked.
“I told her next week,” Kelvin said. “She keeps calling everyday whining about the baby and how you should be under the guidance of an adult since you don’t have parents and what not.”
“Don’t tell me…”
“Yeah, exactly what you are thinking,” Kelvin confirmed her fears. “I told you, her bloodline is her weakness. She was raised at an orphanage for a while and she doesn’t know who her real parents are.
“My mother’s worst fear is dying and leaving no one behind to carry her legacy….like she dies and that’s the end; no one to carry her blood or to stay by her bedside holding her hand as the life slowly slips out of her. Her words,” Kelvin quickly added. “Not mine!”
Evelyn was quite for a while, but later she said, “I think I understand her fears.”
Kelvin turned to look at her, her heavy tone giving him extra concern.
“You know that you don’t ever have to feel like that anymore right?” He asked her.
Evelyn laughed softly. “I know,” she said, unconsciously rubbing her flat stomach.
Kelvin looked at her hands and smiled before turning his attention back on the road.
“We will go back home soon and I will build us a nice home for our family.” He was mostly talking to himself than to her.
Evelyn turned to look at his serious expression as he spoke.
“You will never be alone,” Kelvin said, his eyes still fixed on the road ahead. “I will protect you and my child with my very last breath.”
They drove in silence for a while, taking in the beautiful scenes of nature around them. This was the first time Evelyn had travelled outside Zambia and she ensured that she utilized every moment away from home to live the fairy-tale kind of life Kelvin had shown her in the past month…the kind of life that always seemed surreal even when she was right in the middle of it, experiencing every moment.
The kind of happiness she was experiencing was beyond anything she had ever dreamt for herself and that reality only heightened the fears and insecurities in her; that she might wake up one day and discover that it had all been a dream.
Thus, every night before she fell asleep, she prayed for the dream to last one more day….
And so far, it always did.
“What about Beatrice?” Evelyn later asked Kelvin as they drove to the nearest beach. “I know you don’t like me knowing about what’s going on back home but I overheard your conversation on the phone once when you thought I was sleeping. How is she doing now?”
Kelvin clenched his teeth at the mention of Beatrice’s name and tightened his grip on the steering wheel.
“What is it?” Evelyn could feel her husband tense up and wondered if there was something going on back home that she wasn’t aware of. “Is there something you are not telling me?” She asked.
Kelvin nervously smiled at her. “Of course not,” he said, turning to look at her for a few seconds.
“I just don’t like thinking about the woman, that’s all.” Kelvin said. “I know that despite everything that’s happened, she is still your mother….”
“I have never thought of her as my mother Kelvin,” Evelyn said. “I don’t expect you to feel bad or guilty about your feelings towards her. You are free to hate or loathe her as much as you want.”
Kelvin reached across to her and held her hand. “I am sorry Eva,” was all he could say in response.
* * *
Beatrice kept turning and tossing in bed, much to her daughter Moola’s chagrin who was sleeping next to her in their newly bought two-bedroomed apartment.
Moola sat up in frustration and woke her mother up. “Why did you insist on Mark taking that whole room to himself if you knew you would make it impossible for me to get any sleep?”
Beatrice sighed heavily and sat up as well. “Over my dead body will I let my only son sleep on the sofa in that tiny living room.”
Moola got out of bed and went to turn on the light.
This new bedroom was a far cry from the humongous master bedroom Beatrice had shared with Shadreck at their old mansion which the latter had sold behind her back.
It was only when Beatrice received an envelope with money in it that she learnt her now ex-husband had sold their home and split the money between them in half. She used that money to buy her children another house that was unfortunately twenty ties smaller than the house they were raised in.
She didn’t know whether to thank Shadreck for his consideration in leaving her half the money from the sale of their home or sue him for his betrayal. In the end, she had no choice but to move on since she could do neither as she had no idea where her husband was hiding.
Shadreck had secretly met with his children Moola and Mark the evening before he disappeared and made no efforts whatsoever to contact the woman he had spent the past twenty something years with except through his lawyers that came to hand Beatrice already signed divorce papers.
Moola went back to sit on the bed. “What do you think the people that did this to us are doing right now?” She asked her mother.
Beatrice grimaced and rolled her hands into fists at the thought of the people response for her fall from grace.
“Whatever they are doing, they better pray I don’t get my hands on them. This isn’t over.” She said sternly. “I will make every one of them pay for everything they’ve put us through.”
Moola scoffed. “How are you going to do that?” She asked. “We are broke. Apart from the money dad left Mark and I for school, we have nothing, absolutely nothing. So how do you plan on fighting giants when the only kind if ammunition you had was taken away from you?”
“Who says I need money to make them pay? I only need to touch one person and the rest of them will come crumbling down in pain.”
“What are you planning mum?” Moola asked, instantly growing perturbed. “You are not planning on hurting Kelvin are you?” She asked.
Beatrice threw her daughter a reprobating look. “He used you, dumped you and humiliated you. Why do you still care about him?”
Moola pouted. “I loved him for so many years,” she said. “My feelings can’t change just like that simply because I discovered he never loved me. He might have hated my family, but I still think that there was a part of him that cared about me. Dad even said that Kelvin begged his mother not to do me and Mark any harm.”
Beatrice felt like smacking some sense into her daughter. “Sometimes I wonder if maybe they switched you at the hospital.” She said.
“Maybe you should consider getting your other daughter back,” Moola suggested. “She managed to seduce another woman’s fiancé and even married him…. I say there’s no doubt she, is your daughter.”
Beatrice grabbed a pillow and smacked Moola at the back of her head.
“Ouch,” Moola said as she nursed the assaulted part.
“That’s for spouting nonsense,” Beatrice said and put the pillow back down. “That girl is no daughter of mine.” She added. “She is the worst mistake I ever made in my life. I should have gotten rid of her when I had the chance.”
Moola shivered at the sight of her mother’s deathly glow. “Stop looking like that, you are scaring me.”
Beatrice got out of bed and stood to the side, a new kind of conviction registering in her eyes. “To get rid of a problem, you must remove the root of the problem,” She said.
“What are you plotting to do mum?” Moola asked.
“You just wait and see,” Beatrice said. “You wait and see….”
A cold streak ran down Moola’s spine as she looked up at her mother. This was the first time since their father left that she had seen such conviction in her eyes.
Two Weeks Later
Kelvin parked to the side of the road outside the antenatal clinic when he saw his mother waiting for them by the gate.
“I am so nervous,” Evelyn said, tilting her chair back to avoid being seen by her mother in-law.
Kelvin laughed. “Even if you avoid seeing her now, you are still going to meet her the moment you get out of this vehicle.” He said. “I know it’s crazy that your first meeting is like this but what can we do? She insisted on taking you for your first visit and I am still feeling guilty about how I treated her so I couldn’t say no.”
“I know,” Evelyn said. “You did the right now. Who knows, maybe seeing the baby inside me will soften her up a little.”
Kelvin laughed. “That’s exactly what am hoping for. She’s seen us, she’s waving at me.”
Evelyn raised her seat up and nervously waved back at Mervis. “Ooh she looks pissed.” She said between clenched teeth so the woman wouldn’t be able to read her lips from the distance. “Is that your phone vibrating?” Evelyn searched for her husband’s phone.
“I threw it in the laptop in the back seat,” Kelvin said as he waved back at his mother standing on the other side of the road. He opened the door and came out.
“We are coming mother!” Kelvin shouted.
“I am tired of standing here waiting for you people to show up!” Mervis shouted back. “I thought you were not coming.”
“Go back inside mum,” Kelvin said, but his voice was muffled by the sound of a vehicle passing by. “We will meet you inside.”
“What did you say?” Mervis shouted back.
Kelvin laughed. “She’s not hearing me.” Kelvin said to his wife.
“It’s a call from work honey,” Evelyn said whilst looking at his phone.
“Oh shit!” Kelvin cussed and quickly took the phone from her. “I forgot to tell Nzila that I would be late for today’s meeting. “Go inside, I will meet you guys there. I need to take this.”
Before Evelyn could protest, Kelvin had already answered the phone. Evelyn looked across the street to the entrance of the clinic where Mervis was standing and the hairs at the back of her head stood up.
She slowly got out of the car, grabbed her handbag from the back, checked both sides of the road for oncoming traffic and seeing no vehicle in sight, she slowly started walking towards her fierce mother in-law.
Breathe Eva, breath, she kept telling herself as she crossed the road.
Evelyn was too busy coaching her heart to calm down that she did not notice Beatrice parked on the other side of the road just a short distance away from the entrance of the clinic where Mervis was standing, shielded from sensing Beatrice’s presence by the mango tree looming over the wall fence.
The moment Evelyn stepped her feet onto the tarmac, Beatrice hit the gas and went at her with every cent she had lost.
Evelyn was still mustering her courage when she heard someone shout her name from across the street. She opened her eyes to find Mervis running after her.
The first thing Kelvin heard where tires screeching hard against the tarmac.
It was a deja-vu moment that made his blood turn.
The smell of burning tires and spilled oil…he recognized the smell of doom.
Gripped by a sudden overpowering fear, the phone slipped from Kelvin’s hand and the screen shuttered into pieces the moment it hit the ground.
He turned towards the sound of the vehicle and the then next thing he saw was his mother’s bleeding body rolling out of the road while Evelyn was on the other side, crouched on all fours with a look of horror on her face as realization of what had just happened slowly sunk in.
Kelvin had started running towards his mother when he heard the bang and found himself transposed back into time.
More familiar sounds of metal against metal, tires screeching and glass breaking.
Beatrice’s vehicle had become one with an oncoming truck.
Kelvin remained rooted to the ground, paralyzed by time when the past and the present collided, resulting in a single moment that was suffocating the life out of him.
Just before the darkness could completely envelop him, Kelvin caught a glimpse of Evelyn sobbing as she crawled towards his mother in agony.