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I need solace.
I can’t believe I almost committed suicide. I always prided in the fact that I was a strong person but now I’m not so sure. So, this is what it feels like to be going through an emotionally challenging period. I’m vulnerable right now and shaken. Now, that I remember almost every detail of my past, I’m not so sure of my present anymore. I badly need love or care or attention, something that wouldn’t make me feel worthless. Positive emotions are what I need directed to me now and the look this rude guy is giving me now is channeling one- care. I hold on to him in a form of hug. I need the reassurance he seems to exude. I think he is startled by the hug for a second but he comes out of it and holds me close. I swallow down a sob. Oh my Gosh. I have been through a lot. I drag in a shaky breath and shiver from his closeness. He smells good and his body is warm. I burrow deeper. I think my movement jolts him because he pulls away from me and places me back on the bed gently. He takes off my top then pops loose my fly with deft movements. He doesn’t fumble or hesitate or look confused. He seems to know exactly what he wants to do and he pretty much does it. When he gets to my bra, I hold it against his pull. I can’t even look him in the eye. When I glance at him again, I duck my head for I’m overcome by his deep stare. Soon, I feel him putting something in my palm. When I glance down at it, I see it is a phone and on its screen, a message is displayed.
This is the only way I can communicate with you.
Whoa! So he has impairments.
I’m not trying to see you naked. If that’s all I wanted, I would just stand by my window. My name is Fola by the way.
This guy is too blunt! I push myself up onto my elbows and peer up at him ready to give him an earful but I see his mouth twitch, the beginnings of a hopeful smile. Hopeful that I don’t take him too seriously. I get distracted by footsteps. Someone is walking down the hall towards us. Fola glances that way and then back at me. I scoot under the comforter and attempt to act like I wasn’t just going through some uncomfortable moments with Fola.
Soon, Sam’s head shows around the door. “I just wanted to check if you guys are alright.” He says as his eyes passes over us and then he averts them. Fola must have been reading his lips because he nods in response. I don’t say anything and he looks at me as if asking a question. “I’m alright.” I say.
He nods firmly, walks into the room and extends his hand to me. “We haven’t met properly. My name is Sam.” Fola looks at him and then turns to me as if waiting to hear my response. “Ella.” I say. “My name is Ella.” The name sounded strange to me but it’s my name all the same.
The shock on Fola’s face is indescribable. Why is he so shocked?
“Okay then. I will leave you two.” He looks at Fola for a minute and walks out. Fola is still staring at me. I’m getting uncomfortable.
“What?” I ask, nervously. I’m assuming he reads lips quite well from the conversation we just had with Sam.
He picks his phone up from where I dropped it and type on it then passes it to me.
What is your name?
Ella. I type and pass the phone to him.
He stares at me for a second again and then stands up abruptly. He walks across the room and stays there for a while, facing away from me. Then, he comes back and pulls me into a hug. He holds me for a minute then stares into my my eyes for another. I see joy radiating through his eyes. A tear drops and he draws in a ragged breath, probably the closest thing to a truly sad emotion I’d ever seen from him as opposed to his usual rude self. I’m shocked at this. I collect the phone from him and type.
What’s with your reaction? I type and pass the phone to him.
You don’t have to type everytime. You can just talk to me slowly. I’m not really comfortable with the way we are passing phones. Where is yours? He types and passes the phone to me.
I’m confused for a minute. Then, I realise I left it at home.
He collects the phone from me and type.
Why were you trying to do what you were trying to do?
I know what he meant by this question. I guess I owe him an explanation at least. He saved my life. Complicated but still very much a life.
I burrow deeper in the bed and drag the comforter to my chin as a chill passes through me. I turn my back to him and take a moment to steady myself. I bring my knees up to my chest, full-on fetal position, and tell my story to the opposite wall. It is easier than facing him. It is easier knowing he is behind me because I wanna talk even as I type. I have been looking for an opportunity to voice my feelings. You know that feeling that comes with spilling beans to a total stranger in a bar? He laces his fingers through my right ones which was resting on my tummy and I squeeze them for comfort. Fola sucks in his breath from pain but I pretend it’s empathy as I power through the story.
Everything I have painstakingly built up came crashing down few days ago. I went to do a job for my neighbor and he raped me and even though it was a painful part of my story, it wasn’t as painful as the memory it brought with it. The memory is still a bit hazy but I have some facts. I used to live with my mom till I carried a lantern to her when she was pouring petrol into the generator. I think I was about eight. I’m not sure. It was a big fire and I didn’t know how I escaped it. I just have these scars running from my hand to my neck to show for it.” I absentmindedly rub my right arm covered in scars and tattoos with my free left. “I didn’t have a father figure back then but my mum and I were pretty comfortable. That day changed my life. When I woke up in the hospital, a woman was beside me and she claimed to be my mum’s elder sister. I can remember that day vividly as she held my hand and promised to take care of me. She called me her daughter and took me to Jos. It was there she broke to me gently that my mother was dead with tears running down her face. If I had known she was just shedding crocodile tears, I would have cried harder. If I had known it was just the beginning of my woes, I would have wept more bitterly. She turned me into a sex worker, Fola. At that tender age.
A sob wracks through my body and snoot is coming out of my nose but I don’t stop typing or talking.
I grew up memorizing that room. I prayed for a savior or a friend but all I got was old men groping me. I was very violent at first and obstinate. I would fight the men off with all my strength but I broke the day Mama pikin told me I killed my mother. I stopped feeling from that moment and allowed them do despicable things to me. What was the body when the spirit was broken?
I wipe a tear with my shoulder.
I would sleep and sleep and sleep back then. Who knew there were such men in Nigeria? The only thought that kept me going was the thought that I was going to get out of that hellhole someday, somehow. I would toss and turn, struggling through the night. I was disgusted. Then one day, a small timid boy came to join us and even though I was worried he would face the same fate as me, I was glad I had a friend. He came just in time. I was already losing my mind. I took charge of him as much as I could even though back then I was mostly in withdrawal. I think he was cute even though I can’t quite picture his face in my head anymore. I don’t know what happened to him after the police found Mama pikin out but immediately I smelt freedom, I ran. I think that was when I was hit by a bus. What I remember is waking up in a hospital with broken bones and memory. I’m glad I fell into a good woman’s hands the second time I woke up in a hospital- Tony’s mother. Tony is my boyfriend. You met him. I guess I could trust her because of my lost memory.
I finish typing and pass the phone to him, feeling the satisfaction that comes with unburdening your soul. I give him a few minutes to read then roll over and look at him.
I see on his face what he sees on mine because for the life of me, I know I’m looking in a mirror because I know he has his own monsters just like I do.