Annie lifted the trash bin and was about to step out of the apartment when Marian, her flat mate called her name.
“Annie, please can you help me dispose mine too? I don’t want to burn this stew if I leave it.” Marian could be very persuasive when she wanted to be.
Annie smiled and took the second waste bin behind the kitchen door. “Shouldn’t I just wait till you’re done so that you can accompany me? I don’t like walking alone in this street once it’s dark.”
Marian rolled her eyes and stirred whatever she was concocting in her pot on the cooking gas cylinder. “By then, it will be too dark. It’s just 7:30, no one will kidnap or rob you by this time. A few persons are still walking about.”
“You’ve forgotten students are on break abi? No one is around except people like you and I.”
“See, that was the G1 of those days. Now, it’s very safe.”
Annie smiled again and took the two bins and walked out of the apartment. The night was not that dark; thanks to the bright November moon. The chilly breeze; a reminder of the fast approaching harmattan, was soothing to her skin, compared to the heat in the kitchen she just stepped out of.
Somebody stepped out in front of her at the gate. It was Mama Lou, her neighbour.
“I for just give you my own dust bin too, if to say I know say you wan go throw way dirty tonight. I don too pile am for upstairs, I no just get time to go throw way am all these days.”
“Me too oh. I just said I should do it this night and stop postponing it every evening.” Annie answered.
“Good night oh aunty Ann.” Mama Lou called Lou as she turned around to continue her waddle to her apartment upstairs. She was pregnant with her second child.
“Good night ma.” Annie replied and stepped out of the gate.
The street was very quiet, save for a few stragglers up the street. She was going down the street, towards the express. Annie wondered at that very moment if the burglar from the previous night would come to her window again that night. He would demand to be let in again, and she would ignore him, like she had done before. Lost in her thoughts, she was surprised to see that she had gotten to where she wanted to dispose the dirt. She turned the bins one after the other into the big road rift that was turned to waste disposal site.
She quickened her pace on the walk back to her hostel, but once she got to the front of the uncompleted hostel building, a hand pulled her suddenly. She dropped the bins and her scream was smothered by a rough hand being clamped tightly on her mouth.
“I swear, it won’t take me anything to snap your skinny neck if you scream.” A familiar voice whispered into her ear, his breath cold on her neck.
Her back was aligned to his chest. One of his hands was around her waist and holding her to him tightly while the second one was on her mouth. She tried to recall why the voice sounded familiar and she suddenly remembered it was the burglar’s voice from the previous night. That brought fresh fear into her and she started struggling out of his grip.
That seemed to enrage him because he growled and pushed her very roughly and hard towards the ground. Annie tried to use her hand to break the fall, to avoid hitting her head on the big stone beside the uncompleted building; but that was a bad idea. She landed wrongly on her right arm and she heard something crack. A pain unlike any she had ever felt before shot through her shoulder and she screamed.
Still, no one came running to her aid. Tears rushed to her eyes but she refused to let him see her cry. He bent and rolled her over, so he could see her face. Another pain shook her body. The throbbing was so great and he heightened it by moving her body.
“You want to cry ehn? I’ll give you a reason to cry you proud bitch.” He backhanded her.
Annie’s face moved with the slap and she screamed again. This time she couldn’t stop the tears that came rolling down her throbbing cheek.
“Each time you snubbed me on the street. Pretending you do not know me. All I ever wanted was for you to notice me. To see me. Feel what I felt for you. But you were too proud. Too wrapped up in yourself to see what real love was. Medical student. I know everything there is to know about you Annie. Is someone else giving it to you? Is that it? Is that why you don’t want me? Well, I can show you what you’ve been missing. In fact, I think I should do that right now.” He sounded so deranged and psychotic. Smiling like he just got handed the perfect gift. A smile Annie would never forget.
He raised her gown and pulled her underwear to the side. Roughly inserted a finger into her. “Why are you not wet you bitch? When will you lose this pride? Ehn, I said why are you not wet?” another backhand.
“Please let me go” She finally managed to choke out but her voice only came out in whispers.
He slapped her again. “Stop talking. Shut the fuck up.”
She could only watch as he unbuckled his belt and unzipped his trousers. Every other thing passed like a blur. Annie couldn’t really feel anything. The psychologist would later say her body and mind were in shock. She only remember being dragged up with the same injured shoulder. That was the height. The pain brought her out of shock. He ran off after that and Annie walked home in a daze.
It was a nightmare come to life. Marian was still in the kitchen by the time she returned to their apartment.
“What happened to our bins? Jesus what happened to you?” Marian ran to her.
“I fell down at the rift and injured my arm.” The reply came to her lips monotonously.
“Ha! Be careful oh this girl.”
It wasn’t until two days after that before Annie finally snapped out of her shock. It was Marian who came to check on her the third morning that screamed when she saw how swollen her shoulder had become. After lots of cajoling, she finally agreed to go to the hospital to get the shoulder treated.
Anterior dislocation! That was what it was called. If the pain was much when she fell, it was nothing compared to the one she felt when the doctors had to put it back in it’s position. One of the doctors had to give her off the counter pain prescription when he saw the tears.
no matter how much he pressed her, cuz he said only force could have caused such mighty dislocation. Annie refused to say anything, just kept insisting she fell.
She had to carry the arm in sling for two weeks. It was the longest two weeks ever, because her colleagues, ecturers and people she knew all wanted to know how she ended up with her arm in a sling. Ginny, her best friend was the one doing all schoolwork for her since her right arm was temporarily out of service.
Staring at the two lines on the pregnancy strip, Annie finally realised that a dislocated shoulder wasn’t all she got from the incident. It was two days to Christmas, two weeks after her baptism.
“I’m pregnant.” She said it loud to finally accept her fate. She was jst nineteen.
She picked the phone and called her immediate elder sister. After a teary conversation of half an hour, the whole house gathered in her room.
“why didn’t you tell us?”
“Why didn’t you go to the hospital?”
“You should have gotten angry first, act, then sulk later.”
“Who is the bastard?”
“You’re definitely not keeping that baby.”
Santa brought her a gift for Christmas. Merry Christmas Annie.
The first note, out of five that would come later was attached to the net of the window in her room in school. It was January and she was in school for her pre mbbs, the end of year two medical exam. She opened the folded paper and it read “welcome back Annie. How’s our baby doing? Yes, I know you’re carrying my child. It looks so good on you. Take care of him for me. Let him know daddy loves you. Also, I’m happy to see that you’ve been jumping away from people’s touches. That’s progress.”
All the blood rushed away from her body. He already occupied her sleeps, keeping her awake. And now he was back in real life? How did he even know she’s pregnant? Everyone else thought she was sick.
She had lost tremendous weight, thanks to her body rejecting the baby, but she was still determined to keep the baby nonetheless. She couldn’t eat without vomiting it back, she was weaker than normal, and she kept passing out. The test result at the hospital called it hyperemesis gravidurum.
“how dare you lose that baby Annie? How dare you?” It was the fifth and final note she would receive from him. She had just returned from being discharged at the hospital. After four months, the pregnancy finally left.
She only came back to the hostel to pack some clothes. Papa was coming to take her to Ibadan. She would cry later but now, she had to act. After all, you have to be angry first, then sulk later.
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