The ray of light from the window was the first indication of how far her legs had taken her this time. The yellow glow seemed to illuminate and incriminate her decision. Everything told her she was about to make a mistake. The inauspicious left eyelid twitch was a confirmation of the premonition. And that goddamn everlasting purgatory heat. Even the weather was punishing her for her sins. It was the feeling of drowning that woke her up. She wasn’t sure if she was sweating or whether her bedwetting days had resurfaced. So, she slowly traced her fingers beneath her posterior and brought them up to her small bulbous nose to inspect the degree of the disaster; she was relieved.
He lay there seemingly lifeless, sound asleep, the sole indication of life his irregular chest movements. Many men had come before him and many would follow but unlike them, he rarely snored. With that, he was her favourite, but it was his wit she liked more. He exuded genuine natural authority, his ability to shut her down with just a whisper. His eyes radiated kindness, the ultimate paradox to his callous soul. He was the type of man to lure you into a burning building and leave you in the fire that he set himself. Mr. Mwaura was the family lawyer by day and her lover by night. Even the most apathetic people need to feel love.
She sat by the bed as though to find balance and when she was sure that her legs would support her body, she walked to the shower. The sensation of the cold water calmed her. It trickled down her body ever so gently, kissing her scars and tracing her curves. As she stood in the shower, she looked at her feet in disbelief of how she had got there. One mistake after the other. Normal people jumped into conclusions. Not this lady. The only jumping she had done recently was in and out of beds.
Hillary was the last-born of seven children. All girls. They had anticipated a boy. The signs were there; her mother’s appetite, the vigorous kicks of a footballer, the savoury tastes and knack for extremely spicy food, her cold feet and even that time she tied a string to her wedding ring and it moved in a circular direction. It was a boy. You can imagine the shock on the old man’s face when his beloved son came out a girl. It was neither a boy nor was it pretty. They named it Hillary, the virtuous middle of names and gender. Despite his dissatisfaction, his wife was done trying. It was her last attempt. Mr. Siwaka loved the Mrs. beyond his want for a son.It was the only reason he never got a second wife, unlike the rest of his peers. Some people believed he didn’t have concubines because his wife had visited Daktari Zainabu kutoka Zanzibar for ‘marital advice’. These were merely rumours but if you find them justifiable, carry them with you till the end.
She was the son he never had. She looked like one anyway. He cut her hair and for most of her childhood, she was dressed like a boy. For a girl, she had brought so much unexpected and unbelievable joy in his life. Then there was puberty, an ample bosom, round hips and a soft bottom. He knew it was time to send her away when he first noticed a red spot on her shorts. Unlike her sisters and the many women who had suffered the same miserable luck, she wasn’t married off. Besides, who would wife a woman with that face, who couldn’t cook or at the very least sing or dance to entertain her husband? She was fortunate with her misfortune. She was sent to school. She graduated from university Summa Cum Laude. She was eloquent and brilliant.
She turned the knob in the shower and turned around to meet his eyes on her. She wasn’t sure how long he had been standing there, but the bulge in his pants told her he must have been there for a while.
“All set?” he asked. Framing it as a question, meaning it as a statement.
She nodded, grabbed a towel and followed him into the room.
Before the worst storms there is a moment when everything appears calm. A month before, she was happy. She had just taken up post as the Chief Financial Officer in her father’s company, analysing the current financial condition and planning future investments and risk mitigation. She was disrupting the order of things the best way she knew how. In the process, she was uncovering long kept secrets.
“You are the best man for the job,” her father constantly told her. She now felt like her apparent happiness then was a sign of impending doom. It all started at the party…
Mr Siwaka was throwing another party. Her father was known for many things; his parties were the pinnacle of his reputation. The old man was extravagant and immodest with his wealth but his saving grace was his good taste. As if being rich was a crime, as if you were supposed to hide it. How he got his wealth isn’t important to our story. He believed money looked good where you could see it. The fountain at the front of the house, the cars of the same colour, different make and model in the parking lot and the lawn that saw more water than some parts of Africa. Whoever said money doesn’t buy happiness hadn’t been to the Siwakas.
Aside from his extravagant wealth, he was an ostentatious philanthropist. He gave away as much as he generated. Schools and hospitals were built in his name. His best-known charitable gesture was building the first maternity ward. He was a good man in a forceful kind of way; he made you notice his niceness. Sadly but predictably, it wasn’t his decent traits that attracted people. Wealth maketh many friends.
Hillary was on her way to the washroom when she overheard their conversation. Everything would have turned out differently were it not for her curiosity. Her predicament was a culmination of bad luck and the six glasses of wine that led her to the bathroom. If she had drunk a glass less her life might have turned out differently.
She thought she heard familiar voices in the study at the end of the corridor. Common sense told her it was nothing of importance to her but instinct would not allow it. One of the disembodied voices sounded angry and they didn’t realise how loud they were. She stood by the door trying to catch a glimpse of who could be inside but her vision was barred by the bookcases that lined the walls.
“She’s onto us dammit! This little brat is bringing in an external auditor.”
“Ni nini? Wacha siasa. Calm down. You just finish your job and I will mine.”
“Are you deaf or daft? It has taken this woman less than a month to uncover what I’ve been hiding for decades.”
“This is not why I called you in here. If I wanted to know how deaf I am, I’d be home being served the same bile by my wife.”
“I…I…I don’t think I’ll finish this job. There is too much transparency in those financial statements. There are too many eyes. I can’t do this anymore! It’s too risky.”
“Oh! So did you suddenly wake up to this risk realisation? Look man, you’ve done this all your life. You were born for this. What? Does she intimidate you? ”
“This little brat is not a fool like her father! She went to school. This is the problem with educated women. They think they can just come in and turn things around.” He smirked. “You either get rid of her or I’m out!”
“Now now, don’t get feisty old man. I can handle her. I’ll buy you enough time to transfer the money into the last account. All she needs is some distraction. I know just the thing. ”
“You sly old fox. What thing? That thing between your legs hasn’t met a woman with a brain.”
“This thing likes a challenge. This thing is taking one for the team.”
“My work here is done. We are going past the mark we aimed for. I want out before this blows up!”
“Look, it’s your whiskey that’s talking. There’s no need for apprehension. We’ll talk about this on Monday. Let’s just go out and enjoy the party before this old man dies and so do his parties.”
A certain level of sobriety had engulfed her. The revelation was stiffening but satisfactory. It stroked her ego that they found her intimidating. She grinned subconsciously. What surprised her most was her oblivion. It would have never occurred to her that the same mouths they were feeding were the ones biting their hands. But it all made sense to her now. She had noticed an inconsistency in their statements but she didn’t want to bring it up before she was sure. Those old selfish pricks were taking advantage of her father’s trust and friendship.
Her urge to pee had mysteriously gone away. She went up to her room and lit a cigarette looking down at the party through the balcony. Mr. Siwaka was being wheeled back into the house. Age had caught up with him and so had illness and fatigue. He still held these parties as if to remind himself of the good things in life. But his time was nearly up. His will and last wishes were being prepared. Her father’s eccentricity had led him to believe that it would be fitting to give more to the less fortunate. Funds were bequeathed to a number of churches, schools and organizations in the area, none of which knew the amount of money coming their way. The allocation of assets and resources to his immediate family was barely sufficient in comparison. With no son as his heir, he felt no obligation to leave much behind. Besides, what good was it to leave all his money to a bunch of women
She was trying to decipher the voices when she saw the two walking out of the house and into the garden.Mr. Jasiri, the full-time company auditor and part-time idiot, was betrayed by his strident voice. For a man his size, you’d expect some balls and gusto to justify his framework and name. He was quite the opposite, an entire framework of ginormous cowardice.He was with Mwaura.She wasn’t surprised that he was involved. He approved all the legal documents.She had managed to decipher the voices and knew who said what but she couldn’t figure how the two were able to scheme without supervision. Someone was definitely in charge of them. Some uncanny person was using her father’s extra assets as placement for their laundering from the company. She didn’t know who but she knew what to do. Or so she thought. Her first mistake was how impulsively she acted. She would speak to her mother about her findings, she decided. If you want to keep count, this was the second mistake she made.
Mrs. Siwaka was a woman who was able to appear as a background even when she stood on the frontline. She was submissive and supportive. The embodiment of a perfect wife. She was cut from the material that all men expected their wives to be. She personified everything that was essential to her husband. Her sound counsel and wise words were the reason everyone turned to her. In fact, she had quit her job and settled down with her husband because he made enough to support generations to come. He failed to mention that in case he died, he would not be leaving much to her. She had taken up her role as a housewife in a resigned manner. Over time, her identity was erased and she was only known as Ma to her children and Mrs. Siwaka to the rest. But there was more to her than she portrayed.
When her mother got to her room as summoned, Hillary described in fine details what she heard. It was more of an outpour than a description. She blabbered and rambled on and on about her findings.
“Now, Hillary, listen to me and listen good. You will tell no one else what you heard. Understood?”
She nodded in agreement and before she could say a word, her mother continued.
“I suspected that this would happen. I told him not to trust those two. He wouldn’t listen! You know your father, always seeking validation from his fellow men. Crooks, all of them. They are all the same! Do you hear me? ”
“All the same Ma. All the same” She repeated.
“So this is something we have to do by ourselves. Me and you. Together. Do you hear me?”
“I want you to pretend that you didn’t hear a thing. Let Mwaura woo you. Enjoy the attention and lead him on as well. I will need you to buy us some time as I find out who is behind all of this. Use more of your body and less of your brain for this. Spread your legs, arch your back, part your lips and kneel more times than a nun in a convent if you have to. Embrace all the women who live inside you. Channel all energies from your mind to your crotch. You are a woman, the neck, you can steer the head whichever direction you want. These men are nothing without us. Do what needs to be done. I will take care of the idiot myself. Do you hear me?”
She nodded in agreement.
After the party, Mrs. Siwaka made sure to see Jasiri out of the house personally.
“You take care now Jasiri, drive safe,” She said handing him his coat.
Auditor killed in mysterious car crash, read the headlines the next day.
Hillary’s left-eye was still twitching when she left the bathroom and followed Mwaura into the room. She was just doing what needed to be done, She told herself.
She looked down at his pants and looked up reassuringly, ‘ Can I help you with that?’
Her hands made their way to his pants before he could reply to her thoughtful suggestion. One hand unzipped his pants while the other stroked him ever so gently as if not to startle the poor old man. Her lips met his and she could taste the tobacco and regret. She kissed him with the kind of mouth that felt urgent. She bit his lip hard and could taste some blood. He groaned with pleasure and licked his lips. She got down to her knees. Her mouth took him all of him in one gulp. She would have felt him at the back of her throat if he was larger. Unfortunately, his thing was just a little thing, not much of a distraction, like his inflated sense of self-worth made him believe.
She stopped abruptly and got up. Any more suction and she’d be swallowing more than her pride. His rough hands pulled her closer by the waist and pinned her to the wall. He held her wrists up by one hand and pulled the towel off by the other. Then he spanked her forcefully as though to leave an imprint. It was loud and a little too much for her liking. He always missed the mark with his hands. But he got a lot of things right. He had a way with words. The quality of smoothness. Always whispering in her ear about all the things he would do to her. Setting the tone and being true to his word. As he kissed her neck gently, she realised how fond of him she had grown. Another mistake, in case you were still counting. She was hoping he’d say something to change her mind. In fact, she had considered telling him. Surely he would know what to do. But she didn’t tell him. This was also a mistake.
She held his hand and led him to the armchair. From where he stood, her curves were in plain sight and her skin glowed invitingly. He liked it when she was in charge and in such moments he forgot what had led him to her. He was clearly working overtime.His thing had a thing for her. He wanted to tell her of his apprehension after Jasiri’s death. He feared he was next. How would she take the truth if he told her anyway?
If it weren’t for her mistakes and their secrets, maybe our story would have taken a fairly mawkish turn. Another proverbial Bonnie and Clyde tale.
“Come, sit here,” she said almost in a whisper.
Much obliged, he sat without saying a word. Her thick thighs pressed much weight on his feeble self. She straddled him slowly at first, riding him like a cowgirl. Her breasts bobbing up and down. One hand on his thighs, the other on his shoulders. Her body picked up rhythm gradually; up, down and faster she went. She held him by his neck and choked him lightly looking for the right spot. She was second-guessing herself; not her skill, but her intent. Did she have to do this? She could have stopped then but she found just the spot and was strangling him before she changed her mind. She felt stuck between a rock and a hard place. A hard thing if we are being literal. She hoped it wouldn’t work but he was already hypoxic, a state of the body when the brain is deprived of adequate oxygen supply. Combined with the orgasm, he was feeling a unique rush. His heart and respiratory rate rocketed under the onslaught of passion. He was gasping and she was practising breath control. He thought he was coming, but he was in fact going.
When she was done, she set-up the scene and covered up all her tracks.
Lawyer commits suicide, Auto-erotic asphyxiation, the papers would read the next day.
She picked up her phone and dialled the last number on her log.
“It’s done”, she said amid tears.
At the cafe, she sat staring blankly at the glass of water. She needed reassurance and validation. She wondered what was taking her mother so long. Nothing was more punishing than this simple act of waiting and the feeling that something was still amiss. The barista walked up to her and handed her a brown envelope with her name on it.
She tore it open and read what was written in fine print.
If you are reading this, it means you have done our dirty laundry. Well done. I am impressed. Don’t worry child. This kind of thing has a delayed gratification feel to it. You will feel better in no time. Now that you met your end of the bargain, I think you should know something. I had been trying to get rid of them both for a long time now. You just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. So I seized the chance and you proved your worth. I hope you understand my plight, the plight of the neck. Because I am a woman, my perfection is couched only in terms of what I do for my husband. I was tired of being the backdrop. So I consider the embezzlement a well-earned reward for all these years of supporting him.
Now, get back to work and find a way to cover the traces the idiots left behind. Take the weekend off; you’ve done a great job.
Remember Hillary, in the chance of an unforeseen adverse event, it is most important that we are in the best possible shape ourselves so that we can help others. Secure your own oxygen first.
See you soon,
She folded the letter. There was no turning back now. Her life was a perpetual series of mistakes.
Nanania uses an alias not because she doesn’t want attention (she does) but because she’s on the run. She is wanted in at least three coffee-house franchises for stealing menus (it’s her thing, don’t ask). When she’s not stealing menus she’s stealing hearts, attention and, unfortunately, your significant other. Her writing has appeared somewhere on the internet and, unless those cunning coffee-house investigators catch up to her, will continue to do so; You may or may not come across it (though your significant other already has and loves it).
She’d appreciate it if you read her work especially considering she didn’t tell you where to find it, it shows effort on your part. Nanania also invented the blueberry muffin (and if she didn’t you can’t really sue her for claiming so since you don’t know who she is. Na-na-na-nia).