She leaned over to wipe my face, trickling sweat I didn’t even know was there.
“You look so tired.”
“Hell, I’m tired.”
“Your dad should allow you move over to school”.
“when you see him, please help me tell him that. But really, I’m thinking about getting a space around school. I’m just hopelessly broke.”
“Jay, you could come stay at my place, that’s if you can manage. You know it’s much of a place, but it’s better than having to miss classes and practicals”.
At that point, all I felt like doing was gobble her up, kiss her even. She just made me happy beyond measure. It was not like I hadn’t thought about it but I didn’t want to be a bother. Now, I had what I needed so badly presented to me on a platter of gold. And I was going to take it. For a moment, I lost my voice. I just hugged Daph so tightly that I thought I felt her ribs crack. There are friends sticking closer than family, and I once felt that I belonged somewhere for the first time in forever.
” You wanted to talk, Jay?”
“Yeah. It’s about the dream. But it’s more terrifying. He had a knife this time,” I said, sweat building up in my palms. I wiped my palms with the napkin supplied by the coffee lounge.
“Jay, calm down. Your face is giving you away”.
“Sorry, I can’t help it”.
The nightmare started some 9 years ago, a year after the incident. Evey year on that same date, I had a constant reminder that I had killed someone. But this year, it was even worse. He had come to my dreams not only to remind me of the very memory I could give my right arm to do away with but to haunt me for killing him. On that day, he came home for the router he said dad had forgotten at home. But dad never brought any of his work things home. He insisted that I check. As I climbed up the stairway leading to the rooms of our five-roomed duplex, he followed me. I was not alarmed at all, he was my uncle. But without warning, he grabbed me and carried me… This was not like the other times when he would do so in the presence of mom and dad amidst laughter, teasing and the waters of affinity… He was tense, I could see it in his eyes and his pulse was racing. He smiled nervously at me and said something about my eyes. He laid me on the landing and said he wanted to play. Something just didn’t feel right. Even at ten, I knew something was out of place. I watched him unbutton and unzip his fly, making way for the joystick he kept within. And he brought it out. He smiled and pulled me close. At that instant. I kicked at the perfect spot and did not miss. He staggered back, doubling over in pain and missed his step. In an attempt to regain balance, he tried to hold the wall for support and unwittingly grabbed our faulty control switch, which the electrician had promised to come and fix. I watched my uncle jerk uncontrollably… watched him crash down the stairs and heard his little body hit the floor with a dull thud.
“Jay, you have to forgive yourself and let go”. Daph advised, concern written all over her face.
I just sighed and smiled. “I’ll have to tell dad I’m moving. I’m not sure he’d be favourably disposed to it though, you know how he feels about my living anywhere else but home.”
“Just have faith. You’d be fine”.
” Faith and hope… are for the weak. Whatever he says would be his business. I’m leaving home and won’t have him ruin my life anymore”.
“I won’t argue with you. Just be safe, honey”. I looked at her and smiled.
“You can bet your ass on it”.
I reached in my bag to fetch my purse so that I could make good the bill for the coffee and cupcakes Daph and I had consumed. I felt my phone and brought it out, more out of habit than design.
“9 missed calls from mom”. I looked at Daph and our eyes met. I gave her a queried look like she could explain the August occurrence. “Mom seldom calls. What must be wrong?”
Signalling the waiter to come for the money, I tried dialling her number. “Hello mom?”
“Jay…” and the line went dead.