I could taste my heartbeat every now and then ever since my husband Ekene died at the wharf, I could hear the sounds loud in my head, like a stereo at a gang party. My life had revolved around him, the lives of our three children had.
Mr Adeoye, the owner of our apartment- a whitewashed building in Mushin- had been at my husband’s burial. A month later, he showed up at the house, where I served him small stout and garden eggs. He belched afterwards and called me to sit.
‘My dear It is a sad thing that your husband died, A ni ri iru eyi mo. We won’t experience such loss again. Such is life o jare.’ A long pause. ‘What am I driving at? Your rent has expired since May, this is August. I have tried. Or haven’t I?’
I nodded, unsure of what else to do.
‘So when can I come for my money?’
I felt the all-familiar fear grip my throat again. ‘I don’t have it now. Please give us time’
‘Time?’ his voice bounced on the walls and back. ‘Better have my money when I come next week.’ He walked to the door. ‘Or have something else to give me. You are a smart woman, you have two teenage daughters, figure something out.’ He walked out. I swallowed and choked on my saliva.
Today, he came back as he promised today. At night. He threatened, with violent vituperations. He was going to throw us out now. Nothing would stop him. And by the way, where was my daughter, the older one, the one who had breasts like coconuts. It was either I allowed him enjoy himself or throw us out immediately.
Terrified, I offered him myself on a platter of gold, a worthy sacrifice. He cocked his head, presumably weighing his options, then walked past me into the bedroom.
Palpitations, moans, grunts, bed creakings, and orgasms characterized the next few minutes, then he slept off, satisfied.
I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over. I knew the bearded, pot-bellied disgruntled man on the bed would not write off my debts because of some old-maid sex. I knew I had failed myself. Disgusted, I put on my clothes. Then from the corner of my eye, I spotted a pair of eyes, peeping from the slightly open door. I turned to look. The eyes bored into me. They were that of my son, Chuks. He blinked almost forty times, then turned and bolted.
The fear that had engulfed me ever since settled on me again. I felt like I was suffocating. I was going to lose my children. I had failed them too.
Thanks to all who sent their flash fiction pieces into the contest.
Stay tuned as we post the rest of the top five stories,
including the grand prize winner who will receive $100!