Death and a Vice by Nadine Bot Timothy

I hear the door open. It creaks a little and I know it’s him. I’m terrified. I crawl deeper into my bed, willing myself to vanish into the mattress. The footsteps are uneven and it sounds like he is staggering. He doesn’t even bother to be quiet this time. I lay still under my bedcovers. I try to prepare myself for the humiliation that I’m about to face.
He reaches my bed, and I shut my eyes as tight as I can, until they hurt. My aunty is not around, so I know this would take long. I don’t even keep track of time anymore. I just shut my eyes and count to hundred, then from hundred to one, and so on, until it’s all over. He threatened to kill me and then kill himself if I told anyone. It sounded like an empty threat at first, until I realized that he wasn’t alright in his head. He has monologues with himself at night. During the day he goes out. No one knows where, but he comes back drunk. Even aunty tries to stay away from him too, that’s why she’s always travelling.
He pulls my blanket off my body with such ferociousness that I gasp at the abrupt exposure.
“So you’re not even sleeping?” he slurs. “I knew you liked it too. You were waiting for me… you always wait for me.”
He grabs unto my shirt collar and snatches me out of bed. It is dark but I still see his silhouette. He looks every bit the monster that he is; the one that mothers tell their children about to scare them into being obedient. I am as afraid of the night as those children are, because my monster is not just in stories, it’s real and it hunts me. I am shivering, from both fear and the night’s cold, but aside from that, I make no movements, neither do I utter a word. He has warned me about that too. He tightens his grip on my collar. Suddenly he drops me.
I stand there, unmoving. I want to buy myself time. As much time as I can.
“Don’t let me repeat myself.”
I slowly begin to unbutton my shirt and I pull it over my head. Then I unbutton and unzip my trousers, and I slowly take them down.
“Good. You’re learning fast.” He moves closer and his breath smells fowl, but I dare not move my face, so I hold my breath. He unzips his trousers too. Then he stretches out his ugly hand and touches me. I can feel his evil repulsive smile, even though I cannot see him. He turns me around so that my back faces him. I block everything out of my mind. Everything I don’t want to feel.
When he is finished, he leaves me kneeling on the bed. I know I would have more bruises than I did two days ago. I let the tears fall freely, there is no use stopping them.
I don’t go to school the next day, but I am not stupid enough to stay in the house alone with him. It is painful taking my bath, but I manage to do so without crying out. I hastily put on my school shirt and shorts-junior boys aren’t allowed to wear long trousers- then I leave.
I go to the secret hideout that Etim and I have. He’s our neighbor’s houseboy. We became friends the day he took the blame for something I did. He doesn’t know what my uncle does to me, he has never brought up the topic if he indeed knows. I could never bring myself to tell him. We sit down on the grass and just look at the sky. Etim brings out the hot drink he likes to take when we are here. He takes small sips and grimaces every time he does.
“Why didn’t you go to school today?” he asks.
“I didn’t feel like going.” He nods and doesn’t say anything, just continues drinking. Typical of Etim; he never pries. He believes he has no right to anyone’s secrets. We sit there in silence until it’s time to go back home. We stand up and dust ourselves with our hands before we walk back to our houses. At the door to his house, Etim turns and catches my eye.
“Sometimes it’s necessary for us to think highly of ourselves, important to the existence of this world, because we in fact are, and these myopic people we stay with detest more than anything else to accept the truth that it is. I don’t know what it is that bothers you, but don’t let anyone deceive you that they have any power over you, that is one of the things that limits us as human beings.”
I nod and enter my house. Maybe he is right.
He comes into my room tonight again. The atmosphere is different now. The pungent reek of fear, regret and hate has all vanished into a black hole of new resolve. He feels the change too as he walks in.
He is surprised to see me sitting waiting for him. “You’re waiting for me again.” He is drunk as usual and that encourages me.
I stand up and I come forward. My hands are behind my backs shaking. My mind is set but it’s hard to convince my body to comply. I stand in front of him and I look up at his face. It is clear to me that everything would end this night and there’s no going back. Before he can speak again, I lunge forward with my right hands and I hear a satisfying gasp from him. It makes me smile and I want to hear another sound of pain, of anguish, of everything that I have endured for so long. So I stab him again. The knife is buried deep within his stomach to the hilt. I do this continuously, my mind borders between hysterical rage and dead, precise calm, until he falls to the floor in a pool of his own blood. He’s still gasping so I leave him to suffer. He deserves a slow death.
I sit down watching him with his eyes wide open and his hands reaching for me. I watch him until he breathes his last and I look at the blade and I smile. I feel the freedom that I have been yearning for, for so long. Then I plunge it into my stomach. I hold my smile until I collapse on the floor and close my eyes as sweet relief floods me, welcoming me into blissful unconsciousness.


Nadine Bot-Timothy

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