I sat quietly as he said all he had kept to himself for the past couple of months. He said he had never stopped having feelings for me. That I came into his life at a point when he needed a friend and even though I didn’t know it, I was that friend and more. He talked about how beautiful I always looked. How mine was a priceless body type that I obviously wasn’t aware of. He said he liked even the little things about me, like how I was always rushing off to cook before my parents got back. He called me a real woman and I could feel the heat on my face.
“And I love it when I dance with you,” he said, but he really wasn’t about falling for a lady who wasn’t attracted to him the way he was to her.
My mind was alive with a thousand thoughts. How could he have felt this way about me without saying anything? Yes, he had mentioned having feelings for me, but why hadn’t he said it in details, like now? Then Abigail, how would she react when she finds out? If she finds out.
I felt his cold hands on my face and was immediately jolted back to reality. It all came back to me in a flash – the pain, the fear, the man.
I stood abruptly and muttered excuses about having to go in but Kelvin stopped me.
“Did I say something wrong?” he asked. “I’m sorry.” He had gotten up too and was trying unsuccessfully to keep me from pacing. I was shaking violently as the deluge of pain-filled memories hit me. His strong hands on my shoulders tried to calm me but it only made things worse. I struggled to get away from him, just as I tried to fight stubborn tears; in vain.
“What is wrong? Please talk to me, Kaitlyn.” He tucked me tight into his chest, effectively stiffening out the shaking and evening out my breathing. The tears stopped too, after a while. He waited for me to sit then sat beside me. I didn’t know how to explain my reaction without remembering all those things I wanted to forget. Kelvin’s eyes on me were unwavering, he had that look of someone couldn’t wait to hear what I had to say but was determined to be patient. I appreciated him for not pushing. The butterflies raged in my stomach and I knew that I was going to tell him.
The cool night air slipped beneath my skin and I shivered. I felt the pains of the assault anew, like it was just yesterday. I have spent every day since that day wishing I had locked the gates immediately after Mummy left for the market. The boys and Kaego, my little sister were at our neighbor’s house. I was all alone, oblivious of what was about to happen and how it would change my life forever.
Oke was one of the friendliest gate men who had been hired by the estate management. He always rushed to open the gate with a smile and a loud cheery greeting. Mummy often gave him bananas and oranges, she said it was men like him that preserved the dignity of honest labour. But there was nothing friendly about Oke that day. I was more confused than shocked when I tore at the hanky-mask on my assailant’s face and recognized him. He was fast and strong, inflicting injuries whose scars would never heal. I screamed and yelled but he was on a mission. He threw me on the floor with so much force, kissing me roughly, and tearing at my skirt and thighs. The pain as he invade me was so intense I must have passed out. After seeing red-hot stars, the next thing I remembered was hearing a thud and looking up to see my dad, his face sweaty and frozen with fear. I surely fainted then.
Kelvin was still looking at me, waiting patiently as the tears started again, trailing their way out of my eyes and down my cheeks.
“Kaitlyn,” he whispered, “you don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”
But I wanted to. I took a deep breath and started, “I was sexually abused”; something angry flared in me as I uttered the words for the first time. I didn’t stop though, I told Kelvin everything.
As I talked, I braced myself for his reaction, for pity. But when I finished, it wasn’t pity I saw in his eyes. It was anger. Red, liquid anger.
And it scared me.
To be continued next week …
By Keren-Happuch Odinenu
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