Sophia hopped off the school bus, she wasn’t really feeling well
and she didn’t want to let her aunt and uncle know about it so she was trying
to hide it from them as much as she could. The gate opened and she walked into
the house with her school bag and lunch pack which contained food that she
hadn’t touched.

“Sophia, how was school?’ The housekeeper asked as she walked up
to her.
Sophia looked at the young woman and was startled to see two horns
sticking out above her head. She was taken aback.

“Take your bag to the room and get ready for lunch.” The
housekeeper said.

“What’s going on with you?” Sophia asked.

“Excuse me?” The housekeeper asked.

“You look different.” Sophia noticed.

The housekeeper gave her a hostile glare and they both walked into
the house. Sophia wasn’t feeling too well so she hurried up to her room and lay
down on the bed. She was finding it so difficult to breathe as it seemed as
though there was no air in the room. The housekeeper walked into the room and
stared at her lying on the bed.

“Get up from the bed and go and have your bath.” She said.

Sophia felt woozy.

“Get away from me…” Sophia said in a murmur.

“What are you saying?” The housekeeper demanded.

“Leave me alone…I’d like to be on my own.” Sophia said.

“You’re going to come to the dinning to eat whether you like it or
not ooo…I can’t possibly explain to madam when she comes back the reason her
niece refused to eat lunch.”

“I didn’t even eat the one I took to school.” Sophia informed.

“How’s that my business? Get up from the bed now, and come
downstairs for lunch.
Sophia closed her eyes and let the dizziness wash over her. The
housekeeper hissed and went out of the room. Some minutes later, Sophia could
perceive the aroma of food.

“Open your mouth and eat!” The housekeeper ordered, holding a
spoonful of food close to Sophia’s mouth.

Sophia opened her eyes, regarded her weakly and turned the other
way.

“Sophia! Open your mouth and eat this food now! I won’t waste food
because of you.”

“If you don’t want it to waste, why don’t you eat it by yourself?”
Sophia spat despite her weak state.

“You’re a very stupid girl! You’re so rude, ill-mannered and badly
behaved. To think that I cooked this meal for you all for you to reject it.”

Sophia felt bad that she couldn’t eat the housekeeper’s food.
“I’m sorry but I am not hungry.” Sophia said.

“Alright…just have a spoon of food…just a spoon.” The
housekeeper urged.

Sophia sighed and nodded, she sat up on the bed weakly and stared
at the delicious-looking plate of food on her bed.

“Can I have some water?” Sophia asked nicely.

“Sure…I’ll go get you a glass of water.” The housekeeper
replied.

As soon as she left the room, Sophia looked at the food and
sighed. She wasn’t hungry and she couldn’t tell if she was hallucinating or if
she was really seeing two horns above the housekeeper’s head. She rubbed her
eyes with the back of her palms and picked up the spoon. She took a morsel of
food and was about putting it inside her mouth when she heard a tap at her
window. She turned towards the sound and smiled. It was her bird friend, whom she’d named Sunflower. It had a nest at her window and she seldom spoke to it
whenever she was alone and back home from school.

“Sunflower!” She smiled as she got up from her bed and walked over
to push open the window and the net.

The bird didn’t come in, it never did. It just sat at her window
and made some confusing sounds. She stood at the window and stared at it with a
large smile.

“Are you hungry?” She asked. “I have food for you…”

She walked back to her bed, and using her spoon, she scooped a
spoonful of food and took it to the window. She poured the food on the window
sill and watched the bed eat.

“Awww…I didn’t know you were hungry…” She said while watching
the bed eat.

The door opened and the housekeeper walked in, she saw the food on
the bed and noticed that a spoonful had been taken from it.

“Sophia dear, have you been eating?”

“Yes…” Sophia lied and shut her window close. “I just had one
spoon…and I’m already full.”

“Are you sure you don’t want another?” The housekeeper asked.

“No…maybe later…thank you.”

The housekeeper nodded and picked up the plate of food. She handed
over the bottle of water to Sophia.

“I’ll keep the food just in case you want to eat it later.” She
said as she left the room.
Sophia nodded, placed the bottle of water on the table beside her
bed and lay on her bed, closing her eyes to sleep.

************
Lillian returned that evening from work in high-spirits, she
recounted the lunch she had with her husband and was pleased. It was just like
old times and even better. They had spoken at length about life and the future
and she was so surprised that Gregory spoke about their future as though he was
certain that they’ll be together for a long time. She alighted from her car and
handed her bag over to the driver who took it inside the house. She had her
phone in her hand and she felt it vibrate.
“Who could it be?” She said to herself as she stared at the number
which had apparently called her about five times. “The orphanage?” She echoed
as she recalled registering this phone number as that of the orphanage admin. “How come I didn’t see the missed calls?”

She dialled the number and watched it ring.

“Hello…” She greeted.

“Hello Mrs Lillian, this is the administrator from the …” The
female voice started.

“Yes, I know…good evening.” Lillian said.

“How’s Sophia? I hope she’s well.”

“Yes she is…” Lillian said.

“I’m calling to inform you that her birth mother was here this
afternoon. She was asking for your contact and also for your house address. I
was wondering if you’d like me to give it to her or …”

Lillian’s heart sank. If Ruby was back and trying to contact her,
it could only mean one thing. That she wanted Sophia back.

“Okay.. but did she leave you her number?”

“Yes…” The administrator said.

“Okay…kindly send it to me, I’d rather call her myself.”

“Okay. One more thing, Mrs Lillian.”

“What is it?”

“I’d like to add that you were given guardianship of Sophia
pending till her mother returns and now she’s back so, you might have to bring
her back here so that her mother can take her.”

“I’ll decide on that when I speak to my sister. Thank you so much
for the information.” Lillian  said and
hung up.

She suddenly felt so low. Why now? She thought. She was already
getting so used to having Sophia around and the little girl lightened the dark
side of her life as well as Gregory’s. She saw how much her husband loved
Sophia and how he rushed home early everyday to join in their small prayer
group. Sophia was a blessing to them and now, her mother wanted her back. She
sighed. Her phone beeped and she saw the phone number sent to her by the
administrator. She heaved a deep breath and placed a call to the number.

“Hello…” Ruby’s voice floated to her.

“What do you think you’re doing, Ruby?” Lillian spat.

“Lilly? Is it really you?” Ruby’s voice held a hint of relief.

“You disappeared from the face of the earth, left your little
daughter at an orphanage, named me as her guardian and had me bring her into my
home. Do you know the battles I’ve fought to keep her here? At first, everyone thought
that bringing Sophia here was a bad idea and now that we’re all getting used to
it, you want to take her away. What are you? A psychopath?”

Ruby’s breath could be heard down the line.

“Talk to me dammit! I won’t have you interrupting my life whenever
you feel like it!” Lillian shouted.

“Calm down Lily, I wasn’t trying to contact you to ask that I have
my daughter back, I was just contacting you because…” Her voice broke. “I
have no one else and you’re all the family I’ve got. My life is messed up.”

Lilian felt a surge of pity for her half-sister.

“Hey…I’m sorry…I am really sorry…I shouldn’t have spoken to
you the way I did.”

“No, I deserve to be lashed at and I deserve all your insults. I’ve
been a bad mother and a bad sibling.” She cried.

“How are you doing? Have you been feeding well? Do you have a job?
How do you survive?”

“I’m okay, I’m just holding up…I left Sophia at the orphanage
because I had to hustle and I couldn’t take her along with me. I know I’m not a good mother and Sophia doesn’t deserve a mother like me. I’m glad you
came to take her…”

“The administrator said you asked for my house address.”

Her sister burst into tears.

“I have nowhere to go sis, I am so lonely…I need a hug…a big
hug.”

Lillian felt pity for her sister but the words of her family
resounded over and over again in her ears. She felt sorry for her but she couldn’t take her
in.

“Do you need money? I could send you some…”

“Could I maybe come and stay with you for a while?”

“You know that’s not possible. My mom will have a fit and ..”

“I don’t want to know what your mom will think but what you think.
You accepted my daughter, can you accept me too?”

“I don’t know…I’ll have to speak to my husband about that.”
Lillian said despite herself.

“Thanks for reaching out…” Ruby said tearfully.

“You’re my sister and I love you despite your craziness…”
Lillian laughed despite herself.

Ruby chuckled too.

“Do you want me to tell Sophia that you send your love?”

“No…don’t bother. She won’t acknowledge it.” Ruby said.

When Lillian hung up, she was puzzled. Why did Ruby say that her
daughter won’t acknowledge her greeting? She wondered.

********
Lillian
stepped into Sophia’s room and saw her lying on the bed as though lifeless.
“Sophia!”
Lillian called out.

Sophia
didn’t respond. Lillian panicked, she screamed out Sophia’s name and rushed to
shake her awake. The housekeeper entered the room at that moment.

“What
is it madam?” The housekeeper asked.

“Sophia!”
Lillian called out, shaking Sophia’s little form.

Sophia
opened her eyes and smiled at her aunt.

“Are
you okay darling?” Lillian asked.

“Yes…I
think I must have fallen into a deep sleep.” Sophia said.

The
housekeeper was stunned, she looked at Sophia in shock. Wasn’t she supposed to
be dead? The poison in one spoon of food was supposed to kill her.

Sophia
sat up weakly.

“Have
you eaten something?” Lillian asked.

“No…I
wasn’t hungry.”

“Why?
You shouldn’t starve yourself.” Lilian said getting upset.

“I
gave her food ma but I didn’t know she didn’t eat it.” The housekeeper said.

“How
can you say that? You are supposed to be sure that she’s eaten.” Lilian said
upset at the housekeeper.

“Don’t
blame her auntie…it’s my fault.” Sophia said.

“I
know she ate at least a spoonful.” The housekeeper said.

“Did
you eat at least a spoonful?” Lillian asked.

Sophia
shook her head.

“I
fed Sunflower…” She said.

“Who’s
sunflower?” Lillian asked.

“My
bird friend. She sleeps outside my window.” Sophia said getting off her bed and
walking towards her window.

She
pushed open the window and the net and heard a loud plop as a stiff figure fell into her room.

“Jesus!”
Sophia screamed.

Lillian
shot off the bed and hurried to stand by her.

“What
is it Sophia?”

“Sunflower…she’s…she’s
dead.” Sophia said in shock.

The
housekeeper stood there transfixed, she stared at the still form of the bird on
the ground.

“Awww…the
poor birdie…I’m sure it must have been sick.” Lillian said.

“No…it
was healthy…it was fine till it ate the food I fed it.” Sophia said.

“What
are you saying?” Lillian asked.

Suddenly, Sophia realised why the housekeeper had insisted on giving her the food.

“She
tried to poison me!” Sophia said pointing at the housekeeper.

“What?”
Lillian asked abashed.

“Admit
it! You wanted me to eat by all means possible…you want me dead! Who sent
you?” Sophia asked walking over to the housekeeper in menace.

The
housekeeper’s legs trembled, she stared at Sophia in fear.

“That’s
ridiculous Sophia, c’mon…the bird died of natural causes.” Lillian said to
her.

“Say
the truth and shame the devil!” Sophia said advancing towards the housekeeper with
a look of anger in her eyes.

“No…wait…no…it’s
not true…I…I…” The housekeeper started.

“In
the name of Jesus, I want you to confess to me what you wanted to do to me.”
Sophia ordered.

Lillian
stopped short and stared at her niece. Did she need to drag Jesus into this?
She wondered. The door opened and Gregory stepped into the room, regarding everyone
in confusion.

“Wait…wait…I
will talk wait…” The housekeeper said falling on her knees.

“What
in the world is going on here?” Gregory asked staring at Sophia and his wife.

“Confess….”
Sophia said.

“It’s
madam that sent me…” The housekeeper cried.

“I
sent you?” Lillian asked.

“No…not
you…I mean my madam.” The housekeeper said.

“Do
you mean there’s another madam other than me in this house?” Lillian asked
confused.

“What
is going on?” Gregory asked.

“She
called me this morning and asked that I poison Sophia with rat poison. I put
the poison in her food and wanted her to eat it. I am sorry…”

Lillian
and Gregory stared at the housekeeper, they were very confused. What was
happening? They wondered.

“You
planned to poison Sophia? With who?” Gregory asked.

“With
my madam…”

“What
madam? Stop roping me into your nonsense schemes. I only instructed you to make
lunch for Sophia and …”

“I
don’t mean you ma…I mean Oga’s madam.” The housekeeper said.

“Oga’s
madam?” Lillian asked.

“Yes…madam
Benita…oga’s second wife.” The housekeeper said in tears.

The
air froze for a moment as Lillian stared at her husband in pure shock.

“You
have another wife? And she’s plotting to kill my niece?” Lillian asked in fury.

To be continued on Thursday….

Missed out on the last episodes? Read them here>>>>

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