We’re already counting down to the last month of the year. Happy new month of November dears. May our month be sweet and beautiful. God bless you all.
****************
Kate was seated on the sofa of her sitting room and staring
at her phone. She had called her daughter’s number over and over but it was still
switched off. She sighed. Her husband had informed her this morning that Winnie
was fine and wasn’t really in the mood to come home yet but she still worried.
What’s with the children of nowadays? She wondered. Back in her day, she
couldn’t leave the house without asking for permission and she never stayed
past four pm outside her house. That was when her dad had still been alive, she
thought. Her father had been the one to put the family together as her mother
wasn’t really the disciplinarian. She recalled how she’d smoked weed for the
first time ever, three months after her dad had passed away.

She also
remembered how after her father died, she and her siblings had broken the rules
countless times but her mother hadn’t been too keen on instilling discipline in
them. She recalled the day her mother had announced that she was remarrying and
relocating with her husband to Cote d’ivore and that she couldn’t take them
with her except their littlest sister. It was on that day that her mother had
handed her children out to relatives and had left with her new husband to build
a new family. Kate remembered how rebellious she’d grown when she’d realized
that her mother had abandoned her with her paternal aunt and her family. She
hadn’t fit in at first and for a long time, she couldn’t fit in especially as
her aunt’s first son kept giving her lewd looks. Living with her aunt was no
different from the chaos she recently grew used to at home after her dad passed
on, as her aunt really didn’t care what time she went out and what time she
came in.  It was in the new secondary
school she was enrolled in that she’d met her husband’s daughter and they’d
become fast friends. She had loved the way her friend’s family was structured
and wanted to be a part of it, so desperately.

She was still submerged in her thoughts when Theodora walked
into the house.

“Someone’s looking gloomy.” Theodora said smiling at her.

“What do you care?” Kate responded, staring back at her.

No one would have thought, years ago that Kate would fall
out with her best friend and her siblings. Back then, Theodora, being the baby
of the house, had been her favourite and she used to buy her biscuits whenever
she came visiting.

“You look like you’re deep in thought.” Theodora said,
taking a seat opposite hers.

“Look Theodora, I really don’t have the time to exchange
words with you.” She said.

“Oh, I’m not here to exchange words, I’m here to see my
daddy.” Theodora said.

“He’s not at home, you should have called before coming.
What a waste!”

“What a waste? Excuse me, this is my dad’s house and it’s my
house too. I can decide to come here without even bothering to call so get that
into your head.”

“I’m not ready to exchange words with you.” Kate said.

“When will you tell your daughter the real truth?” Theodora
asked with a small smile.

“What do you mean by that?” Kate asked, as her heart thumped
in her chest.

“We’ve all been lying to her these past years about who her
father really is. You’re afraid she’ll hate you for it right?”

Kate looked away.

“That’s none of your business!” She spat.

“Ofcourse it is my business! You should tell her the truth
and stop treating her like a child. She’s a teenager and soon, she’ll be an
adult.”

“What I tell my daughter and what I do not tell her is none
of your business.” Kate said.

“You’re scared aren’t you? I can see you literally shaking
as you speak to me. It’s so funny how you painted a holy picture of your life
to that little girl. You didn’t tell her how troubled you used to be and how
insecure and irrational, you used to be while growing up. You made her think of
you as a saint and that’s so bad.”

“How I decide to train Winnie is my business do you hear
me?”

“She ran away from you right? I can only bet that this is
the beginning because when she learns all about you, she’ll leave you for
good.” Theodora smirked.

Tears welled up in Kate’s eyes as she stared at Theodora.

“Get out of here!” Kate said.

“I’m sorry darling but I think you seem to forget that I am
also the owner of this house. It’s my dad who built it remember?”

Kate stared at Theodora in hatred.

“Just remember what I told you. Soon, Winnie would be full
of questions, she’ll want to know why her dad’s family aren’t contacting
her…and why she’s not heard from them. She’ll ask a lot of questions and
guess what? It’ll be too late to tell her that it’s all been a sham.” Theodora
said picking up the television remote control and turning it on.

Kate stood up from the sofa and hurried upstairs in tears.

****************
Mira was exhausted, she was sweating and she could swear
that her body temperature was on the rise. Winnie turned to look at her friend
as soon as they alighted from the bus.

“Are you okay?” Winnie asked.

“I swear I’m about to die! I held my breath practically
throughout the trip and there was no air conditioning in the bus so it was so
hot…” Mira said using her hands to fan herself.

Winnie looked at her friend and shook her head.

“What was that for? Why did you shake your head at me?” Mira
asked sounding upset.

“Mira, you’re just being a spoilt brat.” Winnie said to her.

“Excuse me?”

“A lot of people take the bus each and everyday and it
doesn’t make them less human. It’s people like you that cannot cope when life
throws you into harsh situations.”

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” Mira asked with hands on
her hips.

“You need to be street smart. C’mon, what if you’re with
your driver and the car suddenly stops and your driver disappears and you don’t
have your phone with you to call for help and it’s getting late. What will you
do?”

“I’ll take a taxi of course?”

“What if there are no taxis in sight, and only buses?”

“That will never happen to me!” Mira said hotly.

“I’m not saying that such will happen but you need to
understand that life’s not a bed of roses. My dad always tells me that for one
to truly appreciate wealth, you have to undergo some challenges.”

“So you mean that I have to take a bus in order to appreciate
wealth.” Mira scoffed.

“I’m obviously going nowhere with you in this conversation
of ours. I’m just trying to make you understand that aside from being book
smart, you also have to be street smart in order to get out of messy situations
when the need arises.”

“I’ll never be in a messy situation and if I ever find
myself in one, I’ll call my daddy and he’ll come pick me up.”

“I’m just saying though…” Winnie said.

“Whatever dear, let’s go and look for Rachel.” Mira said.

They both held hands as they looked left, right and left
again before crossing the road. Soon, they were in search of the primary school
that Rachel had told them about.

It wasn’t hard to find because Rachel was there, seated on
the pavement in front of the school. They both walked up to meet her.

“Rachel, are you okay…we are so worried.” Winnie said
taking a seat beside her.

“What was that post you had up on Facebook?” Mira asked with
a frown.

Rachel looked at them, her eyes were red which showed that
she’s been crying.

“I’m in real trouble…” Rachel said with tears in her eyes.

“What happened? You can tell us…” Winnie said
comfortingly.

Rachel wiped the tears from her face with the back of her
palms.

“I signed a contract with the devil and now, I don’t know
how to get out.” She said.

“You saw the devil? Where is he?” Mira asked looking around.

“Mira!” Winnie said in warning and then turning to Rachel,
she asked. “Can you break this down for us? We need to understand you.”

Rachel sighed and spoke.

“I got into the accident in the first place because I saw my
mom with a guy, I was so hurt that I rushed out of the house and I didn’t look
and a bike ran me over.”

“Oh my goodness!” Mira exclaimed.

“When I was at the hospital, I hated her so much for
abandoning my dad who needs us and…”
“I thought you said your dad is in the United States.” Mira
said.

“I lied…” Rachel said with a sigh. “My dad is in jail for being
a sexual pervert.”

Winnie and Mira stared at Rachel in shock.

“All my life, I’ve always wanted to taste the rich life, I
have wondered what it feels like to be rich and to have rich friends. So, when
the summer school opened its doors with an offer for smaller fees, I grabbed
the opportunity as my uncle had just sent us some money. I went into the summer
school, with the mindset that I was out to conquer and make rich friends
but…”

“It’s okay, there’s no need to tell us all about that. Just
tell us why you are feeling sad and how you signed the contract with the
devil.” Winnie said.

“While at the hospital, I loathed my mom so much and I
wanted to be on my own. So I called one guy I know who used to disturb me alot
on how beautiful I am and how I can make money from my beauty. He came to the
hospital, and gave me some money and asked if I still wanted to make money and
I said yes. He gave me a form to fill and I filled it, happy that I was on my
way to financial freedom only to find out that he was signing me up for
prostitution.”

Winnie and Mira’s mouth stood open for one full minute, they
couldn’t comprehend what their friend was telling them.

“I really want to leave the meeting group but he’s
threatening me. They said that they’ll harm me if I leave and I’m so scared.”
She cried.

Winnie and Mira still couldn’t speak, this problem was
beyond them. Rachel cried and wiped the tears from her eyes with her palms.

“Errr…this…err…” Winnie started when she found her
voice. She had no idea of what to say.

“We need to speak to an adult about this…” Mira said in a
small voice. “But who?”

“I am so scared…our first assignment comes up tonight and
and…” Rachel burst into tears.

“What do we do?” Winnie asked, looking blank.

“I have thought of running away but where do I run to? My
family is all I have here in Lagos and …I have nowhere else to turn to. The
only option I have left is to end this life.”

“What? Don’t you ever say that! How can you say such
rubbish?” Winnie said in anger.

“What can I do? Black is a very dangerous man, he has
friends all over my area, they are notorious for breaking into homes and doing
the unthinkable. If I don’t go for the assignment, he’s going to send his boys
to come and get me and I’m so scared.” Rachel cried.

Winnie quickly turned to Mira and signalled that they speak
alone for a brief moment. They both stepped out to speak.

“Mira, can you take Rachel into your house?” Winnie asked.

“Huh? What?” Mira spat.

“Look, we need to have our backs and with the way things are
at home with my mom, I don’t think that taking Rachel in is the best option for
me. Please, let’s help her through this.”

“How long will she stay with me? What do I tell my dad? I
don’t want to drag my family into this.” Mira said.

“C’mon Mira, be your sister’s keeper.” Winnie said.

“No, I can’t. I don’t want to get involved with all these
stuff…I don’t want to be dragged in.”

“Do you want her to pull through with her plan of committing
suicide? She’s suicidal, can’t you see?” Winnie said desperately.

“Thank you for reminding me Mother Theresa but I can’t take
her into my home and that’s final!” Mira said walking back to seat on the
pavement next to Rachel.

Winnie stared at Mira sourly and taking out her phone, she
turned it on and made a call.

“Hello daddy…”

“Winnie, are you home yet?” Her father asked.

“Not yet sir but I’m on my way.” She said.

“Okay, that’s good. I’m stopping at the supermarket on my
way home, do you want me to get you anything?”

“Yogurt will be fine.” Winnie said. “Daddy, can I ask a
favour? Please don’t be angry…”

“What is the problem?” Her father asked.

“My friend is in a sticky situation and I want her to stay
with us for a while, can she stay?”

There was a pause.

“Daddy are you there?” Winnie asked.

“Have you asked your mom? She makes the final decision in
the house…” Her father said.

“Please don’t make me ask mom. I would have asked sister
Theodora but I don’t want to impose. My friend is in real trouble and she needs
help.”

“What kind of friend is that? How old is she?”

“Sixteen.”

“What sort of trouble is a sixteen year old in? Is she
pregnant and wants to run away from home?”

“Not at all dad…she’s not pregnant but I promise you that
I’ll explain it all to you when I get home.” Winnie said with pent up breath.

“Okay…she can come but her excuse for leaving home must be
genuine or I’m driving her back home.” He said.

“Yes dad…I promise that it’s genuine. Thank you so much,
you’re the best.” Winnie said with a big smile.

She turned off her phone again and walked up to Mira and
Rachel.

“Rachel, will you like to stay in my house till all this
blows over?”

Rachel looked at Winnie in surprise, then gratitude replaced
her features, she stood up and hugged Winnie fiercely.

“You’re God-sent Winnie…God bless you…thank you…oh
thank you…” Rachel said in tears.

Mira sat there looking at the ground, she knew she’d been
selfish not to have allowed Rachel stay at her place but she just couldn’t, she
didn’t trust Rachel enough.

“What will we tell your mom?” Winnie asked.

“I’ll tell her that we have an excursion for school and that
it’s going to be all through next week. I’ll say that I’m going to stay with
you for the weekend to get my mind off things then after which, we’ll go for
the excursion.” Rachel said.

“I really hope my dad can help with this problem so that we
don’t have to continue lying.” Winnie said.

Rachel nodded, she was so happy.

To be continued next week…

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