“Daddy, are we leaving without writing a statement?” Richard asked as
soon as he left the police station.
“I am so pissed! If I stay a minute longer in that station,
I’ll beat somebody!” Judith’s father said in anger.
“Calm down sir….” Richard said softly. “I’ll go and write
the statement while you wait in the car. Is that fine?”

Judith’s father nodded and walked over to the car and sat
down in the driver’s seat. He was so angry that he tried distracting himself by
checking the cubicle of the car for the pack of cigarettes he had stashed there
long ago.
Mr. Gregor used to smoke quite a lot back in the day but had stopped  after his wife and children had pleaded with
him to have mercy on his failing heart. He had listened to them but by the time
he’d lost his only son, Jude, in a plane crash two years ago, he had taken to
smoking again but this time, it was his big secret.
Smoking was the only thing that took his mind off things and made him
feel relaxed and at peace with himself. He pulled out the pack of cigarettes
from the cubicle and a picture fell out, he picked it up and looked at it. It
was a picture of his children, Dakota, Judith, Jude and Nikky; the picture showed them as kids and it was taken at a prize giving ceremony at
their school with Judith taking almost all the prizes.
It was no secret that Judith was his favourite child, many
people thought that since Jude was his only son, it was proper that he be the
favourite child but no. No child of his competed with Judith’s slot in his
heart. From the day she grasped his finger with her little palm at the hospital
when she was born, she had won his heart and as she’d grown, she’d been the closest to him as she waited each day for his return from work while others were fast asleep.
Singing nursery rhymes with her was the most treasured moments with his daughter and shouting the house down with their croaky voices always made him smile. Their
favourite song was ‘Sing a song of
sixpence, a pocket full of rye’
, and now that he remembered, the nursery
rhyme played in his head. 
He smiled when he remembered how she smiled whenever he praised her for her achievements, Judith was defined in one word ‘brains’, she was
brainier than all her siblings put together and most of all, she never extolled herself in order to make any of her siblings feel sad or low as she always struggled to
help them excel. 
The lowest on the chart was Dakota, she was his first born but
she was quite dull, she refused to learn to help herself and after repeating her
classes over and over again, Judith had eventually finished secondary school before
her and even graduated before her. Dakota was still struggling with a four year
course at the University where she had spilled countless times, and he
hoped that this was her last attempt as he was tired of paying school fees.
Nikky was already a graduate and was presently waiting for youth service and Jude had
been working in Abuja before his untimely death. 
Mr. Gregor looked at the
picture in his hand and a lone tear fell from his eyes.
“Not again God! Not again! I won’t survive losing another
child….please…” He groaned as he picked up a stick of cigarette and put it
between his teeth and lit it. He dragged in the smoke and let it fill his lungs
then escape through his nostrils and mouth.
Soon, Richard joined him in the car and as soon as he shut
the door, he turned to stare at him.
“Dad, are you smoking?”
“What does it look like I’m doing?” Judith’s father replied.
“I didn’t …I never knew…that you smoked.” Richard said.
He looked at his future son in-law and gestured to the
cubicle where the cigarette pack lay. Richard nodded and took a stick, lit it
and dragged.
“Not your first time?”
Richard shook his head.
“Does Judith know you smoke?”
“It’s not everything we tell women or we might never get
married.” Richard said dragging in another smoke.
“My wife found out about my smoking habit three years after
we were married. She threw a fit but didn’t make a mountain out of a mole
hill.”
“I don’t smoke all the time, I quit some years back but I
find myself going back to it from time to time.” Richard said.
“What made you quit?”
“I figured the female folk hated it so…I quit.” Richard
said hesitantly.
Mr. Gregor patted Richard on the arm and said.
“Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me.”
Richard nodded and smiled warily.
“I just put down a statement at the station. I hope to God
that she’s not missing. Maybe she lost her phone and couldn’t get to us.”
Richard said.
“You don’t know my daughter. If you did, you won’t say
such.” Judith’s father said.
Richard looked at his future father in-law and dragged in another smoke.
“Judith is so smart, and for the fact that she’s not contacted anyone of us these past three days, there’s something wrong. The daughter I know would look for all
means possible to send a message, be it through text message, Skype, Facebook
messages or she could even borrow a phone to call someone…just to say she’s
alright. It’s been three days and we haven’t heard a word.” Judith’s father said.
Richard nodded quietly and soon, Judith’s father kicked the
engine to life and they drove out of the police station.
************
Day
Four

Nikky opened her eyes, and stood up from her bed. It was
about seven am in the morning and the house was so silent. She left her room
and walked up to the kitchen and bumped into Nancy who was on her way out, she
was in tears.
“Auntie Nancy, is everything alright?”
“I heeve a dreeem…” Nancy said as a sob caught in her
throat.
“Is that why you’re crying? Don’t worry, it was just a
dream.” Nikky assured.
“Noooo…eez not jess a dreeem…I see Judeee, sheee wez
tieed to a tree eend peeplee went to keel her.” Nancy cried.
“You saw Judith in your dream? And she was tied up?” Nikky
repeated the words that Nancy had said.
“Yeez….deeer wez bleeed eveeerywheere…” Nancy said and
bawled loudly.
Madam Zeena chose that moment to walk into the kitchen.
“What’s going on here?” She asked.
“Mummy, Nancy had a dream about Judith, covered in blood and
hung on a tree…I am trying to tell her that it’s just a dream.”
“That’s nonsense! Judith is fine and she’s coming home today
to continue with her wedding plans.” Madam Zeena said.
“No! Sheez not!” Nancy screamed.
“You’re crazy! How dare you say that rubbish!” Madam Zeena thundered.
“Someteen bad happened….I kneew eet.” Nancy said in tears.
“Will you shut up? Will you shut your dirty trap?” Nikky’s
mother shouted.
Dakota walked into the kitchen, she greeted her mother and
walked over to open the fridge.
“Eez wheet I saw!” Nancy cried out, in reference to her
dream.
“What’s the nutcase talking about?” Dakota asked, opening a
bottle of yogurt and drinking it.
“She’s no nutcase and she said she dreamt that our sister is
in big trouble! It’s day four already and we have heard no word from her.”
Nikky said.
“Mtchewww…you guys don’t cease to amaze me in this family.
All because it’s Judith, everyone is so worried, but I was away from this house
for weeks and no one called to check up on me!”
“Well…we know your ways and we know you used to stay away
from home for long periods of time till daddy stopped all that and placed a
curfew for nine pm for everyone in this house.”
“Humph!” Dakota scoffed.
Nancy walked up to Dakota in anger.
“Yew are veerry jealous of yeer seezter!” Nancy said
breathing heavily. “Wheet deed yew deu tew heerr?”
“Me? You must be nuts! You are crazy!” Dakota said and
suddenly started laughing. “To be truthful, I have always wished Judith would
die and leave us in peace. She makes life so unbearable with all her
achievements. Daddy can’t start a decent conversation without glowing with
pride over his daughter’s accomplishments.”
“How can you say that? You are cruel, Dakota…very cruel!”
Nikky shouted.
“Will you all just shut up? We have a wedding in less than
two weeks and we haven’t even sent out all the asoebis yet and your sister
hasn’t tried out her wedding gown to see if it fits or even done a trial
makeover for her wedding makeup. I am sure she is fine and while she is on her
way back to this house, the least we can do is put everything in order for the
wedding which is coming up soon.” Madam Zeena said and stormed out of the
kitchen.
Dakota walked out, following her mother closely behind.
“Don’t worry auntie Nancy, she will come back to us….you
just had a nightmare.” Nikky said.
“No! Befeere Judeey left fer Ibeedan, Dakotee argueed weet
heer….deey feeight ….” Nancy said.
“Dakota and Judith argued before she left for Ibadan?” Nikky
asked.
“Yeez…”
“Are you serious? Do you know what they were arguing about?” Nikky asked.
“Deey arguee elot!” Nancy said.
“You’re right auntie Nancy, Dakota and Judith argue alot and ninety percent of the time, it’s Dakota’s fault.”
Nancy nodded.
“Let’s hope Judith comes home safe to us.” Nikky said
quickly and left the kitchen.
Nancy crouched to the ground and began to cry.

To be continued….

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