In the dead of night when the whole city sleeps, cocooned in the luster of sweet dreams, Marian neither slept nor dreamt. When eyelids batter shut, Marian would go somewhere, a place only she knows. But not for long.
“Marian!” an echoing voice cried.
Marian belonged to a hearty house of seven, where smiles brightened the day and hugs warmed the night. She had four elder sisters. Things were this way for a while, but not for long, not until she ate the white rice.
Marian woke up that night, the first night, but she didn’t wake in her room. She woke to the incessant calling of Da Queen and helplessly followed the voice into the wildest deep of bar beach where she met the Sisters. The neighbour’s daughter that brought her the white rice was also there. Since then, Marian has been following the voice that wakes her up at exactly 2 a.m. every day.
Under the ocean, they all had many legs and long hair. Da Queen sat on her throne while the Sisters wiggled and laughed raucously. Da Queen’s laughter was the loudest.
Every week, a Sister was to bring a new Sister into the fold of underwater spirits by feeding them white rice with Da Queen’s stew.
“It’s your turn!” Da Queen laughed out loud.
“Yes, Da Queen, I won’t fail you.” Marian replied. Da Queen laughed wickedly.
Later that day, Marian made white rice for her eldest sister, Vivian, Da Queen’s white rice.
“Veevee!” Marian called. Vivian trundled to the kitchen and was remarkably surprised.
“Everybody! Come and see o! Marian made me white rice. Ah! Today must be Christmas day o.”
Marian, being the last born, was used to getting spoiled and cooked for. But that day, she was on a mission.
“Ahn ahn, Vivian, stop it jor. The rice is for you and you alone. Promise me you won’t share,” she smirked.
“Share ke, today is Christmas day for me alone o,” Vivian walked the plate of rice to her room.
Later that night, Vivian knew she was having a dream, but this dream was too real. In the dream, Vivian saw a woman, a gnarly hag, playing hide-and-seek with her and calling her name with such crookedness. Vivian was playing too but didn’t know why was was playing, but she felt an urge not to answer. Then the old woman suddenly appeared at Vivian’s back and poked her, she screamed “Yes!” Then she felt it. Vivian had answered the call.
Vivian felt as though her essence was leaving her real body, like an out-of-body experience. Then she saw herself, out of her body, and that was when she saw Da Queen. Da Queen had come to her room to summon her like she did Marian on her first day. Da Queen yelled her Name in a thunderous bout and Vivian cringed. Vivian looked down and noticed she had more than two legs, eight, dangling like an octopus’. And just like that, there they were at the shore of bar beach. Vivian couldn’t tell how she got there. They both walked in as the ocean raged. She was helpless.