Almond Tree

The dry leaves of the almond tree front of the house are blown by fleeting winds into the compound. Sometimes I just sit and watch as the leaves flutter. I watch as the sun scorches the green into golden brown. I watch as the rains take over and the same bereft leaves happen upon their beauty. I watch through the season because I have nowhere else to go. I watch because I can’t walk, so I have to be good for something. I also watch the neighbor’s kids play and blabber. I wish I could walk. I wish I could touch the tree anytime I wanted without the help of someone.

I can pick the dry leaves and crack them. The sound is soothing. I wish I could match on them, but I can’t. I am tired of this compound though. I am tired of listening to Mrs. Ibinabo’s children blabber all day about sweet nonsenses. Why do I even come out to the open? I could be indoors all day and no one would expect more from me. But because of the tree, the almond tree, it soothes me. When the winds blow the tree dances, and sometimes I get to see a fruit fall. I imagine how they hit the ground, the blemish. Would the kids still eat a fallen fruit that has been on the ground for hours?

Sometimes the kids drop by to say say their hi’s. I make up a smile for them, they mustn’t know how deceiving life is. The kids always smile, they smile while I’m rooted to this wheelchair. What’s so happy about life? What if they could feel what I feel right now? Why if they couldn’t use their legs like me? What if each time they tried to stand, they fall? What if they knew my pain? What if I could make them know my pain?

No. I’m thinking silly thoughts. ‘Look to the almond tree, let it dance for you, let it make you forget your pain,’ I say in my thoughts, ‘Look to the almond tree, let it save your soul.’

Bobo’s coming home soon from work. He’s my helper and my brother. He has always been there for me. He carries me wherever I want to go, especially to the almond tree in front of the house. Bobo always asks, “What’s so gluey about the almond tree? It’s the most common tree in Nigeria.” And I reply, “It is common, but this one is different.”

I don’t know what the future holds for me. Bobo has to start a life soon. Who would help me? Would I have to start a life too? Would any girl like me this way? Or would I have to get a girl like me? These thoughts depress my mind. Why can’t I walk like Bobo? Why me? Why am I the one that deserves useless legs? What if it were Bobo? What if we both had useless legs?

No. I’m thinking silly thoughts. ‘Look to the almond tree, let it dance for you, let it make you forget your pain,’ I say in my thoughts, ‘Look to the almond tree, let it save your soul.’

Advertisements

Uncle Pat, finale

When Patricia got into the guest room, to her utter disarray, she saw Aunt Lucy by the bedside, crying.

“Aunt Lucy, what happened, why are you crying?”

“Don’t worry, dear, it’s nothing,” she said, sobbingly.

“Aunt Lucy you can tell me,” Patricia pressured.

“It’s your Uncle.”

“What did he do to you? Did he hit you again?”

Aunt Lucy looked at Patricia with surprise that spoke volumes as to how she knew.

“Don’t worry, Aunt, I know he hits you.”

Patricia used her pyjamas sleeve to clean Aunt Lucy’s tears.

“He has to pay this time, more than you’ve made him pay before. This time we have to make sure we cure him of this evil. He has to hurt the same way he hurts you.”

“No, Patricia,” Aunt Lucy’s sobs increased. “You don’t understand. He’s working on it, he’s changing, he’s trying.”

“Aunt Lucy, he’s going to kill you if you don’t realise the demon that he is. Look at your face, what are you going to tell Mum and Dad happened to your face?”

“I don’t know. I’d use makeup or something,” Aunt Lucy said, wiping off tears from her cheek.

“That’s not going to do, Aunt Lucy,” Patricia pressed. “You tried to change him before. You used scare tactics on him. I know this, because I’ve been in this room before at night. I watched Uncle Pat sleep. I guess you played the witch role quite effectively, but as we both can see, it hasn’t worked. People like Uncle Pat, wife beaters, they only respond to one thing. Pain.”

Aunt Lucy stopped crying for a moment in awe of Patricia. ‘How could a child conceive of these things?’ was what she asked in her mind. Patricia huged her around her waist.

“We can do this, trust me. He will never hit you again.”

It was dinner time and the family gathered around the table, food was served and everybody jollied. Uncle Pat had the now-and-then smile each time he gazed at his wife, and it hurt Patricia to her bones. ‘Wife beater, has the guts to smile at his wife after committing such atrocity. He has to pay,’ she thought.

In the middle of the night when everyone was fast asleep, it was time for Patricia and Aunt Lucy to carry out their plan. They just had to teach Uncle Pat a lesson. Uncle Pat was fast asleep, but his wife wasn’t. And so Patricia tiptoed in the room and together they woke Uncle Pat up.

“What is this? Patricia–” Uncle Pat made to say.

“Shh,” Patricia whispered.

“Lucy, what’s going on?” Uncle Pat asked, confused.

“You’re not going to touch me anymore, Patrick, we’d make sure of that.” Aunt Lucy replied.

Uncle Pat chuckled for a while and then said, “Have you lost your damn mind? She’s a child,” gesturing to Patricia.

“I’m no child, wife beater. Oops, should a child be holding this?” Patricia brought out a kitchen knife from the back of her pyjamas.

“Jesus!” Uncle Pat exclaimed. “Patricia, what are you doing with that?”

“Just what you did to Aunt Lucy.”

She drew close to him and he recoiled. She used the tip of the knife to travel his skin slowly.

“Now, wife beater, where do I start?”

“Patricia, you don’t know what you’re doing, drop that thing.”

“Shh,” she whispered as she moved the knife up his belly.

“Why do people always think I’m a child, I wonder. Can a child do this?”

She pricked his chest with the edge of the knife.

“Ouch!” he uttered as blood eased out of his chest.

“Look at that, the wife beater bleeds,” Patricia chuckled, looking to Aunt Lucy.

“Do it, Patricia, teach him a lesson,” Aunt Lucy said.

Uncle Pat began to mumble words like “You-you-you just a kid, you don’t know what you’re doing” and “We can talk about this. Lucy, we can talk about this.”

“It’s too late for all that now, Uncle Pat. You should have talked about it before you hit her,” Patricia said as she moved the knife toward his face.

Uncle Pat knew he had to do something quick, so he tried yanking her hand away and the knife got a bit of his neck, a red bloody line on his neck. Patricia fell back.

“Argh!” he grumbled, “Stupid kid, look what you’ve done.”

He walked toward Aunt Lucy.

“Did you put her up to this? You psycho bitch.”

He slapped her and she fell to the ground. Patricia held the knife out.

“You can’t do this, you can’t hit her. I’ll stop you.”

“Watch me.”

He dragged Aunt Lucy around the other bed in the room and jerked her against the wood work so that she hit her head and made a loud cry.

“I’m going to teach you a lesson, after which I’m coming for you, kid.”

“You. Can’t. Hit. Her!” Patricia cried.

She ran, full force, knife outward. And before Uncle Pat could look her direction, she met him. And everything was still for a moment.

“What. The. Fuck…” Uncle Pat counted in total shock.

A red map spread on his singlet, just the way an artist dapples a canvas with red paint. He looked at Patricia, weary, then he fell to his knees amid distant cries from his wife. He gazed at his wife and then at Patricia, and fell on his face.

Patricia knocked the guest room door after travelling chilling storylines of possibilities.

“Come in,” Aunt Lucy’s friendly voice said.

When she got in, Uncle Pat was in the bathroom prepping for work and Aunt Lucy was sitting on the other bed in the room.

“How was your night, dear?”

“Uh… fine. You said we were going to talk,” Patricia said.

“Yes dear. Your Uncle told me you came to the room in the night…”

‘What the fuck,’ was what ran through Patricia’s mind, ‘he knew?’

Aunt Lucy smiled at Patricia’s displacement.

“You see dear, I know you’re a smart girl, so you’d understand. Your Uncle and I have been through our ups and downs. Some things he did that he isn’t proud of, but we have worked it out. There are scars, yes, but these scars are not objects of torture but of a reminder of our mistakes. Maybe soon enough you’d understand fully what I mean. But you can’t play on his mind, Patricia, it’s wrong. Okay?”

“Okay, Aunt Lucy.”

Patricia was still flummoxed at what she just heard. Funny thing when you think you’re on top of the world with your moves.

When she got downstairs to her room, Georgina looked at her like she had just come out from an interrogation room. Patricia was not herself after hearing Aunt Lucy’s meltdown. ‘They knew all this while.’

Her phone rang, it was Vanessa, her classmate.

“Hello Vanessa, I’m not really in the mood to–”

“Patricia, you would not believe what I just saw,” Vanessa cut her short.

“What is it, Vanessa?”

“I just saw Thomas in the football field close to my house. He was with Abigail. Patricia, they kissed.”

 


Thank you all for following my series, Uncle Pat. It’s been a wonderful ride with you. Writing sometimes has its challenges, but knowing that people read my work out there is just gratifying to say the least. Be on the look out for more engaging series. Cheers.

Uncle Pat, 9

So that night, when the short and long hands eclipsed, Patricia promised herself to do some snooping around. Not only to figure out what was up between her Uncle and his wife, but also to figure out how t’was like between couples when it’s up. Call it youthful exuberance, or curiosity, the kind that killed the cat everyone talks about.

So, she tiptoed that Monday night, up the stairs, and landed on her summit at the guest room door. She was hoping to hear noises. Noises of Uncle Pat being haunted by that mysterious being and also other kind of noises, couple noises.

‘What could they be doing in there, and why’s it so silent?’ she thought. Could her hands be in his pants as she sometimes saw on TV? Couples do that when they’re not in the mood for sex. ‘Shut up!’ she yelled in her mind, ‘you shouldn’t be thinking that, your mind isn’t ready for that.’

‘Why shouldn’t I be thinking that?’ her other mind questioned, ‘Because the so-called adults told me so. Sex is sacred blah blah blah? It’s even yucky. I mean, why would humans want to get into their dirtiest parts so bad? Humanity is indeed fucked up. Shh! You shouldn’t say the f word.’

Patricia soon snapped back into reality, and still she heard nothing from the door of the guest room. What was she hoping to hear?

Aunt Lucy: I’m the demon in your nightmares, I’m the devil in your afterlife.

Uncle Pat: Please don’t hurt me, I’m eternally sorry for hitting you.

Aunt lucy: Are you? But I can’t see any repentance. You’re still a monster inside, and you will suffer in my hell. You will pay for all the torture you put me through. You will suffer a millions times over. You will beg for mercy. No, you will beg for death. You will–

‘Okay, focus!’ she yelled in her brain. ‘Nothing is obviously going on in there. Just go downstairs and sleep.’

So Patricia turned back slowly and continued her creeping session.

“What are you looking for?” said a voice from behind.

Patricia peed her pants. Then she thought of washing later in the morning. Then she peed again. ‘I’m done for’ was all  that the tiny neurons in her brain could comprehend.

It was Aunt Lucy’s voice.

“Uh.. I just– uh.. you know, I was–”

Pathetic. She was obviously searching for words, just the way writers search for words when the juice is out.

“It’s okay honey, go to bed now. We’d talk later in the morning,” Aunt Lucy said.

Patricia was eased, although it was ironical given the fact that she just eased on herself. Something bothered her mind though, she hoped Aunt Lucy wouldn’t make mention of their encounter the next day to Mum or Dad.

‘But what did she mean by “We’d talk later in the morning”?’

For some reason, those last words felt so good to Patricia. What were they going to talk about? Would they plan together on how to torture her monster wife-beating husband together? Would she be the perfect apprentice to the witch, like a mother-and-daughter relationship?

Patricia slept that night with these laden thoughts in her mind. She even had a nightmare; her boyfriend cheated on her.

“How could you do this to me?” she said.

“Patricia… I mean, you’re kind of weird, you weirded me out. What was I suppose to do? You never talk teenage stuff, you always want to be smart and it’s kinda boring.”

“I’m smart, dummy, not wanting to be smart. If only your cheating ass neurons could move a tad faster then you will understand what smartness is. How did we even fall in love? Now I’m going to be fucking heartbroken.”

A knife was in the pocket of her jeans. How it got there is the stuff of dreams. Nobody knows how anything gets anywhere in dreams, we just know that when we need something it comes around.

Patricia drew the knife from its scabbard and plunged it into his chest.

“What are they fuck are you doing, Patricia? You’re mad! You’ve gone mad!” Thomas, her about-to-be-killed boyfriend, yelled in apparent pain.

“You broke my heart, Thomas, and now I’m going to break yours, literally,” she sobbed with a hint of a chuckle.

She held the knife in his chest and used her other palm to jerk it in.

“Argh!!!”

She tore into his chest. Saliva, reddish, began bubbling from the side of his clenched lips. He tried to muffle something Patricia couldn’t get.

The knife in his chest made her feel so good she was actually scared in real life. But even though she knew she was dreaming, she still felt heartbroken and didn’t stop there.

She juiced his heart so that he felt the last pain of his life, and he fell to the ground just the way logs used to fall off the back of prehistoric fathers that arrived their huts. Those days when cutting down a tree into chunks meant a man was responsible and his wife would let him… you know, later that night.

Patricia almost woke up with a scream, but Georgina was there and she mustn’t know even beings like Patricia were capable of having nightmares. She picked up her voice teleportation device and rang Thomas.

“Hello, babe, what’s up?”

“Thomas, I want you to promise me that you’d never cheat on me.”

The poor boy felt like his future self where his wife would wake him up in an unholy hour and make him promise something totally unrelated to their lives.

“Uh… Patricia? Where’s this coming from?”

“Just promise, Thomas.”

He obviously wasn’t ready for that level of drama.

“Uh… I promise.”

“Why did you say ‘Uh…’?”

Thomas felt like being swallowed by the ground. What the hell was she on about? He kept silent.

“Thomas, are you already cheating on me?”

For a moment Thomas wondered where all of Patricia’s smarts evaporated to. This was the same girl always talking technical stuff and now she’s all ‘promise me this promise me that’. He couldn’t deal.

“Look, babe, I’m not cheating on you, okay?” he said briskly.

“I believe you, honey.”

That was the first time she called him honey, well, not exactly the first, but the sweetest first. Thomas felt like a man again.

When Patricia was done with her call, she headed for the guest room. At least it was broad daylight now, and she was, of course, welcome into the room. But she didn’t go for a welcome, she went for the “We’d talk later in the morning”.

 


Victor is an Engineer and a Writer (horror). He’s open to all kinds and types of freelance jobs (he has a day job, but he’d squeeze time for this. Such is his passion for the craft). If you want him featured on your blog or paper or magazine or any material or mode of self-expression, then hit him via victor.enesi@gmail.com, and let it hurt!

Uncle Pat, 8

Over dinner later that Saturday, Patricia raised a topic.

“Dad, why can’t Aunt Lucy, Georgina and Paul be here with us? I mean, this is holiday time and we won’t have this opportunity soon again.”

Uncle Pat almost puked in his chair.

“Uncle, are you alright?” Patricia asked with a smirk.

“Yea,” I’m good, he said, as he dabbed his mouth with a towel.

Uncle Pat felt like tossing his plate at her face and flinging the dining table on her so she shut up once and for all.

“Uh… I think it’s up to them, Patricia. You could call to ask if they can come. Right, Pat?” Dad said.

“Uh… yea, of course,” Uncle Pat answered, unconvinced.

“That settles it then. Patricia, give Aunt Lucy a call asking if your cousins could come over.”

Patricia was so delighted, she could almost see rainbow coloured bubbles everywhere. She excused herself. In no time, Uncle Pat followed.

“What is wrong with you?” Uncle Pat stormed.

Patricia jerked as she wasn’t expecting anyone after her. Her phone dropped.

“Uncle, you scared me.”

“Why would you bring such a topic up in front of everyone? I told you in the car, they are busy with lessons.”

“I remember, Uncle, but there’s no harm in asking.”

Unlce Pat felt like kicking her where she stood. Stupid girl that won’t shut her mouth. He stormed out of her room and up to the guest room.

“Aunt Lucy, it’s me, Patricia.”

“My sweetheart, how are you?” Aunt Lucy replied.

“I’m fine. I called to ask you if Georgina and Paul could come spend some days with us.”

“Uh… that’s a big one, Patricia.”

Georgina and Paul were roaring in the background. “Mum, say yes,” they said.

“I’m sure you can hear your cousins, they are ecstatic over the idea of paying a visit. Let’s get back to you, dear. Do take care.”

Patricia felt victorious. Now she was going to see why Uncle Pat was so scared of Aunt Lucy. It made her feel good. She knew something was amiss with Uncle Pat and his wife, and now she was going to figure it out for herself.

“Patricia, have you called them?” James asked as he came into the room.

“I think they are going to come, James. Aunt Lucy said to wait on her.”

“So now we are going to know what’s making Uncle Pat so scared.”

“Indeed,” Patricia said with a smile.

“So are we going back in today?” James asked.

“There’s no need for that. Last night’s success lives on. Right now, the fat fool is too rattled and unsettled, and if we go back in we could be caught for real this time. Can you imagine that he came to confront me, asking why I asked that Aunt Lucy come?”

“For real? Wow, he’s really losing it.”

The next morning, Sunday, over breakfast, Dad had something important to tell everyone.

“Aunt Lucy called me called me this morning to say she’d be coming with your cousins on Monday.”

It was like Patricia had been taken to a trip to Mars and back. The happiness that coursed her body was pulsating her veins. She knew deeply that this was the opposite of what her Uncle was feeling.

Uncle Pat wasn’t himself. If someone came to him that moment with a teleportation device with a fifty percent accuracy, he would take his chances even if he could be sliced halfway on reaching his destination, bloody intestine dangling beneath his upper half, his lower half lost to space and time.

Monday came with the speed of light. Aunt Lucy, Georgina and Paul arrived to the delight of all except Uncle Pat. He couldn’t even mask his discontent. And no one cared.

That night, Aunt Lucy was to sleep in the guest room with her husband while Patricia, James and John shared rooms with their cousins, which was good for bonding.

That night, Patricia asked her cousin Georgina a question.

“Is everything alright at home?”

“Yes, why do you ask?” Georgina replied.

Patricia could see that Georgina suppressed some emotions.

“Georgina,” Patricia called and paused, “You know you can tell me anything, right?”

Georgina’s face suddenly became sullen.

“All I know is Mum tells us to go to our rooms and soon after I hear sobs, dad’s sobs.”

Patricia was lost for words.

“Sobs?”

“Hmm.”

“Your dad cries? Uncle Pat cries?”

“It all started when–” she paused.

“Common, Gina, you know you can tell me.”

A tear wrinkled out of Georgina’s eyes. Patricia drew her close and put an arm around her.

“You don’t need to cry, just tell me.”

“It all started when dad used to hit mum, then I think she had enough and she fought back, and now everything is just bad-bad-bad.”

“Why bad?”

“The house isn’t as it was before. I think she over did it and now dad has lost his mind. It’s never going to be the same for us, I just know it.”

She broke into proper tears this time, and Patricia had to console her.

“It will get better. It’s marriage stuff.” Patricia said.

But in her mind she knew this was more than marriage stuff. What she just heard reeked of sadness. The type that destroys families. For a moment, Patricia didn’t know what to think. ‘He hit her,” that’s bad enough, ‘Then she fought back,’ that’s unexpected. But how did she fight back that turned Uncle Pat into a sissy? That was what she had to figure out, and nothing could stop her.

 


Victor Enesi is an Engineer and Creative Writer that loves telling organic stories. He might even enjoy imagining them more. If you want his organic stories on your blog, paper or magazine, you can always reach him via victor.enesi@gmail.com

Uncle Pat, 6

James and Patricia didn’t talk the rest of the day, and James was fine with it. His sister had to learn to be wrong sometimes and to stop insulting him. James and Patricia have kept silent spells before. They fought one fine morning, and when Dad returned home, Patricia twisted the story in her favour. Dad was cross with James. “You don’t hit a girl, never!” he said. James couldn’t believe Patricia would lie in broad daylight, so he kept his distance. And though they went to school together, they didn’t talk to each other for months. He hoped this time it won’t take as long, but still he had to keep his distance. And so they went to bed on no-talking terms.

“James, wake up,” a feint voice spoke into his ears.

James could barely hear, for he was somewhere between life and peaceful death, a place called sleep.

“Wake up, James,” the sweet voice spoke again.

This time, James was beginning to grow some consciousness. He managed to open his eyes.

“Ahh!!” he screamed, but a hand held his mouth before for his voice travelled any distance.

“It’s me,” the now crooked voice said.

“P-P-P-Patricia?” James stuttered.

“Yesss,” it cackled.

The face before him was the face of nightmares. A ramshackle face James was sure had NEVER seen younger days. The hair an ominous white, so uniform, even the oldest of the old didn’t possess. The hideous creature hauled its face together with the wig away and lo and behold it was Patricia. She grinned from ear to ear.

“Not funny, Patricia. Not funny,” James uttered in vexation.

“Keep your voice low,” Patricia cautioned. “At least it worked with you. You should have seen your face, so terrified. That, my friend, is how our shameless Uncle must feel tonight.”

“Where did you even get– you know what, never mind.”

“Good. Now that we got all that sorted out, can we move to the next stage?”

James carried Patricia on his neck. She wore the latex mask and put on the white wig. They were ready for action. Patricia put her arms into the sleeves of the cloak and buttoned the top while James buttoned the bottom. Patricia put James through some movement training because he could barely see from inside the cloak. She nudged her legs to the side to signal side movements and clenched her legs to signal no motion. Soon after, they were good to go.

“Are you sure about this, Patricia? We could still turn back, you know,” James whispered, on getting to the door of the guest room where Uncle Pat slept.

“Quiet,” Patricia whispered back.

She held the handle, and with some torque they were in. The room was dark and it appeared Uncle Pat was sleeping just fine.

“What if he shouts?” James whispered from inside the cloak with as a tune as possible.

“Quiet,” Patricia said as she kicked him.

They went closer to the bed.

“Ouch!” James almost uttered audibly. He hit let against the bed and it hurt.

Patricia kicked him from inside, signalling him to behave.

James bent enough to give Patricia room to bend too and inspect Uncle Pat who was snoring in his sleep.

“Patrick,” she whispered in an unrecognisable way.

“Patrick,” she whispered again.

James almost peed his pants. He imagined all the horrible things that could happen to them if Uncle Pat wakes up and maybe turns on the light and catches them both in the childish act.

Uncle Pat turned on the second call of his name.

Patricia whispered his name a third time, and he made a discomforting sound.

“Wake up,” she whispered.

Uncle Pat made a sobbing sound, like he was in fear in his sleep.

Then Patricia nudged James to different corners of the room as she whispered his name.

“What do you want from me?” Uncle Pat responded sobbingly from his pillow.

James couldn’t believe it. It was like there was something he was missing. What he expected was that Uncle Pat put on the lights or something and figure them out. But for some reason, Patricia was speaking into his mind, so it seemed.

“I promised you, I won’t hit her again,” he continued, so much fright in his voice.

Patricia herself was confused. ‘Hit who?’ she thought. All she was aiming at was to scare the crap out of him. But now he confused her and she didn’t quite know her next words.

“And what will happen if you do?” Patricia played along.

Instantly Uncle Pat’s sobbing increased. Even with his eyes closed the fear he demonstrated was almost palpable. He pressed his face to the pillow and began reciting the Our Father amid other things Patricia or James couldn’t make out.

Patricia figured now was the right time to leave the room, and so they crept out.