She Knew

She knew you sighed after lifting the lid off the coffee mug. The strong smell filled the room. She knew you didn’t want to make the coffee at first. She knew you wanted to sleep, but she will not let you get the good sleep you deserve after all the stress from her. She knew you were already irritated and tired of the affair; not because of her overall personality, neither was it because of her beauty, but her actions which you couldn’t tell which demon will spark it up, neither did you know when.

She was beginning to take the whole affair to another level, or was it the height of her lunatics? The other day she slapped you across the face because you didn’t remove the trash. She spat on your face. You wanted to react, but she said she would kill you, and due to her mental illness she cannot be charged by the law. She knew she couldn’t be charged. She knew that all you could do was stare blankly at nothing and wonder, and then wonder, suddenly you wonder. She knew you couldn’t understand any of her actions; you were clueless not because you are actually clueless, but because it was where she wanted you to be. She knew she had you in her nest at that point. Like a queen, she lay on her straw bed and waiting for the king to work, work and work and provide everything needed to run the colony you called home. She knew you would raise your hand and yet couldn’t slap her back, and then she spits on your face again and watched a tear drop from your left eye. She knew you are a man and as such you wouldn’t tell anyone. She knew you must be weak and stupid because you couldn’t do what she knew. She knew you wouldn’t walk away from her and her walking away would be your doom. She knew you would be doomed. She knew her game, each card by heart, even the ones yet to be shuffled. She knew when and where to place each card, you know she knew when to fold the table on you.

For her it was all a game. There has been no love, no affection but just piece of words scrambled on the board game. She knew you cared and just cared, nothing more. She knew you are smart enough to blur the line between care and love, make care and love seem excellently intertwined but yet distinctive. She knew you didn’t ask for much but peace of mind. She knew you weren’t a man of games, yet in each card you placed foolishly, there your mastery lay. She knew you were a master of stupidity and displays elegance where men have failed. She watched you place each piece; she watched sacrifice your pawns. She knew she could win and when she does, she wanted it to be your last game. She knew that to bring you to the table, she must force your hands.

She knew why you went limp in the middle of sex the last time. You stopped, you sweated. You couldn’t even imagine it. She knew you couldn’t imagine it. She slapped you again because you couldn’t, and said you were thinking of another woman, but then you knew she was right, but if she has been in her right mind, maybe that wouldn’t have happened. She knew that wouldn’t happen if she was in the right mind. You were shackled, dragged lengthy miles by unseen devils. You were trapped, you felt every inch of the chains, fire and burning coal, you were in hell. You knew it. You willingly fitted those ugly chains on your ankle, for you it was a fit fire to which must all gold must be tested. Sometimes you have to make a deal with the devil just to deal with the reality. It’s the truth, it happened to you you are not in denial of this fact. You’ve decided that every word that drips out of your lips must state this very fact and none shall be fabricated.

She knew everything. She knew that you knew nothing. You stared at her, those bright face darkened by sun and gloom, stuck with strange lines of momentary anger, irreversible for the moment being and spelt your doom in case of any reprisal. She was taller, stronger, but again, she knew that you are man and one punch could work against her weight. Yet she knew that pushing you and playing on your buttons could bring that unfortunate day close. She knew you would do everything to avoid that unfortunate day. She knew this wasn’t your country and you couldn’t risk a fight and a court case. She knew you wouldn’t stand a chance before those judges and their appetite to have immigrants for dinner. Once you tried to scare her, you grabbed the railing of the tub and swung it in her face like a Kung Fu apprentice, you brought it a few meters closer and she took to her heels. You stopped yourself, afraid that you were becoming what you swore to fight against. You couldn’t forgive yourself ever after. She knew you couldn’t forgive yourself ever after, so she adds it to a few of her emotional play games. She knew how vulnerable you were and how you were quick to forgive. She knew she could blackmail you emotionally. She could see it, the lines on your face, your meekness, the silence, that was defining, that said it all.

On that day when she insulted the passerby for mistakenly stepping on her toes, by the porch, in front of the St Peters church, after the preacher exhaustively preached on tolerance, she knew you would dash madly at him as he raised his hands against her. She knew all that, which was why she smiled when you threw the first punch. Then you apologized to the stranger later, he walked away cursing at the both of you. If there was no woman with a tongue of venom, maybe he would have filed charges against you and the case would have stuck. She knew the law, they will always work in her favor in any case, if she lose or win, if she caused damages or not. She knew the laws were meant to protect women and the mentally ill. She knew she was mentally ill.

On a cold Sunday night, you readied the hot tub and spiced it with the scent she gave you. You thought it was time for her wash away her greed and submerge her hatred, hopefully when she rises she will see you as a new man. She sat in the tub and asked you to scrub her back gently. She knew you will be gentle; you guided your arm down her back as she played with herself and moaned. All of a sudden, she hit you because your arms were getting weaker and a man’s arm should never grow weak. She knew you wouldn’t expect that hot smack right on your right arm. She knew that the time of your reaction and action leaves enough room for you to think about the consequences of your actions, therefore the timing was impeccable. The first thing that came to your mind was drowning her in that pool, you held back. She got out of the tub like a hyena, laughing hysterically while you were in pains. She knew that hurts you most. She cooked the meal and ate it all alone, not just that, she asked you to go make your meal because in today’s feminist world there wasn’t any room for that. She knew you could make your own meal. She knew you thought about her and yourself – you weren’t selfish like her. You looked forward to a family and togetherness; you couldn’t tell what her plans were. You made your meal and whatever left ate for dinner. The dishwasher was a home for dirty dishes, flies, roaches and ants. She knew you would clean them up; you couldn’t live with dirty plates in the dishwasher. You spent the morning killing flies, roaches, and ants. You wanted a home, a clean one.

She knew you would agree to go the pool with her, down by the courtyard, in the corner of apartment. You wore a light swimming short. You jumped into the water. She knew you needed it because the house was already heated, filled with hatred and mistrust. She knew she needed to let the steam out too. You both talked about life and purpose, about time, about air, about what purpose you want for both yourselves and the need for peace. Not just peace, but some level of respect and acceptance. But it yielded nothing; your tongue was poisoned with words that only afflict the most inner part of her anger. The little children swam away from her; they could feel the venom being secreted by the python. She spits on you and called you a bitch. While she left the pool she locked you within the vast metal gate and hurried away with the keys. She laughed like a hyena. You called her a bitch.

Somehow you managed to get out the pool and walked to the door of your apartment, but then you remembered she had the key and opening it was to her discretion. You knew that you had to beg for the door to be opened to you. You stood by the door with a handful of pebble which you angrily picked while walking back; you let each throw with an aim that fires across the verandah in the staircase and lands on the main entrance. You were mad enough not to care where the pebble landed, lucky enough you didn’t break anything, James windows were safe. James was my neighbor, a nice man with southern accent from North Carolina. James knew what went on in apartment 13; he knew a canon will always be fired each night in honor of the great god of mistrust. Each time you met with James, he greeted you nicely with a voice that sounded like a radio without any signal. She hated James. She hated his voice. She hated that she was living with a White neighbor. She said they are not to be trusted. In fact she hated the place because it wasn’t a place for a black person according to her. She wanted to live close to Jaquan, Loquan and Maquan, play loud music and express the hood. Probably spare some change for drugs and shits that fester the hood. That was the life she knew and could understand, it must come from the hood and whatever that wasn’t close to hood isn’t life. You knew what the hood meant to her. She knew you looked away from it because it wasn’t your life style; you had always been a gentleman. She knew you were a gentleman. She knew you sat by the door side without any pebble to throw, and then she laughed like a witch in a low budget horror movie. She raised the volume of the television set; you could hear the monsters in courage the cowardly dog loudly. You had no urge to even knock. You couldn’t. You just sat out there thinking about a world thousand miles away; about your home and the beautiful garden you toiled, about the pepper planted by the sides of the garden from which your mother harvests almost all her spices. You toiled that very land, with hoes and pieces of shovel. You planted seeds on that very soil in March after the first rain must have fallen. You patiently waited for them to germinate while keeping an eye at them. You saw them take root. Sprout. Grow, and bloom. The maize was the most beautiful of them in June as the corn cobs shoot out of the stem with a green hair at the tip of it, later it turns blonde. You watched that blond hair of the maize wither and dry up before the harvest began. You understood what patience meant as a farmer.

By morning you opened your eyes, the sun was shining. You slept outside leaning on the wall. You saw her standing in front of you. Full of guilt, full of agony and torment, for which you knew not the demon that cry’s at that hour in her. To you she was like a train of a thousand demons and they pass each hour and each one brings its drum to which the cocoon of body must dance to. You didn’t make this up actually, she admitted to it. She told you. You knew which demon was passing at the hour. The very demon was passive and dangerous, emotional, easy to cry, easy to feel hurt, not for you, not to pity you, but just an act of torment for which she couldn’t bear alone as a single cocoon. She needed someone to share the demon with, the torment stood like an apple on her lips. You walked cautiously avoiding an eye contact; you knew those eyes will be watching your movement, every bit of it. You went straight to the bed, spread the sheet over your body and shut your eyes.

You peered through the thick sheet; there she was crying, looking at you, and still crying looking at you. You were afraid to close to eyes, maybe she will slit your throat while they are closed, maybe she will strangle you in your dream and you will end up never waking. She went to your pocket, picked your debit card, while you watched the light bed sheet, she broke it into several pieces and tossed them in the garbage bag. She knew you wouldn’t react. She knows the exact thing to do and she did it. Once again tears streamed down your eyes and touched the bed linen. You tasted the salty tears and mucus dripping from your eyes and nose. Your heart was breaking and aching. You wanted to stand up and walk to her, slap her right across the face for breaking your card. You calmed down, laid still and never said a word about it.

You could hear her snore as she sat on the seat. In your head, you have murdered her a thousand times. In your head you have wished fire would probably burn her to ashes. You even thought about placing the pillow on her face and slowly watch her struggle until there was no breath left in her. A thousand times you did it in your head and it worked out perfectly, but you are no murderer, so you just let your mind do the crime and be judged as a separate entity from your soul and body. You had no bone for that. You kept silent, thinking out loud in the fenced mansion of your mind.

You couldn’t sleep, so you lift the bag containing all your documents, you went through them. A lot of items have gone missing, your old passport containing important travel information. Your birth certificate was nowhere to be found and broken pieces of your Nikon camera seated separately on the left corner of the bag. She broke the camera during an argument of flimsy nature and upon sighting images of your friends stored in the external drive. She said you ought to give up any relationship you have ever had in your life and focus on building a life with her. You didn’t give up your friends; you wouldn’t sacrifice those images for anything, so she took them and smashed them against the kitchen wall. Some of the pieces you had to scope from a pot of soup and preserve them. You couldn’t see anything in the camera, but each time you looked at pieces, you flicked through the images in your heart: an excursion in Mexico, a seat out in Morocco, a dance in Lebanon, all reflected your years of travel. You had them all safe in your heart, tucked away somewhere and weren’t willing to give them up, not for her, not for envy or jealously, neither were you willing to be blackmailed by demons. You said no words to her about the missing items, you will never, even when you knew she destroyed them. She knew you wouldn’t. She knew you didn’t want to raise hell. She knew you were scared of her fire.

You took out the five dollars left in bag and slowly removed the key to the door from where she kept it and made your way outside. Not to wake her, you locked the door without noise. You walked down street to the gas station. The gas station has the best cheap drinks and cigarette. You bought a bottle of Heineken and Marlboro light from the white woman in the counter who always talked to you about visiting Ghana and how beautiful her experience in Ghana was. You knew her friends must have gotten tired of listening to the story which includes monkeys, hippopotamus, elephants and lions in the game reserve. Through the window and deep down, you could see the deer eating grass by the roadside, you sighed at her story which sounded as if no animal could be sighted within habitable areas of America.

Down the road you sat by the park and opened your beer can, took a gulp and light a cigarette. You breathed softly with tobacco streaming out of your nostrils. You knew she knows what she was doing to you. All mind games. All blames. All because maybe your grandfather might have been involved in trading her great grandfather, you knew it might not all be true and it takes a stronger heart to bear. Or maybe was just plain mad. Or maybe you’ve committed more to the point of disbelieve, or maybe or maybe nothing, just nothing. To you she was just an authority in her own art of terror and whatever the future brings; you will be faraway on day and long gone and never to look back. You never look back. She knows you wouldn’t look back. Deep down she was afraid of the day you wouldn’t look back. You took your last drag of the cigarette and let the filter slowly kill red flames, then struck it against the floor as it was part of your troubles.

When you got back, she was awake, the phone to her ears. She knew she would be making the calls at that hour, she knew who to call. She told them that she has finally decided to leave your African ass behind. Your facial expression changed, you tried to understand the masquerade that has visited at an odd hour. Deep down inside of you, you knew this day was coming. You let her go and she let you go hoping the sun will never rise in you, within you or from you. To her, she was the perfect game player who laid her cards to the disadvantage of her opponent. To her she made a great score and yet put another man down like she has done before and before and before. You sipped the last drop of the beer, turned at her, a certain feeling of relieve engulfed you, slowly ringed down from your head to your toe. Something left you, something not worth keeping, a certain burden, a skilled torturer and abuser. Them you smiled and drove her to the bus station with all her bags packed. You said goodbye.

 

 

 

 

About Chika Onyenezi

Chika Onyenezi is a writer living in United States. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming in Off the Coast, Storytime, Munyori Literary Journal, Synchronized Chaos, PoeticDiversity Quarterly, Bombay Review Anthology, African Roar Anthology, and elsewhere. He spends most of his time daydreaming and collecting wish trinket from sea waves. He is also a wanderer.

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