She was still lying there. For how long, she couldn’t say exactly but as the nocturnal sounds were replaced with the bitterly routine sounds of daybreak, she knew time was not on her side. Nothing seemed to be on her side. Except her blood and puke. And maybe her soul for she knew now that there was nothing left where it had been. The blood had finally stopped oozing from above her eyelid, but she knew it was bound to bleed again. As sure as she knew she couldn’t lie there forever. In movies and novels, the victim always conveniently blacked out. “Victim” . It ached her so. Yet was that not what she had become now? She was now a statistic. No emotion had as yet coming forth. She had been awake through it all. As the man had satiated himself in her innocence, not once but twice. Had watched with a dispassionate eye as he thrashed and groped like a blind man in a strange environment, as his demons took hold of him and emptied themselves into her soul. In the darkness, his every move and expression was strangely etched in her mind’s eye. Something seemed vaguely familiar about it all, even the way he’d muttered “I’m sorry” when he was done. And all the while the words kept on playing in her head, mocking her. Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten….
The barman seemed surprised when he sauntered in and ordered a drink. Granted, he was never here without his friends, but couldn’t a man soothe his parched throat without the hordes of sorry losers on his tail? He realized why when some other people were staring. He remembered the scratches. He quickly took his drink and ran to the darkest corner he could find. He shouldn’t have come here. Chuks was a rather agreeable fellow but everyone knew that he talked too much. And once he put his nose to the ground, he could unearth any fact he intended. He was walking towards him now.
“Hope no problem?” Chuks asked with a friendly smile.
“No. Why?” Too quick.
“You, look…. ” He broke off, not willing to offend. “Are you okay? I noticed some scratches on your face.”
” Er…. It was my neighbor’s cat.” He said the first thing that came to his hollow mind.
Chuks fixed him one that said “Dude, I wasn’t born yesterday. I will get to the bottom if this if I so please.”
He literally kicked himself when he was alone. Cat? Who owns a cat? His nerves were really frayed. He had to get out of here. He suddenly couldn’t breathe. He needed to get away. He felt as though everyone was staring at him, like they all knew. He couldn’t believe what he had just done. It was Rayo’s fault. He had never wanted Amanda to come, had tried to talk his wife out of it, and when he saw there was no way out, he tried to make her postpone her trip so that he wouldn’t be alone with Amanda. He had to back off when his desperation became rather suspicious. That girl was bad news. True, he had always had a thing for young girls but he always seemed able to control himself except when it came to her…
She finally summoned the strength to stand. She had to wash up. She had to. While in the shower, a sound startled her. O my God, he’s back, he’s back. Her jangled nerves were jarred anew. Fear tightened her chest and gripped her throat. She thought she was going to die. Then she heard Kate’s voice. “Hello? Amanda are you here?” She called softly. Then, more sternly for the benefit of whoever else might be listening.
“I would have you know I’m armed. And I’m not alone.”
Relief washed over Amanda like the rivulets of water that were now cascading down her back, washing of the dirt but not cleansing the places that needed it most. She jumped out of the shower and fled into her arms. That was when the dam broke. The tears she hadn’t known she was holding gushed forth uninhibited. She wept for her lost innocence. Her childhood that was now over. Her confusion and shame. And the words that haunted her still… Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten…
Kate had never seen her friend like this. Everyone knew that Amanda was the stronger one and Kate was the one prone to water falls and irrational mood swings. She was rambling, utterly confused and oh, so vulnerable. Finally she seemed to get a hold of herself, wiped her tears and said in a surprisingly calm voice. “He raped me.”
That seemed to suck all the sound out of the room and somehow this calm was a lot more frightening than the hysteria.
“Who? Where was your … Oh my God! It was your uncle!”
“Don’t cry or I’ll slap you.” Amanda preempted her best friend.
“Ok.” She knew she had to be strong for her this time. She went into ramrod mode. Trying to dissociate herself from it all as though it were a movie.
“You showered. Are you not supposed to go to the police or something before you do that?”
“I know. I guess. I mean I think so, but I felt so dirty…” Amanda trailed off.
“I understand. But we still have to go there… Let’s just get out of here. I came with Seun. He’s outside.” She nodded.
Seun was waiting in the black 2004 Camry parked across he streets. Mercifully he the only word he spoke was “where?”
“Just drive.” So he drove. Round and round. Poor Amanda, so distraught, couldn’t drink in the beauty of the city night lights, didn’t notice they were on the longest bridge in Africa. Didn’t see anything though her face was pressed against the window.
“We have to go to the police some time,”Kate finally whispered into the stillness. She was yet to let go of Amanda’s hand.
“But I don’t want to.” Amanda replied, still calm. “Our legal system is ineffective. He’s older… It’s uncle Wale for gods sake!”
Seun, not an unintelligent one, was quick to put two and two together. After several moments, he said, “She’s right, you know” and lapsed back into silence.
She knew they were right. On some remote, still functional part of her brain she knew. But she couldn’t bring herself to do it. She was afraid. Maybe it was because the police were mostly men, she was not sure. But she knew it was deeper than the rundown state of the entire justice system. She felt like her subconscious was trying to send her a message but there was a broken circuit somewhere. She only knew she didn’t want to go there. Knew she mustn’t go there.