Somto was bent over the rail as she looked at the activities going on around the neighborhood. The early morning breeze was warm against her cheeks. Closing her eyes, she imagined herself on the top of a very high mountain surrounded by tiny raindrops falling all around her. She could almost smell the mountain air.
The sound of laughter brought her back to the present. Looking down, she saw Chidera skipping towards the BMW. At her heels was Uche who was carrying a “Hello Kittie” bag on his shoulder and a sleepover bag on his other hand. Somto squinted. What was he doing with Chidera’s sleepover bag? Then she remembered their conversation the night before. Son of a gun. She charged down the stairs and through the house.
Uche saw her as she came storming barefeet through the front door. He knew this wasn’t going to be good.
“Where are you taking my daughter?” Somto shouted. Without waiting for a response, she went to the passenger seat and flung the door open.
“Come down. Now!” She barked at the already scared little girl.
Uche got down and stood in her path as she began to pull the child back towards the house.
“What are you doing? We are running late.” He looked at Chidera whose face was squinted in pain. Her mother was holding on to her too tightly.
“Let her go,” He said to Somto. His patience with her was beginning to wane.
She scoffed. “You think I don’t know what you are up to? You are trying to take my daughter away from me and I won’t watch that happen.”
Uche pinched his temple and dropped his hand. “I’m taking her to school.”
“Oh…you must take me for a fool. She’s in house clothes.”
Chidera cut it in before he could respond. “Mummy, today is Friday. We wear jean and polo on Fridays, remember?”
Somto tilted her head as if trying to remember and then let her go. She rubbed her eyes and groaned.
“I’m sorry love. Mummy forgot. You can….” She pointed at the car and watched her walk to it.
Uche gave her a see-yourself look and turned to leave.
“I’m not done with you. Why is her sleepover bag in the car?”
“She’s going away for the weekend.”
“Why?’ Her arms were akimbo.
His brows furrowed. “The etiquette class.”
Somto looked at him blankly.
“The one you signed her up for two months ago.”
She didn’t flinch.
“You don’t even remember.” He moved closer and ground his teeth. “Get your shit together. You have a daughter to mother.”
He kissed her on the forehead and went back to the car.
There was awkward silence as he drove out of the compound into the street. After driving for a couple of miles, Chidera broke the silence.
“Is mummy becoming a zombie?”
Uche took his eyes off the road and stared at his daughter in surprise. “Why would you say that?”
“Remember those zombie movies I watch on the cable?”
His eyes were back on the road. “You mean zombie movies I specifically tell you not to watch?”
“You are digressing, dad.”
He raised his eyebrow and turned to pinch her cheek. “You are growing too fast, young lady.”
She continued. “Mummy’s eyes and skin are funny. And she’s becoming skinny…like the zombies.”
Uche sighed. It appeared Somto had gone beyond sniffing drugs to injecting drugs into her system. The skin around her arms was truly turning a funny shade and her eyes were more sunken.
“She’s just stressed, that’s all.” He hated that he had to lie.
Chidera bit her lower lip and started at her shoes. “She scares me, dad.”
Their eyes met and he ran his hand through her hair. Me too, love. Me too