There was something unusually evil about my mother’s eyes yesterday. She had woken up, svelte in her purple silk robe and walked into the room that I shared with my brother, tapping us both lightly to wake us up. To my brother, she had given a warm tight hug as he struggled to open his eyes, fighting unknown battles in his sleep, groaning as my mother whispered in his ears, cajoling him to open them. Her gentle hands and touch soaked him with life even in his unconsciousness and had him prancing about the house in less than thirty minutes. I on the other hand, just shriveled into the corner of the dining table forcing my breakfast down my throat, too awake to ignore the darkness that roamed in my mother’s eyes. I can’t believe nobody else saw it, not even my father who knew his wife in and out, who was the supposed apple of her eyes. Wouldn’t an apple feel the rottenness when it is surrounded by decay? Wouldn’t it shrivel and be dehydrated and lose all its nutrients?
“What is the matter my angel? You look sick.” My mother had said, walking up to me breezily with that fake undecipherable smile plastered on her face. The back of her hand came to rest gently on my forehead and her other hand around my neck.
“What is it Thelma?”
“Nothing.” I had lied.
My mother did not look right, my mother had lost the glow in her eyes and there was too much paleness in them, too much brown and not enough glitter. Dramatic as I had felt, I had sensed in the bottom of my belly a doom I had never known.
There had been something unusually evil about my mother’s eyes yesterday, when she had sat on my father’s lap and planted dozen kisses on his neck, whispering mysterious words into his ears, my brother walking away not able to bear the public display of affection, me just sitting there sipping on my milk because I couldn’t be bothered. When she had looked up to take a quick glance at me, I had looked away almost immediately, quite regrettably so because she noticed my eyes avoiding hers. Yet she didn’t say a word about it.
She had handed each of us our lunch boxes, planting kisses on our foreheads before we walked off to the car, spending a little long with Dad at the door as they kissed passionately, like two lovers who just met for the first time, like two lovers ready to depart for the first time. She had clung to his neck too long, my father kissing her earlobes and making her giggle. Moses had cringed and entered the car unable to bear the ludicrous look on my father’s face, like he just had a bucket of ice emptied over his head.
I smiled. I caught a glimpse of my mother again, as she waved at the door towards us as we drove away.
“Is mummy okay Dad?”
“Of course she is Thelma.” He had turned around to look at me. “Why?”
I thought he had been pretending. That he had seen what I had seen but was only trying to protect me from the truth, as every parent would. But I had thought wrong when that look of worry lingered a little too long on his face. I had thought wrong.
My father was clueless and it disappointed me. It disappointed me, truly.
I turned away from him and muttered a barely audible “Nothing.”
“So can you tell us again the state of your wife when you last saw her?”
The house was sparkling clean, nothing out of the ordinary. I imagine my mother had scrubbed it down till her back hurt from bending too much. The kitchen was filled with new groceries and the zinc had been polished, I could tell because I saw my reflection perfectly as I stood before it. She had cooked three pots of different types of soup, and even made my favorite – yam porridge. Everywhere smelled like heaven.
except the guest room bathroom
pooled with blood,
my mother’s blood.
Drained from the slit on her wrist.
All this information I got from the conversations I overheard between the investigators and my father. My mother’s friend, aunt Agnes, said mummy had maybe complained occasionally about depression, once or twice, or thrice. Aunt Agnes said she could not remember, that she wasn’t sure, that her heart was too broken for her to think straight and would have to recover from the shock first. My father, a splitting image of a shriveled worm, confirmed Aunty’s story, nodding in agreement, then shaking his head in disbelief. He had completely missed it, the holes in her skin that morning, the void in the sound of her voice, the absence of the glistening in her eyes.
I looked at my brother bawling his eyes out on the corner, his noisy wailing made me too tired to cry so I sat down on the floor instead and tried to imagine the last time I saw her, tried to imagine a befitting image of her beautiful soul.
Eleven years old and motherless, and more upset than bereaved. More disappointed than pitiful, quite frustrated with the eyes that danced in front of mine every time I thought of her. I didn’t see this coming but I had known something was not right.
There had been something unusually evil about my mother’s eyes, and its apple who would forever carry the burden of this regret had missed it.
I am not excited about turning Twelve tomorrow.