Previously Published on Musedminds.com
Between her fingers lay a cigarette that had few seconds ago been between her sticky red lips. The circle of smoke from her last puff still danced in the air in front of her. Her right hand held a cocktail glass of a day at the beach. A mix she hated so much, but one her husband loved. But he was dead and this was her tribute to him.
She sipped. Her eyes were tired yet they stuck out with a dull animation of a shy winner. She let her elbows rest on the verandah railing, and made her eyes dance softly here and there with tranquility she ought not to know.
The whole mansion was empty; quiet hence. The estate was also quiet. Eight months today since his death and it was still quiet. One or two cars passed with speed, a few generators roared and some dogs barked but other than that, the estate paid tribute to her husband.
She scratched her left cheek, letting the cigarette from her left hand rest on an ashtray. She smiled sardonically revealing a dimple on her blotchy cheek with its awful orange-black patchy color which was a trait of her whole skin. Her facial skin was thinning.
Yes, in the months that passed she had forgotten how to take care of her skin as she would normally do. Or maybe she just didn’t care anymore. When her husband was alive, she had every reason to look beautiful. She had every reason to take extra care of her skin, every reason to make it whiter than Mama Uche’s. But she didn’t see why since he’d left the world.
She hardly mourned his death other than the fake mourning. Once he died she became obsessed with planning how to put Mama Uche the second wife in jail for killing their husband. It was easy. Neighbor witnesses swore that they always heard Mama Uche threaten to kill him. The attorney General did a good job pointing fingers at Mama Uche and the judge believed because it was easy to believe. Mama Uche was a natural trouble maker; hardly Village bred but still a village nonentity. She deserved it.
Her fake mourning was most likely the easiest thing she’s ever pulled off. She would put on a black chiffon dress every day, tie her head with a black pashmina, line her eyes with eyeliner and seat at the back in the courtroom. She looked as pathetic as she wanted. When it was revealed from a search that Mama Uche had juju in her room, she cried making sure the judge noticed her but not enough for her to be held in contempt.
She laughed. She picked a cigarette and puffed. She remembered the look in Mama Uche’s eyes when a babalawo came to testify that she had once acquired herbs to kill her husband. Mama Uche probably didn’t even know where to find a babalawo if she needed one. She was that gullible. She fingered the hair that decorated her chin. She liked the feel of those tiny spiky monsters as she reflected.
There, on the fourth floor of her husband’s mansion, she felt like she owned the world.
She laughed. She could get used to this, laughing without one care in the world. Her eyes began to water. Anytime she looked at Uche, his first son, she remembered him. She remembered his lankiness. The moustache that covered the top of his lips. She remembered how uncomfortable it was to kiss them. She remembered lying in bed and fingering his navel. She remembered loving him. She laughed. Oh once upon a love story. The irony of it was he’d fallen out of love with her and married someone else. And he loved Mama Uche all the more since she gave him three sons. She blinked back a tear that threatened to waltz its way down.
She had been planning this, his death mildly for a long time. Then someone had killed him. The autopsy revealed that much. Poison. Mama Uche prepared his meals. Everyone knew that.
No one suspected her. No one had reason to. She was a peaceful lady, the wife with a sweet smile. But she also knew it wasn’t mama Uche. She knew that much. But who it was, she couldn’t tell. To avert liability, she pushed the right buttons. She was friends with the Attorney General’s wife. They both made their hair in the same saloon. So she said some words in the mourning process which Madam AG would obviously whisper to her husband after they’d had sex. It wasn’t long before the police started strolling around their neighborhood, asking questions. Mama Uche was arrested, charged with murder and finally after several months of court hearings and proceedings, Mama Uche was convicted.
Her children would be next. She would deal with them until the streets became their home. She sighed. It wasn’t her fault she was unable to have children. She could kill them now for all she cared. It did seem like a good day to die. The sun was harsh, the air was still, and no birds sang. In fact, the day was without color the way a low quality movie dulled the screen.
She didn’t care who killed her husband. She even wished to thank such a person. The douche deserved to die after hurting her that much. He had a lot of enemies. She suspected it was from his workplace but the police liked the polygamous house murder story better.
A day at the beach was just about to finish. Well this would be the last time she would be drinking it she thought to herself and raised her glass, for her dead husband and Mama Uche, innocent woman who had been sentenced to life imprisonment. Just as she did that, she heard footsteps behind her, before she could look back; she felt a force at her back that sent her tumbling out through the verandah, flying in the still air. The last thing she thought of was
…who killed my husband!?