The Last Straw

Set of dental tools on blue surface

Rope. Check
Knife. Check
Plate of dodo. Check

I zipped up my bag and set out for the pharmacy at the main road. I just needed to get the yoghurt and sleeping pills to complete the ensemble. Tonight is the night it ends.

The first time it happened, I took no notice of it. A family had just moved into the purple house opposite ours and my mum had sent me to give them a plate of moimoi and ask if they needed anything, because we had to be nice to the neighbours. So, off I went. I had barely knocked before the door opened and I heard “Hi beautiful”.

Who is this one? I thought but deep down I was thrilled. It was the first time someone other than my parents would call me beautiful. But when I remembered my flat nose and almost non-existent eyebrow, I scowled inwardly. I thought he must be playing a cruel joke. I smiled, delivered my mum’s message and left as fast as I could.

The next day in school, a lot of people smiled at me, even the usually hateful Tayo. It was quite surprising. The height of it was when someone asked if they could take a picture with me. I was all bubbly inside and felt like I would float if my feet left the ground. That night, I slept with a wide smile on my face.

The next time I saw him was on a Friday. I was going grocery shopping and he said “Hi cutey”. Someone paid for my fare and an old woman wanted to give me an ankara bracelet because I looked so cute. In the market, someone pulled my cheeks while smiling at me. I even got all the goods at a discounted rate, “just for me’.

It was this morning I drew a link between his greetings and the strange events of the week. My parents had traveled and I took that opportunity to take a stroll in the night which they frown at. I was looking at a signpost with weird colors while walking when I bumped into him and his books dropped.

“Sorry, I’m so sorry”, I apologized while picking up his books.

“Awwn, you’re so sweet. Thank you”, he said with a smile. “I’m sorry too. It wasn’t entirely your fault, I was on my phone”.

After an awkward pause, we both went on our separate ways. I was about to open the gate to my house when a girl that looked three came to lick my hand. I stared at her in disbelief. What is this?

“Mummy, chweet”

Her mother who wasn’t far behind apologized profusely and scooped her up while scolding her. She promised to get her sweet.

Not weird at all.

I entered the house and immediately went to sleep only to wake up to a crawling sensation on my body. I switched on the bedside lamp and found ants everywhere – on my bed, inside my clothes, on my head. It was horrible. If anyone had seen me then, they would have thought me crazy with the way I was stomping and slapping and sweeping. After a hot shower, I finally got rid of the ones on my body.

While trying to remember if I took any sweet thing the previous day that could be on my body, I remembered the conversation I had with him, the episode with the child and it all made sense.

Oh lord!

What happens when he says “you’re ugly” or “you are scum” or “you are worthless”? Can I bear to be treated like scum? I know. I know nothing could possibly cause him to say that since we barely interact but how could someone have such power over another? I didn’t even know his name.

What if he says “you’re dead to me”?

He won’t be saying that. Not after tonight. I have watched too many tongue surgeries to fail. Or how hard can a tongue removal be?

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