Violet turned uncomfortably on the bed. She kicked away the blankets and reached for the AC remote and switched it on. Very rarely did she have to sleep alone on the huge bed in the master’s bedroom. Oyim had traveled to the village earlier that morning for a funeral. However, she was not bothered by the emptiness of the room or the absence of his warmth from her side. Another thing weighed heavily on her mind. C-Jay. Just the mere thought of his name set off the warning bells in her head. She shouldn’t be thinking of him in that light but the thoughts appeared to be deaf to her inner cautions.
It had started after he came to the house. First, it was the inner jokes, the small comments he made in passing about her kids and the house. He had wanted to visit again but Violet firmly refused. And then it was the light, but intimate touches. The first few times, he had apologized when his hands grazed her hands or any other part of her body. But soon he began to express his apology in sneaky smiles flung her way when they happened.
Violet was not stupid. She knew exactly what was going on in his mind, in his head. She knew what he wanted. She also knew that she should stop it, not encourage it by responding with tiny smiles and laughing at his jokes. It only grew worse as the school’s sports competition drew closer. This time, she had to spend an extra hour in school after school hours to supervise the students’ training. Time and again, C-Jay mysteriously appeared beside her with a cold bottle of water—at first, it was soft drinks, but after she repeatedly refused it with the excuse of watching her weight, he took to bringing water which she gladly accepted—while she supervised the 26-group students as they practiced their marching.
She had to admit, she enjoyed the attention he showered on her. It had been long since anyone aside from her husband treated her this way. That was the source of her worries. The increasing dependence she was beginning to have towards his actions. She was now looking forward to seeing him jog towards her across the field, a chilled bottle of water in his hand. Three times during the week, she had opted for going out to eat lunch with him rather than the meals she had painstakingly cooked and packaged in her blue flask. She had also given him a plate of soup when he complained that he didn’t have time to cook at home.
What is wrong with me? She turned on the bed, She took her phone from where it was charging on the table beside the bed and opened it, blinking at the sudden brightness that met her eyes. She reduced the brightness of her phone and went to her chats with C-Jay. They were becoming overly personal. Earlier, they had been chatting about what he liked in a woman. It was probably just her being oversensitive, but it seemed most of the qualities he mentioned, described her. He wanted a woman that could be his friend and could take care of him like she did her husband. She had replied with an emoticon, one that didn’t reveal the warmth that was spreading through her chest at his reply. What would her husband think if he goes through the chats? Was it as innocent as she claimed their friendship was?
She sneezed loudly. Sniffing, she switched off the AC. She adjusted her wrapper over her body and returned her phone to its former position. She would have to draw a line between her friendship with C-Jay. She couldn’t let it come between her and her family. She tightened her lips firmly and turned again on the bed. She fluffed the pillows then sank her head into it. Tomorrow, she would talk to him, she decided. With the decision made, she closed her eyes and tried to force herself to sleep.
Violet was woken six hours later by continuous pounding on her door.
“Mummy, mummy,” Nma’s voice was loud and filled with worry. “Something is wrong with Chike.”
She came down from the bed in a hurry, wincing when she felt a sharp pain go through her back. She ignored it and hurried to the door.
Tears were running down Nma’s eyes when she opened the door. “What is wrong with him?” She hurried past her towards the kids’ room. The door was partly opened. She entered the room and rushed to the bed. Chike was lying on the bed, his eyes tightly shut. His breath came in wheezes.
“Chike, what is wrong with you?” She scooped him into her arms and was met with heat. “Oh my God!” She didn’t need to touch his forehead to know that he was running a fever.
“Where is Sochi?” She turned to Nma already coming down from the bed with Chike in her hands.
“Chike vomited and she had to clean it up. She changed his clothes and took the dirty one downstairs.”
She took Chike into the bathroom. “Go and call her. Have you taken your bath?”
“Yes.” Nma ran out of the room, screaming Sochi’s name.
Violet wet a towel and ran it over Chike’s body. Her movements were quick. When she was done, she took him to the room and put some clothes on him. Despite all the movements, Chike barely opened his eyes, only moaning when she rattled him too much. She rushed back to her room with him and quickly took her bath.
In no time, Nma and Sochi were rushing behind her as she put Chike in the car. Usually, she would drop the children off on her way to the school, but today was different. On the way out, she was lucky to meet one of her neighbors whose children went to the same school as hers. Her mouth was filled with gratitude as the other woman agreed to drop Nma and Sochi at their schools.
On her way to the hospital, she gave the school a call, saying she would be absent from work for the day. She also gave Oyim a call and when he didn’t pick up the phone, she sent him a message telling him about Chike. When she got to the hospital, she had to wait worriedly until the doctor attended to them.
Later that morning, she had just come out of the hospital when her phone rang. It was C-Jay. She reluctantly picked the call.
“Hello, C-Jay,” Her voice was tired.
“Vi, are you okay? How is Chike?” C-Jay sounded worried.
“He is fine now. He was having typhoid and malaria. They gave him some injections, he is better now.” She looked at the small boy sitting behind the car. He was awake, looking through the window. Dried streaks of tears were on his face. Her heart broke again as she remembered the tears that ran down his face as the nurse gave him the injections. He had tried hard to hold in his cries.
“That is good. I’m going to come by the house after school let me see him,” he said.
“No, no need-” she was saying.
“Don’t worry. I won’t stay long. I just want to see the small guy. He is my favorite. You don’t expect me not to do anything?” C-Jay cut in.
“That’s not what I mean, but-”
She heard the sound of the bell ringing on the other side. “I should go now. I have a class,” C-Jay said hurriedly and without waiting for her to say anything, he hung up the phone.
Violet sighed. She turned to Chike. “Chi, what do you want to eat?”
He shook his head. “I’m not hungry.”
Violet wouldn’t blame him. Hours ago, she had forced him to eat in front of the doctor and nurses so that he could be injected. It must have been a struggle for him to keep it all down.
She prepared jollof rice for C-Jay when he came. Surprisingly, Chike ate a great deal at his prompting. It was the only advantage of his visit. Violet had been tired from running around all through the day and slept off in the parlor while they were watching a program. She woke up when Sochi and Nma returned from school. At that time, he was no longer in the house. He had left as soon as he opened the gate for the two girls. Throughout all the bustle, she had forgotten to talk to him about their relationship.