Enitan tilted the edge of her beret to cover her face and hoped nobody would notice. The wound above her left eye was more pronounced now that it was daylight. She had her face to the floor as she rushed to her seat, oblivious to the figure approaching her. They collided just as she got to her desk. It was Ola.
“Wohooo! Eni, slow down. Are your rival witches pursuing you already?” He laughed at his own lame joke.
She mumbled an apology and tried to sidestep him. He blocked her path and in the process, knocked her beret off.
Ola was a troublemaker.
“Hey guys, Eni has a big ass wound on her face.” He blurted.
And a blabbermouth.
“You must have had a coven face-off last night.” He must really think himself a comedian.
Enitan ignored him and picked up her beret, pushing him out of the way and sliding into her seat.
The others were beginning to gather around.
God, let them ring the bell for assembly, she silently prayed as she put back on her beret.
A hand flipped it off.
“Ouch. This looks serious. Did you get into a fight?” Tony asked. He was Ola’s buddy.
She stared at the whiteboard ignoring the growing crowd and trying not to break down in tears. This was humiliating.
“Did they punch your mouth or something? Can’t you talk?” Ola asked.
“Knock it off guys.” Sandra said, pushing Ola and his accomplice from Enitan’s desk. She was the class prefect and by default assumed responsibility for everybody.
“Are you okay? What happened to you?”
“I fell.” That was a lie.
“Or you had a fight with your boyfriend?” Ola joked, dragging the ‘boy’
“Oh wait…did he try to rape you?” Tony chipped in.
Enitan ground her teeth. Such insensitive bastards.
“Shut up, the both of you or I’d report you to Mr Omidiji.” Sandra turned to Enitan. “You should see the school nurse or this will get infected.”
“I will.” Another lie.
The nurse would ask questions and will probably involve Mr Omidiji, her class teacher and the principal. She didn’t want anyone all up in her business.
“All of you, get back to your seat. This is not an exhibition.”
“Well, the class creep is a sight for sore eyes.” Ola shouted from his seat and those who got the pun laughed.
The bell was rung and everyone made to leave for the assembly.
The assembly ground was as quiet as a grave yard as the teacher on duty gave her benediction. Two girls on the JSS3 line started to whisper.
“I think she’s lying.” skinny girl said.
“Who?” nerdy replied.
“Enitan. That injury looks too deep to be just a fall.”
“So, what do you think happened?”
“I don’t know.” She went mute when a teacher’s eyes met hers. As soon as the coast was clear, she continued. “But I think something’s going on she won’t talk about.”
“Are you kidding? She never talks about anything.”
“I’m worried about her. She’s emaciating. I think she’s having troubles at home.”
“What are you? The school counsellor?”
“I’m just saying. What if…”
They were interrupted by their class teacher.
“Have you girls seen Enitan today?”
“She should be at the front of the assembly line.” Skinny said.
“I’ve checked. She’s not there.”
The two girls exchanged looks and shrugged.
“Have you seen her today?”
“Yes sir.” They both chorused.
“Alright. She’s probably around somewhere.”
He walked away, swinging a thin cane. The girls sighed.
Enitan sat on the marbled floor and stared at the water closet in front of her. She had come to hide in the restroom to avoid going to assembly. She touched the swollen injury and winced in pain. The tears started to roll freely as she recalled the events of the night before.
Her dad usually picked her up from school and due to his new job, he’s been doing this at very odd hours. School closed by 4pm but sometimes she had to wait till 8,9pm to be picked. Last night, they had gotten home few minutes shy the hour of 11. Hungry and exhausted, she had slumped on the bed still fully clothed with her school bag on. She didn’t realise she had fallen asleep till she felt the sting of a leather belt against her skin.
“You are counting the number of times I’m calling you abi?” Her father barked as the belt ascended and descended on her tiny frame.
“I fell asleep and didn’t hear you”, she protested in pain.
“You are a bastard! Useless child. You are just like your mother.” He kept striking her and even when the metal head connected with her left eye, he kept at it till he was satisfied.
She curled up at the feet of her bed as blood dripped down her face, shedding tears of frustration and wondering if sleeping off at a time when her mates were fast asleep waranted being treated like a thief caught in the market place.
She was brought back to reality as the students began to sing the national anthem. She was only 12 but had experienced more than two lifetimes of physical, verbal and emotional abuse. If she wasn’t at the receiving end, her mother was and she often watched it happen. She wondered countless times why her mum wouldn’t just take her and leave. Home wasn’t a safe haven. But neither was school. Her classmates bullied and teased her at every opportunity they got. If they didn’t attack her for her looks, it will be for secluding herself or even scoring high on a test. They all felt she was weird. They wouldn’t understand. She couldn’t explain herself either. But it was all too much for her to bear.
She watched as some ants crawled by her, carrying what seemed like food and disappeared into a crack in the wall. There had to be a way out.
Miriam was the first person to walk into the class. Her scream attracted everyone else. They all stared in shock and then fear as they looked from the body on the floor to the message written in what looked like blood on the wall. It read
“I’m coming for each of you. One. By. One. E.”
Mr Omidiji squeezed his way through the huddled students.
“What is going on here?”
“It’s Enitan. She…” Sandra burst into tears before she could utter another word.
“My daughter o! My daughter!” Mrs Ige wailed.
“Madam…you have to remain calm.”
“Calm? Doctor how can I remain calm when my daughter slashed her wrist?”
“I assure you, Enitan will be fine. She’s in good hands. But there are some questions I need to ask.”
She sighed heavily and wiped her face. “If you say so.”
“Has your daughter been exhibiting strange behaviours as of late?”
“Not at all. She’s been her usual self.”
“Do you know if she’s experiencing some challenges in school?”
“She doesn’t talk much. But her position dropped last term.”
He paused his note and looked at her.
“From what to what?”
She sighed. “3rd to tenth.”
A look of surprise swept across his face.
“And what was your reaction to this?”
“Well…me, I thought it’s the stress of we relocating. She wakes up very early and goes to bed very late.”
“I see. What’s the home environment like?”
She sighed and crossed her arms under her breasts. Seeing she wasn’t going to respond to the question, he decided to move on.
“The injury above her eye…how did she get it?”
There was a momental silence.
“Her father…” Her voice broke, unable to go on.
He made some more notes and then faced her squarely.
“Mrs Ige, what your daughter did was a cry for help.”
“A cry for help?”
“Yes ma’am. First of all, I’ll have you know your daughter did not attempt to kill herself. At least not at that moment.”
“Doctor, I don’t understand.”
“You see, all that blood she used to scribble the message on the wall and poured on her wrist was actually her menstrual blood.”
“Men what?” Mrs Ige put her hands on her head. “Doctor, please just tell me what’s going on. My own Enitan has not started seeing her period o.”
“How well do you talk to your daughter? What exactly do you think you know about her?”
“Erm…well…” She stammered.
“A pack of sleeping pills was found in your daughter’s pencil case.”
“Ehn?” She jumped out of her chair, shouting. “Sleeping pills? Temi bajeeee.” A wail followed.
“She took the pills to knock her out by the time she’s found. I don’t want to make any conclusions but I think you are lucky it didn’t go beyond that.”
“Ah doctor, help me. What can we do now?” She sat down.
“You are going to have to get help for your daughter. You also need to take her out of her current environment for a while including her school if not, next time we might not be so lucky.”
“OK Doctor. Thank you very much for the suggestion. Can I see her now?”
She could hear the voices filtering in her ears. Is this what angels sounded like? No wait, that was no angel. That was her mother’s voice. It couldn’t be. She had taken the right number of pills. Or had she? It was supposed to end on the classroom floor. She wasn’t supposed to be here. Not in this realm, not in this body. Nooooo! She screamed in her head.
Tears rolled down her cheeks. She must be cursed. For not even heaven wanted her.