She isn’t one of those who wake up lazily, she isn’t of the wealthy class who take their time with everything, gesticulating as they try to find words which actually are at their finger tips. Neither does she wake with a start like one chased by the devils in her dreams, not that she didn’t have devils, nor that they didn’t chase her- just not in her dreams. She wakes in three installments: half awake-awake-floods of thoughts- always in that order.
She looks around her wondering where the devils would come from this day. They always pretend like they would stay away, taking a momentary leave to bother someone else, until she steps out of bed. She lingers, wondering what would happen if she doesn’t get out of bed. How she hates morning shifts, even if by special arrangement she gets to resume by 8 a.m.
‘Would the devils leave me alone?’
She heard herself speak and the voice sounded strange- hoarse? squeaky? The devils had launched an attack-and she was still in bed.
She rises delicately, like she would hurt the sheets if she gets up too fast or too soon. Her feet to the cold floor, wiggle her toes-a ritual from her childhood days. She sighs as she remembers a small house full of fun and laughter, a thatched roof and mud walls-a house in the village. The lights come on and she looks at it offensively, ‘the power company remembers’. What was that song about NEPA remembering when everyone else forgets? But who needs electricity when you have the moon? She finally wills herself up and heads to the bathroom-time to fight the first devil.
She walks into the bathroom. She avoids looking at the white tiled walls. She hated the colour. She should have changed the tiles and repainted the walls. They remind her too much of… She kills the thought like one swatting off an offensive fly. Not that devil…too early for that devil.
She faces the mirror and opens her mouth wide until she can see her velum. She searches, peering lower into her oesophagus-another ritual. She started this ritual in primary three, when her crush on Chineme was driving her crazy, a part of her knew back then that she was going to be nurse. If she wasn’t a nurse, she wouldn’t have met… ‘No, no, no, no no’, she realised she was talking to herself again, the same squeaky hoarse voice. She must be coming down with a cold. She may have to call in sick. Maureen would have a fit. She smiles as she thinks of Maureen having a fit: four letter words filling the air; drawers opening and closing in a crazy frenzy; attempts not to throw things. She should have left this job. That was the plan until…
There is a loud bang at the door. She automatically pulls her robe together. The bang comes again. As if put into gear, she propels herself, out of the bathroom, through the bedroom into the living room- the time was 7.02am. The bang comes again just as she reaches the door, she pulls it open.
Her hands fly to her mouth stifling a scream at the sight.
‘Please, help me’
She resists the urge to shot the door and run away screaming.
He was the only one that called her Dor. Every one else called her Doris. The name was short enough but he had made it shorter, more ‘personalised’. Each time he called her that, she felt like someone was licking chocolate off the small of her back and made her want to grab a bedpost . The revelations hadn’t changed that, and now not even seeing him bleeding from the head – the blood running down his pretty face, threatening to seep into his eyes- could change that, she still wanted to grab a bed post.
Her thoughts switch back to the bleeding subject. This looked like a knife wound-whoever did this had aimed to hurt him really bad but had somehow not plunged deep enough. He sways and she is brought back to now.
‘We need to get you to the hospital’
‘No…no hospitals…just let me in, you can help me’
‘Who did this?’
‘Not now Dor, please’
The questions could wait. She needed the act. Everything inside her told her to take him in and nurture him. This was more of a flesh wound: clean and stitch. He would be grateful and maybe… She allowed her mind to stray to a time not too long ago, a time when they spent all her free time and off days together. When his touch sent her heart racing, willing him to go further…They were so good together, until his wife showed up.
He groans, bringing her back to the present.
She opens the door and helps him in, shutting the door with a back flip of a leg. She leads him to the sofa and suspends his head with a throw pillow as she enters nurse mode.
‘I’ll have to clean and disinfect the wound. It looks like it might need stitching’.
He nods as she hurries away to get the first aid box. She knew she was going to regret letting him into her life again, but she didn’t care. There was no reason why she should take him away. The only advantage his wife had was a sheet of paper, it could be made worthless if she played her cards right. She would help Chris and show him love that his wife could never equal. This was a war and she was prepared to do anything to win. She and Chris were meant to be together, he was irreplaceable…