It was a night like every other. The houses were all silent as the neighborhood had gone to sleep. Janelle woke up suddenly and looked around. She wondered what had woken her. She checked the time, it was just one o’clock in the morning. She stood up, put on her robe and walked to the window looking down.
The neighborhood was peaceful and everything looked normal. Suddenly she heard a strange sound. Her heart went to her mouth and she stood there frozen for a while listening with all her might .She then gathered courage and began to tiptoe to the living room. Everything was fine. She checked the lock on the door and the windows then finally breathed a sigh of relief. The day had been so stressful.
She was about getting into bed when she heard the noise again, but this time she deciphered it to be coming from the next apartment. She shook her head angrily and muttered darkly about insensitive people. She got into bed and was just starting to drift back to sleep when she heard an earth shattering scream.
Abimbola tried her best not to cry out as her husband pounded her with blows. She was doing fine until a particular nasty blow to her eye made her scream out. Suddenly she wasn’t the only one screaming as her baby woke up and joined in the screaming. "Stupid bitch!” Ayo grunted as he continued to rain her with blows. “You’ve woken it up, haven’t you”.
The blows then ceased and she lay there crying, relieved it was over, until she heard him screaming at the baby. "Shut the fuck up” she heard him shouting which of course made the baby cry even harder and which made her find the strength to stand up.
She ran into the room to find him shaking the baby and a mindless rage overcame her. She picked up the vase lying on the bedside table and smashed it over his head. He let out a roar; a mixture of pain and rage, and came after her. She ran to the kitchen and grabbed a knife.
“Do not come near me” she warned, brandishing the knife. “You want to stab me? He asked with a nasty smirk as he continued to advance towards her. “I said do not come near me!”
He lunged for her and by reflex she drove the knife into his stomach. Both of them gasped and stood there for what seemed like a lifetime until she stepped back pulling out the knife and he fell twitching.
Abimbola stood there horrified at what she had done and watched as her husband slowly bled to death. She must have stood there for a while before a knock on the door startled her out of her daze.
Janelle jumped at the sound of the scream. Now that the sounds were clearer, she detected that someone must be in some sort of trouble. She was about to reach for the phone and call the police when she heard a baby crying.
She stood there for a while confused on what to do when suddenly there was silence. She breathed a sigh of relief. She didn’t really want to call the police because the family from the next apartment was black and she knew they were going to get it hard.
The family was very secretive and hardly ever talked to anyone in the building. She saw the man occasionally but they always ignored each other. She only knew he had a wife and child living with him because she had seen them come in one evening.
The lady hardly ever came out. That was how they were and she had learnt to mind her business. Suddenly, she heard a patrol car pull up and she groaned. The other neighbors must have heard the noise and called the police. Without knowing why she was doing it, she tightened her bathrobe and went out.
Abimbola tiptoed to the door, no one had ever knocked on their door for the whole of three months she had been there and with a sink of heart she realized they must have woken the neighbors up with the racket. “Who is there?” she asked tentatively. A female voice answered. “hey, I just wanted to warn you, the cops would be here any minute.” Fear washed over her at the mention of the cops.
Without thinking, she threw open the door crying “I didn’t mean to kill him” she sobbed. The woman looked taken aback. ”what?” she asked, but Abimbola couldn’t bring herself to repeat what she had said. Saying it out loud had suddenly broken the irrational hope she had that this might just be a bad dream and suddenly everything looked more real and frightening.
She stood there crying and then she saw something pass across the woman’s face, a sudden understanding. Before she could say or do anything, she found herself being pushed back inside the apartment with the woman coming in after her.
Janelle scanned the apartment quickly and asked “Where is he?” The lady raised a shaky hand and pointed towards the kitchen. “Okay listen to me” she said briskly, "I need you to go calm your baby down and make sure you are quiet.”
She began to sob and Janelle sighed impatiently “Look there is no time to cry, the cops would be here any minute and you would get arrested and your baby taken from you, do you want that?" The lady seemed to gain some stamina from the speech and shook her head. Both of them jumped when they heard a knock on the door.
Janelle put a hand to her lips and whispered “Whatever you do, be quiet, okay?” another nod and she went inside. Janelle smoothed down her hair and opened the door to find two officers standing there. “Good morning ma’am, we received a complaint from your neighbors that there was some sort of disturbance here.” Oh my God” Janelle said breezily “I was watching a movie and dozed off, didn’t realize it was so loud. I’m so sorry"
Both officers gave her the once over suspiciously and the second one asked. “Is anyone in there with you? “Oh no, I’m all alone, unless you guys would like to change that” she said, trying her best to look flirtatious. Both officers eyed her and the first one said “We’ll have to decline but make sure you don’t cause any more disturbances or you will be spending the night with us. At the station". She nodded and watched as both turned to leave when suddenly the air was filled with the cries of a baby.
© 2021 Oshinowo Sherif