‘Now we’re back to our cage’ Rose sighed as her father drove into the compound.
‘Not to worry love, we’ll have another time to hang out’ he rubbed her hands gently as she brought the car to a halt. He’d left his driver behind on purpose, he didn’t want any suspicion of his affair with Rose, they needed to hide behind the curtains.
‘What’s going on there’? Rose watched her mother’s face, the woman looked shocked and confused and argued with her son.
‘We’re home, let’s find out’ the pastor fetched his brief case and they both reached the gathering.
‘Mark! Long time, how have you been’ she rushed into her brother’s arms, she had not seen her brother for a month.
‘Been waiting for you dear, how are you’? he assessed his sister.
‘I’m fine and you’? She eyed him all over, he seemed happier than his usual self, maybe Mark thought is a secret but she had found out he was having an affair with Grace though she didn’t confront him, her demise brought his much pain and he was the only member of the family that was oblivious of the fact that she was actually dead and not missing.
‘What’s going on here darling’? Pastor Ita noticed his wife wasn’t particularly pleased to see him.
‘Welcome sir’ I bent my knee while the other guy, who had brought the picture of the man greeted him and left immediately.
‘What is it Helen? Why the frown’? the man ignored me and faced his wife. This was going to be tough, I really needed money and I couldn’t return home empty handed so I was ready to endure anything, I needed to survive.
‘Where were you’? Helen eyed her husband suspiciously.
‘Mum? Please don’t tell me you believe that, how could you pay mind to those hungry bloggers looking for attention’? Mark wasn’t pleased with his mother.
‘What’s going on mum and who is this’? Rose paused as she took a glance at the girl. She calmed herself, maybe she wasn’t seeing well, what was she doing there? With a little box?
‘Okay then Mark, I’ll leave your father alone, meanwhile, let’s talk about our new maid’ Helen decided to heed her son’s advice, it didn’t make sense actually, what those bloggers wrote was a pure lie, her husband was a very faithful man, she was sure of that.
‘Grace? No, mum? Is this real’? Rose swallowed hard, what was a dead girl doing before her?
‘Grace’? the pastor turned and face the girl he’d ignored minutes ago, he’d thought it a figment of his imagination, but this was no fantasy, it was real.
‘Why are you all acting so scared? This isn’t Grace, I took a closer look at her, it’s just a strong resemblance and nothing more, look at her forehead, she doesn’t have that scar of Grace, so just relax, I guess Grace is still missing’ Mark explained. His family members were acting funny, first it was his mother and now Rose and his father, something wasn’t right.
‘Yes my husband and daughter, Mark is right, I thought she was Grace too, but I took a closer look at her’ Helen tried to control the situation and prayed her daughter wouldn’t cause a scene.
Mark couldn’t be let in on their secret, it would change a lot of things.
‘If you say so’ the pastor replied quietly, still not convinced, he had a lot to discuss with his wife and Rose.
‘So what is your name’? Rose asked as she walked closer to the girl who looked so much like the maid she’d killed.
‘Ajunwa, my friend Joy, referred me here’ I explained. This was getting out of hand, I was curious, who was this Grace?
‘Oh, Joy’? the Pastor seemed interested in my explanation.
‘Yes sir, she brought me to Calabar but she left to attend to something important’ I replied.
‘Mark is right, she isn’t Grace’ Rose exhaled gently as she took a closer look at the girl, but she wouldn’t last long, she needed to speak with her father urgently, she couldn’t have that girl living here, it would make her so uncomfortable.
‘Very well then, let’s all go inside’ the Pastor said.
I was hesitant as Helen’s eyes scanned me like I had done something very bad.
‘Go in Ajunwa, speak to my daughter, she would show me to your room’ Helen said and I followed the rest in.
‘Thank you Madam’ I replied.
‘This would be very tough’ Helen sighed, leaving with a look alike of Grace, but she couldn’t send the girl away, she noticed her son Mark had taken a liking to her and sending her away could raise his suspicion. She rubbed her chin thoughtfully, as she remembered the picture Nelson had showed her, she didn’t know why, but she felt restless, what if her husband wasn’t as innocent as she thought he was?
She decided to cast the matter aside, she was only being suspicious because she was the guilty one, maybe it was time to end things with Nelson and focus on her marriage before her infidelity would do something worse to her husband’s reputation.
She didn’t say a word to me after I’d relayed her mother’s message, I decided she was unfriendly hence I preferred her brother Mark, who was the sole reason I was allowed to stay there. Without his insistence, I would’ve been on my way back to my village, all because I bore a strong semblance to a girl named ‘Grace’.
‘Thank you’ I replied gently as she showed me my room.
‘Hey, look, I don’t know you but I don’t like you, and you wouldn’t last long here, I promise’ she hissed loudly and walked away.
I was dumfounded, I don’t know why Rose had this strong aversion for me, I hadn’t met her or her family before, why did they hate me so much?
I sighed, I wouldn’t turn back now, I was determined to save some money. I scanned the room and smiled, it was beautiful, too beautiful for a maid, these people were extremely rich like Joy had said.
I put down my box gently and toured the room, there was a bathroom and a cupboard, I wondered why they placed a cupboard in my room. I was a bit curious, so I walked towards it and pulled it apart.
‘Sorry I don’t have teacups’ I checked it out. The cupboard was really beautiful, but it was useless to me. I was about to leave when I discovered my hands had touched something.
‘Paint’ I hissed, as I wiped my hands on the bed sheet, a dark red paint covered it. I sighed and undressed, I had a long day and I needed to rest, and I was curious about the old maid. Who was she? And what had she done?
I slipped on my old nightgown and lay on the bed ready to sleep, when I felt something fall from the cupboard, I was reluctant to check it out but I later did, what I found surprised me.
The family had dinner and everyone was asleep except for Helen and her husband, they had a lot of trashing out to do.
‘Did Rose ever explain her reason for fighting with Grace? I think we should start there, we don’t know much about that’ Helen asked, she felt her daughter wasn’t being honest with her. Something must have led to that fight but her daughter had waved it aside.
‘I don’t know, you’re supposed to know that, you’re her mother’ he replied, his heart pounded nervously against his chest. Why was Helen suddenly so curious? why wasn’t she satisfied with Rose’s explanation? That didn’t sit well with him, if she found out that Grace had known about his affair with Rose, then his life would be over because he knew the stigma that would cause for him.
‘Were you sleeping with her’? Helen asked. She knew her husband was faithful but no man could be trusted, that line of thought dropped in her mind and she decided to confront him, it made sense then.
Ita must have been sleeping with Grace, maybe Rose had found out and didn’t want her getting hurt, that was why she had a fight with the maid.
‘Excuse me? What are you saying’? he was stunned, why would his wife ask him such?
‘Well, I need an explanation, and why did she want to leave our house just like that? It doesn’t make sense, I wasn’t mean to her, something was going on behind my back and I need to know the truth, do not lie to me’ Helen raised her voice at him.
‘I think you’re being crazy, if I wanted cheating on you, I wouldn’t do it right under your nose, maybe you should search elsewhere’ he hissed angrily and turned his back against her.
‘Really?’ she arched her brow, that was all she needed, her husband was cheating on her, she was now sure of it. She needed to speak with her daughter. She wasn’t supposed to feel bad, cause she was equally cheating but she felt her heart skip slightly as she imagined her husband with another woman. She took one look at him and decided she had to end her affair with Nelson the following day.
‘I will be back for you’ she hissed as she stormed out of the room.
‘Knock Knock’ Helen rapped on her daughter’s door.
‘Who’s there’? Rose listened eagerly, she prayed it was her father, she missed him dearly and needed to spend more time with him.
‘It’s your dear mother’ Helen smiled.
‘Oh, come on in, door’s open’ Rose was quite disappointed.
‘So how was your day honey’? Helen sat on her daughter’s bed.
‘Fine mum, a bit stressful’ Rose yawned. Why had her mother come to her? Something wasn’t right, she felt it.
‘I don’t like the way you acted today when you saw Ajunwa, try and gain control of yourself, remember Mark doesn’t know about our secret, but if you shake like a little piece of leaf whenever you see a person who looks like Grace, you wouldn’t be doing us any good. Okay’? he mother advised.
‘Yes mother, thanks, I have to sleep now, I have a long day at school tomorrow’ she said, eager to get rid of her mother. She needed to see her father, she was already horny and she needed him inside of her.
‘I’m not done, I need you to tell me the truth’ Helen inhaled deeply.
‘The truth? I don’t understand’ Rose raised her brows, had her mother gotten wind of her affair with her dad?
‘About Grace, why did you fight with her? Tell me, I am your mother, don’t hide anything from me’ Helen asked.
‘Oh, mum, I already told you, she insulted me and I had to teach her a lesson, I’m sorry I dragged you all into that mess. Please forgive me’ Rose sobbed in order to distract her mother.
Why had her mother asked her about Grace, six months after she was buried?
‘It’s okay honey, I believe you, now go to sleep’Helen kissed her head lightly and stepped out of the room.
Her daughter was lying, she was sure of it, and she had to find out, she hated being played, so she had to find out and the pawn in her game would be the new maid, Ajunw
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