The shoe box held a lot of papers, something told me I wouldn’t like the contents of the box, but I had to go through it, so, with a resigned sigh I settled in on the floor to go through the papers.
Bank details and data; I had all that already, work documents, his last promotion letter; my jaw dropped at that one. Huh? Ken at his death was earning over 10million Naira per annum? What the …? And I remembered pleading with him for just 500 thousand Naira in the months before he died to set-up a small business, and he had rejected that on the grounds of ‘no money’. Hmmm! Anyways, factor in the fact that he had been running two parallel families, I guess that explains the ‘no money’.
Riffling through, I found more papers, Ken kept both the useful and inconsequential, or so it seemed to me. I found even a receipt for dinner at a restaurant; I would love to hear the gist behind that receipt being kept, it must have held some sentimental value for him to have kept it. I found an envelope at the bottom of the box, it was in an unaddressed envelope, and it wasn’t sealed, so no one can claim I trespassed. Neither did it have any conditions attached to its being opened, so I went right on to open the envelope.
It contained what looked to be Ken’s will, and it was recent; dated a year from his death.
The doorbell rang just as I was about to open it. Insistent ringing typical of Susan. Talk of wrong timing.
She knew I was home, and they was no way I could ignore her. The will wasn’t running away, right? I stuffed it back into the envelope and went to get the door.
“Susan!” I said by way of greeting on opening the door.
“Hello sister dearest, how you doing?´ She tried to do an imitation of Wendy Williams.
This made me smile despite my irritation with her dropping in unannounced. “I’m good, come on in.” I stood aside for her to come in.
“Duh, was there a chance you wouldn’t let me in.” She asked wryly.
“Yes, I wanted to ignore the bell, especially knowing it was you.”
“But I brought chicken!” She brandished a bag from a popular chicken restaurant. She knows I love their chicken. She came with a bribe, lol. What was Susan up to?
I sank into a chair and watched in amusement as Susan went from room to room opening doors and peeping in. she returned shortly.
“Miriam na wa for you o! So you shipped the kids off to our place so you can be all alone by yourself.”
“That’s tautology Susan, you need to mind your grammar.” I teased.
“Forget the grammar! You mean you’re all alone in this house, no guest? Haba sis, you can be boring.”
She collapsed into the chair beside me, opened the chicken pack took a piece and offered the pack to me.
I picked a piece of chicken and bit into it remaining silent. It infuriated her when I did that, patience wasn’t one of Susan’s strong points, but it was mine. Lol.
“Are you certain there’s no man in this apartment?” I teased her.
“Are you saying there’s a man in this apartment?” She countered.
I laughed out loud. “I was sorting out Ken’s stuff, come help me.” I decided to put her out of her misery. I got up and she followed me into the room.
“I’ve sorted out his clothes, I was sorting out his shoes when I found this box of papers.” She was my sister, and I knew I could trust her.
‘What’s on the papers? Any more skeletons creeping out of the closet?” She asked as she settled in opposite me.
“Not really, this one I haven’t read, but I have a suspicion it contains something explosive.” I waved the envelope in the air.
“Open it already!!!!” Susan urged excitedly.
And just as I was about to open it, the doorbell rang again.
Ahn ahn! “Who was that again?”
“Uhm, my guess is that’s Emeka.” Susan said uncomfortably.
“Yeah, well, I ran into him this morning, and he said he was going to visit you. Uhm, that was why I searched the house when I came in.” She looked uncomfortable.
This was distraction I didn’t need. Was Susan encouraging Emeka?
A part of me wanted to ignore the door, I didn’t want Emeka around me or my kids. While I wasn’t sure of Daniel’s paternity, I didn’t want to risk him coming around lest anybody see the similar feautures and suspect…… If Daniel was Emeka’s son, who would believe me when I tell them I didn’t know and only began to suspect recently?
Everyone would feel betrayed. Where do I begin? Do I tell Daniel the man he called father isn’t his biological father? Do I tell Ken’s parents Daniel isn’t their grandson?
How do I tell Emeka I gave his son to another man to father.
Who would believe I didn’t know or suspect? If I were on the other side would I believe me?
This whole thing was sordid business and had the ability to destroy lives. I couldn’t risk that happening.
“Aren’t you going to let him in?” Susan asked startling me out of my thoughts.
“I, I don’t want to.” I replied. “Susan, I don’t want to encourage him, I’m done with men.” I said wearily.
“Miriam you are still young, you cannot end your life because of one bad experience. Yes Ken betrayed you, but you have to move on. Not all men are the same.”
“What if I also betrayed Ken?” I whispered.
“What do you mean?” She asked sharply.
“It’s nothing. Go and get the door. I’ll finish up here later.” I replied composing myself.
“Miriam, you were about to say something….”
“It was nothing. Get the door.”
“Go get the door Susan, mind your manners, and don’t keep a guest waiting at the door.” I put the unopened envelope in my bedside drawer to be read later at night, and tried to tidy-up the room. Susan hesitated for a bit before she went to get the door.
I joined them in the living room a while later, Susan had offered him refreshments already.
“Hi Emeka, how are you doing?” I greeted him.
“I’m very well, and you?” He replied rising to his feet.
”Please have a seat, no need for formality in my house.” I said.
“Not formality, courtesy. When a lady walks into the room, it’s proper to rise in greeting.”
“Perfect gentleman.” Susan whispered aloud.”
I rolled my eyes inwardly. Susan had started again.
“I ran into Susan this morning on my way from my morning jog and I promised her I’ll come see you today.” He said as he returned to his seat.
I quirked my eyebrows at Susan. ‘Promised’ ? That wasn’t quite the way she told it.
“How nice of you.” I said instead.
“It’s not niceness, I enjoyed catching up with you at your parents. You know I’m still in the process of renewing friendships, been away for a while.”
“I can imagine.” I said dryly.
“It’s no hardship, and I love your kids. I don’t know how you manage to be away from them.” He smiled brightly.
Susan beamed when he said he loved my kids, and in my mind I said ‘whatever’. My kids were wonderful, who wouldn’t love them?
Yeah, I know, Overdose of mothers pride!
“So, what’s up, thought you said you were in town for a few weeks or so?”
“I decided I’m staying. I’m back for good.”
“Wow! Such good news” Susan said excitedly.
God help me get Susan out of my house right now!
“Good for you. I’m sure your parents are thrilled.”
“Yes they are. Let’s not talk about me, let’s talk about you. How are you spending your alone time, with the kids at your parents? Let’s hang out. You can show me all the interesting places to be.”
“I don’t know the interesting places to be.” I replied wryly.
“That’s not true. Remember that new mall you were just telling me about last week, the one with the cinema, that you hadn’t visited. You guys should go there.” Susan urged excitedly.
“I’m tired, been on my feet all day, I don’t want to go out.” I replied forcing a yawn.
“We could just go see a movie, minimal movement, you get to sit still for the duration of the movie.” Emeka urged.
“I don’t want to go out.” I insisted. “This is my alone time, I need to spend it resting, not battling traffic.”
“Its fine, we could work with that. Order in food, see a movie, gist, whatever you want. Or I could help you with the house chores. I have a spare set of hands, and I’m willing to work.”
‘Oh, she’s done already. You guys should order in pizza; Miriam likes pizza. And I have a movie on my flash I know she’ll love.” Susan replied.
I would gladly have stuffed her in a toilet at that moment. Lol.
“Okay, that’s settled then.” Emeka agreed.
“So, I’ll just start this up.” Susan said rummaging in her hand bag and emerging with a flash drive.
She connected it to the TV and selected the movie she wanted to play.
“I’ll order the pizza for you guys while I go see a client.” Susan said picking up her hand bag.
Sneaky little girl! She got him to come visit now she was leaving me alone with him.
“Thanks Susan.” Emeka said as Susan practically ran out of the door.
“You’re welcome darling. Pizza should be here in thirty minutes.” She replied from the door.
“Thanks for nothing.” I said under my breath.
“Pardon?” Emeka asked.
“Oh nothing.” I replied airily. “I hope you like chickflicks, because this is one.” I said to him focusing my attention on the movie on the screen.
“Oh, I’m versatile.” He replied with a smile.
I replied with a smile of my own. My phone beeped. Message from Susan.
‘Pizza ordered. Enjoy the afternoon.’
I quickly typed; ‘thanks for nothing’
‘Lol’ She replied. ‘We’ll pick up that discussion on the Ken betrayal later, meanwhile, ENJOY your afternoon.’