I woke up one Sunday morning to notice a picnic basket on the front porch. I looked around, wanting to know who had left it, picked it up and walked back inside.
I called to one of the housekeepers whose name was Josie, and asked her if someone had come by that morning. She said no, and went back to mopping the floor, as I bothered her no more.
Halfway towards the stairs, I saw Mum and Dad at the top, as I waited for them to come down before I showed them the basket.
“What do you have there, sweedy?” Mum asked as she reached the last of the staircase.
I showed her the basket containing a lot of goodies in it, and she smiled.
“Aww, baby. You shouldn’t have,”
I bit my bottom lip at the thought of telling her that the goodies weren’t from me.
“How were you able to afford this?” Dad looked at me suspiciously, and I breathed.
“Mum, Dad,” I started and clasped my behind. “These weren’t from me.”
Mum gasped. “What?! Then who could have given them?”
Dad made for the door and pulled it open. Turning back again, he called to Ivy – another housekeeper of ours. “Did you see who dropped this?”
Ivy stammered, “N-no, sir. I haven’t left the dining room since.”
Dad rolled his eyes and questioned further. “Are you sure you didn’t see anyone? Not even the deliveryman?”
Ivy answered, giving no positive answer, as he gave her permission to leave.
My mother inched closer to my Dad, and asked me to go up to my room while they figured out what was going on.
I really wanted to help, but owning to the situation that I was still in, my Mum didn’t let me – so, I was left with no choice but to do as I was told, and let them handle the case.
Day after that, the guy Mum had introduced as Philip, came visiting. I was surprised at how comfortable I felt being around him, and I marveled at how a guy that I had gotten to know not quite long could made me feel that way. But what exactly was he talking about me remembering? Could it be – I drew my breath and let out a sigh. “So what would you like to do today?” I could hear the jumpiness in my voice. How can this one guy make me nervous. Why does it feel like there’s something about him that I need to remember?
“I’ll do anything you want to do. Just mention.” came his reply, getting me back to reality.
I gave a smile and blushed really hard inside, slipping into thoughtland. Why is he so nice? Is he like this to every girl? Thousands of questions hovered in mind, as I saw a hand stretched out to me.
I accepted his kind gesture and placed my hand on his. I wondered what he had in mind, and was pleased that I was going to be with him.
“Where have you two been?” Mum’s angry voice sounded in the living room, and we looked at each other.
“At the park.” I gave a straight answer, having no urge to explain.
“Oh, baby. You know you shouldn’t have stayed out long, not when you’re not strong.” Her voice softened, and Philip and I relaxed.
“I didn’t let her do anything that’ll wear her out, aunt. I’m quite aware of that.” Philip said, throwing a quick look at me.
I chuckled inwardly and maintained myself, trying not to let him notice.
I had already forgotten about my Mum’s absence, until a beeping sound jolted me out of thought.
“I’ll get it!” Mum moved in the direction. Taking the telephone out from where it was hanging on the wall, she answered, “Hello?”
Philip and I made to sit on the long sofa opposite the two normal ones, as Mum uttered loudly, “He’s been spotted?!”
“Who’s been spotted?” I turned to Philip, who gave an ‘I don’t know’ shrug.
Who am I kidding? How will he be able to know? I shifted a little, trying to keep my distance.
We waited for her to end the call, not being able to hear the rest of their conversation, as we got up and made towards her.
“What’s it, Mum?” We asked simultaneously, and I gave Philip a weirdly look.
“Someone just told me that -” Her eyebrows made weird movements.
“Oh. Oh, thank goodness!” Philip exclaimed, and I stood staring, completely lost.
“Who are you talking about?”
Mum gave me a ‘no one’ look and smiled. “You should get some rest, my dear. I know you must be really weary.”
I nodded and said nothing else. I wondered who the person was, and was curious to know why they were bent on not telling me – or maybe they have a reason. Or maybe they just don’t want me to know, I shoved the unexplainable feeling off…
• ~~~ TBC ~~~ •
💘💘💘 TWENTY-FOUR 💘💘💘
AT THE PARKER’S HOUSE
The room was awfully quiet, and Tricia sat, eyes glued to the laptop on her laps, as she surfed the internet, unaware of her mother’s presence.
“Baby, you shouldn’t be in that position for so long or you’ll get cramps,” Her Mum cautioned concernedly, and she raised her head up.
“Mum, you’re home,”
“Yes, baby. What’s that you’re doing?” She asked, and made to sit by her side.
“I-I was only…”
“How to remember things you’ve forgotten -” Her Mum read aloud, and looked at her. “Honey, why are you going through this stuff? You shouldn’t be stressing your brain, you know.”
Her lips pouted and gave way for an apology. “I’m so sorry, Mum. I just want to know why I can’t remember anything.”
Her Mum’s lips broke into a smile. “I think it’s time I answered your question.”
“My question?” She raised a confused brow at her. “But I didn’t ask any question, Mum.”
“I know. I know that very well.” She circled her hand around her, and brought her head down on her bosom. “Do you remember the time someone called me on the phone?”
Tricia squinted, in a bid to recall. “Oh. You mean the one that called yesterday?”
Her Mum nodded and said, “Yes…”
“Well, wh-what about him? Is he the key to restoring my memory? You said it was amnesia, right? Where can we find him?” The curious girl inquired hastily, not letting her mother finish.
“Oh, calm down, jolly bee. You’re in a rush.” She teased, and pulled her cheeks.
“Oh, Mum. Of course I am. I want to be able to go back to school when the summer holiday is over.” Tricia said coyly, and the smile on her mother’s face disappeared.
“You still want to go back to school, baby? You can just study here, and not be so far away from us.”
“I know, Mum. But I just want to be like every normal kid. It’s not like anything will happen when I’m gone.” She said with shoulders shrugged, and her Mum smiled.
“You really do want that, don’t you?”
She replied in delight. “Of course. It won’t be nice missing out on everything… and even graduation.” She pointed out.
“Oh, honey. I understand perfectly.”
Lucille gave one last thought about telling her daughter about the conversation she had with the caller – having contemplated on whether she should, she told her about the information given to them, and how locating the culprit was unsuccessful.
“So, you’re telling me that the guy behind me getting hospitalized still hasn’t been caught?” She asked with fear-glistening eyes. “I mean, what did I do to make him do such a thing? I don’t remember hurting anyone -” Her face turned pale at the mention of her not remembering any thing. What if I did hurt him? Even so! What kind of anger would make one capable of such?!
“Relax, baby. You needn’t be scared. You know Mommy is here for you.” Her Mum assured, tugging a strand of hair that came loose behind her ear. “By the way, have you eaten? Did Nanny Pearl serve you anything?”
Tricia nodded slightly, and answered, “I only asked her to get me a glass of milk… and some chocolate cookies.” She added.
“Just that?” Her Mum looked at her. “You’re not hungry, babe?”
“I am. I was only waiting for you to get back from work.” Her child-like response came.
“Ha-oh, sweetheart. You don’t need to wait for me before you can eat. And gosh, look at the time. Almost six!” Her mother exclaimed with a quick look at her watch. “Come on, now. Let’s go eat. Bet your stomach’s been grumbling all day.” She said jokingly, as they exited the room.
I was starting to see a resemblance – Tricia was becoming more like her father – the man I had once loved. Patrick and I had a thing for each other, until I met Raymond – the hot rich Chicagoan I had completely fallen for the moment I’d set my eyes on him. We met at a coffee shop at Louisiana, where I was an employee, or a ‘Batista’ like we were called. He had bumped into me by mistake, and had made me spill the coffee I had in my hand, ruining my outfit. His smile had captured my heart, and I saw myself slowly taking interest in him, until things worked out for the both of us. Those memories remained imprinted in my mind, and the thought of letting out the truth feared me the most. How was I supposed to tell him that Tricia wasn’t his daughter? To tell my daughter that her father wasn’t the one. Gosh! I don’t think I’ll be able to bear this. What will he say when he gets to know that I never bore him a child? This is just too much – I looked down at the pillow in front of me, realizing that it was already drenched with sweat – sweat mixed with tears.
Raymond hasn’t returned home from work… that was a relief. I got up, wishing to be by my daughter’s side at that instant, as I opened the door, and stepped out – making for her room.
She was sleeping soundly, and I moved closer, smiling at how beautiful she looked all curled up in her cozy bed. I laid down beside her, placing a kiss on her cheek, with my hand placed on her body, as I rested my chin on her shoulder, and wished for the spirit of sleep to carry me off in no time.
The lights went out all of a sudden, and I wondered how it could have happened when Dad paid for the electricity bill not so long ago.
I went upstairs in search of a candle, and was able to find one with no stress. Walking downstairs again, I heard footsteps on the carpet, and I shuddered, getting alerted by the sound. “Who’s there?” I looked down, catching no sight of anyone, as I shrugged the creepy feeling off, and concluded it was a rat.
I placed the candle on the candle holder, and made towards the kitchen – pulling the fridge open, I brought out a can of sardine and a loaf of bread, and went back to the living room.
The house felt really lonely not having Mum and Dad around. I really missed them, but there was no way I could stop them from coming home late… not with their company having them stuck all day long.
I made to open the can of sardine as footsteps came again; this time not so faint, and not similar to tiny feet, giving me the chills.
I thought of what next to do, as my bedroom came to mind, thinking of no other place to hide. I rushed towards the stairs, climbing breathlessly up them, almost tripping, as I successfully reached the top.
Making to go to my room, I saw a strange figure silhouetted in the dark; the mask on his face partly visible.
The masked figure walked towards me, and I took a step backwards, panting for breath.
I had no other place to go but the living room, as I made to run down the stairs, and a hand gripped my ponytails.
“You really didn’t think you could run away from me, did you?” His maniacal laugh came, as a sharp cry eluded my lips, feeling something sharp drive through me.
• ~~~ TBC ~~~ •