Finally, the stars dancing in my eyes have disappeared. I blink multiple times and rub them. Seems the thick liquid has finally cleared. Mom’s meals were and still are the best things to me, not seeing stars as I open my eyes, is a close second right now.
I try to push myself up but my arms shake a little and fall again.
Very soon mommy will come. She’ll come and hug me and make my best meal so I can feel better. My mouth waters at the thought of it, it helps clear the metallic taste in my mouth. I can hardly wait… but I do and I do and I do. My head aches. Mom always warned me about shouting. She says it gives everyone including the person shouting, a headache. I think she’s right.
I stare at the corridor leading to her room, silently waiting for her but she doesn’t come. Mom usually comes when I call. She never leaves me alone for too long.
‘Daddy won. The game should be over by now. So where’s mummy?’
What’s that? I hear a buzzing noise and sit up, still, trying to listen. It’s just dad. I giggle a bit. Dad’s snores always reminds me of the trucks that occasionally pass by our house. Mom never ever snores.
I get to my feet slowly, my body still aches but I don’t feel it as much.
‘I need to find mommy.’
I check the kitchen but she isn’t there. I know she won’t be in my room. Mommy only goes to my room when I’m there. I already know I’ll find mommy in her room but I’m scared. The last time I tried going into mommy and daddy’s room, mom had this funny look on her face as she pushed me out but not as funny as the look she gave me today before Daddy pulled me… why did Daddy pull me? Was he so against me playing with them?
My head feels hot. I touch the back of my head and wince. There’s a little puff puff growing there. I’m sure mom will make it go away. I just need to find her.
I’m torn. Should I go? Should I wait? Mommy and daddy had their firsts today. Why can’t I? I’ll be very quiet and quick. If mommy isn’t there, I’ll leave without waking daddy. Aside from finding the best hiding spots not waking dad is another major rule. Breaking the rules is a big no no.
As quietly as I can, I walk the small corridor to peek into mummy and daddy’s room. Just as I thought, daddy is lying on his bed, fast asleep. Seeing dad’s huge body cover the bed surprises me. If dad is that big, if he covers the whole bed, then where does mom sleep?
I enter the room fully, careful to leave the door ajar. I always imagined mommy and daddy’s room to be huge. As wide as the road and high as the sky, but it was barely big enough to contain their bed.
This is no time to stare, I need to find mommy.
I jump up and stare at the door accusingly. It takes everything in me not to scream.
My heart is in my throat. I’m afraid to speak, to turn, to move.
Mom! I don’t need to turn, her arms envelope me. Being in moms arm, I feel untouchable like nothing can reach me. I feel most calm. Daddy wouldn’t have pushed me if I were still in mom’s arms.
‘Lola, what did I tell you?’
I know what she said but what about me? What about what I want?
‘I was extra careful. I didn’t wake dad.’
I try to turn, to face her but she stills me. That’s new. Mom always always hugs me while facing her because that way, I’m able to see her smiling face. I try again but her arms tighten around me, securing me in place. It seems like I moved around too much because mom suddenly let’s go of me and falls on her back. Happy, I turn to face her and I’m horrified. I know the feel of moms arms around me any day. I am able to tell it’s her from her voice alone but the person I’m looking at in no way looks like mom. The person I’m looking at is holding her stomach like she has a serious tummy ache. Just like the time I ate a cockroach.
Her left eye is as swollen as mine were the time I had apollo. Her lips are split and I can see something ooze out of it.
I move closer. I never knew moms face and arms could change colour like that.
What’s going on? What’s happening? Today doesn’t make sense anymore. This isn’t how hide and seek goes. Daddy isn’t supposed to find mommy and I’m supposed to eat noodles with fish in it! Even on days daddy finds mommy, I remember clearly that daddy never dragged her out. Mommy would simply walk out and after a while, come join me in my room. She never left me alone. Mommy has never looked like this. I don’t understand this game of hide and seek and I am tired of playing!
Why should I care about the stupid rules?! About not waking daddy up?! I just want my mommy back. Unable to stop crying and screaming, I run to the bed.
‘I want mommy back! Give me back my mommy!’
‘Damn it child! Let me sleep.’
I can’t and won’t stop. I just want my mommy back. To feel her arms around me, to see her smile at me and make me laugh. To watch her prepare my favourite meal.
‘Daddy bring mommy back!’
I didn’t expect it, I mean, dad has never struck me before and I never imagined it would hurt this much, sting this badly. I rub my cheeks in an attempt to lessen the pain but it’s not working. It hurts so much.
‘Dozie. Dozie please. Just let her go. Don’t drag her into this.’
Mommy is crawling towards the bedside. Why? Why is mommy doing that? I’m right. Today is totally off.
‘No! I’m tired of you always protecting her. She needs to learn her place in this house just as you should have learnt yours.’