‘I hope you’re happy. Because of you I changed my number.’
Naomi rolls her eyes at me. I don’t see it since her back is to me but I’m sure that’s what she’s doing.
‘You wouldn’t have to if you just gave him an actual chance.’
‘This is neither the place nor time.’ Ruth says cutting in. ‘Naomi you should know better. Ola has her reasons and we should respect that. No matter how pure your intentions are.’
Ruth looks at me. Her eyes pleading for my understanding. I just nod and turn away. Ruth is right. Now is not the time to argue. Naomi had gotten new lingerie for us three and I don’t want it to follow me back home untouched. It needs to be viewed and appreciated. The thought makes me smile.
I notice some cars drive slowly by and I approach one. My legs and breasts are some of my best assets. The butt-cut bum short and tube crop top were specifically chosen to ‘showcase’ them.
‘It must be your lucky day.’ I say as I lean in through the window.
This voice. No! It can’t be.
‘So… this is you now?’
I push myself away from the car so quickly I trip and fall flat on my bum.
‘Get away from me!’
I can’t think. I can barely breathe. Once again I’m a little girl, hungry and scared, hiding from daddy. My body feels so heavy. I’m unable to lift myself off the ground. I hear footsteps and scream even louder.
‘He found me! He found me! I wasn’t able to hide well enough!’
‘Ola calm down. Calm down.’
I’m barely aware of what’s going on around me. I can’t make out the voice of the person calling my name. Naomi? Ruth? I don’t care. All I want is to be as far away from here as I possibly can.
‘Take me home! Please! Just take me home!’
I feel the tears running freely down my cheeks. It’s been years since I’ve felt this scared. Since I’ve felt this level of fear. This chill run through my veins down to my very bones.
Walking is an uphill task for me since my legs have literally turned to cooked noodles. Noodles… the thought causes more tears to flow. Why? Why did he have to show up now? I thought I had finally won this twisted game of hide and seek. Yet he found me. How?
Naomi and Ruth each support me. My arms are slung around their necks as they lead me away.
‘Ola? Are you ok? What happened? You’re shaking like a vibrator.’
Any other day, a comment like that from Ruth would make me laugh but right now, a million and one question are playing tag with my mind. How? Keeps plaguing me. How did he find me?
‘I know we have a “mind my business” kind of rule but you scared us. You were screaming like… like you were about to be stabbed or something. We need to understand what’s going on.’
Ruth is right. I think. I scratch my head in frustration. Should I tell them? Should I let them in on my ‘big secret’?
‘Did you see the man in the car?’
‘No. By the time you were on the ground screaming he has already driven off. Did he do something to you?’
I’m calm enough to notice Naomi quietly watching me. It seems she has swapped places with Ruth this time. I’m not used to Naomi being quiet and watchful.
‘The man in the car was daddy.’
‘Daddy? Is that a pet name for one of your clients?’
‘No! My father! That man in that car that I walked to, is my father!’
I stared into Ruth’s eyes as she slowly understood my meaning.
‘I get how weird and uncomfortable it must be meeting a parent especially while working but I still don’t get why you were screaming like you were about to die.’
‘Because it felt that way! Do you know how it feels being trapped in a dark space and the only sense of security you have was taken away from you?!’
Ruth isn’t the source of my pain but I can’t help myself. I need to let out this crushing weight on my chest, if not, it’ll choke me to death. I’m sure Daddy would like that.
I feel soft arms encircle me.
‘Don’t worry Ola. He’s not here. He will never hurt you again. We’ll protect you.’
Naomi. Sweet Naomi. I couldn’t help wondering again what led her down this path. I took comfort in the warmth of her body against mine. I’m well aware of the emptiness of her words. I doubt either of them can really protect me but I’m grateful for them still. Even though it’s a false sense of security, I’ll settle for that. For now.