She was so hungry she could eat a horse. Her stomach growled again reminding her that it had not been fed since morning. She checked her watch, it was almost 6: pm. She closed the files she was working on and put them in her bag, locked her drawer and stood up. Her body shook gently, so she held the desk for support. Then she felt a sharp pain in the pit of her stomach replaced by the growling she had ignored for a while now. She quickly unzipped her bag, brought out a bottle of water and emptied the content.
Mofe knew she could no longer ignore the demons in her stomach or they might just decide to eat her from inside out. She picked her bag and the keys then made to move but her legs were getting weak. It was as if her stomach had called on the other parts of her body to join in the protest against starvation.
She took a deep breath and moved ignoring the protest. She locked the door and hurried on walking as fast as her wobbling legs could carry her. She got to the main road, raised her hand to hail a taxi then remembered that there would be nobody at home. Their mother who normally gets home first left for the annual family camp the previous day. She and her sisters were to join her the next day.
Moyinoluwa and Moyosore would still be in their mother’s shop. That means there might be no food in the house and she needed to eat something fast. She turned back from the road and saw a retailer’s shop towards her right. She walked down there and bought a pack of noodles and an egg. She paid the woman, collected her change and hurried back to the road. She decided against the taxi and hailed a bike instead.
“That would be faster”, she thought, “I don’t want to be caught in the traffic.”
“Where are you going?” the bike man asked.
“Challenge”, she replied, “and I need to get there really fast”.
“I’ll give you sixty”, she bargained as she climbed onto the bike, the man nodded.
The cool breeze calmed her stomach down a bit. Luckily, there was no traffic hold up at challenge roundabout; fifteen minutes later she was paying the bike man her fare. She walked a bit farther from the road and crossed the small bridge leading to their house. They lived in a block of ten flats at the back of a filling station. Theirs was the last. The flats were completely off the road, blocked from sight by banana trees and sugar canes.
She got to the door and turned the handle. “Just as I guessed”, she thought. She went to the flower-pot to retrieve the key, but it was not there. She checked again, nothing. She groaned and sat heavily on the bench, kicking off her sandals as soon as her buttocks landed on the hard wood.
She looked around there was no one in sight. Hawkers hardly patronise their area. It was always deserted. She thought of lying down on the bench but knew even sleep wouldn’t be on her side now.
“The kitchen window” she suddenly said aloud. She quickly grabbed her bag and sandals and ran to the back of their house. The window was small but big enough for her to squeeze herself in; they had not opened it for a while so it was stuck. Her sister had tried to open it the day before when she was frying fish but couldn’t. She was hoping she did not replace the latch. Mofe saw it this morning and planned to replace it but forgot. She prayed that no one else did and that she would be able to pry it open from outside. Now, she needed something to do that task.
She looked in the garden at the back of their house for something to open the window. Finally she found an old knife. She smiled happily for her achievement. She went back to the front of the house for the bench she was sitting on before, set it under the window and started working on it.
She was on this for over thirty minutes, this was longer than she had anticipated, she cursed her sisters for taking the key with them and herself for not having hers. She had cut her hand twice. She was about to give up when she heard a screech, then the window opened. She broke into a wide grin, clapped her hands thrice and pushed it back. She picked up her bag and sandals and threw them into the kitchen. Then she climbed in, left leg first, then the right, placing them into the sink and prayed silently that the old sink was still strong enough to hold her weight. She held the window frames with both hands, stood in the sink and heard it groaned painfully under her weight. She quickly jumped out of the sink and was instantly grateful that she landed on her feet and not on her butts.
Thankfully, the door was not locked, so she opened it and quickly lit the stove to prepare her noodles. When it was safely set on the stove she picked up her bag and sandals to go in but the door to the main house was firmly locked from inside. “You can’t win them all,” she muttered. She had no choice but to stay in the yard until her sisters arrive, “at least I would eat in a while,” she thought. “Don’t worry baby, the noodles is almost done,” she said as she patted her tummy.
Moyinoluwa and Moyosore arrived from the shop a couple of hours later. It was already dark. Moyin the eldest of the two sat on the bench as soon as they got to the front of the house and yawned hugely.
“Bring out the keys now”, she barked at her sister.
“Well, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do”.
“How long is that supposed to take you, huh?”
“It’s dark, I can’t see properly”.
“Shake the bag and follow the sound to the key. It’s as simple as that”
“Found it,” Moyo said, shaking the key for her sister to see. She inserted it into the lock and opened the door. “It’s opened”, she announced later. Moyin got up and followed her sister into the sitting room. She kicked off her shoes and collapsed into a chair.
“Where is the lamp? Moyo asked. It’s too dark in here. She hates darkness and easily gets scared in the dark.
“Check the dining table. It should be there.”
“No, it’s not.”
“You didn’t check. I barely finished making the statement before you jumped in.”
“I already checked, okay?
“Well then, go to the kitchen and bring the kerosene lamp and the matches.
Moyo groped for her way back to the chair opposite her sister and sat down. “I can’t go to the kitchen,” she declared.
“What! Are you refusing…?”
“I can’t, it’s too dark,” she interrupted her again. “Let’s go together,” she added after a while.
“What are you scared of huh? Afraid your mates might be waiting for you at the back to drag you back to their midst where you really belong?”
“Why don’t you go get it too?” Moyo said with annoyance, “You are as scared as I am. I know it and you know it.”
“No, I’m not.”
“Then prove it.”
Moyin got up; she remembered that their dad normally keeps a flashlight on the window pane. So, she turned back to get it. She switched it on but the light was really low. It went off as soon as it was on. She shook it and switched it on again, then handed it over to her sister. “Here I found this.”
Moyo shrugged, “So? Go and bring the lamp now.”
Moyin hissed and marched to the door leading to the backyard. She yanked out the latches and turned the key to release the lock.
“It’s amazing how people do things really fast and effectively when they are angry,” muttered Moyo.
“I heard that.”
“You remember that movie we watched last week?” Moyo said from where she was sitting. “The one where the two sisters got home and the man their dad rattled out was already waiting for them in the closet.” Moyin froze, her hand stopped mid-air as she reached to turn the door handle.
“Shut up silly,” she swallowed hard and willed herself to calm down as she pictured what the man in the movie did to the two sisters in her head. She shook her head to clear it. “That’s a movie,” she said when she found her voice again. “Things like that don’t happen in the real world.
“Okay, if you don’t believe me, then why did you stop?”
“Just shut your trap,” she snapped.
Moyin grabbed the door handle furiously and opened it wide, then pushed the net door out. As she stepped out of the house the flashlight went off, she shook it, and the light came on long enough for her to see the pair of legs stretched out on the bench. She gasped, dropped the flashlight and turned back into the house to call her sister. She bumped into her as she was about to step back in. She opened her mouth to scream but it died in her throat when she realised it was her sister. “What is wrong with you?” she hissed
“I believe that should be my line.”
Moyin covered her mouth and pulled her back, “there is someone in the yard, on the bench,” she whispered fiercely.
Moyo gasped, “How? The door was locked” then she calmed down. “Maybe you imagined it because of what I said.
“I know what I saw. I saw a pair of legs stretched out on the bench. What if the person is dead?”
“Yes, what if someone dumped a corpse in our house?”
Moyo hissed, “You’ve watched too many movies. Let’s go check it out together.”
“No! We should be running out this way, stupid,” she said pointing towards the front door, “not back to the yard.”
Moyo turned towards the back door and said in a whisper, “what if the person is really dead as you said or a ghost or even a serial killer?”
Moyin whispered back, “ghosts don’t sleep, neither do serial killers on a mission, they hide in the closet, remember? God, where is Mofe? She’s never here when you needed her”.
She followed her sister and they both tiptoed to the back door. Moyo pushed the net door back gently. She poked her head out first, looked left and right and went out left leg first; she wet her dry lips with her tongue. Moyin was right behind her holding on to her right hand. She was about to put her right leg out when she saw the legs turned. She screamed and her sister echoed it. Then the legs swung off the bench and landed on the floor. Moyo let go of the door and pushed her sister back inside. They both fled out the door screaming as they ran. Moyin looked back as they were running to see the owner of the legs with the upper part of his body now attached to the legs running after them. She urged her sister to keep running.
Mofe became fully awake when she got into the sitting room. She wondered what was wrong and why her sisters were screaming like that. She was sure it was their voices that woke her. She ran out to follow them, and then she slowed down as she thought she should at least know why they were running, so she called out to them.
Moyin and Moyo stopped when they heard Mofe’s voice calling out to them. They turned and when they were sure she was the one, they started walking back towards her breathing heavily.
“Did you see the man chasing us?” Moyo asked
Mofe looked confused, “No, no I didn’t see anybody.”
“He was waiting for us in the yard when we got home. He came after us.”
“In the yard?” Mofe asked, slightly amused now.
“Yes, Moyin answered with irritation in her voice. “I think he jumped over the wall or something, or maybe dad forgot to remove the ladder.”
“Mofe burst into laughter, while her sisters looked at each other than back at her face with mixture of confusion and anger on theirs.
“Let’s go home,” she said amidst laughter.
“Home? Said Moyin, incredulous. “Didn’t you hear what we just said?” There is someone in our yard.”
“Okay,” Mofe said when she found her voice, “I was the one in the yard.
“What? Moyo and Moyin said in unison.
“I came in through the kitchen window. I couldn’t find the key, so I climbed in through the kitchen window“
“We thought…um…we were…Moyin stuttered. That is so not funny. It could have been anybody.” She turned and marched towards their house.
“It is so funny, if you think about it.” Moyo burst into laughter and followed her with Mofe close on her heels.