(If you haven’t read part 1 of One Day, Click Here)
You will spend the rest of your days walking with your head bent, occasionally looking behind your back; waiting for the predator to attack. Every time your alarm clock goes off in the morning, you will let out a deep sigh. You will sift through your clothes, looking for one that will hide everything you should be proud of. After one hour, you will slide into your most comfortable dress, lock the door behind you and walk away.
You will walk past what used to be Maryanne and Mary’s door. The vastness will swallow your wit. The emptiness will crack your soul. The tiny red marks on the walls will break your heart. You will step in, and walk right to the spot where their mattresses used to lie. You will allow yourself to sink into the floor, and relive the days when the three of you bared life with your own hands.
You will walk to the window where Mary’s rosary still hangs. You will touch it, caress it between your fingers and sneeze when the dust hits your nostrils.
When dusk sets in, the fear will come again. You will shake. You will tip toe in your own house. You will stay hurdled in darkness, hunger taking the better part of you. Your eyes will be fixated on the tiny space beneath your door.
Will there be any other note? Will there be something bigger than a note? Will they turn their threats into action?
You will cry like a small child. Like a child whose mother had left for the river, never to come back. You will cry like a child does on its first day in school. You will cry, and kick your legs like a child drowning in a fast-flowing river.
You will cry like your whole life depends on it. Even then, no sound will leave your mouth. Not even when you sniff. Not even when you blow your nose. Not when you, tired, let your body lie on your mattress as you pull the sheets over your head.
Silence. Sadness. Fear. Hopelessness.
In that moment of weakness, you will think about Maryanne, and what could possibly have been her last words.
“It hurts. That is all I can say. It hurts so bad I wish I could have died.”
For a few minutes, the memories of that fateful night will come flashing before your eyes.
The banging of doors. The smoke. The suppressed wails. The blasts. Tattered clothes. Blood. Muddy footsteps.
You will remember the rain. How it fell like its last. How the iron sheets clapped in approval, suppressing the wails from Maryanne. You will remember how it felt like a dream, before you started choking out on the smoke and forced yourself out.
You will remember the rain only because it tried to wash away the atrocities of that night. It tried to hide the darkness. To fade the shame. To silence the cries. To water down the inhumanity.
You will remember the rain because it was the only sound worth remembering from that night.
When sleep escapes you in the wee hours of the morning, you will fill your bucket with water and head to the bathroom. Since the incident, you will have resorted to going to the bathroom fully dressed, and coming out fully dressed as well.
You will, as usual, tip toe and place the bucket down. One piece of cloth after the other, you will get naked. You will touch your face, your breasts, your tummy, your thighs, your ass and your legs.
You will lather your sponge and start from the face downwards. Just when your whole body will be covered in soap and your eyes tightly shut, you will hear a door creak open. You will stop, and then hear footsteps approaching the bathroom door.
Your heart will momentarily stop beating. The hairs on your body will stand still. It will be warm inside the bathroom, but goose bumps will form all over your skin. With your heart in the mouth, you will wait for whoever it was to open the gate.
You will gather courage and bend in an effort to locate your bucket of water. Just when you shuffle your feet as you start throwing water on you, you will hear a slight grunt.
Stop. Listen. Silence.
Will your head be playing tricks on you? Will it be normal paranoia?
Quickly, you will rinse your body and just when you stretch your hand trying to reach for your towel, you will hear the footsteps again. This time, they will be fading away from you. The light in the bathroom will flicker, and when you turn around to check the door, you will see it.
You will see the reason behind your sleepless nights. You will see the reason Maryanne left, followed by Mary. You will see the reason behind the creepy notes slipped beneath doors. You will see it, large and visible, the reason why you have been ashamed of your body. The reason why you have kept waiting for the predator to attack.
You will turn around and see a gaping ‘crack’ on the wooden door. On careful inspection, you will realise it is man-made. Man made because you will see knife marks in its crevices.
Ashamed, you will walk naked back to your house. Whoever wanted to see you, had already seen it all. Why bother?
In your nakedness, you will remember Mary’s words on the day she left:
“I know you do not like giving up. You like standing up on you own. You love to fight back. But this place? No. It will slowly kill you. If you can, move out while you still can.”
When dawn sets in, you will dress up, slip your remaining savings into your pockets and step out.
You will close no doors. You will not watch your back. You will not hang your head in shame. You will not cover your eyes. You will walk. And walk. And walk. Then, you will break into a run.
Later in the day, when you sit next to Maryanne’s hospital bed, you will wish you left earlier; both of you. You will wish, on that fateful night when Maryanne’s power was taken away from her, you would have done something to help. Something that is not staring and wishing you were dead.
You will hold her hand. It will be extremely cold. The doctor had warned you she would be cold if you dared touch her. You wanted only one more look into her eyes, to assure her that there were no excuses for rapists.
“Esther, you think so much. They did it because they needed to. Maybe, it is because of my skin colour.”
That is what she would have said if she were still alive.
But she wasn’t. And neither was your spirit.