[2:30 am Friday, Shores of Bar Beach]

When she was younger, her mother told her stories of the mami water that lived in the sea. They were ravenous evil mermaids that traversed the oceans waiting for unsuspecting bystanders to dip their feet in it.

Michelle wiped her tears quickly as she got out of the car and walked with shaky steps to the boot and opened it.

She threw up.

She wiped her mouth with her sleeve and picked the body up, heaving under the weight as she dragged it across the shore of the beach, his feet making dark lines in the dark sand.

His.

She found it hard to think about her husband dead and this as just his body. But it was. There was a stab wound on his chest, another on his stomach, and thirteen more on his groin.

She would know. She stabbed him.

Kiki was sleeping in the car. The drugs she put in her milk would keep her that way until the morning, by then she would have been able to drive away from Lagos in peace.

Michelle gritted her teeth as she dragged his body into the ocean, and as she watched it float and then sink in the murky depths, she wished into the voids that her mother had been right, and the mami waters would take that bastard’s body away into the night where he belonged.

She got back to the car, looked at Kiki sleeping in the back and then drove, far far away, to a place much better than this.

[1:15 am Friday, Ahmadu Bello Way]

What had she done?

Oh God, what had she done?

She was driving like a mad woman, swerving past cars as she lurched left and right through lanes. She heard a thump from the boot and she looked at her rear-view mirror, her heart threatening to break through her rib cage. Kiki was peacefully drinking milk from her bottle.

Oh God. What had she done?

[10:40 pm, Thursday, Kitchen, home]

TUNDE,” she screamed, the piece of paper in her hands as tears ran through her face, “HOW COULD YOU?”

“Baby, please…” he was saying and she slapped him across the face. Hard.

“You bastard,” she spat and she pushed him and he hit the dishes behind him. Kiki was in her cot in the room. She was crying; the pain had started again. She didn’t sleep well anymore, the nightmares made sure. There was a white nylon bag with drug prescriptions on the counter, beside it, a knife.

“She’s your…” Michelle sobbed, “she’s our daughter. How…” She pushed him again and this time he held her.

“Please, baby,” Tunde begged as he went down on his knees. He even had the nerve to cry. “I don’t know what came over me. Please, baby, Miche — ”

She didn’t know what he was going to say then because she grabbed the knife and rammed it through his throat. And then she stabbed him again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

[9:45pm, Thursday, Living room, home]

She collapsed on the sofa with the hospital report in her shaking hands and she cried.

And cried.

And cried.

And cried.

She picked up her phone slowly and dialled his number. “Tunde…” she said quietly, “…yes, it’s me…no, nothing is wrong…she’s…she’s fine…please, just come home, we need to talk.”

She cut the phone and buried her face in her hands.

[8:15 pm, Thursday, St Nicholas’ hospital, Yaba]

Kiki had been restless since she turned three two days ago, crying and having sleepless nights. She cried especially when Michelle was changing her diapers and she noticed some swelling in her vagina and thighs.

Infection, she tutted.

She texted Tunde to tell him she was going to the hospital and she got in the car and strapped Kiki to her car seat and she left.

They got to the doctor’s and she was in the room now with a nice woman that had red hair falling on her lab coat, a stethoscope around her neck.

Michelle went to use the toilet and left Kiki in the room with the doctor. She was washing her face and she was hoping the infection wasn’t too bad. She got back to the consultant’s room and the doctor was just pulling Kiki’s skirt back up. There was a strange expression on her face.

“Ma,” the doctor said, not quite meeting her eyes, “we’re going to need to run some tests.”

Michelle said okay.

Kiki slept through the whole thing.

They waited for an hour before the results came in and the doctor still wasn’t meeting Michelle’s eyes.

“Doctor,” Michelle said, she was starting to get a bit worried now. “What’s wrong? Is she okay?”

The doctor took a deep breath. And then she told her.

And Michelle’s mind blanked.

At a point, she could only remember a few words, linked together in her subconscious.

“…multiple semen samples…” the doctor was saying, “heavily bruised vaginal cavity…surgery needed…bruises around area…drugs to ease pai — ”

Michelle wasn’t listening anymore. She was looking at her daughter. Her world.

And she was crying.

[ 9am, Tuesday, Bedroom, home, Kiki’s birthday]

Michelle held Kiki in her arms as she tickled her and made her laugh showing her toothless gums.

“You’re tweee,” she was saying, tickling her stomach. “Look at you! You’re twee, you! Who’s my sweeties? You areee, you aree.”

Kiki giggled and laughed and grabbed her mother’s fingers. She was a happy child. Hardly ever even cried, except when strangers moved to carry her.

Tunde came behind her and he held her hips as they swayed. “I love you both,” he whispered in her ear as he kissed her cheek, “so, so much.”

She turned her head and kissed him. “I love you too,” she said, smiling up at him.

She placed Kiki in her cot as she got dressed. They were inviting some family and friends to the house to mark the day and after, Michelle was going to go out with some friends. She needed a break; it had been so long since she went out on her own.

“You sure you’ll be able to handle little mama here?” Michelle said as she put on her bra.

Tunde laughed and feigned mock hurt. “You think I can’t take care of my own daughter?” He said.

Michelle rolled her eyes. “Okay oo, Mr Caretaker,” she said, “sha, I’ll only be gone for like two hours.”

“Don’t worry,” Tunde said, walking up to Kiki and carrying her from her cot as she giggled. “She’ll be fine, and my guys are even coming this evening so all hands will be on deck.”

Michelle looked at them both and smiled.

She was happy.

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