He slapped her hard. Not once, not twice not thrice. Annie lost count as her vision blurred and her right ear rang. She fell and cowered beside the bed, wrapping her hands around her body in a solemn personal hug.
“You should listen when I talk. I have warned you not to talk back at me,” Okpo shouted.
Annie wept silently.
Okpo looked at her shivering body and felt a nudge to comfort her. He stretched his arms to pull her up but Annie screamed and cringed away in fear. He walked out of the room.
Annie pulled herself together and when she tried to stand, her legs wobbled. She dragged her handbag from the table, slipped her legs into her shoes and smoothed her hair with her fingers.
“This is it.” She told herself as she moved slowly out of the room and walked down the corridor towards the exit.
“Please don’t leave.” She heard Okpo’s voice but continued walking till she got to the door and pulled its handle. It would not open. It was locked.
Stealthily, Okpo came up and wrapped his arms around her from the back. She froze.
“Baby, I am sorry,” he pleaded brokenly.
“Please forgive me. I will not raise my hands on you again. Please please,” he begged.
Annie stood transfixed. Okpo expertly turned her around to face him in a warm embrace. Annie was unyielding and cold.
Her thoughts were going wild. She remembered the first, the second and the third time Okpo slapped her. She had forgiven him each time he pleaded with her. And now this? Again? They had dated for eighteen months and both families had met formally and agreed on a date for marriage rites.
Okpo was a good man. He bought the best gifts and played the perfect gentleman in the public. He was also smart but he had a fiery temper. He was always quick with his fists.
“Please baby hold me,” he crooned in that rich baritone that usually unsettled her.
But Annie couldn’t. He drew her hands around his hip. Annie closed her eyes and reminisced on the good times.
It had been good. This was her guy. Her man. The man that turned heads at every gathering. Okpo stood at 6 feet with the perfect body of a full endowed man. He was really endowed, all over with well-formed biceps and hard chest. His flat muscled tummy was a delight tapering down his lean torso and strong perfect legs. There was no ounce of fat on his body. He was finely chiseled and sculptured with extra care. He has a fine molded face to go with the body. The feel of his skin was like ivory. Smooth and soft. And the sound of his voice was like music to the ears. His masculinity could easily make one giddy with wantonness. Everything about him was super.
Annie brought her senses back to reality. How long would she endure the beatings, and lie about her black eyes to her colleagues? How long? Just how long? Her head started aching and her heart thudded. She wriggled out of the embrace and looked him fully on the face.
“Please open the door,” she stated forcefully,”I want to go and work on the reports I am submitting in the office on Monday”.
Okpo opened his mouth to speak but Annie turned her back and faced the door.
“Baby, I am so sorry. Please stay for the night. Tomorrow is Saturday. We have the whole weekend ahead of us. There is still time for the reports,” he cajoled.
“Open this door,” Annie repeated fiercely holding her breath. She didn’t want another argument. She just wanted to leave the apartment.
Okpo exhaled and released the latch with a click.
Annie walked out fast into the shimmering sun with her head held high. The tears wanted to drop but she put a hold on it. She had to be strong if she would survive this ordeal. A thought crept into her mind. She smiled and looked up the sky for strength.
Yes, she whispered to herself.
“I would take up the transfer offered by the company,” she mused. She would move far away and begin again. She was 35 and so what? She stopped at the junction and called an Uber. She would have a long chat with her parents.
Written by Ngozi Osuchukwu.