Heartbeats At Midnight.
The sun shone without mercy, but I came out without caring. I could see naked little boys and girls running around the street. It had just rained, hence the wicked sun. A group of naked little boys were dancing round and round near me, their short rods dangling in the air. I prayed for the smiles on their faces and the happiness radiating from their skin.
I turned around and headed for my flat. Just as I opened the door, Miss Chukwuka, my next door neighbour, came out. She was an embodiment of beauty. She had moved in here last year, speaks to no one, wears flashy clothes and parades herself around like a peacock. I hear the women talking about her all the time, about how she has no husband, how she chases men away with her red lipstick and big cars.
One time, I had joined them, though I did not add to the gossip, I had just laughed at it.
Miss Chukwuka looked at me and smiled, and my heart melted. She gave me a short wave and dashed off.
Around 2:am that night, I heard noises. Could it be that the neighbours downstairs did not lock the central gates and now the wind was visiting and making them rub iron against each other? I wondered. But this did not sound like iron against iron. It sounded like human voices, the way my mother sounded when she prayed. It was coming from Miss Chukwuka's flat.
I went to my door, and placed my ear against it. " Come back to me chime, how dare you leave me, come back to me!"
Could it be she was making a phone call?
"Chime Nwam, you know how long I and your father had prayed
before we had you. Your father, my love, was taken away by pneumonia days before he could leave the shores of the United States to come see his new son and wife". She was sobbing now, and talking as though there was someone else in the room.
"Why did you leave me too Chime? How can a little angel like you develop cancer and leave me. Who would I sing to anymore? Who would wipe my tears?"
My heart stopped. I could feel the pain emanating from her flat. It left her door, came into my flat and engulfed me. I wished there was something I could do. I felt guilty, like Earth's worst inhabitant.
"Oh shut up fake human!", my conscience screamed. "Just shut up, you irritate me. You who judged her without reason, how dare you feel pity?"
I shut my mind's mouth at once, because I realized my conscience was right and there was nothing I could do about it.
"Chimeeeeee" She shouted again. " I will kill myself if you do not come back now"
My heart stopped again, and I wondered if she was really going to hurt herself. I looked at my door, it was locked. My mother was the last person who had come into the room and I did not know where she had kept the key.
I searched the house and couldn't find it, so I went back and placed my ear against the door. I heard nothing, just the sound of crickets creaking.
Around 7:am that morning, my my mother opened the door and left for church, while I sat on the chair close to the door, waiting for the door opposite mine to come open. It did. around 9:Am, and Miss Chukwuka came out. I rushed to her.
"Good Morning ma!" I said" Let me help you with your bag". She declined, and moved away as though my sudden presence frightened her. But, I moved towards her, and covered the space between us.
"Let me help you with your bag" I said again, this time, staring into her eyes.
I do not know if it was the way I was staring at her, or the way her heartbeat came in nanoseconds, but she gave me her bag, and her trust,and I never for once betrayed her again.
Not once. Not ever.