For Disappointment, like a lover on her period.
Penny lived in a gated community at Spintex, hidden at the sides of a long stretch of dirt road. It bore the frugality of a once grandeuse dream, both the road and the community. The former, once carrying a hope of dustless cars and grinning drivers, now abandoned at the change of government, and the later, left to rot by whichever dreamer thought it an enterprising endeavor, ‘that real estate thing’. There was no security person to man the always open gate, the road network inside of was untarred, unlike most such places; and there was no line of fanciful houses. What there was, was weeds stretching up to the heavens, and deep red soil, caked from a dryness after rain. Her house stood amongst the mess of dreams, white and alone, an odd beauty in all of the disappointment. From the driver’s seat of his car, he stared at its black gate, rubbing his palms together to keep warm. The muffled sound of a local radio station’s news theme played from a radio set somewhere. It was 6 P.M.
He was parked some distance away from the house, close to a particularly lengthy gathering of weeds so he was somewhat hidden, although not completely. With his heart beating from the insides of his throat, he contemplated doing what he had set out to. He waited a few seconds longer, rocking back and forth inside his seat. Suddenly, almost violently, he reached for the door. A screeching sound stopped him and he looked up, quick enough to see two police officers step out with an older man. He ducked!
Slowly he lifted his head up over the steering wheel up to the length of his eyes. The three men stood talking, focused only on themselves. The older man was short and chubby. He wore a grey singlet over brown khaki shorts, heavy with side pockets. The two officers were both tall, one lanky, the other heavier. Every few minutes the lanky one would adjust his hat and dust his uniform. The built officer did most of the talking, the two other men only nodding at whatever he seemed to be explaining. The older man, Penny’s father perhaps, or maybe Uncle Douglas crossed his arms over his chest and looked up forlornly, as if to God. The lanky officer tapped him on the shoulder, and said something, perhaps encouraging. With that, both officers walked away, and the older man entered the house, closing the noisy gate behind him. The police men had not come with a vehicle.
It was a month before he saw anything of her again. A twitter post of one of her countless selfies, with the caption ‘My cousin has been missing for almost a month now. Your retweet might help us find her” He was home, laid out in the comfort of his own bed, going through his twitter feed and there she was, smiling up at him, her lips posed in a pout. The post was doing well, some 300 retweets and 60 likes. He tapped on it and scrolled through the comments: they were more condolences than any actual information on her whereabouts. Slowly, he closed the application and put his phone away, turning his attention to the rotation of his fan. It had taken a while, but finally he had started to forget. So much so everything that had happened before they met up, before he had awoken alone felt like a distant dream. Now, it all came rushing back. He picked the phone up again, scrolling to the post. He tapped on her supposed cousins handle, going through her tweets and retweets. Again, nothing particularly revealing showed. He scrolled up to her bio and paused, his finger hovering above the screen. Seconds seemed to pass by in slow motion, at the speed of his fan. He finally tapped the screen, opening a direct message directed to the account.
“Hi. Really sorry about your cousin. She does look familiar though”
He bit his lip and pressed send.
“We think Penny’s father killed her”
He choked on the bottle of coke on his lips, pouring it on his neck and shirt.
“I told you about the nature of their relationship” Edinam searched through her handbag, ignoring his shocked response. She pulled out a handkerchief and leaned over the table, beckoning him to give her his face. He did so robotically, a lost look in his eyes. She wiped, continuing,
“It was just the two of them at home that night. How can she just disappear like that? We have suspected it since, her mother, the entire family, me. But I think the police have found proof now. Circumstantial, but enough”
He sat in silence still, lost in a vision of stones skidding on the surface of crystal blue water, bouncing off in a continuous motion, further and further away from him. Edinam was snapping her fingers in his face when he came to. She stared at him worriedly, so he wasn’t sure whether she finally saw into his lies, or it was her own tears that burnt at her quivering eyes. He reached over the table and held her hands, not letting go even as he squatted over to her side and cuddled her inside the other. She cried inside his embrace, and he listened, resting his chin on her heaving back.
“Maybe he did do it”
A deep sadness had overcome him. It followed like the darkness of his own shadow, an eternal symbol of his corrupted soul. It was with him at the court, when the gavel sounded at the final judgement and Penny’s father screamed that painful cry. It was with him as he held on to Edinam’s hand tightly; tighter when her uncle, police officers guarding him out, stopped to say something to her; tighter still when she spat in the man’s teary face before he could, pain and disbelief crippling him so the officers had to push him out. It never left, transforming into nightmares on rainy nights, when he would wake Edinam up with his thrusting, visits to psychologists where he did everything but told the truth, it stayed, even when he seemed to finally be okay. Following, like a tumor at his side, on his wedding to Edinam, their daughter’s graduation, his retirement, into his death; where hands were held consolingly, and in-between sobs there were smiles still, because in his open casket, lay a corpse, handsome in its white suit, a self-gratifying smile on its face. The whispers going around was he had died happy. Perhaps there was some truth in this,
because it is something to be proud of, carrying a secret to your grave.
What are you thinking?
Where have you been?
What is this trust thing, when I don’t even trust me?
Lies sound better than I love you’s, with tears,
there is beauty in the disgusting, there is innocence in faults.
The ethereal and corporeal crash inside a malignant whirl,
and there can be beauty, and there can be horrors.