My eyes wouldn’t open. Maybe they were. I sensed someone behind me. “Bolu.” I think I said it out loud. Now I’m not very sure. I could hear voices, though they seem very far away. I couldn’t understand any of the words. They were getting closer. Louder. Someone was shouting in my ears. I wanted the noise to stop, I wanted to cover my ears, but my hands were not where they should be. They were bound together, at the wrists by some cold steel! I opened my mouth to scream but a roar silenced me before I could.
“Why did you kill him?”
Everything in me went still. “Him who? I didn’t kill anybody.” I felt my lips open as I tried to speak louder. I tried to turn my neck to look at his face but it was stiff like my father’s old table fan. I couldn’t see him or anything else.
“Let me explain the situation to you,” he whispered fiercely into my ears, his hot breath fanned my throbbing neck. “You got up in the middle of the night on the 20th of November, 2015 and stabbed your husband ten times in the chest.”
My chest heaved and collided with my stomach. Is he talking to me? Where am I? There were different thoughts whirring round and round in my head. “I didn’t kill anybody.”
“You killed Adewale.”
“I don’t know who that is?”
“Was. He was your husband.”
“I am not married.” I screamed and mucus trickled into my mouth. A giant hand grabbed a handful of my hair and yanked my head backward. I saw white, bright white light.
“Why did you kill him?” Panic clutched my chest, making it hard to breathe. Every breath I took scraped my side like a blunt razor.
“I didn’t kill–” His palm collided with my face and something horrible happened to me. I don’t know what it was but the humming started from my right cheek and its vibration spread all the way to my right ear and eyes. The voices were getting far away but the ringing in my ears kept echoing at the centre of my head. I heard someone weeping and then realised it was me.
My heart was racing. I tried to calm my breath. Where am I? How did I get here? I knew I was not the person they were talking about, but I had no idea who I was either. The memory was there somewhere; I just needed to find it. What was the last thing I remember? My mind travelled back. I was sitting at my table, typing. I was having trouble with my heroine, so I closed the laptop and picked my pen and notepad instead. I lay on my bed and closed my eyes. Thinking.
I tried to hold on to the images but they were fading away, slipping out of my reach. I had to remember before I slipped into the darkness again, before the voices returned. Something else was there, in the corner of my mind, out of my reach. A wish? Then I remembered. I had made a wish for my lead character. I wished I could feel her pain and betrayal. Her anger. I wished I could be there with her when she walked in on her husband and daughter. My heroine! I am my heroine! My head started whirling, taking everything else in its mad gyration. Oh God, please not again, I can’t be in the story again. And then everything went still. I was being sucked into the darkness.
My eyes snapped open, to a bright light. I blinked. Before my eyes could adjust to the light I was yanked off the hard wood and thrown on the cold floor. “Confess, now!” My elbow landed hard on the floor and my lips broke open again when it collided with the cold steel on my wrist. My joints and muscles screamed in agony but I managed to ask just one question.
“May I have a pen?”
I knew what I had to do.
“You are ready to confess?”
“I knew you would, heartless woman”, he said. A hand landed heavily on my left shoulder, pulled me off the floor and shoved me back in the chair. Then it slapped a notepad on the desk and placed a pen on it. It pulled my wrists roughly; I winced at the impact on my shoulders. And then I heard a clink and the cold steel broke loose. I wished I could see their faces. I knew there were two of them but my eyelids had formed a shade over my eyes.
I rolled the pen over and over between my thumb and index finger. How does this work? Do I need a wand or wave the pen around? I closed my eyes tightly. Nothing. How did I get myself into this? When did it start? My head was a mass of sticky cobwebs. I picked the pen and closed my eyes again. I saw a street, a very busy street; there was a restaurant and I was famished. I saw a signpost. It seemed familiar. I was walking home, but I had no idea where home was. One thing was clear, I had to make a wish and write something that would take me far from the madhouse. So, I did.
The sun had just disappeared below the horizon when my feet touch the street inside my head. My cloth is bloody and ragged; my joints groan with every step and my feet are no longer mine, but all I can think of is the pen and paper. I would need a picture of my house or a five-star hotel for a hot bath; or maybe I could write in a vacation at the Presidential Villa, something rich and exciting this time… But the pen and paper first.
Image: Scott Akerman via Flickr (modified)