A week after
26 – 09 – 2015
It was a sunny afternoon. Sheila and Tom were together on the chase lounge beside the swimming pool at Tom’s house. Sheila was on a swim wear which covered her torso while Tom was in his swimming shorts. She had her head resting on his chest while his arms were wrapped around her body, with their legs also coiled around each others.
They seemed to be in a jolly romantic mood. Two cups and a pack of juice were on a footstool beside the lounge. From time to time as they discussed, Tom made jokes and Sheila giggled at his jokes. They discussed a wide variety of subjects, ranging from movies, novels, politics and business. After discussing about the possibility of doing a business together, they remained silent for some minutes until Tom spoke again.
“Sheila, I think it’s time we pick a date to get married.”
Sheila suddenly jerked up and separated herself from him. Tom also sat up, wondering why she responded that way.
“What’s the matter?” He asked, staring at her face with grave concern. He wondered if he said it wrong way or touched her wrongly.
“There’s no problem,” she forced on a smile and placed her head on his chest again, pushing him back gently until they got back to their previous position.
Tom was silent for a while, waiting for her to speak but two minutes passed and she said nothing.
“You’re not saying anything about my question Sheila,” He asked in a bothered voice, as he tried to look at her face which she hid from him by turning the top of her head to him.
She sighed. The look on her face had completely changed from the relaxed and happy one she carried before he talked about them getting married. She seemed to be unusually bothered about his request.
He had proposed to her two months ago and she happily gave him a yes. But two months after putting on his ring, she had never been able to picture both of them getting married to each other successfully.
“Tom, can we just talk about this another time?” She requested, trying to dismiss the subject.
“No Sheila, we are going to talk about it now or never!” Tom flared up. He moved her away gently and got up from the lounge. He put on his slippers and turned to her, she was now sitting up. “You keep avoiding discussions about us getting married, I don’t understand what you want anymore. Just tell me if you are no longer interested in getting married to me.”
“Tom… I…” Sheila tried to speak but she couldn’t find words to use.
Tom shook his head tiredly, “What other excuse do you have to tell me now?” He shook his head again and released a breath.
She stared at him without being able to say anything.
He reached for his phone and face towel placed on a stool close to them and walked right into the house.
Sheila watched him go, she was confused. It was their fourth year in the relationship after being friends since childhood. She truly loved him or so she thought, but she couldn’t explain why she was unable to imagine them being married together. She had a strange kind of fear always overcoming her anytime she tried to think about it. Even though they had their differences, he had been good to her and had tried all his best to prove that he loved her. She just couldn’t point to the exact reason why their being together eternally was looking impossible to her. She hadn’t dated anyone else apart from him, so she couldn’t say if it was something that he did differently. She just knew something was wrong.
She heaved a sigh of frustration. She remembered the look of disappointment on his face before he walked into the house. She felt some pity for him. She was causing him so much hurt and she couldn’t even explain why. She got up from the lounge and picked a the swimming robe from the stool, she put it on and then proceeded into the house.
Tom’s house was as big as Sheila’s and structured almost in the same pattern. The same architect had designed the houses. Apart from that, she was familiar with the place and already knew every corner in the house. She knew where he would go to anytime he was angry with someone or needed to cool off his head.
The bedroom was one of the rarely used guest rooms in the house, it was however always neatly kept because Tom used it from time to time. She took in a very deep breath as she held the knob of the door and turned it open, she pushed it gently in and took a step forward. He was there like she expected, sitting on the chair directly facing the window with his face buried in his palms. She felt guilty again.
“What do you want?”
His voice startled her as she tried to take another step. She stopped for a second, unsure of what to do. She summoned courage and took another step forward.
“Don’t come close,” he said in a warning tone.
She stopped again. His tone sounded dangerous to her. She however believed that it was his hurt and disappointment that made him sound angry and he could not do anything to hurt her.
“I’m sorry for making you feel this way Tom,” she finally found her voice.
The softness of her voice produced an annoying feeling in Tom rather than a soothing feeling which it was intended to produce.
“I only need you to give me more time and I promise we would get through with the marriage as soon as possible,” Sheila added.
He was silent and unmoved by her words. However, he seemed calmer to her as she couldn’t see his facial expression. She could see him raise his hand to his face to scratch or clean something. He still did not let out a word.
She hoped he was considering giving her more time. She took more steps further but froze in shock as he let out his voice again.
“I said do not come close,” he roared in a loud voice. Turning his face partially to have a side look of her.
He was still hurt by her refusal to answer his question, Sheila thought. She stood there for some seconds like a child being scolded by her father. She knew he could be mad or crazy at her, but was sure he always loved her. She let off her fears and advanced towards him.
He got up suddenly and turned towards her. She froze, she could see a rage on his face which she had never seen before. It was obvious the man in front of her was not the Tom she knew. But it was too late, she was already so close to him. She tried to step backwards but he only took two quick steps to get a hold of her. He pulled her by the arm and pushed her to the wall.
“Tom, you’re hurting me,” She yelled.
He was deaf to her voice, consumed by his fury, all he wanted at that moment was to make her feel hurt and pains. He opened her robe forcefully. His fingers found their way to the cloth material covering her cleavage and he tried to tear it off but she resisted and pushed him away.
She tried to cover up herself with the robe quickly but he grabbed her by the waist and dragged her back, he pushed her to the bed. She tried to get up quickly but he landed her a heavy slap and she fell back crying. He pulled the rope at the helm and pulled it off her body totally. He climbed on the bed and dragged her close.
“Tom, are you crazy?” What are you trying to do?” She yelled at him, punching him on the chest.
He tore off the swimwear from her cleavage down to her g—n forcefully. He stepped down from the bed and pulled the remaining part of the material from her legs. She screamed and tried to escape through the other side but he dragged her legs and held it. She held on with her hands to the edge of the bed.
He climbed on the bed and held her leg with a hand as he began to pull down his shorts with the other.
“Tom, please stop this.” she pleaded but it fell on deaf ears. He was determined to make her feel pains,
She could see him still burning with rage as he stripped off his shorts, she realized that this was not the Tom she knew. This was different and looked liked someone being controlled by an evil spirit. She realized that no amount pleading would make him stop, she also knew she couldn’t overpower him with her strength.
His hands touched the piece of clothing on her waist and she knew that once he dragged that off, he would be unstoppable. She raised her leg to hit him in the chest but he grabbed her feet with his hand and put it down gently, he placed a knee on it to pin her down.
She continued to struggle and yell but he wasn’t listening. He succeeded in tearing off the remaining part that covered her genitals. Her hands touched something as she struggled and she realized it was an almost empty bottle of wine on the floor. She struggled with all her strength and before he could go further, she sent the bottle crashing on his head. He let out a loud scream and rolled away, holding his head and wincing in pain.
She got out of the bed quickly, she was stark naked. She quickly located the robe and picked it. She headed for the door immediately, she found the keys at the door hole and removed it before stepping out. She closed and quickly inserted the key into it from behind. She could hear the sounds of his footsteps as she turned the key and locked it. He began to bang on the door with his fists.
Luckily for her, none of the maids nor house workers were there to see her naked. She quickly put on the robe to cover part of her nakedness and hurried to Tom’s main room to put on the clothes she wore to the place.
She met one of the maids on her way out the house, the maid was holding some bags with her and it was obvious she had just returned from the grocery store.
The maid said a word of greeting to Sheila which she didn’t reply. She got into her car as fast as she could and drove out of the compound.
Different thoughts filled her heart as she drove home and tears rolled down her eyes. She wondered what had come over Tom and why he was trying to have his way forcefully, what he displayed was more than the urge for sex. She didn’t know what it was, she could only assume that he was trying to punish her for hurting him.
It was the first time she was seeing him so aggressive and she was scared as she thought of it. Was it her fault? she thought to herself. Had she frustrated him to that point or was it that Tom was just impatient with her? She didn’t have answers to the several questions running through her mind but she had a feeling inside her that it could be the end of their four years relationship.
It was a shame! She thought. Her father would not like it. The man had in recent times, introduced her to people as his daughter who was soon going to get married to the son of his best friend. Five minutes to her home, her phone began to ring. She sniffed in as she turned up the screen to check who the caller was. It was Tom. She ignored the call and continued driving. The calls continued but she did not consider answering it.
SAY NO TO RAPE
Henry was coupling a device in the living room when Sheila got in. He had just finished with his personal lessons for the day and was doing some practicals. After spending most of his time in the study where he took his classes, he decided to come to the living room when the evening approached, hoping for Sheila to see him working immediately she returned.
“Hey Sheila!” Henry hailed as she walked into the living room.
She mumbled a reply and continued into the hallway.
“Sheila, I…” Henry raised up his head to find Sheila already gone into the hallway. He was so busy with the device he was coupling that he did not look at her face long enough to notice something was wrong. He had expected she would wait to talk to him and check his work as usual. He however knew something was amiss with the way she walked into the hallway. He dropped the device and quickly followed.
“Sheila,” he called as he followed.
She gave no reply. He noticed she was walking so fast. It was strange.
He couldn’t catch up with her and only got to her door few seconds after she got into the room and locked it.
“Sheila, is everything okay?” he beckoned on her but got no response. “Sheila, please talk to me.”
He heaved a sigh after waiting at the door for five minutes without hearing anything from her. He had tried to listen to see if he would know what she was doing through her movements in the room but he heard no sound whatsoever, meaning she was sitting in a place.
He was still wondering what to do when he heard footsteps from the main hallway. He turned out of the passage leading to her room into the main hallway, he saw Lesedi approaching, she was going into one of the rooms. He whispered her name and beckoned on her to come closer.
“Lesedi, Sheila just walked in and went straight into her room. Did you see her when she drove in?” he asked in low tones.
The smile on Lesedi’s face disappeared on hearing Henry’s report. “I did not see her but Esther told me she wasn’t looking happy, like she had a disagreement with someone.”
Henry’s eyebrows gathered together to form a more worried look. “She’s gone in and locked herself in. I hope she would not hurt herself.”
“Have you tried to get in?”
“Yes, I’ve knocked several times and she isn’t answering.”
Lesedi looked worried now, she realized it was more serious than she imagined when Esther told her. “Let’s check again please,” she said and proceeded to Sheila’s room with Henry following behind. She stepped back for Henry to knock when they got to the door.
“Sheila, please let me in,” Henry spoke after his knuckles hit the door the third time without getting any response. He turned to look at Lesedi’s face, as if he was expecting her to perform some magic.
Lesedi stepped forward. “Madam Sheila, you have to open the door now.” She paused to listen but got no response. “If you do not open the door in a minute, I would have to call your father and tell him.” she added.
Ten seconds later, they began to hear sounds of movement from inside. Lesedi heaved a sigh of relief. She knew Sheila would response at the threat of involving her father, Sheila hated getting her father involved in personal matters. Henry was however still hopeless about it, until they heard the sound of the key working in the keyhole.
The door opened slightly and Sheila turned back in to sit at the edge of the bed where she previously sat with her face buried in her palms as she thought of her four years relationship.
“What’s wrong Sheila?” Henry asked as he let himself in. Lesedi followed slowly behind.
Sheila gave no response to them, she remained in the same position without looking up.
Henry moved closer, while Lesedi remained at a reasonable distance close to the door.
Henry noticed that her phone was ringing by her side and she paid no attention to it.
“Sheila, please talk to me. What’s wrong?” he asked again, after the phone stopped ringing.
Sheila did not answer him. The phone began to ring again.
Henry picked it up to check the caller. “It’s Tom,” he said to her. She gave no response. “Should I answer it for you?”
“No, ” she finally looked up. She tried to snatch her phone away from Henry but he did not let her.
“Tell me what’s wrong Sheila, ” Henry said and sat beside her gently. She still attempted to take the phone from him but he moved it away from her. “Is something wrong between you and Tom?Sheila looked at Henry’s face for a moment. Henry could see the troubled look on her face, he also noticed marks like finger trails on her left cheek. He frowned as he thought of the possibility of Tom hitting her and he found himself clenching his fist unconsciously.
After a while, Sheila took a glance at Lesedi. Lesedi responded with a sheepish smile, she understood what the glance met.
“I’ll be on my way out, please take care of her Sire Henry.” She said, courtesying before she turned.
“Now, tell me what’s wrong.” Tom said after Lesedi was gone. “Did he hit you?”
Sheila was reluctant to answer his question, instead she wrapped her hand around him and placed her head on his shoulder.
“Talk to me Sheila, did he hit you?” Henry pressed further.
“No,” Sheila lied as she released him from her grip. “Tom would never hit me.”
“But what is this I see on your face?” Henry asked, squinting at her face. “It looks like you were hit here.”
“Yes, we had an argument.” Sheila began. She noticed the lines forming on Henry’s forehead. “He didn’t hit me,” she quickly reiterated. “He held me and I was struggling to leave, I hit my face on the headboard.”
“He held you in the bed?” Henry questioned, he hadn’t gotten a clear picture yet, he had no reason to disbelieve her since she had never being caught lying to him.
Sheila turned her face from him and stared blankly at the ground in front. She had to come up with a story to tell Henry, she didn’t want Henry to see Tom in a worse light than he was already seeing him. “We were discussing about the marriage plan, he wanted it soon which I didn’t want. He insisted that I give him a particular time frame but I refused. He held me on the bed and said he wasn’t going to leave me until I told him. I got so mad at him for disturbing me so much about the marriage plans and I struggled to get up, I slipped and hit my face on the headboard. He tried to get up and help me but I was still mad at him and I…”
Tears rolled down Sheila’s eyes as she remembered how she struggled to stop him from molesting her, but now she had to lie to save his image.
“You did what?” Henry questioned.
“I hit his head with a bottle of wine,” she answered.
“Ouch!” Henry exclaimed and shook his head. “That’s really not good.”
Sheila sniffed in and wiped the tears off her eyes.
“I left immediately without waiting to see if he was fine or not.”
“What?” Henry widened his eyes at her. He was shocked that she could do such a thing. He let out a breath. He decided not to judge or be disappointed in her, he wasn’t sure he had gotten the picture of the circumstance at which it happened clearly enough.
He inhaled and exhaled deeply as he closed his eyes and buried his face in his palms for a second. He raised his head to check the phone in his hand, a message had entered. He gave it to Sheila to read.
She collected the phone and unlocked it. The message was from Tom. She opened it and placed her phone to allow Henry also read.
I’m sorry Sheila, I”m sorry for not being patient and for troubling you about marriage, I’m sorry for forcing you and hurting you. Please forgive me.
More tears rolled down Sheila’s eyes as she read the message. She felt guilty again. She was the cause for his anger and loss of control, if she had given him a specific reply about the marriage, it wouldn’t have degenerated into something that worse.
Henry pulled her close to himself with an arm. “You have to stop crying now Sheila, we have to go now and check if he’s alright.”
Sheila moved back a bit to stare at his face.
“Yes, we have to go there now.” Henry repeated.
She could not protest. Since Henry was going with her, she believed it would be a reconciliation between she and Tom. She loved him and was not willing to do without him. She also was not willing to disappoint her father and others who were expecting them to get married.
Sheila asked for a few minutes to change her clothes before driving back to Tom’s house with Henry. They got there in twenty minutes time. Sheila led Henry in after confirming that Tom was still in the house from the gardener in the compound. She knew Tom would not just leave the house like that, he had good enough first aid materials to take care of himself in the house and the maid she met on her way out of his house used to be a nurse could help him with it.
“He should be in his room,” She said to Henry when they got to the living room.
Henry followed slowly behind her towards the room. She went straight to his main room first but met it still locked. She proceeded with Henry to the guest room.
The door to the guestroom was not locked but was slightly ajar, a sign that Tom was still there. She stopped at the entrance and took a very deep breath.
“He’s in here,” she whispered to Henry who was behind her.
“Good,” Henry whispered back and gave her a reassuring smile, encouraging her to go in and make amends. He patted her on the shoulder and took some steps away from the entrance.
Sheila pushed the door gently and walked in. She already losed the door behind her before she looked up and met the shock of her life.
Tom was there, his eyes staring straight at her. She stared back into his unshaking eyes, shivering. She could see the wound he got from the bottle crashing on his head, it wasn’t that much and it was obvious he was already getting first aid treatment on it, but there were blood stains all over the bed. The place was messier than she left it, something else had happened while she was away.