“….mommy Rebecca’s number is still not going through.” Isabella called out to her mother who was busy in kitchen making lunch.
“Keep trying, it is probably the network.” She replied as she poured freshly cut onion rings in the simmering oil. Isabella was like her father, they both worried too much, even the littlest things unsettled them. Isabella was fourteen but already a first class worrier, when her dress did not match her shoes, she worried, when she wrote an exam, she worried.
Mrs. Eze poked her head out of the kitchen and found her youngest daughter pacing the floor and fretting with her phone; her age mates would be making the most of the Christmas holiday but not Isabella, instead of catching up with friends and favorite TV shows, she had been cooped up indoors worrying about her big sister.
A smile broke out across Mrs. Eze’s face, she wished her younger sister had looked at her with half the admiration Isabella did her big sister, instead they had been cat and dog, always at each other’s throat, her poor mother; God bless her soul, had had quite a tumultuous task separating them. It got so bad; they had to send her away to live with relatives. Despite how long ago that had been, her sister and her still did not get along well but they had learnt to manage their relationship. Catherine Eze figured it was probably because her sister and she had just a year between them unlike Rebecca and Isabella, who had twelve.
Isabella had been what she and her husband called a “mistake”, it had just happened after they had put paid on having more kids. The moment she had walked through the door Rebecca had taken an instant liking to baby Isabella and it seemed to be mutual, Isabella would be crying on top of her lungs and the instant twelve year old Becca picked her up, she would stop immediately.
When she was three, she would always insist on sleeping in same bed as her big sister, where there was Becca, there was always the pitter patter of Bella’s little feet. And Rebecca was always happy to play big sister and enjoyed doing it, it was she who taught her little sister to wear a makeup, she would play Barbie with her even till her teen ages, so it was no surprise that no one cried the hardest when Rebecca had to leave for boarding school and then the university. Their grandmother had always remarked that they were twins born several years apart; they did both bear a striking resemblance to each other, they truly would have passed for twins if their age difference wasn’t so different.
“Bia Isabella Chiamaka Eze, drop that phone and come help me in the kitchen.” Mrs Catherine Eze called out from the kitchen.
“But mom, I am trying to reach Becks all morning, why are you not worried?”
“Because I have your dad and you to do that for me,” She replied playful, “oya bia nyem aka osiso! (come and give a hand), your sister will call you when she is ready.”
“But she never misses a call!”
“Nne your sister is safe, I know it.”
“How do you know mommy?”
“A mother knows these things, put that phone aside and come help your mother.”
“Yes ma.” She said begrudgingly.
Breakfast was almost done when her husband burst into the kitchen, bearing his phone, his face a cascade of concern.
“Have you seen this?” He said, his voice trembling a bit.
“Seen what?” His wife asked, wiping her hand on the kitchen towel before taking the phone. She did a double take before handing the phone back to her husband. “Did you try the number?!” She whispered, her heart beating fast against her chest, causing her to lose her breath.
“Isa, go to your room.” Her father barked.
“What did I do now?” She grumbled under her voice as she left her parents.
“Have you called the number?!” Catherine asked apprehensive
“It is ringing but no one is picking up.” Catherine could not help but notice how calm her husband was.
She took the phone and read the text again;
“We have your daughter, we will contact you for further information. Call the police and she dies.” She felt faint all of a sudden and went to lean on the kitchen sink.
“Are you alright?!” Mr. Raymond Eze asked coming to stand by his wife.
“How can I be alright, my daughter has just kidnapped and you ask if I am alright?! I am not alright Raymond; I am going out of my mind!”
“Her number is switched off, tried it several times after I got the text.”
“I know, Isabella has been trying it all morning!” She instantly regretted scolding Isabella earlier.
“Jesus!! I swear I kept hoping this was some sort of joke, that I would wake up and find out it was a dream. I should never have allowed her go to that stupid carnival!”
“Do not blame yourself, it was always fated to happen.” Catherine said soothingly to her husband.
“I have called Emeka….”
“You did what?! The text clearly said not to call the police. I swear to God, if anything happens to my daughter….” She left the last part to his imagination.
“Nne, you know we have to involve the police, these people might not release our dear Rebecca even after we pay, so it is best we involve the law, so they can help find her even before we pay.” That seemed to pacify his wife a bit.