As soon as Junior gets down from Steve’s car he runs straight into the building. Steve stares after him, and then he looks over at Effe who is unstrapping her seat-belt.
Seems your son is really fighting for his father, sweetheart.
Effe glances at him as she opens her door.
Don’t take it to heart, Steve. They were close, and he has missed his father. End of story. It doesn’t affect us in any way.
(raising his eyebrows)
It doesn’t? You sure about that, honey? I saw you running after Chris when he left the church. I saw you following him as far as the entrance.
Effe gives a shaky nervous laugh.
I wanted to remind him he has to sign the divorce papers, Steve. Was that a sin too?
He hears the slight hint of exasperation in her voice, and he is quick to make the reconciliatory overture. He reaches over and squeezes her hand.
Sorry, honey. Guess I’m feeling a little bit insecure, you know. That little drama in the church really got to me, you know. I’m the jealous possessive kind, as you well know.
Well, there’s no need for that. There’s just no way Chris and I are ever getting back again. You should know that.
I know, I know. Sorry about that. Were you able to talk to him about the divorce?
Effe drops her eyes.
She is not used to lying, and it makes her feel extremely uncomfortable.
In truth she had just wanted to ask Chris where he would be staying when she run after him. She had felt very sorry for him, for losing the house and everything he owned, but she knows she can never say that to Steve. It will begin a fight that will last for many days.
No, I couldn’t. He got a lift and left. I’ll make the necessary arrangements with Uncle Darkwa.
Do that, honey.
Effe nods and gets out of the car. She walks round his car and stops.
You coming in?
Nah, honey. Gonna take a pass. Would see you this evening. Jon wants us to catch a few swings at the golf club, so I’m meeting him.
Alright, dear. Would expect you this evening then.
She watches as he drives out and the security detail closes the gates.
She turns away miserably and walks into the house. She pauses in the living-room and sits down gently.
She had not told Steve that Chris signed the divorce papers finally.
She knows it will make him very happy. It is something they have waited for, prayed for, hoped and expected for a long time. She had expected Chris to fight it, like he had been fighting it for five years now.
But he had just gone ahead and signed it, just like that! What has changed?
Is it because of that prison officer who drove off with him at the church?
Effe knows Baaba as a member of the church. They are civil to each other, but she has not known Baaba had been detailed at the Grand Castle prison. Is that where she has grown close to Chris? Is there something going on between them? Effe knows that shouldn’t be any concern of hers. After all she has asked for and received a divorce. After all she is going to marry Steve, and shouldn’t really care about what Chris is doing!
The man has hurt her and trampled on her feelings. He didn’t deserve a second chance, and she knows she should keep her head high and dwell on the future.
So why is there a disquieting turmoil in her soul?
Why had she felt that familiar twinge in her heart when Baaba had gone into his arms and embraced him with a total lack of decorum?
Why is she wondering if Baaba is also another victim of Chris’ charms?
He has not been in her plans. She has not expected to see him so soon.
She had projected another five years for him. She had not visited him in prison, and neither had she responded to the numerous telephone calls he had made to her during the first two years of his incarceration.
She had not even listened to the advice of the Reverend Fii Jon to visit Chris. She had totally cut him off, out of her life completely. So why is she now feeling a trifle guilty that she had abandoned him? Chris deserves everything that he is getting, and more! He had acted like a bastard!
She tells herself to move on with her life. It is going to be difficult, but she knows she must.
She looks up suddenly as Junior descends the steps to the living-room holding his little blue piggy bank.
He has been saving his money in that piggy bank almost a year and a half now. He keeps every coin and every cedi he receives in there, whether from his mother or from other adults.
There must be a small fortune in there, Effe muses, considering the fact that sometimes people gave the boy huge sums of money. There are times when she wants to open it, but he always says no. He says he is saving to buy an aeroplane.
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Sweet Prince, did you receive some gifts today?
Junior looks at her and smiles, and she can still see the white marks on his cheeks left by his tears, and she recalls once again his show of love towards his father in church.
No, Mom. I want to open it.
She raises her eyebrows, surprised.
She has not expected to hear that from him, at least not now.
(with a chuckle)
Really? Why? Are you ready to buy your aeroplane now?
He looks down and swings his foot uneasily. She sees that he looks disturbed. She gets up and kneels in front of him and takes his hand.
Hey, sweetheart, what is it? Don’t go alien on me. You know you can tell me everything.
He looks earnestly into her eyes and speaks in a rush, his face riddled with guilt.
I know you wanted to open my piggy bank, Mom, and I didn’t let you. You can open it now and take some of the money. Daddy used all his money for offertory today. I’ll give the rest to him. It is not that I didn’t want you to take my money when you wanted to open the piggy bank, and now you would be angry that I want to give the money to Daddy, but-
She lays a hand across his lips, and she is aware that tears are bubbling somewhere deep down within her.
Sweetie, I know you have a good heart. No, I’m not bothered at all that you want to give your money to your father.
His wonderful eyes move rapidly, searching her face.
You sure? Really really really sure, Mommy? Cross your heart sure?
She crosses her heart and smiles at him.
Cross my heart sure, honey.
He looks down again at his feet and nods. He bites his lip, and then he looks up at her.
Mom, I know you don’t like Daddy-
That hurts her very much.
Above all else she has tried, over the years, not to give her son that impression, and she is shocked that he has that in his heart. She shakes her head and kisses his hands.
Oh, no, please, honey! What gave you that idea? I have nothing against him.
His face is suddenly sad, and she sees tears filling up in his eyes.
Then why is it that you never took me to visit him in prison? Then why is it that when he came here to see me, you let the police take him away? So does that mean that any time I see Daddy the police will come and take him away?
When a tear rolls down his right cheek it shakes Effe hard. She fights her own tears, and she reaches out and brushes his tears away.
My prince, sometimes adults have differences, okay? They behave in ways you might not understand, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have good feelings, okay? I was angry with your father, but I’m not anymore. Yesterday I went to the police station and signed a document. You can see him now, and no police will take him away.
Although tears fall down his face he smiles suddenly, a happy smile that dimples his cheeks, and in that instant he looks so much like his father that it sends a bolt of pain through Effe’s heart.
Thank you, Mama. So can you open the piggy bank for me?
Effe smiles, fiercely fighting her tears, and buzzes his right cheek.
Well, why don’t you keep it as it is? Next time you see your father, the two of you can open it.
His smile broadens again, and she knows he is pleased by that.
Are you really, really, really, really sure you don’t want some of the money?
I’m really, really, really sure I don’t want any, cowboy!
He nods and suddenly hugs her tight, and she is overcome by the love she feels for him, and her tears trickle down her cheeks.
I love you, Mama.
I love you too, handsome!
He turns away happily and as he begins to climb the stairs she wipes tears from her cheeks and picks up her bag.
She extracts some fifty cedi notes from her bag.
Hey, Champ, take this.
He turns and returns to her. He looks at the amount of money in her hands and his eyes open wide with surprise.
Mommy! That’s a lot of money! Why are you giving it to me?
She shrugs, and smiles.
Oh, you have been a good boy. Go on take it.
He takes the money, still looking at her.
(with a little laugh)
You can’t fool me, Mama. Because I said I’m giving the money to Daddy, you’re giving me more money, aren’t you? You still like him, don’t you?
Do you want the money or not, you saucy young man?
He takes the money, kisses her quickly on her right cheek, and rushes upstairs to stuff the money in his piggy bank.
Effe sighs heavily and switches on the television.
Damn you, Chris!