THE KINGDOM OF TA-SET
THE CITY OF QU-STUL
THE TRIBUTARY OF ATBARA
The barge sailed on the peaceful waters of the river, gliding along with the gentle wind of the night. A woman sat in the middle of the barge, covered in a stone encrusted cloak, head tilted towards the starry sky. The barge drifted without the support of helmsmen manning the oars. Those watching its movement on the river knew this to be a strange occurrence only made possible by magic. Along the banks of the river, the tall papyrus plants moved and a low guttural sound preceded the splat of spit hitting ground.
An elbow dug sharply into the ribs of the speaker and a hand pressed firmly against thin cracked lips.
An order was issued, silent but authoritative, and the men moved slowly, fanning out in every direction until the barge was completely surrounded. Their leader, red haired and muscular gave the nod to light the sulphur suffused torches in each man’s hand. The river was immediately illuminated, hundreds of flickering light exposing the calm features of the woman in the barge. The leader of the men stood facing the barge, finger pointed accusingly at the woman.
“Astarte, mother of she who calls herself goddess, I command you to stop.”
The barge slowed and then stilled on the river. Astarte pushed down the hood of her cloak. A silent command from her heart turned the bow of the barge towards the leader of the men. Her smile was mocking as she faced him.
“Is that Ua-Zit of Eshunna that speaks? Is that he whose god is so great he fights and destroys the great temples of the goddess on his behalf?”
His features sharpened by the light from the burning torches around him, Ua-Zit took a step forward so that he stood face to face with Astarte.
“Yes Astarte. It is I Ua-Zit that bids you stop. It is I Ua-Zit, son of Enkil that is come to take back your head to the city.”
Black eyes glittering fearlessly at Ua-Zit, Astarte laughed. Rocking from side to side in the barge, she howled with pleasure into the night. The men behind Ua-Zit exchanged confused glances. The doubts plain on their faces, they wondered in their hearts if the ambush had been a mistake. The woman before them was no ordinary woman. They knew of her magical abilities to conjure dozens of warrior women from the air. Their insides rumbled at the thought of failing their mission. Ahmose would not spare their necks. They were sure of it.
“I see now that the stories are true,” Astarte turned in her barge, sizing up every single one of them, “your god is so helpless that you come out in your hundreds, the knives drawn ready at your sides to seize an old woman.”
Ua-Zit laughed, returning Astarte’s scorn.
“Old woman you say? Is it not you of whom the fables speak? The one who travels the night with dozen warrior priestesses hidden from the eyes of mortals? We come to battle your magic Astarte, we come against your evil guards, not yourself.”
“And yet you want my head?”
Astarte’s voice was soft, beguiling. The men hesitated. She was nothing like the stories said. There was nothing evil in the serene face that glowed from the barge. In the crone goddess, the saw the simple unassuming form of their mothers.
“I want your evil stopped in the land Astarte. That is all I seek.”
Frogs croaked a sombre song as Astarte considered Ua-Zit’s words. The men behind him turned around with each sound in the silence, half expecting her female guards to appear. Astarte’s hand dropped to the water and caressed its surface, causing ripples to form on it. On the river, she saw the peaceful sleeping figure of her heavily pregnant daughter. Whispering words of comforts, Astarte touched her daughter’s face through the water.
“Forgive me. I must do what I must do.”
Pulling back from the river, Astarte faced Ua-Zit again.
“Is it my head alone you seek son of Eshunna?”
Ua-Zit hesitated and then nodded slowly.
“Yes woman, it is your head I seek only.”
“Will the people be spared? Will my daughter live to raise that which is given to her by the goddess?”
Ua-Zit smiled, enjoying his superior bargaining position. He imagined himself standing before Ahmose with the news of Astarte’s defeat.
Look how easily our enemies fall into our hands Ahmose. Now we must not tarry no more. We must seize the city.
“Yes she will.”
Astarte smiled, a look of disbelief on her face. It was as if she knew Ua-Zit would not keep his word, but her smile also carried with it a mystery that intrigued the group waiting to attack. It was all for good, she told herself. Her death would bring freedom to the city and its people. Throwing her cloak from her shoulders, Astarte stood on the barge, eyes lit with fervour as she beckoned on the men.
“Come then good sons of Eshunna,” she said, her voice ringing loud around them. “Come hither, put your knives upon my neck. Hurry unless your god Enkil rises from his slumber and strikes you for failing him.”
Even though she goaded them, her words spurred Ua-Zit and his men. Stampeding through the water, they rushed at her from all sides, tilting the barge face down in the river and seizing in their hands parts of her exquisitely sewn linen dress. Revelling in her weakness and in the absence of the warrior priestesses who would never appear, they gave free rein to their lust, prodding and caressing the supple skin of the goddess untouched by age. The crone goddess watched them from afar, for her magic had caused her soul to be removed from her body before the men took her prisoner. She looked upon them with pity as they argued with Ua-Zit what to do with her body.
“Give her to us that we may dishonour her.”
“We must do unto her as was done with the women of Martu.”
“Yes! Here are the sticks. Put them through her that we may put the fear of us in the hearts of those who still cling to their abominations.”
The soul of Astarte watched as Ua-Zit holding up a hand to his men, commanded them to silence.
“We must not tarry, the day is nigh upon us. Bring me the knife that I may put it upon her neck.”
The night was silent, the air heavy with a sudden chill as Ua-Zit with a single stroke of his knife severed the head of the crone goddess from her neck. A loud cheer was taken up as the head bounced heavily on the ground and rolled to the feet of the man who had asked to dishonour her body. The man Imhotep grabbed the head by its hair and lifted it above his head. Walking to the edge of the river where Ua-Zit stood washing his blood stained knife in the river, he handed the head to him, lifting his left hand high in victory. The men continued their cheer, chanting in unison songs against her whom they had killed.
THE TEMPLE OF THE GODDESS
Qalhata’s eyes opened slowly in the darkness, her heart beating faster than usual. She struggled with the realization that she had just seen her mother’s death. Breathing deeply to calm the riot of emotions flooding her, she drew herself up on her pillows and threw her legs to the floor. Hands balancing on the bed, she hung her head and tried not to cry.
“Why mama, why?”
Pictures of her mother as a young goddess caused her to double in pain, one hand cradling her pregnant belly. She remembered her childhood and the nights when she ran panting into her mother’s bedchamber with her sister Nucit behind to avoid the cacophonic clap of the skies when the storms visited the city. She thought of the month after she had seen her first moon blood, the softness of her mother’s voice as she prepared them for the ceremony that would make either one of them goddess.
“You must be ready to serve with your life O Nucit, and you Qalhata, should the goddess choose you as her voice on this realm.”
Tears streamed down Qalhata’s face despite her effort not to cry. It was hard to believe that her mother was dead. She was Astarte, she who could bring down the moon to the ground if she desired. How could she be dead?
The knocking on the door was urgent. Qalhata recognized the voice of Nemothi. Dragging a hand down her face and wiping away her tears, she pushed herself to her feet with difficulty and stood beside her bed, hands linked imperiously before her. It was not the way of the goddess to show any form of weakness to her subjects. Hence, Qalhata masked her pain as she stood waiting for the inevitable word of her mother’s passing.
“You may come in Nemothi.”
The chief warrior priestess walked bowing into the room.
“The goddess forgive my impudence, but I have news.”
Qalhata’s jaw quivered, but she steeled herself against the wave of sorrow threatening her calm poise.
“What is this news Nemothi?”
“It is the crone goddess…”
Nemothi’s voice faltered. Qalhata swallowed hard, lifting up her chin to keep the tears from spilling on her cheeks.
“Yes Nemothi. What about the crone goddess?”
“She may be harmed, goddess.”
“How is this so?”
Qalhata’s question was a whisper of pain, one that was meant for Nemothi as much as it was meant for her.
“She cast a spell on us, binding us to the temple and went across the river on her boat.”
A heavy silence descended on the room and Nemothi rose to her feet at the urging of her goddess. She stood and watched with a heavy heart as Qalhata turned and lowered herself clumsily to the bed.
“She gave her life for us.”
The chief priestess nodded.
Qalhata’s breathing quickened. “It is for a reason Nemothi,” she said, her eyes narrowing with venom. “She did not die in vain…did not give her life to those dogs in vain.” Her hand shot out and clamped down hard on the arm of the chief warrior priestess. “I will kill them all Nemothi, I will – ahh!”
Nemothi jumped into action as Qalhata fell sideways, clutching her belly. The chief warrior priestess knew from the wet stain on the dress of the goddess that her time had come.
“It is the child,” Qalhata gasped from the bed, clenching here teeth as contractions squeezed her insides. “Hurry, bring Asenat.”
Casting a look of worry on her goddess, Nemothi practically floated out of the room to get the temple’s old midwife. It was she who had reached and pulled Qalhata and her sister Nemothi from her mother’s thighs. She would bring another into the consecrated lineage of the goddess that night.
The dark room smelled of blood, unwashed bodies and human waste. A single oil lamp provided lighting but it was overpowered by the overwhelming darkness of the low ceilinged room. The flame from the oil lamp swelled and stretched as a woman materialized from the walls of the room and walked towards the center of the room where another woman stood bound to a thick wooden pole with ropes of water reed. In the hand of the approaching woman was a leather whip with small metal spikes attached at its end. The woman was one of the warrior priestess and she had been assigned the task of breaking the will of the woman bound to the wood.
“I am innocent of the charges…I swear. I have no knowledge of that which you accuse me of.”
The woman with the whip laughed, her teeth flashing viciously as the whip cracked in her hand.
“You lie, you cursed mortal,” the torturer snarled, stepping forward to the bound woman and hissing in her face. “You cursed spawn of darkness, you speak nothing but lies.”
“I swear I –”
The whip lashed out and caught the woman in the back, splitting into large gaps her soiled white linen dress. Her scream was loud and full of anguish. Her torturer stood back and watched in grim satisfaction as she bucked and writhed against the wood.
“I beg you, no more.”
The woman’s pleas were ignored and several lashes administered in quick succession on her frail form. The whip was flying up in the air for the fifteenth time when the door of the room squeaked open. A procession of oil lamps made their way into the room, blinding the two occupants with their glare. When their eyes adjusted to the light, the torturer and the victim reacted simultaneously to the figure at the head of the procession.
“Oh thank heavens, it is the goddess. Oh, praise be, it’s the goddess.”
Qalhata stood in her robe of linen and animal skin, her face expressionless as she took in the sight before her. When it seemed like she would remain frozen at the entrance of the room forever, she began to move slowly, one leg placed carefully in front of the other, and with deliberate slowness, until she was a hair’s breadth from the woman who used to be her attendant.
Neferet made to bow, but the ropes cut deeply into her skin, causing her to wince in pain.
“I should bow to my goddess, but the ropes that bind me are strong.”
Qalhata’s face remained expressionless, but her head moved slightly to the side as she gave her former attendant a sweeping stare.
“Do they hurt?”
Tears streamed down Neferet’s face.
“But you have dealt me a worse pain Neferet, one that runs deeper than mortal wounds.”
Neferet’s lips quivered. Her head shook in denial, eyes welling again with tears.
“No goddess. I swear on my life, I have been a faithful and true servant.”
“You deny the charge of betrayal?”
“Upon my life goddess.”
Qalhata smiled humourlessly and then turned backwards to the horde of waiting attendants and warrior priestesses behind her.
A figure bundled in a large shawl stepped forward, holding within its arms a smaller bundle of a wriggling tiny human. The figure stepped back, but not before the fires from the lamp showed it to be the aged form of Asenat the temple mid wife. Qalhata observed the bundle in her arms for a long time. Finally, she turned the bundle towards Neferet who beheld the peaceful cherubic face of a new born.
“Look Neferet, who do you see upon his face?”
Neferet shook her head in confusion, looking from the child to Qalhata. She knew the child belonged to Qalhata and was the product of her nightly liaisons with her consort Hetep, but she saw no sign of Hetep on the child’s features and was constrained to tell her goddess so.
“I don’t…I see no one familiar of face.”
“Perhaps, you may look again Neferet. Perhaps you may find the face of him who you call husband.”
“No god – ”
The words froze on Neferet’s lips and she strained against the ropes that held her to look closely at the baby in Qalhata’s arms. Her face crumbled when she saw it – the uncanny resemblance between Ahmose and the child in Qalhata’s arms. A slow mournful wail escaped her lips before she could stop it. Turning backwards, Qalhata motioned for Asenat to come for her child. The old midwife stepped forward and relieved her of the child. As Asenat moved to the back of the room, a warrior priestess took her place beside Qalhata, a golden bowl containing sacrificial knives in her hands.
“You see Neferet, it is hard to destroy that which is greater than you. You could not conquer the heart of a man, how then do you think you can conquer my land?”
Another cry broke out from Neferet’s throat and the innocence drained from her face, leaving a shadow of hatred.
“You seduced him, you whore!”
The priestess holding the bowl of knives started forward, but she was restrained by Qalhata’s sharp command. Turning to Neferet, Qalhata nodded slowly, one hand outstretched to receive the knife placed in it.
“Yes but he desired me. I am the desire of his youth. I am the desire of his old age.”
In the final moments of her life, Neferet stared numbly as the question about the mystery woman who had stolen her husband’s heart unravelled before her eyes.
It was Qalhata.
The knowledge passed through her like a double edged sword, so that she died even before the knife touched her throat, slicing through arteries and fatty tissue until it snapped the bone holding it to her shoulder neatly into two.
Qalhata stood with the blood dripping from her fingers. She looked at it and remembered her mother’s death.
Blood for blood.
Ahmose saw the head as he entered the courtyard. He stared without a word at it as his men stood waiting for his response. The glassy unseeing eyes that stared back at him brought back memories he of his life many years ago. He could see clearly in his mind Astarte’s indulging smile as she watched him and Qalhata play in the garden of her family home during days when they visited from the temple. He heard Astarte’s voice as if she were standing right beside him.
Ahmose, moon child, come eat of the dates from my plate.
The gruesomeness of her death drove a spear of remorse through his heart. He questioned the manner of her death, wondering how Ua-Zit and his men had been able to overpower her. Astarte was known throughout the kingdom for her magic.
Ahmose focused on the present with difficulty.
“When did this happen?”
“Early morning,” Ua-Zit replied calmly. Flicking his wrist, he tossed the head to the floor and it rolled forward before stopping at Ahmose’s feet. Ahmose’s eyes remained on his second in command.
“The river Atbara.”
Ua-Zit hesitated, dealing with a moment’s temptation to alter the event leading to the death of the crone goddess.
“You have lost your speech?”
“We came upon her by chance.”
Ahmose’s eyes narrowed. Something was missing. The women of Qalhata’s family were brilliant strategists and powerful magicians. He was unconvinced by the words of his men. Astarte would not have succumbed easily to them except –
“It was a trap.”
Ua-Zit’s face clenched in a confused frown.
Drawing a long sigh of exasperation, Ahmose shook his head at Ua-Zit.
“Have I not laid it upon your ears how a battle is not won by brawn, and how you must do all with patience and not haste?”
“Yes brother but – ”
“No, hold your peace Ua-Zit. Know this.” Ahmose leaned forward, fury on his face as his finger jabbed the air at his second in command. “You have walked like a blind man into a trap set to you by a woman of great thinking. By her death, you draw a great fury upon yourself. The women you seek to destroy are unlike the women of your country. They have twice that which you do not have – patience and magic.”
A deep silence fell on the men in Ahmose’s court. The euphoria of their victory against the crone goddess had worn off. Ahmose’s reprimand drew doubts from their hearts. They realized as they stood under the bright morning sky that their expedition with the red haired Ua-Zit had been a mistake. Many took several steps backwards, leaving Ua-Zit alone in the circle before Ahmose’s chair.
“Forgive me brother,” Ua-Zit said, dropping in a low bow. Hitching up his skirt when he straightened, his gaze lowered to Astarte’s head. “So what does my lord propose?”
“You have drawn her out, therefore we must wait.”
His face falling in disappointment, Ua-Zit began to take another bow but was stopped at the loud cries coming from the direction of Ahmose’s gates. The men sprang into action, drawing their knives ready as they waited to battle the enemies beyond the gates. Ahmose sat undisturbed on his chair, his face blank as his head servant walked into the courtyard holding a bloody rag in his hand. Their hands falling away from their knives, Ua-Zit and his men walked forward, forming a circle around the head servant.
“The guards found this at the gates,” the head servant told Ahmose, the expression on his face grave as he lowered the rag to the ground and pulled it apart to reveal the grisly sight of a severed head. The men drew back immediately to discuss what they had seen. Ahmose did nothing. He sat still as a statue watching with a sense of deepening sorrow the remains of the woman who had loved him.
Forgive me Neferet, forgive me.
NICON TOWN ESTATE
8 FEBRUARY 2015
I stretch out on the bed after the call with Umana, scrolling lazily through my call list and trying to recollect the details of my mental to do list. My mind is uncooperative, churning instead random bits of the conversation of a few minutes ago.
He said we could do this Freight on Board
There are still buyers out there Luke
I trust Singh. He and I go a long way….from Oxford
Pushing back the frustration welling inside me and try to focus on other things – like how easily I have settled into bachelorhood. I turn to look at the empty space beside me and remember the woman who used to lie in it. I think of my mother’s recent invitation to my family home, the fourth in the space of three weeks.
Luke, we need the two of you to sit down together. I have spoken with Bukky. That girl loves you
I feel my face for the stubby new growth on my chin and sigh. It was hard to convince my mother to accept my decision to let Bukky go. The cordial relationship between our families had taken six years to groom. Deep in my heart I knew, my mother was not giving up without a fight. I ignore an unexpected pang of regret at the way things had turned out between me and Bukky. Easing myself off the bed, I walk to the bathroom to prepare for the long day ahead.
The first thing I notice when I flick on the bathroom light switches is the unusual cold. It is everywhere – on the mirror where a mist has formed an icy blanket on the surface, to the shower stall which has become an opaque shield from the fog gathered on it. I stand, enduring the chill seeping through the soles of my feet and try to rationalize the strange sight before me. Nothing seems to add up despite my determination to stay rational.
“There is a reason for this,” I tell the empty bathroom, walking to the mirror and wiping it. “Leaking pipes maybe. I should get Omoni to see to this.”
I am doubtful of my theory as I work on the mirror, clearing away the mist with one of the towels on the rack behind the door. The exertion pays off and soon my mind is occupied with finding a solution to the dark shadow of beard on my face. Dumping the towel on the countertop, I fish for my clipper in the cabinet above the mirror. It is a Philips brand, black and smooth to the feel. I uncoil the cord and reach to connect it to the socket beside the mirror. I am not looking when my fingers make contact with the socket so the first jolt of electrical current invading my body is a surprise. My muscles contract involuntarily and I experience a flash of bright light.
I feel myself begin to tense before my feet is plucked from the ground. Feeling detached from everything, I levitate a few feet from the ground and look in awe at a replica of me falling backwards and crashing against the shower stall. It takes a while but I soon realize that the replica on the ground is my body. I am still marvelling at the sight before me when I become aware of three shadows detaching themselves from the walls.
It is a woman and two men. Their features are blurry. I start toward them, eager to make sense of their shadowy forms but a force rises from the ground below and pushes me downwards towards the replica on the ground. The feeling is intense and overpowering. I drag in a deep breath and give in to the darkness that descends with my fall.
The woman fell to her knees, tears falling down her face and mingling with the blood escaping the open wound on her neck. She began to rock back and forth as she cried.
“Why? Why do you stop him from coming to me?”
The men at the window sighed but they said nothing. The woman cried for several minutes, sometimes reaching to touch the body on the ground but reacting in shock as her hand passed through it instead of making contact with it. Her cries grew louder and she fell face first to the ground, beating at it with her hands.
“Why do you give him to her a second time?”
The body on the floor moved and all three ghostly figures turned towards it. One of the men moved quickly to the side of the body, urging it upwards. The eyes on the body blinked back to life, the hand moved to touch the head. The man beside it whispered deep into the ears of the body.
“Irima. She is here.”
The woman was still inconsolable as the body moved with the life that returned to it. A loud peal broke into the room and the men watched together as the man stood supporting his weight on the bathroom countertop. His voice was raspy but clear when he spoke.
“Irima. She is here.”
I keep my eyes on the door, waiting for it to swing open and resisting the impulse to press down on the small white box on the wall. A gnawing feeling settles in the back of my mind and I feel the air grow thick. It’s an uncomfortable sensation and weighs itself against my back, pushing at me until I turn to investigate its source. I find it in a disconcerting stare just metres away from me.
“Good morning,” the security guard says, nodding politely again. It is his third good morning since I arrived at the house. It is almost as if he doesn’t believe my story about being Luke’s personal assistant, as if he is waiting for the order to throw me out. His small beady eyes travel up and down my body before looking away at something at the side of the house.
I swallow back my response and turn to the door again.
“Okay, will you please open your door now?”
As if in answer to my request, the door falls backward immediately. My new boss is wearing the most casual look – a bare chest and a pair of low riding slacks. I am caught off guard by his informal fashion. I open my mouth, ready to greet him, but his eyes slip past my shoulders to the man waiting behind me.
“It’s okay Saturday. She works with me.”
His tone is impatient, his gaze cool and unreadable. I match his coolness and march into his living room without a word. Under the cover of my icy mask, I stop in the middle of the living room to admire the stylish furnishing. The floor is a stretch of dark wood covered by an orange and red area rug that matches with the orange wooden blinds on the windows. The leather sofas are black and face each other over a center table that is a square piece of heavy wood. The walls are white and hold a single watercolour painting of ancient looking subjects walking or dancing on a long street. His television is wide enough to cover most of the wall facing the arrangement of chairs. My appraisal is short, but when I turn from his furniture pieces to him I get the feeling he has been watching me the entire time, and with a funny expression on his face.
“Your buttons,” he says.
Confused by his words, I incline my head sideways.
He looks away from me to his right hand. I watch him clench and unclench it with mounting confusion.
“I am sorry but I missed…”
“Your buttons are popped.”
Shock and embarrassed, I look down at myself. Sure enough, the two top buttons of my chiffon top are open, leaving a wide opening for my cleavage to spill out. I pull the top together and thank him coolly even though I really want to ground to open and swallow me.
He does not wait after his command. Leaving me alone in his living room, he disappears through an archway leading to what I suspect is a flight of stairs as the sound of feet meeting wood echoes around the living room. As soon as the sound fades, I lower the hand holding my top together and check the embarrassing sight again.
“God, how could I…”
I sit in the silence of the living room, replaying in my mind the horror of my unwitting peep show. The face of the security guard comes back to haunt me. I sag forward and lower my face in my hands.
I just flashed my boss and a guy named Saturday.
The secretary smacked her lips before her compact mirror, puckering and then thinning them. Angling her head sideways, she held the mirror away from her face and pouted at her reflection. Suddenly, her shoulders sagged and she leaned backwards in her chair, hand falling with the mirror to her desk. Her beauty didn’t matter anymore. There was the disturbing thought of her unreturned affections to consider.
Giving a start of surprise at the sound of her name, the secretary turned to the door. It was the receptionist. The secretary forced herself to smile as the receptionist walked towards her, fashionably dressed in a red dress that emphasized her perfect shape. The contents of the secretary’s mind were in complete contrast to the pleasantness communicated in her smile.
This prostitute and her skimpy dresses. I am sure she likes Luke. She is probably trying to seduce him too.
Feeling her defences go up as it usually did at the sight of a potential competition, the secretary drew her shoulders back and looked down her nose at the receptionist in her red dress.
Sauntering to the desk of the secretary, Lilian the receptionist perched on the edge and smiled down at the secretary.
“So how is your friend doing?” she asked, head wagging in the direction of the empty desk across the room.
“She is fine,” the secretary said tightly, snapping her compact shut with a loud snap. The receptionist watched her through heavily lidded eyes made smaller by thick lines of black eyeliner. A knowing smile lit the receptionist face.
“You don’t like her abi?” she said, eyebrows wriggling at her colleague. “You are just pretending,” she added laughing brightly and slapping the arm of the frowning secretary.
“I am not,” the secretary said with a shrug, effectively dislodging the hand of the receptionist from her arm.
“So how far?”
“With the message I put on your desk from oga.”
The secretary’s eyes scanned her desk and returned puzzled to that of the receptionist.
“I left a post-it on your desk. Last week oga wanted to see you and you had left, so he asked me to tell you about taking her,” the receptionist stopped to wag her head again at the empty desk, “shopping for some nice clothes.”
The secretary heard her world crashing around her as the receptionist spoke.
He was already buying her clothes?
“Anyway, I just thought I should let you know in case he mentions it.”
The receptionist stood back to her feet and adjusted the clingy fabric of her dress.
“And erm…I heard something,” shooting furtive glances at the door, she leaned closer to the secretary and almost whispered, “oga might be preparing her for Umana.”
“How did you…”
“Gabriel,” the receptionist answered with a laugh. “You know how he likes to talk.”
Light dawned in the secretary’s world again. When she smiled, it was genuine this time.
Their conversation came to an abrupt end as the door opened and the man who was responsible for their livelihood walked in with the woman they had been talking about. The two women stood at attention, smiling sheepishly at their boss.
“Good morning sir!”
Acknowledging their greetings without a break in his steps, their boss walked straight into his office. The woman who had been with him greeted to two women, smiling politely before walking to her waiting desk. The secretary watched her, her heart spreading in a happy smile. She had been right. The woman across the office was not the type of woman her boss dated.
I thump the desk with the papers in my hand. The action brings back a small vibration that reminds me of my early morning bathroom incident.
You need to see a doctor.
Shaking my head at inner voice, I place the papers at the left hand side of the table.
“I am fine.”
You almost died.
I stare frozenly at my desk. The shadows in the bathroom. What were they?
Leaning towards my desk, I close my eyes and massage the space between my eyebrows. The thoughts of ghosts lose their grip on my mind. Relieved, I open my eyes and settle back in my chair. The silence in my head is short-lived.
You saw her breasts today.
I sigh and banish the disturbing thoughts forming from the memory. She was here for Umana. Nothing would change that, not even a wardrobe malfunction.