It was almost midnight when she gave her life. She woke up that Sunday determined to turn things around. She had not been too sure what to do so she just took her bath, slipped on the only dress that could pass for decent in her tarpaulin bag and walked out, her determination evident on her tired features. She had been walking for a quarter of an hour before she noticed she still had her bathroom slippers on; it was a bright orange - a clear mismatch to the pink dress that hugged her curvy form. She continued briskly on, caring less for her looks that morning, for her hair had not been combed either; it's browning look almost making her look malnourished, if not for her body size. She did not care for all that. She only needed to get to the church, she could already see the cross on the pinnacle. Her heartbeat took on a rhythm she had become used to in the past month or so. She was closer to the answers she yearned for and her heart only danced to its new song, an awkward dance. But she was determined.
She had expected to feel warmth run up her dusty legs the moment she stepped into the church hall but all she felt was the echo of that brave step in the emptiness of her insides. She chastised the nausea that overtook her and as if walking on thorns, moved, grimacing with each step, towards the altar on the far right corner of the hall. Her knees suddenly forgot that they belonged to her when she finally reached the altar, so as if by some unknown force she sank. She shut her eyes and waited for the tears to flow. Nothing showed. Then the pain came again without warning - it shot through her pelvis and lodged itself in her brain, making that side of her head throb from the shock. She lurched forward and held on to the pure white cloth that had been laid on the altar. Her breath caught and she quickly let it fall from her quick grasp like it was hot. The story of the bleeding woman who had touched the hem of Jesus' cloth in the crowd came to her and she shuddered. What right had she to touch the altar of the Lord? The pain came again but this time she just clenched her teeth and swallowed a groan. She tried to focus on being thankful the bleeding had stopped three days before. She had no idea why the pain still came, it was as if her womb was screaming out for the premature emptiness it had been left to deal with."Your down there is very nice,"
the doctor had said as he slipped all five fingers in her vagina. His fingers had surprisingly felt warm. She had mumbled a thank you she was not sure she meant and closed her eyes.
the doctor added, as she shifted on the firm dark bed. His hands had been in for too long, she had thought. She had opened her eyes in time to see the smirk that crossed the middle-aged doctor's face then closed them again and waited. The room had smelled like nothing. It just smelled like the room. Her ears tuned in to the wall clock tick and felt the warm fingers move rather too slowly in, deeper than before. An unexpected moan escaped her lips and her eyes flew open, confused that her body was responding. The doctor smiled. He did have a gorgeous smile. She smiled faintly back and closed her eyes again. Then the sucking sound began. She only heard it, but her mind's eye saw the minced limbs, brains, tiny growing heart and lungs - a foetus smoothie - thick and bloody.
The pain shot through her abdomen again and she was back in the church. Still no tears. She needed the tears. Those were supposed to cleanse her, but her eyes were stubbornly still dry. She got off her knees, which had found their way back home, and took a seat on the very last row. She sat in the space closest to the door and waited. It was still early. The sun had just stretched out from sleep, casting an orange glow on the wooden pulpit. She sat there, thoughtless, and waited for the regular members to come in, and for church to start. By her guess, she still had half an hour to keep trying to cry. She had to cry.
Slowly member after member came in, some in groups, in families; they walked in confidently. Soon the service started with testimonies - how the Lord had blessed them with jobs, cars, houses, visas. She had no testimony. She was a broke illiterate orphan who needed to cry. After the testimonies, it was time for offerings, donations, and other money matters. Her fingers trembled on her lap. She had nothing to drop in the box, so she stayed in her seat and watched the members dance to, around and from the box. The younger members had formed a circle in the heart of the entire dancing congregation and were drenched in sweat; it reminded her of all the nights she had spent in clubs, and all the sweaty male bodies she had accommodated in her very nice 'down there'.
She intentionally kept her eyes open without blinking so they'd water, and even that didn't work. She was completely dry. Then the dancing stopped and everything that happened afterwards was a haze - zombie actions. The pastor's voice was loud over the microphone - the altar call to give your life to the Lord and be born again. She wanted to be born again. The body she was trapped in had been over-used and abused too many times to house her anymore. That body contained too much pain. She had to give her life and be free from the flesh. At least that is what she had thought she heard the pastor say. Her hatred for her flesh doubled and her body trembled from the rage that had started to build within her.
She stood up, heads turned to look at her. She stepped onto the aisle, turned on one foot, and walked out, ready to give her life, but not at the altar.
She didn't look back. She didn't look down to see the blood that had started a snake-like journey down her thighs. She didn't mind that she hadn't cried yet. They all didn't matter. She had already made up her mind. She entered her sorry-looking single room and noticed the blood. She cursed sharply under her breath and proceeded to peel off the pink dress, her bloodied panties followed. She left it in a heap in the middle of the room, wet a napkin and wiped herself clean. She was angry. There was no money left to buy anymore sanitary pads. She had to make do with something else. Something she didn't need to buy. She got to work folding up enough cloth to hold the tears her womb let down. Then she forced her over-sized hips into jeans she hadn't worn in a year or so, and pulled down a pullover over her head. She had begun to shiver. Church had taken too long - longer than she had expected. She stepped out again, satisfied that she had got her answer loud and clear. She had seen the light. Only it was red.
She walked past the local pub she had frequented, and past the school she had never attended, past the taxi stop where half the drivers knew what was under her skirts, past the mini-market where the women hated her and the sun slowly went back to sleep behind her as she walked on, never looking back.
"You should come with me,"
her only and best friend, Sophia had told her after the abortion.
"You wouldn't be suffering like this anymore,"
she had added, turning to look at her, seated timidly on the leather passenger seat still wrapped in transparent polythene - a brand new car.
"Look at me now. I am above all this,"
Sophia had waved her hand over her pitiful frame and laughed. She shrunk further in the intimidating seat and sighed. She had promised to think about it and she had. She still walked on, she could see the trees, could smell the fresh leaves. The forest reserve was in sight, a beautiful mass of green in the heart of the city.
She found new strength and doubled her steps, the bandanna had started to feel heavy and sticky between her massive thighs but then she walked on and when she felt the darkness, looked up. She was surprised to see a canopy of vegetation. She was already in the forest. Then she heard the humming she had been asked to look out for and followed the sound. It led her there.
It was easy to spot Sophia's back - they had been friends for too long. She had a red cloth wrapped around her middle, a white one around her head, her eyes were vacant, and so were that of the other ladies in the circle they were squatted in. She cleared her throat, no one stirred. Her knees were about to take off again but she held them in check. She felt the blood start its journey down again. She cursed audibly, the skeletal frame in the center of the circle turned to her sharply.
The voice was a thick baritone. She nodded.
"You are unclean!"
She looked down at her dusty feet. They were surely not clean.
She did. The fearful remnants of what looked like a man walked rather energetically towards her, walked round her twice, chanting. She felt the bleeding stop, and her restless womb stilled. She sighed again.
"Go into that hut and change"
She feared he will break as he walked briskly back into the circle and she into the hut to change into the interesting uniform. Soon, she joined them and soon, her eyes became vacant too. She had taken her place in the circle. The time had sprinted; it was already mere minutes to midnight - the junction. Her body shook violently, with ecstasy when the spell broke and the dancing began. The beats from the drums had strong muscular limbs that caressed her body, leaving a familiar warm wetness in her 'down there'. She moved her body in tune to the beats, one mass of flesh rubbing against the other. At the stroke of midnight, she let out an orgasmic cry which echoed in the emptiness of her insides and disappeared into the night.
She woke up Monday morning, as an observer. The new occupant of her body was loud and boastful, announcing its presence. She felt strange so she just watched. Her body had been washed clean, perfumed and stuffed in a dark blue mini-dress and her tiny feet were in her high-heels, a glossy black. Her tarpaulin bag was carried to the back of the house and burnt. All she had was the mini blue dress, high heels, and in a black polythene bag, fresh crisp notes she had woken up next to. Her hand went up to touch her sore throat. It had not been easy throwing up all that cash. She stepped out, not herself and yet herself. Her eyes glowed with visions of flashy cars and huge mansions.
She had seen the light. Only it was red - red hot light.