A Father’s Betrayal By Lusungu Milanzie

Feb 13, 2024 | 2023 Competition, Short Story Competition, University Prize | 0 comments

As the day was slowly fading into the darkness of a night, it brought forth the rays of hope for another beautiful tomorrow. A tomorrow that held the power to wash away the aftermath of today’s trouble, offering a splendid tomorrow that could mend broken hearts and reignite flickering flames of love, respect and hope.

Amidst these thoughts, a knock on the door shattered my thoughts, pulling me back from the abyss of my contemplation. With hesitant steps, I rose from my chair, as if emerging from a cocoon of solitude and carefully approaching the door, shaking with anticipation. As I opened it, my eyes met a familiar face, a face that held a power to scorch my veins with boiling blood. A face that ignited cascading feelings within me. A face that had authority to make me happy, it was a hope and encouragement to me.

I stood there, mouth agape, lost in thoughts of disbelief, questioning the reality of what lay before me.

“Come out…. have something to say” He uttered, his voice brief, deep and demanding, his face laced with a frown that etched lines across his pretty face.

I was taken aback. He quickly gave me his backside view, taking deliberate steps forward, before glancing back, a silent please hidden within his gaze.

“Come out, will you?” He slid his fingers against his nose, and his hand instinctively sought refuge in his pocket. In a moment he slightly kicked a plastic bucket lying close by, the sound made by bucket echoes the turmoil within his soul.

“Are you good?” I asked, my voice tinged with concern, trying to make sure he was alright. For these five minutes carried a weight heavier than the words he was yet to speak.

“Did you enjoy it?” He questioned, his eyes swollen and bloodshot, his clenched fist denying the validity of his inner turmoil. His left leg kept trembling uncontrollably, like a pendulum swaying between hope and despair, while his lips quivering. Have never seen him in such a state, worry in me grew.

“Yes” I smiled, my response drawn in the ignorance, unaware of the true meaning behind his inquiry. I assume he wanted to know for the gift he had sent last month. If the shoe he sent was to my liking. Barely had I thought, he fell silent, his gaze piercing through me with judgmental eyes. Those eyes that when you see them would make you feel naked in front of people.

“Let’s breakup” He finally uttered, without emotions, his eyes suddenly clear as if he was relieved from a sore that kept burning him all along.

I swallowed and looked him direct in his emotionless eyes “Wait… what?” Now I was blank, a person I have been dating for five years comes to me after being away for five months with the news that we should break up. It didn’t add up to me. “You heard me” he replied rudely.

I could not see his face clearly with the tears lingering in my eyes, as if I was in mist that blurred my vision from seeing what was in front of me.

“Why…?” I stammered, as I try to comprehend the whole situation unfolding.  “You’re sleeping with an old man, and you have just confirmed that you love it” he declared, his words cutting through me like a sharp dagger, I felt my knees giving up, I staggered like a drugged mouse.

“Let me explain” I demanded, only to find I was all alone. He left the moment he explained what he wanted to say. He disappeared like dust that rose due to winds. Leaving an electric atmosphere that set my body to an electrifying shock.

I felt extremely powerless, tears never left coming out like torrential rainfall. I knew he would find out this, but I never knew he will storm out from situation without much information. Of all people, the one I wanted to protect was him, one person I ever trusted beyond the limit was him. If people could not get me, only he could have understood me. Now my heart sank in the darkness of sorrow, for if something was okay in my life was him. If I continued pushing on in this life was because of his love. I considered him wiser than my own father, guess I was wrong. He was just also a creek waiting to dry.

The dusk turn into impenetrable night, I found myself rooted in one spot, failing to move. It felt as if my very own being has been hallowed out, devoid of any substance. At the distance, a faint of voice reached my ears, the murmurs of two elderly men closing in to where I stood. I recognized my father’s voice, he was with that bastard old man.

I carried my body into the house, I wanted to make sure no one should found out that I was home, so I switched off the light of my room. The darkness inside my room somehow made a refuge from all sorts of things happened during a day. The darkness brought solace and comfort to my heart. For the first time I liked darkness more than the light.

“I need to find my wife” The old man’s voice felt like a dagger piercing my heart.

I retreated to the corner, where the darkness had its depth.

“She’s in her room, always home before six” My father’s words held settling certainty, selling me out, the protector turns into traitor.

From other room, I could hear my mother’s sobs, echoes of her weeping cut through the walls. Every Friday evening, the weight of sorrow would crush her spirit, while the rest of family would weep with her, of course except my father who will either eat so much or watch the Television with maximum volume on.

It was time for me to be tainted again, a time to reopen the wounds and starts bled anew. I didn’t know what wrong I did, if this beautiful body, praised by others, was truly worth having when it never brought me solace.

He opened my bedroom door, and then he turns the lights on, I was at a corner shaking so hard like a timid mouse. “Easy, don’t worry, we’re just going to have some fun” his voice laced with sickening anticipation, his lip slightly bitten.

“How long will you keep doing this?” I asked, as if it mattered, knowing that my father borrowed his money. My father’s debt was so immense that even his monthly salary of six months cannot repay it.

“As long as your father will win a premier bet, that he like so much. Do you know each day he plays; how much he borrows from me?” Now he drew closer, the smell of alcohol  caused me nausea.

“Your father think he will win, that money he won last year keep him hoping he will win again.” He hovered over me now.

On top of me, he did what made him interesting. I hated my father for all this torture I received now.  I despised, for loving the bet to the extent of selling my body to a strange man. To him, I was a collateral that he should keep on borrowing till the time he will win and bell me out of this misery. My father was addicted to gambling, he believed that the higher the stakes the greater his chances of winning. And yet, he kept on losing, I wanted to report this abuse, but my father warned me of the consequences, that he would lose his work at the construction company. It was only source of money that we were surviving on, though it couldn’t satisfy half our needs. I had no choice but to endure, for my brother’s education depended on the little salary the father received from his work.

I extended my arm to reach the top of my bed, my beddings were scattered on the floor. I didn’t want to put them together, seeing they scattered felt somehow fitting, mirroring the chaos within my life.  Like always I carried myself towards my table, where a picture of my boyfriend usually rested, seeing his smiley face always brought comfort to me. But now brought tears rolling down my cheek, remembering that he was no longer source of my hope.

He had become nothing more than a distant friend or something worse. Clutching the picture tightly in my palm, I felt the reasons to keep living slipping away. I had kept my body just for Ben, but now it was being used by someone other than him, someone I despised head to toe. Oh, world can be unfair and cruel. It gave me looks that people praise me for but for what. I wished I was small and wrinkled, a face that no one would find interesting.

Overwhelmed with emotions and burned by stress, I tiptoed into my little sister’s room. There she lay asleep, enduring her own suffering for the past three weeks. I grabbed her dosage, and sat near her. Taking her fifth- grade book that lay near her head. She was a fun of reading. She could always say “Sister, one day I will grow to be as beautiful and intelligent as you” she adored me, and she was my favorite sister too.

I wrote two sentences that read “A gold in a bin is as useless as advice from madman” No matter how the gold may shine, its value would be lower than if it were from a reputable mining company. Then, I took a deep sigh and wrote another line, “A beauty from a poor background is a burden and a curseNow, with pills in hand, I was ready to pour them out. At that moment, I felt a sense of clarity, believing that I was doing the right thing. But in a whisk, a hand grabbed mine.

“Sister what about me, what will I drink if you’re going to finish all medicine?” It made sense now that if I may die today, my sister will also perish. If her illness was to worsen at midnight and there were no drugs available, she would meet the same fate. I held my breath deeply, while gently patting her on back. “Sister can you pat me again? Her repetition emphasised its importance” She smiled showcasing her cream white teeth, the word ‘emphasis’ struck me.

Yes, emphasis. If I were to go to Ben and explain everything, repeatedly recounting the entire story, he might understand. Filled with newfound confidence, I stood ready to face him.  Even though it was nighttime, I opened my door and ventured out to meet him. Perhaps he could help me escape or run away from it all. So I ran into the darkness of the night, pushing myself to the limits of my physical ability.


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