Dawn to Dusk: 24 hours on crossroads – Episode 24

This entry is part 1 of 24 in the series Dawn to Dusk

When James’ arranged marriage went haywire, he has to juggle from looking after his 11-month-old son, keeping job and finding love in the strangest place


James and Helen walked into the room where Queen lied, as still as a corpse. The room was very quiet, aside the sound from the ECG machine connected to her, which released mechanical beeps at intervals. The look on Queen’s face depicted childlike innocence, something James did not see in their two years of marriage.

Queen was an epitome of beauty: tall, fair, with natural hair which flowed gracefully down her shoulders. James took in the details and wondered why her character was so damaged on the inside; like a fresh and smooth egg that was rotten inside. He tried and fought hard to love her and would have loved her unimaginably if she had given him the chance. He shook his head, she was in his past now, and there was no going back to the past, as Helen earlier said.

Then he looked at Helen. She was conversing with a nurse at the other end of the room. She was no match for Queen in beauty, but her kind heart was her precious asset against Queen. He turned at Queen again with a smile on his face, engineered by the beauty of Helen’s heart, coupled with the memories of the sexy body he made love to a few hours earlier; but was startled when he saw a smile on Queen’s face. He wiped his face and took a second look with crazy and unfounded thoughts clouding his head. He was awed. He beckoned at Helen who dismissed the nurse and walked up to him.

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“Why is she smiling?” he asked as the nurse left the room. Helen took a glance at Queen and him, and was surprised at his pensive mood and strange question. The look she saw on Queen’s face showed nothing close to a smile. She sighed.

“You need a good bath and a sleep. You are just tired,” she said and James gaped at her. “She is not smiling. How could she smile even? She is unconscious,” she tried to calm him down.

“If you knew her, you would understand how dubious she could be. I won’t be amazed if she opens her eyes right now making this entire scene an act,” he shivered, staring ardently at Queen as if to catch her blink.

“What?” Helen quietly exclaimed. “Are you saying she might have feigned all these?”

“I am saying she could do worse,” he said. “What did the nurse say?”

Helen kept looking at Queen. She could not imagine her calibre, but conclusively, she must be a very difficult and strange person. She shrugged and turned to James. “She will be alright, that’s what the nurse said.”

“We should go then. She needs to rest,” he said. Helen nodded and both made for the door while she kept looking back in amazement.

The door suddenly opened and they halted abruptly. Smith scuttled in without recognising their presence. He paced straight to Queen’s bed and sat beside her, holding her hand. “I am sorry sister. I’m so sorry for everything,” he whispered to her.

James coughed to draw his attention.

“What are you waiting for?” he queried as he hastily turned. His voice crackled. “Leave and torment her no more.”

James chuckled as he took few steps towards him. “I do not torment anybody. I am here because I want her recovery as much as you do. And like I have told you earlier, until you find out all there is to know about my marriage with your sister, you don’t talk to me about it,” he looked at Queen again; the smiling face that scared him earlier was gone. He sighed in relief. “And there is something called greeting in Nigeria. I don’t know about the UK, but here, it’s something we give to our elders, as a sign of respect.”

Smith scowled at him, shocked he has the guts to demand greeting in such a tragic situation engineered by him. He hissed, ignored him and focused on his sister.

“Do not worry sister,” he told Queen. “I will find that silly man who put you in this condition and teach him never to drive again while drunk.”

James’s heart skipped! If only Smith knew he was the silly man. He figured out covering up was wise after all. The untold traits of Helen were actually being helpful, and he couldn’t be more grateful. But what if the truth eventually surfaced? Truth can’t forever be hidden. Yet in the midst of his ‘what ifs’, he glanced at Helen with an expression that depicted fear and uncertainty, and could hear her telling him to calm down. Her voice rang in his ears like the sweet sound of drum beats meant to appease the gods. She approached him, held his hand and pressed it against hers softly. He looked into her eyes and saw how confident and courageous she was. In her boldness and calmness, seen through her eyes, he drew some assurance, that no matter what, everything would be just fine. His troubled mind began to relax. Then he turned to Smith. “Don’t be too rash to talk. Maybe your sister was not where she was supposed to be. Maybe she run into the car instead.”

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“What do you know?” Smith looked up. “My sister is not foolish enough to attempt suicide. But if that was the case, then your cruel behaviour towards her must be the drive,” he bent again and gazed compassionately at his sister, caressing her hand as if that would make her feel better.

James looked once again at Helen who signalled at him to stop talking. He sighed heavily. “I hope she recovers fast,” he said and dragged Helen towards the door.

“Where is he?” Smith asked.

“Who?” James turned.

“My nephew, you said he is here, where is he?”

“In his ward,” James stammered. “Private ward 43.”

Smith’s attention suddenly, for the first time since he stepped into that room, went to Helen. He studied her for some minutes, peering at her like she was guilty of something, looking into her eyes with the hope of finding something to condemn her with. Helen felt the piercing stare right in her heart and lowered her gaze.

“Who is she?” Smith turned to James. “Your next in line of destruction?”

“What?” James roared and stomped towards him. Helen pulled him back. “How dare you? Did you flip off your respect button in the UK?”

“Yes, and I’m not switching it on for a woman who lurks around a married man while his wife lies unconsciously on a hospital bed,” Smith’s tone suggests neither fear nor respect. “So who is she?” he queried strongly again in a commanding tone.

“I do not owe you any explanation whatsoever on how I live my life, that you must know,” James’ voice got a little high. “Take care of your sister,” he added and pulled Helen by her hand and made for the door, seeing it worthless to argue with him.

Smith stopped to think. His sister mentioned earlier at home that James has another lover, but he thought it was one of her tattles, but seeing Helen and the way she stuck to James made him to have a rethink. He stood up against James. “I understand how cruel men of your type can be, but what I don’t understand is why you cannot even wait for an official divorce before you start messing up your matrimonial bed with this harlot,” he said bluntly.

In a flash, Helen was standing in front of him, adoring his cheeks with resounding slaps. He was shocked and hurt as he placed his hand on his cheeks, blocking the angry slaps.

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“Do not in your entire miserable life call me that again. Never!” she warned with a very grave tone. “I see your entire family is uncultured, but do contain it within your house, close to uncultured people like you, not me!”

Angrily, Smith raised his hand to hit her back, but James rushed to seize the hand and held it up in the air. He roared for his hand’s freedom.

“Enough of this,” James said. “And you too Helen, you didn’t have to do that.”

Helen stepped back as Smith pulled off James’ grip. There was a moment of uncomfortable silence which was broken by the sudden entrance of a nurse.

“What is going on here? I heard voices,” the nurse asked peering at them one after the other. She stepped up to Queen’s bed and examined her. “Please you all have to leave now,” she added as no one said a word to her. “She needs to rest.”

James sighed and left the room, followed by Helen. Smith sat down on the bed.

“Now I see why you wanted out. You just get well and I will help facilitate the divorce, I promise. He is just a shameless monster,” Smith whispered holding her hand.

“You too, sir,” the Nurse said. “Please, you have to leave, now.”

“She is my sister. I have to be with her.”

“I am afraid you cannot do that at this point. She must rest,” the Nurse emphasised.

“No way!” he stubbornly said. “I am not leaving this room.”

“Oh God! I hate to set the security guards on people; please do not make me do that,” she soberly added.

Slowly yet sadly, Smith stood up and headed for the door. Then he paused and turned to the nurse. “Any idea who the man that brought her here was?”

“No. It was dark and we were more concerned about her safety than who brought her in.”

“You must have seen something. Anything at all, anything that could help me trace him, I just want to thank him for what he did,” he smirked.

The nurse thought for a while. “I am sorry sir; we didn’t take notice of such details.”

“Isn’t there supposed to be some kind of report, a police report before an accident victim can be treated? He must have made one before he left, just get me a name or something,” he asked again.

“So you’d rather we focus on police report and let her die?” the nurse asked.

Smith was silent.

“You have to go now, please,” she ordered sternly.

Smith smiled and walked out.

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E.C Micheals

E.C Michael, a graduate of Theater Arts, is a passionate writer who believes that stories should blend with education so as to help correct social vices in the world. His watchword is edutainment. He writes screenplays, novels, short stories and essays. When not writing, he is blogging or watching Game of Thrones and Designated Survivor.

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