She had never gotten used to the screaming. The impulsive screaming of her seven year old. And she had the scars to show for it, both the indelible marks on her soul and the physical burns and scars on her dark skin.
He was screaming now. He was screaming again.
She stood suddenly, knocking her chair over. She didn’t bother righting the chair. She marched over to the door leading to the adjoining room and slammed it open.
He sat there on the soft rug, in the middle of the padded room. Padded, so he wouldn’t hurt himself.
Both his palms were pressed flat against his ears, as if blocking out his own screams. The veins on his small forehead protruded from the strains of the screaming.
His screams were never the same. They sometimes scared her; she’d jump up from sleep, believing there was a banshee nearby. At times, it was more like a cry for help; those times, she’d just sit and stare and cry. But the intensity never wavered, strong and loud and he wouldn’t stop to take a breath.
Now, she walked up to him and tried to pry his hands from his ears… He was so strong, why was his mind so weak? “Stop, please, stop!”
He didn’t stop. His eyes were fixated on the ceiling, staring at nothing. The high-pitched screaming didn’t cease. At least, there was no fear of disturbing the neighbours. She had been forced to rent an apartment far from people after her husband disappeared. Her parents sent her money, but there was no point of exposing the ‘special child’ to their elite friends.
“Please stop. You’re giving mummy a headache.” She laughed a cynical, derisive laugh to herself; mummy lived with a permanent headache. “Please stop.” The psychologist advised her to talk to him like he could hear.
Tired of the cajoling and getting no reply, she snapped. Pushing him away, she jumped to her feet, pointing at him.
“You’re not my fault! You’re not my fault!” She shouted at the top of her voice; “I did nothing wrong!”
“You’ve caused me nothing but pain; I’m alone now! Alone, you hear? And it’s all your fault! Why didn’t you die? It would have saved me all this pain; saved you some pain too!”
These were thoughts she laboured with everyday but this was the first time they were vented aloud.
Realising the horror of her words, she immediately regretted them. It was quiet. He had stopped screaming. He just sat there, his palms still against his ears, but there was no screaming. Just tears coursing down his face.
“Baby. My baby. I’m so sorry. Mummy didn’t mean it.” She fell to her knees and gathered her seven-year baby into her arms. Her seven-year old who had never uttered the word: “Mummy.”
They sat there, crying together. Finding no relief to their pain. She, in a world where everyone refused to understand her plight. He, in a world, where he’d never understood anything.
Claim: Originally written by Nigerian Fiction Member 224 - Pemi
Nigerian Fiction Title 89