Freke gasped. “Ah, Mummy don’t say that.”
Edidiong snickered. “From your mouth to God’s ears.”
Eno hissed. “Why do you always like to say terrible things?”
“Look at it, now. The woman we saw that night has still not showed up.” Annie took her husband’s hand. “No communication at all.”
It had been a week, and the family seemed to be on a vacation. Annie had cause to be concerned.
“Schools will soon re-open. Won’t these children go back to school?”
Kent cleared his throat. “There are schools on the premises of the mission camp. I saw a primary, and a secondary.”
“You assume we will go and live there!” Annie exclaimed. “Our lives have no direction.”
She looked at the children. Everyone had somehow pretended living in this house with a full pantry, and a doting receptionist was normal. With the family relaxed after dinner, she had summoned the courage to address the mighty “white elephant” seated in their midst.
“What do you suggest we do?” Kent frowned. “I don’t have the woman’s name or contact.”
“Then let’s make a plan and leave. Go back to Uyo as we planned earlier.”
Chioma sat forward. “Huh, Daddy, please, can we call that receptionist lady and tell her we want to see the owner of this place?”
Annie clapped. “Good idea. At least, let us know what is going on.”
It was easier than they envisaged. Ajua provided a number and Pastor Kent called it.
“Hello.” He avoided the anxious gazes of his family members. “This is Pastor Kent.”
He waited while the person on the other end spoke. “Yes.” Whatever the person said seemed prolonged and was important. “Okay. That’s fine.” Kent hung up and stared at his phone.
The anticipation in the air could melt the north pole.
“That was Pastor Favour.” Kent scoffed. “How the journey ends for us at last. He has given us till tomorrow morning to leave his house.”
The shock of the revelation subdued everyone for at least a minute.
“I think I want to swim one more time before we check out,” Edidiong said, and got a chorus of rebuke.
Eno cried. “Why can’t you just be serious for once in your life!”
Kent broke into a potential brawl. “Let’s pack up. I will call the J5 driver. I hope he will be available.”
“I thank God for the few days of peace.” Annie waved her hands above her head. “At least, we have direction.”
It wasn’t the news they wanted to hear and everyone walked quietly into their rooms.
Annie and Kent moved about the master bedroom for a few minutes and then he chuckled.
Annie arched an eyebrow. “Share the joke.”
“The first thing he said when I introduced myself was, who gave you the keys to my house? My wife?”
Annie breathed in. “Hmm.”
“How did you know she was his wife?”
She shook her head. “I don’t.”
He sat on the edge of the bed. “You said something when we arrived. That husband said go, and wife said stay.”
She shrugged. “I can’t remember.”
“That’s interesting.” He sighed. “We won’t leave tomorrow. He can come here to throw us out.”
Annie opened her mouth to protest, but instead a soft plea escaped. “Remember your children, darling. They have suffered enough.”
The following morning, the family was packed. They waited in the parlour as early as five o’clock, for the arrival of the driver. Chioma and Annie had woken much earlier and prepared two meals for breakfast and lunch ahead of the journey. If nothing else, Ajua had kept the fridge and pantry well-stocked and Annie had her to thank.
There was a soft knock on the door, and it opened. Before anyone saw the visitor, Annie gasped. Ajua was supposed to alert them of the arrival of the driver. Or perhaps she hadn’t yet resumed. But in the past week, she’d been there day and night.
Pastor Favour walked in.
“Good morning, Pastor Favour.” Kent stood. “We’re ready to leave. Just waiting for our driver to arrive.”
A woman barged in before Favour could respond.
“They are not going anywhere.” She stood up to him with eyes as wild as that of a bush rat. “Are you not tired of all this mess and your hypocrisy?”
No one saw it coming. Not even the woman. Favour raised his hand and dealt her a heavy blow to her face. She fell flat on her back. Kent and Annie jumped in between the couple simultaneously. The children screamed and moved back.
Kent pushed Favour. “Are you out of your mind?” He looked at the children. “Go into your rooms. Take the suitcases.” They obeyed like zombies.
Favour shouted. “This is my house!”
“And you have no right to hit your wife. This is her house too.” Kent took calming breaths. “Now, I will advise you to leave now. If you must go and wait at the reception, I don’t care.”
Favour smirked. “In my house. Who are you to command me?”
“He is your general overseer, you fool.” His wife sobbed. She had sat up, the left side of her fair and smooth face swollen and turning red. “You think all those Archbishop’s family care about you?”
“Shut up, idiot.” He bellowed. “How do you imagine your plan will ever work?”
“I don’t care what you say. You hit me, Favour, you hit me because of Archbishop!”
Favour’s voice softened but not his words. “And I will do it again if you don’t stop your stupid plans.”
She tried to rise and Annie assisted her. “My stupid plans will save your sorry — though you will never appreciate it.” She left the room.
Favour pointed his index finger at Kent. “Don’t think you won.” He stomped after his wife.
Annie slouched on her calves. “Ah dear Jehovah. Have mercy. Thank God for plan B. This driver should come quick, let’s just leave this place.”
Kent lowered himself to her and held her face. “I never called him to come.”