Freedom 9

The day Uncle Monday came into the house, Jennifer knew 2 things implicitly:
1. She disliked him.
2. He knew it.
Uncle Monday was the fraternal twin brother of the twins’ father. Despite the fact that they looked nothing alike, no one could deny their closeness. In the case of her father however, the closeness was imbued with a certain ingratiating element. No one knew why though. But it was there.
He established dominance almost immediately, mirroring the colonialists in his methods. He bought gifts. He listened. He sympathised. Still, Jennifer never warmed up to him.
One night, when everyone else had slept, she heard a persistent knocking on the door.
She finally ventured out and opened the door in time to see his face, bared in a grin while lightning illuminated the scene from the background, giving it a macabre air.
She rushed inside the house, leaving him to close the door.
The next day, she begged to be moved into boarding school.
Jessica, this time reluctantly, followed.
The car rolled to a stop. Jennifer looked at her passenger. She was sleeping so peacefully, waking her up seemed a form of sacrilege. So she got out and took the hastily packed suitcase inside the house.
Johnson had called yesterday, he was in town and could he please spend some time at her place? She’d jumped in delight and agreed. It occurred to her later that his request had been delivered a little formally, which was very odd for him. 
But at that time, she had not realised that Jessica would need taking care of. Or that her sister would look at her with sunken eyes and a pleading expression. So Jessica was here. And so was Johnson. And there were only 2 bedrooms and neither of them had spoken to the other in years.
Hefting the suitcase, she carried it into the house. Johnson waited by the front door and she recalled that she had given him a key, years ago. A hug and a kiss later, she looked for a way to explain the recent sleeping arrangements to him, but was saved from doing so because he already seemed to know.
“Do you need help bringing Jessica inside? ”
This wasn’t her room. No, her room was light blue with multicoloured polkadots. An advertisement for wallpaper. This room was painted. And there was no television in it.
She looked around, noticed the extreme tidiness. Every book in its place, not a speck of dirt to be found anywhere. She lay back down. She was in Jennifer’s apartment. And the OCD had obviously not abated.
Drifting off to sleep, she heard a male voice. A distant memory. Johnson was here.
Memories assailed her. She had been as mean as a snake the last time. Accusing him of unprintable things. He had refused to choose, so she took the choice from him.
Creeping closer to the door, she heard snatches of a friendship. The concern in Jennifer’s voice, the love in his.
She went back to bed, filled for the first time in years with an intense longing for her family. The family they used to be.
If she were a different person, she would go into the room and make a big gesture of apology. But she wasn’t.
So she went back to the bed, got into the outline of her body and cried. For what once was and might never be again.


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