Mattie woke up an hour before her alarm she rolled out bed, slipped on her sports bra and running shorts and laced up her sneakers before securing her ear buds in. When she stepped out of her house, she jumped up and down a few times then stretched quickly.
The early morning air stung her face as she began her morning run with a slower pace.
After running for a while she picked up her pace and sped down the quiet street. At first the running was good, the air was warm and filled with the scent of nature. As she rounded the first bend in the road, she saw a man clad in a black robe and a hat staring at her. The man looked a little strange and mysterious, this was the first time she had encountered him.
She gathered her strength and ran past him, strangely he waved at her she smiled and waved back.
‘Maybe he is new to this neighborhood,’ she thought to herself as she continued her run.
A while later, she felt a thrill of dread sweep over her, she couldn’t clearly explain the feeling but it felt like someone was watching her.
She glanced back along the trees and caught a glimpse of a figure running after her but in a little distance away. He was waving his arms, yelling and pointing at her. She found this a little odd, she had been using this route for months and in that time she had never encountered another jogger and why was this man yelling at her like that.
She picked up her pace and ran a little faster her heart was thumping in her chest plus she had this uneasy feeling at the pit of her belly.
Further down the road, she realized he was inching closer to her, she spun around and headed onto the main road.
The road was devoid of people, she wondered if someone would answer if she screamed for help. When she turned into another side road the man continued to
follow her, she ran as fast as she could up that road towards her house, she was out of breath and her legs were killing her.
Mattie finally got to her apartment she kicked the door open and quickly slammed it shut then crumpled to her knees she was shaking from head to toe and her heart was beating so fast.
‘Auntie Mattie,’ Tess startled her, she nearly jumped ‘Hey.’
‘Are you okay?’
Before she could respond she burst into tears, Tess threw her arms around her and soothed her.
She pulled away from the hug, ‘Where is Trinny?’ ‘Still sleeping.’
‘Get me some water to drink.’
She sat on the floor wondering who that man was and why he was following her, she had never been this scared all her life, she made a mental note never to go jogging that early ever again.
She grabbed the glass and gulped down the water then she gave the cup back to Tess. She was beginning to calm down a little when a knock sounded at the door. It was too early for anyone to be knocking at her door, what if that man had followed her.
‘Should I get it?’ Tess asked
Suddenly the knock got loud and persistent Mattie stood up and walked towards the door.
‘Who’s there?’ she asked sharply
There was no answer
‘Who’s there?’ she asked again but there was still no answer from the other side of the door.
Alarmed now, she quickly walked to her kitchen and grabbed a knife then she made her way back to the front door.
‘Stop playing games with me whoever you are,’ she yelled Silence
She put her ear to the door for several minutes but heard nothing then she eased the door open in a crack and peered out she could not see anyone.
Finally she pushed the door open wider and that’s when she noticed a box all wrapped up on the floor.
She looked at the box for a minute a, a thousand thoughts quickly ran through her mind.
‘Who sent this?’ she wondered
She looked around a little before she finally picked the box and walked back into the house.
She used the knife to tear open the package then she opened the box to find a black dress, she removed the dress and stared at it, it was long dress that would perfectly fit her.
I can’t wait to see you wearing this baby,’ the note in the box read.
‘Thomas!’ Her heart slammed hard across her chest and she dropped the dress on
Christina was lying on the couch watching television when the living room door burst open and her sister Vanessa walked into the house.
Vanessa’s eyes were black and swollen plus her face was covered in bruises and cuts.
Christina bolted up from the couch and rushed towards her.
‘What happened to you?’ she anxiously asked
‘What happened to you?’ she asked again
‘My husband happened,’ Van finally responded ‘OMG!’ She exclaimed
‘I know her went overboard this time, don’t freak out.’ ‘That man will kill you.’
‘Is mum home?’ she asked trying to change the subject ‘No.’
‘Where is she?’
‘She is on her way to Lusaka.’
‘What’s in Lusaka?’
‘Apparently Mattie got a restraining order against Thomas and mum just found out, she is vexed, she said she wants to put Mattie in her place.’ ‘That’s mum for you.’
‘So why did he beat you this time around.’
‘He hasn’t been sleeping home of late so when he walked in this morning, I decided to through his phone…,’
‘He is cheating on I found so many messages between him and this same girl so I confronted him and the rest is history.’
‘Why don’t you leave him or better yet why don’t you have him reported to the police?’
‘I made him angry I shouldn’t have gone through his phone.’ ‘That’s bullshit and you know it’ ‘What do you expect me to do?’
‘And go where?’
‘Come back home.’
She laughed, ‘you think mum would welcome me back home if I left my husband, you know her stance on divorce she will disown me.’
‘I wonder why you let mum rule your lives like this.’ ‘Isn’t she ruling yours though?’ ‘What do you mean?’
‘We both know Jericho wasn’t your idea, you only accepted to marry him to please mum.’
‘I love Jericho.’
‘Marriage is not for the faint hearted Christina you are just 24 and still have a long way to go don’t rush into this because of mum, learn from my experience.’
‘Just because your husband is abusive doesn’t mean Jericho will be abusive, look at Claire, her marriage is perfect.’
‘We taught to act happy in public no matter what happens behind closed doors so don’t be so sure about Claire’s marriage being perfect.’ ‘Oh please.’
‘Sometimes I even envy Mattie she doesn’t have to go through all this as a single woman.’
‘Let mum hear you say that, what’s there to envy about Mattie -34 year old single mother, no thanks.’
‘Let’s just drop this topic.’
‘I agree, let’s drop it you are beginning to annoy me.’ ‘Sorry.’
‘Come let’s take care of those ugly bruises on your face.’ ‘Okay.’
THE CLOCK IS TICKING