She wakes up. The taxi driver is bent over the rear. Grace looks around, still searching, a little confused but relieved. She looks back at Kirimi, who is now upright and has a hand stretched out. Grace sighs.
“Two hundred?” She asks.
Kirimi nods a reply. Grace dips her hand into her coat, hopeful, and out, draws a Ksh. 500 note. She smiles as Kirimi takes the money.
“Keep it, thank you,” Grace says.
She gets off, watching the driver smile as he stuffs the note into a wallet.
Grace looks around the estate—powerful lighting, darkness, and dead silence. She walks up the stairs to the residents’ homes, then takes the left-wing. She walks a few paces, then takes another left. In about a hundred meters, is an elevator that will take her home. God, she can’t wait!
The elevator clicks and Grace gets off. A steel door stands in front of her, and a corridor stretches to her either side. She rings the doorbell, then waits. After a while, nothing. She presses it again. Still, nothing. She is about to call a third time when she hears a shuffle of feet. Someone stops near the door to put on sandals, she presumes, then a pause.
“Grace?” Comes a soft call from a woman—Mother! “Gracie… is that you?”
“O’, Mama! It’s me…” she sobs.
“Gracie… o’, baby, it must be cold! Just a minute, eh? Let me open this,”
Grace’s mother opens a door, then appears through the rails of the steel door. She looks young in her light nightdress. On seeing the figure of what appears to be her daughter, she unlocks the steel door, tears welling her eyes. They hug and go back in.
“Baby, are you alright?” She whispers.
“No, Mother,” Grace settles at the dining area, “something bad happened. And I saw it,”
She wipes her tears as Mother settles down beside her.
“I was with Cliff… and… and… he saw this guy doing something…”
“Who is Cliff?” Asks her father, emerging from the master bedroom, dressed in a fine robe.
“Richard! Your daughter has been through something scary, and most likely horrible… sit down and listen,” says Mother.
“Baby, are you okay? Are you hurt? Tell me, what happened?” Asks Richard.
Grace sobs on as the old man reaches to her.
“I was with Cliff. We had been to a movie, then coffee…” she says.
“Here in Nairobi…”
Grace nods a reply.
“What time is this?”
“Oh, Richard!” Says Mother.
“10… 10 PM, maybe towards… Uhm, 11 PM… I can’t, not, am not so sure…” stutters Grace.
Father nods with a frown.
“We were almost… almost at the intersection along the old Government Road. Then we heard something. Something… weird…”
“And you checked?”
“Come on, Richard! Would you blame kids?” Says Mother.
“I am actually the one who suggested that we check,” says Grace sobbing.
“Then what happened, baby?” Asks Father.
“Cliff… Cliff offered to check instead—he was ahead. But Cliff… he saw… something… something that scared him… so much… he told me to run. No, he screamed. And don’t even ask if I did…”
“You did?” Asked both parents in unison.
“No, I did not—I could not!” Grace sobs, “My legs… they felt so heavy and weak too… and my mind… my mind was all messed up—I couldn’t think!”
“O’, poor creature… what happened, baby?” Mother says looking sorrowful.
“Someone sliced Cliff’s throat,” Grace whispers, making an illustration.
“What!” Both parents yell, rising, eyeballs popping.
“Then I ran… and ran… that’s all I could do. I was so scared… and alone. I thought… I thought I was going to die!” She sobs and Mother consoles.
“I came across two men when I was running. They looked like… policemen, or something. They had… some uniform… and… and they kept following me. And chasing me… I was so scared,”
“O’, baby… I am so sorry about what you have had to go through alone this late in the night,” says Father, who then turns to Mother.
She looks frozen.
“Gracie…” she finally finds her voice, “why don’t we… get you to your room first, shower, change, rest, then we can visit the police first thing after breakfast?”
Grace seems to be thinking.
“No,” she says.
“What?” Both parents ask in unison.
“Why?” Asks Father.
“Gracie…” says Mother.
“I’m not sure I can trust the police… no, not yet.”
“But baby… they are the only people who can help us find the bad man. They are experts in such matters,” says Father.
Grace remembers her dream and thinks of the men that accompanied her father and how he had sold her out.
“Your Father is right, Gracie. You have been through hell. Let us report this matter tomorrow so that they can catch and punish this killer! If not for your friend, then maybe so that it is not someone else’s child tomorrow,” says Mother.
“No,” says Grace softly.
She is sure this time and decides there is not much to think about. She vividly recalls the two men in town after her. A girl alone in the night.
“Why don’t you rest then, Gracie? Rest first, you have been through too much already. We can go through everything again over breakfast, eh?” Says Mother.
Grace looks up at her parents, then smiles, nodding politely.
“Goodnight, Mum… Dad… I love you,” she says, then takes a left turn in the corridor to her room.
“We love you,” says Mother after her.
Grace drops to her knees once locked in her room. She takes off her coat, and tosses it aside. She feels bloodied, despite being a “safe distance” from Cliff’s killer. She feels some weight in her heart; weight that pulls down on her every second. She feels a chocking in her throat, and her mind… it burns like hell.
She drops her head on the bed, letting tears seep into her beddings. She thinks about Cliff. Cliff… Cliff! Cliff? Cliff… She gets up and tosses herself farther up the bed. How sudden Cliff’s departure had been! Grace cries.
She thinks about Cliff… o’, the good and the bad times! They were things she could no longer experience. She cries, thinking about the fear Cliff must have felt, the helplessness and worse, what Cliff saw that got him killed…
What did Cliff see? This last thought does not give her worse nightmares but something to hold on to… ponder on… perhaps even… figure out?
To be continued.
Benson Langat is a poet, fiction writer, and freelancer. A dreamer, he realizes a world of possibilities through stories and explores life in poetry. Benie is a dad and lives in Nairobi, Kenya.