Monday 8 August 2016

Burning Woman part 8

December 1993

I can feel Mary’s eyes on my back. Every time I turn she looks away pretending that she’s absorbed in peeling peanuts. A week has passed since my return from the city.
After collecting Morris Jnr I had retreated to my home to lick my wounded pride. No one knew of the drama that had unfolded.
“Why are you staring at me?” I ask her as I catch her watching me for the umpteenth time.
“How do you know I was staring if you were not staring at me also?” Mary replies.
“You know what I mean,” I say.
Her eyes drift away from mine and she sighs. “I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what happened.”
My facial muscles freeze and then stretch into a paradox of a smile. I wish to reassure her but I know my smile doesn’t look right. I have only managed to bare my teeth.
“Nothing happened,” I lie. There is no power on earth, not even death that could force me to reveal a single thing.
I had been disgraced. The memory alone was enough to make me cringe.
No one needed to know how my own husband had thrown me out onto the street to fend for myself in an unknown place. No one needed to know how complete strangers who did not know me took me in. They didn’t share my blood but took pity on me when Morris had shown me none. How they had given me food to eat and the means to return to the village when I had none.
I had borne that humiliation. I couldn’t do it again with someone I have known all my life. I didn’t want Mary’s pity. What Morris has done is wrong. His deeds have tainted me. I feel so small and useless. Insignificant.
“Will Morris be coming home for Christmas?”
I really don’t know the answer to that question so I simply shrug. I don’t even know if I still have a husband to speak of. Mary frowns but doesn’t question me further.

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