You can never quite tell who your enemies are.Your best friend could be your worst enemy.
|Winter was soon coming to an end. Time was moving real fast and a decision had to be made. Paula Simpsons sat in her bedroom in their tiny house in Hiddenville.In her hand, she held a portrait of her mother. She stared deeply at the portrait as if it spoke to her; as if her life depended on it. She gazed upon the face of the woman she wanted so much to be with but couldn’t. She was lost in thought. From afar, one could see that a solemn look rested upon her pretty face. A look that spoke volumes of the sorrow and pain that lay hidden in her heart. A pain so deep that was rare in children of her age. A pain that not even the greatest of gifts could heal.
It had been two months since Paula had lost her mother. Yet to her it felt like they had been apart for eternity. Perhaps it was because the love Paula had shared with her mother was so rare and special. Everyone in Hiddenville knew how inseparable these two were. Poor Paula. Everyone knew how devastated she was due to the sudden death of Victoria Perkins, her mother. Victoria’s body had been found cold and lifeless in the woods-left for whatever creature that was around to feed on it. Everyone agreed that whoever murdered a sweet innocent woman like Victoria must have been evil and cruel. With each passing day the pain and longing to see her mother’s lovely face once more grew stronger. The portrait in her hand was the only picture ten year old Paula had of her mother. The rest were just mere memories in her brain-memories she vowed to treasure all her life.So, just like the other days since the death of her mother, today Paula sat on her bed staring at her mother’s portrait asking herself why good things never lasted for long. Since the murder of her mum, Paula had spent her days locked in her room talking to no one and eating nothing. Nothing meant anything to her anymore. She grew skinny by the day but she too busy staring at her mother’s portrait to notice it.
James Mchardy, her father, had tried all he could to get her out of her sorrowful world but he couldn’t.Every time James looked into his daughter’s eyes he could see nothing but hate and loathing. A loathing that seemed to have its roots deeply planted. It was almost as if Paula blamed him for Victoria’s death. Deep inside him he knew that his daughter hated him but he just couldn’t tell why. It had never been so until the day her mother died. Each time he tried to touch her or hold her, she’d turn away or become rigid, hate, anger, loathing and disgust written all over her face. She no longer talked to him (or anybody for that matter)James made himself believe that she’d come around sooner or later. He made himself believe that perhaps it was the pain of losing a mother at an age so tender. He hoped that one day it would all pass away but everyday he watched his daughter grow distant from him the hope of ever being close to her again dimmed away. He tried not to be angry, tried to pretend that all was well but deep inside his daughter’s hatred towards him ate him up. He wallowed away in bitterness and self pity that the only person that mattered in his life ,the only person he’d give his life for saw him as no more than a piece of trash. God knows how much he wished that Paula would reciprocate the love he showered upon her. Though she never said she hated him, he could tell she did but why??He kept asking himself.
Today, like most other days when he was ready to face rejection, he walked into her room to find her at her exact same position staring at her mother’s portrait. Sometimes he felt like burning up that portrait was the only way he could get her back to her senses but he knew better than to do a thing like that. He missed Victoria too, couldn’t she understand that? Now he had to suffer twice; firstly, because the woman he loved so much had died and secondly because the only person that reminded him of that love felt distant even when she was just a step away.
“Paula you have to stop hurting yourself because you’re hurting me too. All you do is sit down all day and stare at that portrait. Do I not matter to you anymore? Mama’s gone and you have to accept that…”
At the mention of this Paula lifted her face and stared into her father’s eyes. That look. James saw that look of loathing in his daughter’s eyes and tears filled up his face. Was it his fault that Victoria died? Was it his fault that he wasn’t there to save her? Was it his fault that she’d left them so early? Perhaps it was. But did he deserve this kind of suffering? Not able to withstand the tears, James walked out feeling dejected again. He should have been used to it by now.
That night, like all other nights since Victoria’s mysterious death, Paula stared out of her bedroom window and gazed upon her mother’s grave that lay just outside their compound. But this nigh was different. She didn’t think of the usual unfairness of life she always thought about: she didn’t think of back in the day when her mother was alive. She thought about something different. She thought about the old lady at the bar. She thought of what the old lady had said to her when she’d passed by there from school three months ago(one month before her mother’s mysterious death).What if the old lady was wrong? But then again, what if she was right? She had to make a decision before winter was over. That was what the old lady had said. Paula lifted her face and looked at her mother’s grave one last time and with a resolute look on her face she put on her snickers and red jacket and sneaked out of the house.
“Good morning dad. What are we having for breakfast?” Paula’s voice filled her father’s ears.
James stared hard and long at her daughter as if he was seeing her for the first time in his life. It was as if he was seeing a ghost or as dreaming. Paula had never left her room let alone talk to him since her mother’s death. Perhaps the angels did exist and perhaps they had heard his cry and had decided to bring back his daughter to him. It was just unbelievable. As unbelievable as an eighty year old toothless woman asking for sugarcane. Just yester night Paula had been cold and distant and now suddenly she was all up and happy. As strange as it was James tried not to question the sudden change of heart of his daughter.
“Didn’t you hear my greetings dad?”Paula said reaching for a cup of coffee.
“Oh Paula. My dear Paula. You don’t know how happy I am”
James couldn’t help it. He rushed to his daughter to embrace her. It was like the story of the prodigal son. Tears of joy streamed down his face. He held his daughter so tight like he never wanted to let her go. You could see a broad smile on his wide face. No joy could match the joy he had. The joy that one feels after recovering something they had lost for ages. The kind of joy that a poor man gets when he gets his five dollar salary.
Suddenly, the broad smile on his face started fading away. His eyes popped out, his eyes broadened and his mouth fell wide .A look of shock was printed all over his face. He stared into his daughter’s eyes. The loathing and hate was gone. A look of satisfaction and achievement was in her eyes. A look of joy and accomplishment. Shock was written all over his face. He looked at his chest and then at his daughter. As his body fell to the floor, James whispered his last question “Why Paula”. A knife ran deep in his chest. With a shocked look on his face, the same face Victoria had when he had killed her ,he breathed his last. From behind, the old lady from the bar looked at Paula and smiled at her. She was happy-happy that Paula had mastered the courage to kill the man who had taken away the person she loved most in this world.