POSTED 06/29/2018 13:48:13
There is something they say about wishes – I just don't know what it is. But it all started with a wish, this story you're about to read. Granted, it was a particularly naive, maybe stupid, wish, but it was a wish nonetheless.
The little girl's name was Adesuwa. She was little, not in her age (she was maybe twelve or fourteen), but in her general outlook. Some would say she was simple. And yes, she was indeed little in size, often mistaken for a not-twelve or fourteen year old. As the case may be.
Little Adesuwa loved the night. It was fascinating to her, especially those nights when the moon was full, white and bright. Day time was dreadfully boring, in her opinion, and she anticipated nightfall with the enthusiasm of an expectant mother – maybe even more.
During those drab and boring days, especially when school was closed, she'd lay on her small, wooden bed, with her feet inclined against the wall, usually flipping through a book, and sigh, closing her eyes and waiting for night. But of course, there was her mother.
"Ta!" Her mother would always scold her, "don't you know that's the way witches sleep?" And then she'd roughly shove the girl's leg aside.
Adesuwa hated her mother. It was a sort of mild hatred, like the type one would have for a food: you hate, but can still manage. What was wrong with sleeping with one's legs rested against the walls?
Perhaps, one of the reasons why Adesuwa anticipated night so strongly was them; the voices.
She'd first heard them one evening. One very bad evening. It had been a very bad evening because her mother had hit her (she hated being hit). She'd rather prefer the verbal abuse–which she still got, by the way–than the occasional smack across the face, or ear twisting and sometimes, beating with a stick.
Those were her definition of bad, this little girl Adesuwa.
On that very bad evening, Adesuwa lay on her small bed, sniffling silently and hating her mother even more. Her bed, small as it was, creaked with each spasm she made, but ceased the moment she decided she'd cried enough.
Her bare feet felt rough against the dry, sandy floor (unswept, as a form of retaliation, or protest), and the thin curtain in her room swayed sideways as the evening winds blew across her. It was almost night time.
This evening though, something was different. The breeze circulating her room was normal, so that wasn't it. Maybe it was the sudden depression on the side of her bed, followed by a slight creak, as if someone just sat on it.
Adesuwa remained silent, for some reason, expecting someone to jump out from behind her. The room was getting dark now, which was strange because she didn't think the evening was that old just yet, unless she'd been sitting in the same spot for half an hour, which wasn't possible. Or was it?
No one popped out from behind her, but something close–very close, happened. Adesuwa pursed her lip and picked at a loose strand of her hair (the stubborn one, as she always thought), coiled and uncombed like the rest, but then she felt something take her hand off her hair, immediately followed by a gentle tugging as if her hair was being braided.
"Beautiful." The voice said, soft and friendly, "beautiful hair."
Adesuwa gulped. It was night now. She wasn't scared, just curious.
"Thanks." She said.
That had been the first time she heard the voice. It was her friend – or someone she called her friend – even though the voice was faceless and, in fact, just a voice.
Adesuwa noticed that this strange voice was strongest at night, and it played with her. She was okay with this; the voice, her friend, never teased her for being so little or having a flat chest, which wasn't really a bad thing, considering she was actually twelve years old.
As time went by, cold and hot nights with it, the voice became more than one. They played and laughed, these voices, and told stories of a wonderful place on the other side, where'd they'd come from.
She had no idea what the other side meant, she'd never been there before. But she didn't try to find out either for she thought that her questions would make them go away. She dreaded that.
She did however get to know of this place, for the voice – Mma (meaning beautiful) – offered to show her. Mma came with the evening winds.
"I've always been here." She whispered to Adesuwa, "and I like you."
"I like you too." Adesuwa whispered back and peeked through her half opened door. The house was small, but big enough for her to have her own room which opened into a small living space, which had another door that did the same – her mother's room. There was a soft glow coming from her mother's room, and voices. Her mother always had men over, men who thought her weird and who'd asked her mother (even in her presence) where she'd come from. Her mother's response was always a resigned shrug which basically said 'I'm saddled with her'.
The door creaked as Adesuwa opened it further. She was barefooted (her slippers under her bed, unnecessary for stealth) and the floor squeaked ever so slightly as she walked the short pace across the room. She made sure to look away – she could not stop the awful sounds of her mother's moans and the man's grunt, but she could hide her gaze.
It was a full moon, Mma had said it would be.
"No use for the lamp." She'd told Adesuwa.
Adesuwa was tempted to ask where they were going. She loved Mma, yes, but it was well late into the night and nobody moved about by this time. She had passed a farmer, a while back, and he'd looked at her strangely – possibly wondering what a little girl was doing out all alone – and walked on.
The night was cold against her skin and the moon was pleasantly white, gazing down intently at her. The voice was silent now. At one point, as she walked through a bush path, wet grass sticking to her legs, she wondered if she wasn't just crazy; Mma was just a voice after all and here she was, walking through a bush path at night. But then, Mma declared 'we're here.'
Just where they were was what she couldn't understand. There was a huge tree, tall and imposing, and it seemed to gaze down on her. Something whizzed across her ears, a fly maybe. The tree suddenly creaked and parted at the middle, giving way to a dark pathway. Mma's voice came from in there. It was dark at first, this strange opening within the tree, but soon a light seemed to tear through the darkness. Slowly, as if peeling off a wrap, the land beyond came into view. It was beautiful, Adesuwa thought. She could see green fields and, oddly, a bright yellow sun shone down over the greens sprinkled with the colors of flowers – red, yellow, orange, purple and blue.
She also saw something else – a figure. A young girl. She waved at Adesuwa and then spoke. It was Mma, Adesuwa realized and stretched her neck to see her clearly. The figure of this young girl was silhouetted somewhat by the sun from behind her, but her voice was clear as the white moon above.
"Come on over, Adesuwa." The young girl beckoned.
The wind circled around Adesuwa's feet and the grasses moved with it. She took a step forward.
"Come now, but first..." The young girl's voice trailed off now, a bit somber.
"What is it?" Adesuwa asked, her eyes still fixed on the door split into the trunk of this really weird tree.
"Even though you follow me to my world, you'll still have to come back here because when the day breaks, the door disappears."
Adesuwa thought about this. "But, what if I don't want to come back here?"
Mma's voice brightened slightly, "then you will have to wish that day doesn't come. Then we can play and play and never have to listen to mother and all those other judgy people."
Adesuwa didn't reply. The night was very silent and grasses around her rustled softly, caressing her arms as if urging her to say something. Even the huge tree stared down at her, waiting.
"Uhm, I'll have to think about it." Adesuwa slowly said, in a manner that irritated her because she didn't want Mma to think that she didn't like the idea of playing on and on with her. Anything was certainly better than living the drab life she was saddled with, and she definitely would love to see the face behind Mma's lovely voice. She guessed it had to be one beautiful face. She was about to turn back, away from the tree, and head home when she remembered her mother still had a 'visitor'. She clenched her fists at this thought and shut her eyes, trying to breathe. Then she made her decision.
"I'll do it." She announced and sighed, somewhat relieved.
Mma, who had been all the while silent, suddenly spoke. "You'll love it over here, I promise. All you have to do is wish for a never ending night."
Adesuwa smiled. Mma seemed really excited about the whole idea, maybe she should also be. A never ending night, she had no idea what that entailed exactly; would it remain night here in her world, trapping mother with just one man for as long as she was gone? That didn't seem too bad.
Just as she shrugged her shoulders and got ready to make her wish, she heard a loud squawk. It was shrill, this sound, echoing throughout the night. It came from high above the tall tree, possibly a bird. The sound was abrupt but there was something about it; something about the way it suddenly stopped (like something or someone had purposely shut it up). Adesuwa listened nervously for the squawk, but it was no one, except for tiny chirping here and there.
"Come on." Mma urged, her voice extra sweet.
Blinking rapidly and licking her lips, Mma's voice soft on her ears, urging, Adesuwa made her wish.
"I wish for a never ending night."
Nothing happened. At first. But after a few minutes of looking around and up at the sky, which by the way was darker now, Adesuwa noticed one major thing: Mma was gone.
She could feel it, as one could the breeze on their skin. Just then, a rush of wind came in from through the opened tree trunk and rushed past her, engulfing her, and then pulled her straight into the tree.
There was a certain humming sound inside her head as she opened her eyes. The ground beneath her was cold and hard, unlike the soft grassy texture she was expecting. Her eyes darted from left to right, taking in her surroundings. Something was not right. She immediately got the feeling one got when the product inside a box is different from the promised image. There was a certain darkness around her, no sunlight. There were trees, but all dead and crooked, with deep yellow eyes that watched her intently.
She was in some sort of forest. There were whispers around her, hushed voices that sounded but frightening to her, and frightened of her – or maybe of something else.
Adesuwa rose to her feet and clutched her arms around her body; there was a biting cold blowing around her; a kind she'd never felt before. She suddenly thought of Mma and felt a little warmth in her heart, maybe something had gone wrong, maybe she had made her wish wrongly, Mma would certainly know. She looked around for her, her eyes taking in the curling mist forming around the crooked trees, and the darkness that lay beyond the mist. There was no one around.
There was a light, flickering and dim, just in the distance. Adesuwa walked towards it. Her heart beat was steadily rising and her head whispered for her to be afraid, or maybe it was someone else doing the whispering. She shook her head to rid herself of the thoughts, it didn't work.
As she walked towards the light, the mist in front of her cleared slowly, revealing more dead, crooked trees and a strangely white path. In the same way, the mist closed up behind her, such that she was only allowed to see a certain number of trees and the path ahead.
Adesuwa glanced up at the sky, her eyes searching for the white moon, or any moon at all. There was no moon, just a darkness that stretched upwards like a mournful blanket. There were no clouds or stars either, just a nothingness that reminded her of a fly trapped in a glass jar which had a cloth thrown over it.
The flickering light got brighter as her feet scratched the path, edging her closer. Adesuwa increased her pace when she began to hear a wincing sound coming from the light. She soon reached it and crouched down. It was probably a glowworm, with the way it lay on a strand of white grass. But it wasn't, Adesuwa noticed, as she placed it on her palm.
The glow worm was in fact a little girl. A very, very tiny, little girl. She flickered as if she'd swallowed a lamp. A lamp that was fading fast.
"Are you alright?" Adesuwa asked, wondering how one knew if a glowing, tiny girl was alright. Although the tiny girl didn't look alright. Adesuwa noticed, as she brought the glowing girl closer to her face, that she looked sick.
The tiny girl winced (a tiny, squeaking sound) and then opened her eyes. She had plain white eyes, like pearls, but with a dull essence. The pair of white eyes opened wide, in shock, upon seeing the big, little girl who had her in her palms. She was shocked, or scared or both.
"You…shouldn't...be here." The tiny girl said, straining for each word, and her glow getting dimmer even as she spoke.
Adesuwa made to speak but the tiny girl, now noticeably dimmer, spoke again.
"Why... You shouldn't have...made...the...wish…she's comin...." The last part of her words remained unfinished as the tiny girl sighed and her glow, albeit very dim, went off.
Adesuwa looked on, thinking (or hoping) that the tiny girl had probably gone to sleep.
"She's gone." A thin voice said, with a chuckle, "and now, it's your turn."
Adesuwa gasped and turned around, searching for the voice, and who'd just spoken.
"I tried to warn you." The voice said again, followed by a really loud squawk. "Remember?"
Adesuwa closed her eyes and heard the squawk, deep in her head. Yes, she remembered.
"Who are you?" She asked, her voice shaken and rough. "Where's Mma, have you seen her?"
Silence. Then there was a scraping sound from one of the crooked trees, and a light thud on the path in front of her, behind the mist.
"Is that what you call her, Mma?" The voice began a dry, squawky laugh which ended in a painful wince. Adesuwa looked on, her eyes locked on the drifting mist.
The light thudding drew closer, and closer. Then the mist parted ever so slowly, like a smoke in the wind, and it showed itself.
The first thing Adesuwa noticed was the height of this thing. Although almost everything looked tall to her. This thing though, was very tall. It had two arms – like a man – two man-like arms, but covered in dark blue feathers that stopped at the wrist, were she noted just three fingers in a hand not unlike hers.
The feet of this thing was thin and scaly and yellow, like a bird's. Its face was also like that of a man, round and with two yellow eyes, a literally pointy nose and a small, circular mouth. Its twitching ears stuck out from above its head.
"You do know you are in big trouble, right?" The bird-man being, whatever it was, said and picked the dead tiny, little girl from Adesuwa's palm and placed her inside a small hole in the black dirt, which it covered up with its feet.
"You're trapped, you know?" It said after a moment.
"Trapped?" Adesuwa asked and tried to understand. "But, Mma said..."
"You really don't get it. Mma, or whatever name you choose to give her, is a selfish spirit who sucks out the life of little girls like you. Little girls who, for some stupid reason, befriend a strange voice in your head. She feeds on pathetic desperation. And you reek of it."
Adesuwa frowned and stared at her feet.
"I'll show you something." It said and grabbed her hand, and stretched its hand through the darkness, ripping it open like a curtain and stepping through, Adesuwa behind it.
They were out in a dark place, high above in a tree.
"Look at that, tell me what you see." It said and held Adesuwa's jaw towards the people below.
She saw herself, as she had been moments before; standing before the tree with the split trunk, ready to make her wish. Mma was there, she could tell.
But this...Mma was no Mma. She was visible, of pure smoke, dark and wavering. She seemed to be whispering to Adesuwa, at that moment when she wanted to make the wish.
"You should stop yourself now, before it's too late. She'll be here any moment now." The bird-man said and squawked loudly. Adesuwa watched as her other self turned towards them, and so did Mma, who had angry red eyes.
"Now!" The bird-man suddenly said and pushed her off the tree, even as the dark entity rose up towards them.
Adesuwa landed with a heavy thud on her other self. She groaned, and it all went dark. The wish unmade.
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