It’s every girl’s dream to have a fairy tale wedding; perfect and the very best. At a tender age, little girls are exposed to the hero prince charming and refuse to accept anything less. Although, Katy has been around young men all her life, none holds a great appeal to her. Growing up in a community where rules are strictly adhered has been the most difficult in her life. Their community was known as ‘The Believers’, an Evangelical Christian church. Every member followed a rigid code of conduct based absolutely on selected bible teaching, which provides a firm moral framework and is focused on a strong family unit. They isolate from other people (including other Christians) as far as possible, because they believe the world is a place of wickedness. The society labelled them exclusive and secret religious sect.
Katy grew up with the knowledge of this stereotyped way of life. Stringent rules as well as many activities are prohibited for members; watching the television, listening to radio, going to institution of learning and other activities non-believers considered to be fun. They are not allowed to visit other churches or join another religious organisation or a professional organisation. They lived in the same sphere of influence and were not allowed to marry outsiders. Most young girls right from high school are considered mature enough to marry and so await proposal from the young men in the community. Katy was determined to wait for her prince charming, someone she would be well attracted to. All the while, she had rejected about three proposals from potential suitors.
She is the first of three children. Katy’s father owns a small carpentry business and her mother stayed at home to look after the children and the home. She decided to work for her father immediately after high school since the believers were not allowed to further their education most especially the girls among them. They are believed in getting married and staying at home to look after their children and their husband. A female child is taught so many principles about submission ‘Wives submit to your husband as unto the Lord’. The 22nd verse of Ephesians 5 is the watchword for every woman and any member who does not live up to that expectation was expelled like Queen Vashti in the bible who disobeyed King Xerxes. She was said to have done wrong not only against the king but also against all the nobles and people of the provinces. Vashti was dethroned on the ground that her conduct will become known to all the women, who will in turn despise their husbands and consequently breed disrespect and discord. Therefore she was banned from having access to the king’s presence and her position was given to another. This was the punishment meted out to every woman who disobeyed or disrespect her husband. Most of them are banished from their families and consequently from the community.
Although, there were so many young men amongst the believers, nonetheless, Katy was not attracted to any of them and would not give their proposals a thought. She was seventeen years of age and amongst other things, she knew age was not on her side by virtue of the believers’ norms. Notwithstanding, she secretly wished for a prince charming, who will sweep her off her feet away from the believers but the way to go about it was still unknown. Even though, they were not allowed to watch the televisions, Katy subtly sneaks in magazines and books to read. Every story intrigued her and made her determined to be happy in life. She was tired of being bound by rules and regulations of the believers; she wanted freedom, to have fun like other young girls and she knew the believer would not offer her that chance in life. Every young man in the community worked for his father and never left the community to explore life. They all lived the same boring life every day.
Things were about to change when one of their elder’s son in church had returned to the fold. He was away in California for many years and studied law but stayed back to work. Even though members of the believers were not allowed to work with unbelievers or permitted such distance from home, in certain circumstances, some expectations were made. They wanted a considerable level of education for some of the believers to fight for their people when the time arises. Andrew was one of such exceptions. On walking into the believers’ meeting that fateful Sunday, every unmarried and young girl’s eye was fixed on him. They all wanted him and secretly stole a glance at him but avoided being caught by the elders. He was twenty five years old, tall and handsome; he was different from other young men in the community. He sparkled, walked confidently and had a different style. Everything about him was perfect. He was every young girl’s dream. Few weeks after his arrival in their small town in Tennessee, he met with Katy on her way from work and made his intention known to her. Andrew professed love for her. He wanted Katy to be his wife. He went further saying he would take her far away to the city to show her the world she never saw. Her long awaited fantasy was becoming reality. Katy was so thrilled about this proposal that she didn’t give it a second thought before consenting to him lest he changes his mind and finds another girl who will jump at his proposal.
Katy’s parents were so excited about the affair. Their wedding was planned. The day finally came. The ceremony wasn’t as glamorous as Katy had desired but cared less as her prince charming was there to take her far away to where her dreams would be fulfilled. The gown she made for herself fitted her properly and matched her body curves. As she dressed in her room for the wedding, she heard the door open, thinking it was her mother.
“Mama!” Katy called out.
“Hey honey.” She heard her aunt’s voice behind her.
“Oh Aunt Betty”, Katy replied, facing her. “Don’t I look beautiful?” Katy asked, blushing.
“Oh dear, you are always beautiful to me.” She smiled and then, her countenance changed.
“What is it?” Katy asked.
“Oh dear, it’s not what you think.” She said stroking her hair. “You have to get out now that you can, you have to run so fast and never look back.”
Katy withdrew herself away from her.
“Why do you have to be sad, today is the happiest day of my life, can’t you be happy for me?” Katy moaned angrily at her.
“Oh dear, there is more to this. The ‘believers’ is not what you think. You have to get away child” Betty instructed looking straight into her eyes. “They will hold you with rules and despicable things, you have to…
“Stop it!” Katy shouted at her. “I am marrying my prince charming. He is different from other members. Moreover, he loves me and he will give me what I want. He is taking me away from here.” She murmured in whispers. “He wants to give me a better life, a life better than this place. Don’t you see it?”
“I see more than you ever know dear. I know everything dear….” Betty responded.
“No, you don’t! At least, I can run away from you too. You have always come into my room most nights telling me to run away and do unreasonable things but mama has always insisted that you are sick and don’t know what you are saying and doing but now, I can be free from every one of you.” Katy jeered at her.
Betty stood there with her eyes moist and stared at her for a while. She wanted to tell her the truth but she knew this wasn’t the best time and she might not even believe her.
“Katy, I have loved you since you were a child and I will never mislead you; I want you to know the truth about everything –, don’t marry Andrew. He is only here to deceive you.” She exclaimed almost in tears.
“Stop it!” Katy shouted again. “I don’t have to listen to you. I know you are sick and I don’t have to believe all you say. Please leave me alone, leave me now!” She shouted.
Betty carefully left her room dejected. She wished she could make her see but she knew no one would ever believe her, as she had rightly said, she was sick, a mental case. No one would believe her story but this young girl was out for trouble, for the unknown that could destroy the rest of her life. Betty wished she had planned her escape years ago when she attempted to take her away from the community. Katy was still a baby then but her plan was foiled. She was caught in the woods by members who were out hunting. She would have been expelled from the community but for her younger sister and her husband who pleaded her case. Her behaviour was later excused to be depression, an aftermath of her husband’s death weeks before the attempt.
Betty’s sister decided to take her in ever since then, but the more time she spent in the community compounded her mental illness as her pretence became real to everyone especially to herself.
Betty desired so badly to take her only niece away from a life that will bring nothing but sorrow. She was given in marriage at the age of fifteen and had nowhere to go. All she desired in a marriage was more or less a mirage and never told anyone her ordeal before the death of her husband. She realised years later that hers was not a peculiar experience. Other young girls went through the same experience; some learned to live with it while others pretend it never happened but whichever case, everyone was mute about it.
Katy married her prince charming and the first place they visited was Paris for their honeymoon. It was all round exciting for her especially since she never left the small town in Tennessee all her life. Throughout their stay in Paris, Katy never lifted a finger to do anything; breakfast in bed every morning, lunch by the sea side and dinner at the most luxurious hotel. Every dinner came with a new beautiful dress. All her life, she wore her hand-made dress or gowns passed down from her mother. None was as beautiful as the gorgeous ones Andrew bought for her. He gave her different taste to life, the freedom she always wanted. She knew the believers would disapprove if they knew all these. The luxurious life she always wanted; a life like the celebrities she read about in the magazines. Andrew treated her like a princess but this was not for long.
Immediately after their honeymoon, they moved back to California and the life she expected was different from what she got.
Andrew goes to work every morning and each day, he gave her list of chores to do in the house, forbids her to socialise or talk to anyone. Not even to open the door for anyone. In fact, he locks the door to the house each morning and gave excuses that he didn’t want her endangered because she was not use to the city life. She wanted to go back to college and study but Andrew disagreed and stated that he makes enough money to cater for her and give her everything she ever wanted.
All Katy wanted was freedom, freedom to see another side of life but she was brought to another caged life. She had no say in anything neither did she have control over her time. Andrew gave her the schedule of the day, when to have breakfast, lunch and particularly what to eat. She had to keep everything spotless in the house. The only time she’s been let out of the house was to the grocery store on Andrew’s permission while he stays at home, giving her specific time to come home.
Things were so bad that she couldn’t call her family back home to at least greet them. Andrew does the calling and stands by her when she speaks to her parents. Not that she could tell them as there was little or nothing her parents would do. Once a girl is married away, she is no longer the responsibility of her parents. She had to live by the watchword “every wife must submit to her husband”. Katy knew this treatment wasn’t fair. She could recall her father to be a quiet and peaceful man, who never shouted or ordered her mom around. Her mother never questioned his decisions. She was submissive and kept her duties as a wife. The life she knew back home was totally different from the one in the city. Andrew hardly talks to her rather, he orders her around the house. Virtually everything he told her about a different life in the city was a total lie. The worst was about to happen when one fateful evening, Andrew came back home from work very early.
“Take it…” He said handing her the bag he brought home. “I bought you this.” He said smiling. Katy remembered that smile, was the same that swept her off her feet when she met him.
She took the bag and looked inside. “This is lovely.” She exclaimed, admiring the silk red dress he bought for her. “You bought this for me?” She asked, smiling.
“Yes, I bought this for my one and only beautiful wife.” He said blushing.
“This is beautiful Andrew, so pretty, thank you.” She said. She was so happy, thinking that things were about to change.
“I knew you would love this.” giving her a warm kiss on her lips.
“Thank you.” She smiled.
“Now, I want you to go inside and have a good shower, wear the dress, style your hair into the most beautiful style and put on the perfume I bought for you.” he said, smiling at her.
“Are we going out?” She asked, walking towards the stairs.
“No, we are having dinner indoors; I am expecting some guest and would love my wife to be much presentable for them.” He said coming behind her.
“Oh!” Katy grinned under her breathe. She was blank of words. He hasn’t changed. Andrew was just going to show her off to some strangers. Well, notwithstanding, she was glad that at least he showed her some kindness. “I have to cook for them.” She said as she walked up the stair case.
“No, I will do all the cooking; just make yourself into the most beautiful princess.” He replied, throwing her a kiss.
Katy did as he asked. She washed every part of her body and wore the dress as well as made her hair very beautiful. She felt butterflies in her stomach as he called her a princess; that was what she always wanted even if it’s for certain days, she just wanted to be one. She took a last look at herself in the mirror to be sure everything was perfect, and then hurried downstairs to present herself to her prince. She walked into the living room and found the table set and lit with dinner candles. Everything was set and there, it dawned on her as to what kind of visitors they were hosting for her husband to have gone this extra mile to make everything prefect.
Andrew walked back to the living room, seeing her. He placed the wine glasses on the table and went to her. Katy stood there like a little girl being assessed. She followed his eyes as he looked into every detail about her; her hair, clothes, shoes, nails, and the eye shadow she had on. He went as far as asking her to show her teeth.
“What is wrong with you?” He shouted which made her cringe. “I have told you several times not to wear this shade of lipstick; can’t you get something right for once.” he raged.
“I’m sorry…” Katy pleaded.
“All I asked of you is to look beautiful tonight. Is it difficult?” He shouted.
Looking jittery, she replied “I will go change it.” As she hurried up the stairs, she wondered within herself that a shade of lipstick could make him so angry. She knew he always wanted her to wear the wine shade but she had always preferred the pink and thought she could get away with it that evening but Andrew was not about to let that happen. Hastily, she wiped her lips and carefully put on the wine shade and then hurried back to the living room. She was aware the more time she spent could cause more trouble. Getting downstairs, Andrew was pleased at what he saw.
“Now, this is perfect.” He said. “Don’t you agree that you are the most beautiful wife?” He cajoled taking her hands and gently kissed her lips. Katy couldn’t just understand. One moment, he is so loving and caring and the next, he is furious and makes a fuss of trivial matters.
“Thank you.” She whispered. She was scared to speak aloud. Every gesture had to be perfect.
“Alright dear, the couple coming today is very special and important people and I want you to be the best. Most especially, I want you to look beautiful and anything they ask of you, give without any questions, okay.” He instructed, looking straight into her eyes.
“Okay.” She replied.
“They belong to the believers but the higher hierarchy. They are among the high and mighty in the society.” He said making sure she understood every word. “They will be spending the night so make every effort to make them comfortable, alright.”
“Alright.” She replied while her thoughts ran wild. She was afraid to ask but waited to see.
Minutes after, the doorbell rang. Andrew took a last look at her and went to the door.
Hello Ben.” Andrew greeted with a handshake.
“Andrew!” he responded.
“Victoria.” Andrew greeted kissing her on both cheeks. “You are welcome!”
Katy stood behind. She was taken back at their guest. Foremost, no husbands in the believers were allowed to touch any other wife, not even a handshake let alone give a peck on the cheek. Well, Andrew had said, they were the advance, whatever he meant, she was about to see. The couple both dressed gorgeously; the wife wore a silk yellow dress which magnified her beauty although she was much older, supposedly in her thirties.
“And this is my wife.” Katy heard Andrew’s voice which jolted her back from her thought.
“Oh Katy!” Ben said as he pecked her cheeks. “I have heard so much about you darling.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Katy smiled.
“Hello darling.” Victoria took her hands. “How nice to meet you.” She said to her.
“It’s nice to have you.” Katy smiled. She saw her beautiful face and thought maybe finally, she’s gained a new friend, after all, she was part of the believers, she could have someone to talk to, more so, more mature than she was.
“Maybe, we should go into the kitchen.” Katy gestured since every wife’s place was in the kitchen. The men chatted all the way.
“Alright” Victoria said.
Getting to the kitchen, Katy stood there, not sure of what to do or even to say and she saw the surprise on Victoria’s face.
“I’m sorry, I’m the worst host ever.” Katy said.
“Oh dear, don’t worry. I know you are nervous, you are new to this but not to worry, everything will be perfect.” She smiled and touched her face.
“I hope so, my husband wants everything perfect.” She thought to herself but thought aloud. “Oh sorry” She apologised, realising she spoke out.
“It’s okay dear, I understand. I was so nervous on my first day but I have enjoyed every moment afterwards, you will be perfect, I know that.” She smiled.
That was what she wanted, to be perfect for their guest that evening and to do everything per excellence. The men talked all the way as they ate dinner while the women watched them. They smiled and laughed at every joke but spoke little. That rule was still the same for advance believers; reverence their husband in public, and talk only when they are asked to. After dinner, Katy washed the plates while Victoria stood by her. She assured her everything was working perfectly and she was amazing at her entertainment which made Katy pleased. At least, she was good at something and looked forward to Andrew’s compliment later that night.
Katy later went to the guest room to be sure everything was in place. She checked the bathroom for extra towels then her husband entered.
“Oh dear, you have been amazing.” He said holding her hips. “You were perfect.” He kissed her.
Katy was pleased at the compliment. “Thank you.”
“Now dear, the best is yet to come. You have to entertain Ben further; he is so pleased with you.” He said.
Katy was unsure of what he meant. “Anything dear” She smiled. “What else do I need to do?” She asked.
“Alright, Ben would be coming to bed any moment from now.” He said, going to the wardrobe, he brought out a silk red night wear. Katy was surprised as she had not seen that before.
“Oh, is this for Victoria?” She asked.
“No dear, this is for you.” He said giving it to her.
“Oh!” she exclaimed. “Thank you.”
“Now, I want you to go into the shower and have a nice bath and then wear this and wait for Ben to come in.” he said.
“What!” Katy said, confused. “What do you mean?”
“Exactly what I said!” Ben would come in later and you are to entertain him as best as ever, don’t hold back, give him everything he wants.”
Katy was still confused. She thought probably she didn’t hear him right.
“What do you mean Andrew?” She asked looking into his eyes.
“Okay, I will explain better. This is one of the practices of advance believers. We often exchange our wives for pleasure at every husband’s approval” he said with a stern look at her.
“You mean I should have sex with Ben.” Katy said in disbelief.
“I’m saying you should obey your husband.” he replied.
“But …..” She tried to say something but was shocked and went numb.
“No but Katy. How difficult can that be? You have to do what I’m asking of you”
“That is cheating Andrew, it is….., I can’t do this” She said in tears.
“It isn’t cheating with my consent; I am giving my full consent and total support to you. This will also help you gain more experience in fulfilling your obligation towards me.” he said holding her hands as he looked into her eyes.
“Please Andrew, don’t let me do this. You can teach me whatever you want me to know about satisfying you, please, I can’t sleep with another man, please.” She cried.
“Stop this Katy, you are going to spoil everything, stop it!” he shouted.
Katy sniffs. She wipes the tears away from her eyes.
“What about Victoria?” She asked.
“Well, she expects nothing less of you satisfying her husband, which is what they came for.” He said.
“You mean…” She said, dumbfounded.
“Yes, she knows, and she will do same.” he murmured.
“What! No!” She shouted. The thought of another woman with her husband arouse the anger in her.
“Don’t you raise your voice at me.” He shouted at her and held her shoulders tightly. “You will do as I say girl and everything must be perfect, okay?”
Her shoulder hurts and the fire in his eyes scared her. Katy felt the stream of tears running down her face. She couldn’t believe her husband is asking her to sleep with another man and he also would sleep with another woman. This was totally absurd. She had never seen or heard of this before now. It was not part of the rules of the believers. No one ever made mention of it. Is this done by Christians or just the believers? This is totally unbelievable. Andrew looked hard at her and knew she understood perfectly what he wanted and would do accordingly, so he led her to the bathroom.
“Good night Katy.” He said and closed the door.
Katy stood there unsure of what to think. She heard the bedroom door close and her heart sank. Fear gripped her. She wanted to run but where to? She was scared and couldn’t believe her ears. She knew this was far from what Jesus expected of believers. The elders would be totally against this but again, she thought, what if it was the secret norm amongst every believer even though she was unaware of it? What if this was what Aunt Betty warned her against? She couldn’t come to terms with this. She flashed back on Victoria’s comments in the kitchen, who had closely looked at her and all these began to make sense to her. She had seen her husband glance lustfully at Victoria and occasionally smiled at her. She was much older than Andrew and that made her sick inside. She was well aware of the rules of submitting to her husband but there should be exceptions; this was definitely an exception and again, she thought of what to do. She couldn’t refuse Andrew’s instruction. The thought of being expelled if she is found to have disobeyed her husband scared her. Even if she ran away, she had nowhere to go. She was far away from home. She had no money and knew no one; the believers had made sure they had no contact with the outside world.
Tears continued to roll down her cheeks. She couldn’t just believe all these. Was this a one-night fling or forever? She went into the shower and allowed the water down her body. After that, with trembling hands, she wore the night dress and stared for a while into the mirror. The image she saw scared her. She was about to be defiled by a stranger with the full consent of her husband and she had no inclination to do otherwise. She tried to control the tears from her eyes but her strength failed. Few seconds later, she walked into the bed room and there he was, Ben sitting on the bed. He stood up immediately when she entered and walked towards her. He was much older than her, old enough to be her father.
“Oh! What a beauty!” Ben whispered to himself stroking her cheek. “You are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.”
Of course he was right, the most beautiful girl! She was just a girl, seventeen years ago and that didn’t matter to him. Katy stood there, quiet before him.
“C’mon.” He said and led her to the bed.
Katy followed without saying a word. He carefully carried her, laid her gently on the bed and began to take off his shirt. Katy was scared to meet his eyes so she closed them firmly and felt her soul in tears. She was motionless and as he laid on her, she felt the whole world pounce on her. Every touch triggered more tears but this time, she wept profusely but that didn’t stop him. After he was done, he kept saying how pleased and how beautiful she was. Moments afterward, she heard him snoring. Carefully, she went into the bathroom and took a warm shower. She scrubbed every part of her body to get his smell and touch off her. In tears, she knelt down in the shower and wallowed in tears. She imagined if Victoria felt the same way or perhaps she was thrilled about having sex with a much younger man. Maybe she had more experience and cared less about an innocent young girl like her. She stayed in the bathroom much longer and wept.
Katy hardly slept through the night. She watched quietly as Ben got back into his clothing and left the room. He probably thought she was still sleeping. She stayed there for as long as she wanted and after few hours, she got out of the room and went into her own room, there, she realised Andrew had gone to work. He didn’t even come to check on her.
Katy was shaken by all these. She wondered how much more this would go on. Would there be other visitors like this in their marriage? And then, it occurred to her, she had to act fast. She could never imagine herself accustom to this abominable way of life. Even if the believers were in total support of which she wasn’t sure, she would never accept this doctrine, rather, she would abscond but how?
Andrew came back home in the evening and acted like nothing happened. He continued being a dictator and ordered her around while she remained a submissive wife and didn’t question any decision he made. Sometimes, he had to travel over the weekend on business and would lock her in for days but called regularly to check on her. The house phone was designed only to receive incoming calls. She was officially a prisoner in her own home.
This scenario went on for several months. They hosted more visitors and her husband encouraged it the more. Katy thought of ways out of this but couldn’t make headway. She wasn’t allowed to seek counsel and her parents were out of sight. There was a day Andrew called her parents so she may speak with them but, as usual, he stood next to her.
“I’m glad to hear your voice.” Her mother said.
“Same here.” She replied.
“Oh wait, Aunt Betty wants to say hello.” Her mother said.
The mention of Aunt Betty brought a lump on her throat.
“Katy dear.” Aunt Betty said.
“Hello Aunt Betty.” She replied, trying to hide her sadness.
“Are you alright dear?” She asked.
“Yes, I’m very well.” She lied, smiling at Andrew who was staring at her.
“Oh dear, a baby is all you need to stop that though it’s only for a very short time.” Aunt Betty pointed out.
“What!” Katy asked confused.
“Yes dear, a baby.” Aunt Betty reaffirmed.
“Alright dear, Aunt Betty has to go take her medication.” her mother interrupted. “I’ll speak to you soon dear.” She said and hung up the phone.
“Okay mama, good bye.” Katy said.
For days, Katy kept thinking about those words. It didn’t make sense to her. Why would she say a baby would stop all that? What did she mean? These words haunt her. She knew a baby was out of the question. Andrew had made sure she was on contraceptive pill; he said he wasn’t ready to have a child now and once he is, he would let her know. Then it dawned on her that maybe to get pregnant for another man is prohibited outside wedlock. That could have been what Aunt Betty meant. This happens to every wife in the believers. Aunty Betty knew exactly what she said.
All these didn’t make sense to her. Why would this be allowed amongst believers? Are they truly believers? Do they believe in the Son of God? Are they genuine Christians or use Christianity to cover up their mischief? Katy stopped her pills for a while and finally became pregnant months later. During one of her monitored trips to the grocery store, she purchased a pregnancy kit and there, she confirmed she was pregnant. She was so thrilled but sadness ensued when she realised she had to tell Andrew and that scared her.
“You are what!” Andrew shouted at her.
“I am pregnant.” She said, trembling.
“How, when?” He asked confused. “This is not possible.” He said.
“Here.” Katy gave him the pregnancy stick.
He looked at it and then threw it away and went up to the room. He brought her pack of pills downstairs.
“I have checked this every night and I know you always take them or don’t you?” He asked.
“Yes I do.” She lied. She had guessed he was keeping tabs on her so she made sure she flushed the pill every morning for the past three months. “Yes I do, I don’t understand how this happened.” She said.
Andrew stared at her for a long while and then took his keys and went out of the house.
Katy couldn’t understand why such good news could so much distress to him; he should be happy he’s going to be a father.
The following months were hell on earth! He constantly shouted at her for every mistake and made her work so hard like a slave. She often wondered what is there to clean as she kept cleaning every other day. He refused her anti natal care outside the home and forbade her informing her parents. He forbad her as well from going out when the pregnancy was beginning to be obvious and occasionally brings in a midwife to the house to attend to her. She brought baby clothing the few times she was allowed to step out and looked forward to having another person in the house. She couldn’t buy a crib since Andrew never said a word about it but decided to buy little things that he wouldn’t have to see.
The day of the delivery finally came. It was in the middle of the night when she was woken up by a sharp pain. Andrew jumped out of bed and rang the midwife. She showed up within half an hour. The labour took almost eight hours and eventually brought forth her beautiful baby. Katy had been scared and worried about the health of her baby since they never went to the hospital for any check-up or scan of the child. She couldn’t comprehend why Andrew would refuse her health care at the hospital; after all, she’s been to the hospital back home several times. She was at the hospital when her own mother had a son, her younger brother. Several of her friends who got married earlier also had their babies in the hospital. But here she was in the city and Andrew would not even consider taking her to the hospital, if not for her, at least for their baby.
Katy stared at her precious baby in her arms and she continued to pray to God for her safety. She wasn’t sure if her prayers were heard but thought God would not resist taking care of a small baby void of sin. She is so beautiful and Katy called her ‘Isabella’, meaning, my God is a vow. She made a vow to keep her safe and do whatever she could to make that happen. Andrew came in briefly after the birth and stood there just looking at the baby. He didn’t make attempt to hold her but Katy was sure he would come around when he sees how beautiful and precious she was. The midwife was so nice to her that she offered to look after her baby whilst she had a shower. She slept afterwards.
Few hours later, she woke up and suddenly realised Isabella wasn’t by her side. It wasn’t her plan to sleep off; she wanted to continue staring at Isabella. She looked around and managed to get up even though she was exhausted. She carefully walked down the staircase calling out for Andrew but he wasn’t anywhere around. She went to the front door and opened but it was locked.
“Andrew!” she called. By this time, she was already getting scared. She went to the kitchen and saw the back door to the garden open.
“Andrew!” She called out again and there he was, holding a shovel in one hand.
Fear gripped her. She stood there trying so hard to hold her balance. Andrew seeing her immediately went to her.
“Where is my baby?” She asked in tears.
“Oh dear, you shouldn’t be down here.” He said pampering her.
“Where is my baby?” She cried out. “She wasn’t on the bed with me, please, tell me, where she is?” She cried, as she held him so tightly.
“You need to rest Katy.” He said trying to calm her down.
“What happened?” She screamed. “What happened to my baby?”
“Please Katy, you need to rest. You are not in the best of health now.” He said to her.
“Andrew, what did you do to my baby?” She screamed at him.
“I’m sorry dear, she wasn’t feeling well, she was sick, she went back to be with the Lord shortly after you slept.” He said avoiding her eyes.
“What!” She screamed out. “No, no no, that can’t be.” She cried out.
“The midwife tried but there was nothing else she could have done to save her. I’m so sorry dear.” He pleaded.
“No no no Andrew, that is impossible! She was perfectly fine when I held her; so perfect.” She cried out. “She couldn’t have gone away from me; she knew I wanted her. I am her mother…” She cried.
“It was the Lord’s will.” Andrew said.
“No no no, it’s not the Lord’s will. He could never allow any harm come to her, never!” She replied, pushed him away and walked into the garden where he saw him working on. Immediately, she began to dig with her hands, pushing so hard on the earth in tears.
“I know she’s not gone, she couldn’t.” She said in tears digging with her hands so hard. It was raining so hard but that didn’t stop her.
Andrew went to her.
“You don’t want to do this Katy, you don’t.” he said to her trying to hold her.
“I want to see my baby, I want to see her.” Katy moaned in tears.
“Please, don’t do this to yourself, she is at peace now.”
“I want Isabella, I want my baby.” She cried, still digging and then, she felt a small box beneath her hands.
“Oh God…. No no no, my baby” She cried out trembling; she wanted to bring out the box and open it but her hands were trembling, she was trembling, screaming hysterically. Andrew went to her and held her to himself.
“Oh God, no no no, my baby…” she cried out.
“It’s going to be alright Katy. God would bless us with another child, he will.” He sat on the ground with her and held her close to himself.
“No God, I want my baby back, I want Isabella back. I want my baby…..”
“Please, it would be alright, I promise you.” Andrew held her trembling hands. She was shaken all over.
Katy wept profusely. Andrew had to carry her back into the house and gave her some sleeping tablet of which she slept off.
Several days after, everything still seems blurred. Andrew was by her side every moment of the day. He gave her food as she woke up, and gets her to sleep. She felt so dehydrated. Moreover, the drinks and milk he fed her with made her weaker and dizzy but then, she felt it was better than the life she would come back to without her baby. She wanted to sleep and never wake up to reality.
It was almost a month later, she was back to life, her chores and her routine. Andrew gave her pills every morning and told her she needed time to heal before she could have another baby. He had to make sure she was strong enough before they tried out for another baby. A part of her believed him; she accepted every comment he made. She was fed up of fighting inwardly.
Then one day, at the grocery store, she was getting some tomatoes puree when a woman next to her spoke out.
“You know the double concentration is much better than that one.”
“Oh really,” Katy smiled at her. “Thank you.”
“Yes dear, I have tried it, much better.” The woman smiled.
Katy smiled back.
“My name is Ruth.” the woman smiled.
“Katy.” She replied before she could think otherwise. Andrew had always warned her against talking to strangers.
“Nice to meet you Katy.” Ruth said.
Katy smiled. She had no idea what to say to her, Ruth was the first person she would ever talk to since she moved to California except for the cashiers she always greeted politely.
“We just moved to this area and getting to know our neighbors.” Ruth said.
“Oh really, that’s great!” Katy smiled. She wanted to leave knowing a minute late back at home would cause trouble to her.
“Yes, my husband and I are missionaries, we travel a lot from place to place, you know how it is.” Ruth said.
Katy smiled. Of course, she had no idea what she meant. She didn’t even know what the word missionary meant.
“Are you a Christian?” Ruth asked.
Katy hesitated for a while. “Hmm, yes.” She said avoiding her gaze.
“Oh really, that’s great dear. What church do you worship at?” Ruth asked.
“Well…” She had no idea to that question. She didn’t want to answer any more questions knowing how unbelievers react to their beliefs.
“It’s okay dear, we are all one in Christ Jesus.” Ruth said. Her smile was so soothing.
“I am part of the believers’ group.” Katy replied.
Ruth stared at her for a second and then smiled. Katy noticed this and then began to walk away.
Ruth hurried to her. “I’m sorry to have stared dear.” She apologized. “And I understand.”
Katy thought about what she said for a second. What exactly does she understand? Were those the words Christians use to sympathize with them?
“I have to go now.” Katy replied as she became uneasy. “I really have to go now.” she affirmed.
“It’s okay dear.” Ruth said holding her hands while she dropped her shopping cart and looked into her eyes.
“My dear, you are the most beautiful creature the Lord has ever created and he loves you so much.” she said in the most beautiful voice. “In case you ever need any help, we live just two blocks away from you, the mason building, on the third floor.” she said smiling.
Katy pulled away from her and quickly walked away. She hardly finished shopping knowing she had spent more than required in the store. She hurried to the checkout, paid for her items and rushed out.
The way Ruth spoke to her was different. There was something unique about it. She spoke like she understood what she was going through. The words meandered its way into her heart. She didn’t raise an eyebrow at her like others who know about her beliefs. She was willing to associate with her. Katy hurried back home and was grateful Andrew didn’t ask any question about her shopping as he does always. She quietly went about her chores and kept the conversation to herself.
Not quite long, they had another visitor. Katy was almost getting used to the ritual. She simply lies on the bed like logs of wood while the men do whatever pleases them. Her tears have become accustom to her. She made up her mind after the death of her daughter to stop feeling sorry for herself and moved on. Other wives had similar experience and nothing made hers peculiar. She was fed up of fighting inwardly and decided to give in to everything.
But this particular visitor was different. She could feel hesitation with Clara. She was also a young bride.
“Are you happy about this?” She heard her voice in the Kitchen.
“What!” Katy said, unsure if she heard correctly.
“I asked if you are happy about this.” She asked again.
Immediately, Katy checked the entrance to be sure they are not been heard.
“You are not?” Katy asked.
“No, I’m not”. Clara said. “Who can live like this?” She asked.
“Oh dear, I wish we can talk more but you know” She whispered.
“Yes I do.” She whispered in response to her. “We have act fast. I know an organization that could be of help; they are The Women Affairs Group. I am planning to run away.” She whispered to her.
“Really?” Katy questioned.
“Very soon they will help us out.” Clara said. “Can I come over tomorrow during the day when your husband is off to work?” She asked
“Oh I wish but I am always locked in.” Katy said.
“That’s no problem. We can still discuss.” She whispered back to her, making sure she wasn’t heard.
“Can you come around 10’0 clock in the morning then?” Katy asked.
Then Andrew entered the Kitchen and looked at Clara.
“I hope everything is perfect?” He asked, smiling at her.
“Yes, everything is perfect.” She said and followed him into the living room. Katy smiled at them both but was bitter within.
The night went like every other. She was with Clara’s husband and Clara with her own husband. Her mind kept going back to Clara’s comments. She looked forward to seeing her the next day.
Clara came, true to her words. They had a lengthy discussion. Katy leaned against the door and confided in her. She felt good talking to someone who she could relate to and understand her predicament. Clara was from a small town where she grew up with among the believers. Her husband came from the city where he worked and promised her a better life only to realise it was all a lie. She, on like Katy, reacted to the treatment, which resulted in many beatings but that didn’t stop her. She spoke against everything he did wrongly to her and unlike Katy, she had never been pregnant, in fact, she made sure she never got pregnant as the fear of having a child in that kind of life scared her.
Clara started to plan her escape few months ago when she wrote to some Women affairs group and had secretly met with them to narrate her ordeal. She arranged with the representatives of the Women Affairs Group to do everything possible to make it happen.
Days to her escape, Katy was thrilled with mixed feelings. She would be leaving this abominable life at last but was nervous about the new life she was about to experience. All her life was about The Believers’ norm but Clara assured her of many opportunities. This was America after all, a land of freedom and opportunities. She dreamt of what to do afterwards; where she would go and how she would fit in. Two nights before her escape, Andrew came home very early distraught.
“What is it?” she asked in fear, perhaps something terrible must have happened.
Andrew looked at her and she noticed the gloom in his eyes.
“What happened?” She asked again.
“I’m afraid something tragic has happened.” He replied.
“What is it?” she asked.
“You remember Clara? She and her husband came here few weeks ago.”
Katy felt her heart jump at the mention of her name.
“Yes.” she said.
“She was involved in an accident.” He said.
“What!” Katy gasped.
“It was so tragic.” Andrew reaffirmed. “The police concluded she was drunk whilst driving.”
“But that is not possible, she doesn’t even drive, why would she,,,, I mean, how…” Katy said, confused.
“Well, she was found in the car driving.” Andrew interrupted.
“O God!” Katy broke down trying to control the tears.
“I’m afraid she died at the scene.” he said.
“What! No” She shouted. “She can’t be dead.” Katy cried.
Andrew looked hard at her, wondering why she was so concern about someone who she just met only once. “Why…” She cried out.
“She shouldn’t have been drinking whilst driving and wives like that always get what they deserve when they disobey their husbands.” he mocked.
“What!” Katy exclaimed.
“So you are saying she deserved to die?” Katy shouted at him.
“Don’t you raise your voice at me Katy.” He shouted back.
“Or what?” she shouted standing up to him.
Andrew was taken aback by her boldness.
“Or you will kill me as he killed her.” she said.
“What!” Andrew drew back.
“Yes, her husband killed her isn’t it? Isn’t that what they do?” She shouted.
“What nonsense are you saying?” he shouted at her.
“You know exactly what I am saying. Her husband found out isn’t it, so he decided to kill her.”
“She has always been rebellious and a disgrace to The Believers. It was either that or expulsion.” Andrew said.
“Then I guess her husband got to her before she could be expelled.” She raged at him.
“Alright Katy, I’ve had enough of this rude behaviour.” Andrew shouted at her.
“Don’t you dare shout at me.” Katy replied. She knew she was going beyond her usual self but every part of her was furious. She couldn’t be convinced otherwise that Clara was killed by her husband no matter how it was planned. He must have found out about her escape and made sure he snuffed life out of her before that could happen. Katy became angrier by the minute. She thought at last, she found someone she could share her burden with, someone who could help her out of this mess of a life and was taken away. Clara was killed just because she wanted freedom. They could have easily expelled her but they killed her. It wasn’t just a car accident. Something went amiss. There might be no evidence to say she was murdered but Katy was very sure.
“The Believers or whatever you call them, advance believers killed her. You all killed her.” Katy shouted. Just then Andrew slapped her which made her stumble against the wall.
“You slapped me.” she looked at him with disgust.
“Yes and I will do that again. It’s about time you learn how to control your mouth or you shut up.” he raged at her.
“You have no right Andrew! You used me, abused me, killed my baby and now –
“Don’t you dare ever accuse me; I did not kill your baby.” he retorted back at her.
“You couldn’t mention her name neither called her your baby. You couldn’t even hold or look at her. You killed her.” she shouted in tears at him.
“Don’t you say that!” he shouted.
“I will!” she insisted. “I have endured all these for nothing. Now I see no one is ever going to get away from you but I promise you that I will fight, I will fight with every last breathe in me, I will fight you like hell…..
Just then, Andrew began to hit her. He pushed her against the floor and continued to hit her so hard that she screamed and tried to push him away but he was too strong for her. She ran towards the stairs. Andrew followed behind shouting at her to come back and cussing all the way. Katy ran into the bedroom and before she could lock the door behind her, he pushed his way in and got hold of her. The beating continued.
He left her for a moment and went towards his side drawer, having a numerical combination. He opened it and brought out a gun.
“Now look” He said pointing the gun at her. Katy was so weak that she managed to look up. Immediately she saw the gun, she stood up on her feet and leaned against the wall. There was no place to run to or hide.
“If you ever try any of this again, I repeat myself loud and clear Katy, If you ever try any of this again, I will kill you, cut you into pieces and bury you that no one will ever ask or even think about you” he threatened. “Do you understand me?” he shouted, panting heavily.
Katy looked hard at him, part of her wanted to just die and forget all about this life.
“All I want is to leave” Katy moaned in tears. “I don’t want this marriage again, I don’t want you.”
He scoffs. “It’s too late for that Katy. You belong to me, I owe every part of your body, I owe you and you will do as I say as long as you live.” he shouted back.
“Can’t you see it? I don’t want you Andrew neither do I love you.” She replied in tears.
Katy saw the fire in his eyes the moment she uttered those words.
“You loved me once, remember?” he raged at her.
“That was before I knew what animal you truly are. I hate you Andrew, I hate you so much. I hate everything you ever did to me; you took away one treasure that made me happy, you killed my baby; you took her away from me. I hate everything about you, I hate the believers, I hate every single one of you, and I hate you.” she screamed at him.
“Don’t you dare say that again.” he shouted.
“I hate you Andrew, you took her away from me, and you killed her.” She repeated.
“She was not meant to happen, she wasn’t meant to be here, she was a mistake, she had to be taken care of, she had to…” he screamed at her.
Katy wasn’t certain as to the death of Isabella even though she had suspected something but there was no evidence to hold him but now that he uttered those callous words made her furious. He killed her for his selfish reasons. Katy was so enraged that she rushed towards him and struggled to take the gun to kill him. He was obviously too strong. Just then, a shot was heard.
She saw him slump to the floor. A bullet had escaped and blood gushed out of his stomach. She took a few steps backward trembling until her back was against the wall. Fear gripped her. All she saw was his lifeless body and blood everywhere. Immediately, she ran downstairs, with mixed feelings took his keys and absconded
She finally got what she always wanted; freedom. She ran far into the streets but knew within her that it wasn’t a run for victory. Her feet moved faster than her body could carry her and then suddenly, she stopped in the middle of the road, panting heavily. For the first time in her life, she realised she was lost. She could be running for freedom but she was lost. Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.