The chilly harmattan breeze cascaded through the trees, past into the streets and rested on the closed windows, patiently seeping in its coldness into the rooms. Maria moaned and drew up the blanket higher up to her waist. She basked in the warmness for few minutes, sighed and opened her eyes.
Her alarm clock on the small table rang out seconds later. She untucked herself out of bed, got out and went to her mirror. Her stomach had a visible bulge. She smiled and headed out.
The sun began to light up the sky. Maria looked at herself once more in the mirror and touched her stomach.
She went out of the room into the corridor, put her legs inside her open-toe slippers and left the compound.
The sun shone down brightly. She wrapped her jacket tighter around her. The women on the corridors waved and smiled at her as she passed. She smiled and waved back to them.
She got to the tarred road and flagged down a keke. The man inside shifted to make room for her. He afterwards commented on how beautiful she was and how decently she was dressed. She fell for it, smiling shyly. His face looked familiar. She remembered only too clearly how she yielded to her rapist on that cold night on the street. Maybe she was wrong. Why did he remind her so strongly of him?
She looked at this man and bit her lips.
He reminded her of that freezing night. She muttered a greeting to him. The sun shone brighter. She removed her jacket and crossed it over her elbow. She would tie it on her waist when she alighted. The man beside her monitored her stomach. Did he notice her stomach?
She soon tapped the driver at the junction. “Stop me here.” She felt sad. She hoped the man would ask for her number. He did not. She took out the money from her purse and gave the driver. Why did he look so familiar? She reached out for her change and turned to walk away as the Keke moved.
On impulse, she turned back and ran after it, “wait. Wait.” The tricycle raced on. People around stared at her. “Wait!” She screamed. The sun burnt her skin. The reflection on an incoming vehicle radiated into her eyes.
In few seconds of blindness, she fell into the roadside ditch.
The voices kept rising. Someone was shaking her. She did not want to look. The shaking continued.
She peeped and closed them quickly as the sun glinted into her eyes. Her head throbbed. She opened her eyes again. It felt like she was dreaming. There, looking down on her was the man inside the tricycle. She remembered his face now.