At the exotic home of Senator Festus Dada, his wife, Marilyn, walked into his study as he was getting set to go out.

“Festus, we need to talk.” She told him and took a seat.

“I’m sorry we can’t talk now. I’m running late for an appointment.” Festus picked his files and arranged them in his briefcase.

“That’s just what I want to talk about. You promised Laura you will be here for dinner this evening.” She glared at him.

“But it’s not yet time for dinner, is it?” Festus pointed out. “Besides, Laura is not yet back from school and I am sure to be home before dinnertime.”

“No, you won’t be home before dinnertime, Festus. You always make these promises but fail to keep them. For once, keep to your word.”

Festus sighed. He was in a hurry and didn’t have time to be nagged. “My dear, I know I haven’t been a very good father, or even a good husband to you.” He tried to pacify her. “But I am promising you, this time I will be here. And I will make up for all my past absences.”

“Talk is cheap, Festus. A girl needs her father. I keep making excuses for you but she is growing up and will soon recognise the truth for what it is.” Marilyn was tired of his excuses and his promises. “If I had known I wouldn’t have stayed back. I asked for a divorce but your promises to change made me stay and still you have not changed. But you mark my words, the day I sense that Laura can no longer take all the pain and rejection from you, I am leaving and I will be taking my daughter along with me.”

“Are you threatening me?”

“No. I’m just stating a fact.” Marilyn retorted, stood up to leave and then noticed Laura by the door. “Laura!”

But the girl turned and ran off.

“See what you have done?” Marilyn accused. “If anything happens to my daughter, I won’t spare you. This I promise you.” She marched out of the study and went after Laura.

Festus stood for a minute wondering what to do. Then he shrugged, picked up his briefcase and left for his appointment.

Inside her bedroom, Laura could see the little world she had built with her family breaking up piece by piece. She was already tired with her dad who only cared about his political status and nothing more. He paid no attention to anyone. It was one of the reasons her older brother, Ryan, preferred remaining in London even when he was on break from school. Of course, he was luckier than she because their father hadn’t gone into politics when he was still a little boy. She had been hoping that he would change after their holiday together in London. She had thought she would start seeing more of him and he would start showing interest in her.

At the knock on the door, she wiped off her tears and said in a pleading voice. “Mummy, I know it’s you. But can you please let me be for now? I just want to be alone.”

“I want us to talk, Laura.” Marilyn said from the other side of the door.

“I’m sorry, Mummy. I don’t want to talk now. I would really like to be alone. Please.”

Marilyn hesitated, then she nodded. “Okay, I will let you be for now. But I want to see you downstairs for dinner.”

“I will be there, Mummy. Thank you.” Laura promised and then she stretched out on her bed and closed her eyes.

* * * *

Meanwhile, back at the Ogbonna’s residence, Trisha was about to open the door when she heard familiar footsteps behind and knew instantly she was in trouble.

“How was school today?” Felicia asked in her usual stern voice.

“It was cool.” Replied Trisha, walked into her room and sighed when her mother followed her. “Do you want something, Mum?”

“I am concerned about you, Trisha.” Felicia replied. She sat on the leather armchair by the bookshelf. “It appears like there is something bothering you.”

She didn’t sound concerned, Trisha thought as she laid down her school bag and started taking off her uniform. “Nothing is bothering me, Mum. I just came back from school and I have an Art project to complete.”

“Did I hear you say an Art project?”

“Yes, Art project.” Trisha put on a home dress and then turned to give her a stubborn look. “Is there any problem?”

The troublemaking child, she had switched classes without her knowing it, Felicia thought, struggling not to let her annoyance show. She should have been paying more attention, knowing how headstrong she could be.

“Trisha, tell me the truth, are you a Humanities student?”

“Yes, I am, Mum.” It was time for her to know the truth. “I switched from the Sciences. I have no interest in science subjects and I’m not very good at them. Besides, I want to be an artist.”

“An artist?” Silly girl, what are the potentials of art in this country? “I see. Anyway, since you say there is nothing bothering you, I will leave you to finish your Art project. Don’t forget that dinner will be ready in fifteen minutes. The whole family is expected to be at the dining table, so don’t be late.”

“Okay, Mum.”

Since she had emphasised the word ‘art’, Trisha knew there was trouble but she didn’t care. It was her life and she should live it the way she wanted. After all, she didn’t love her like she loved her other two children.

***

© Marie-Antoinette Otobo

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