Short Stories, Tale Africa

Redemption (Part 11)

Prison Redemption
By Fungai Chigumbura, Zimbabwe:

There’s a clinical detachment about hospitals that I’ve always found unnerving. My first experience with it was when Kaz was hospitalised for a few days after what I assume was one of his father’s worse beatings. The sickly, sticky scent of chemicals clung to my nose, and as I looked down at my friend’s swollen, unconscious body, I’d learned to despise hospitals and all they stood for. I’d barely stepped foot in a doctor’s office since then, and all those times I’d gone with Baaba for her check-ups, I’d willed myself to stay seated and not just stand up and walk back out into the fresh air. There was an entrapment in medical facilities for me, a stark reminder of my childhood and all the things I wished to forget. Strange then that I would be feeling free in one right now.

“Did you hear me sir?” the doctor asked.

I nodded.

“We couldn’t save her. I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright doctor,” I responded. “There was nothing you could do, I’m sure.”

The doctor wore an odd expression on his face—a sort of evaluating look, as if he was calling back on all those years of scientific method to figure me out and explain it himself. He nodded curtly, and turned to walk away. I whipped out my phone, and tried to dial Kaz. His phone was off. Redial. Still nothing. Where was he?

“I know, you know.”

The doctor had walked back to me silently, like a spectre of judgment.

“Excuse me?”

“I know,” he repeated. “You had something to do with that poor woman dying. I might not be able to prove it—heck, you might even get away with—but I know you wanted her dead. I hope you can live with yourself, knowing what you’ve done.”

He walked away without waiting for a response. I stared after him, entirely unsure of everything. And that’s when it hit me: I had loved Baaba.

I don’t know what about the moment made me realise it. Perhaps it was the doctor’s indictment of me as a person, or maybe it was realising that I’d never see her smile again or hear her chatter on endlessly about nothing, but in that moment, I knew I’d lost the only woman I’d ever truly loved.

I sank down on one of the nearby benches, and cradled my head in my hands. My own selfish lust for freedom had blinded me to everything, even sense. I’d killed Baaba, and now Kaz was likely to kill her child too. Maybe I could stop him. I fumbled with my phone, trying to call him again. I didn’t notice the people approaching me until they were close enough to hear.

“This is him, officers,” the doctor spoke.

I looked up to see him flanked by two uniformed officers who made their way towards me. My stomach seized and I felt my heart knotting up in its frantic attempt to beat faster. I wanted to run out of that hospital and not stop until I was far away from everything that I could be free again. If I ran fast enough, maybe I could even leave my conscience behind. But my feet would not carry me. They stayed stuck to that germ-ridden hospital floor.

“Sir,” one of the officers began. He was older than the other one, balding and slightly overweight. His round face was inscrutable, and I wondered whether that was his training as a police officer, or just his attempt to hide his intent to arrest me.

“Yes, officer?” I tried to still my heart and steel my voice. It would help me none to lose my cool here and now, and give them more evidence to use against me.

“We’ve found your car, sir. And the man who stole it…with your child.”

“What? Where?” All I can do is ask questions as my mind races to all the worst outcomes.

“In front of the police station, sir. You might want to sit down.”

 The police station? Damn it Kaz–what have you done?

To be continued…

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