Short Stories

One For The Money: The Money

Chapter 4

Samee’s phone beeped. The second unexplained beep in less than 24 hours. The first message had arrived the previous day at 4 pm followed by a message from a strange-looking source to which he hadn’t paid much attention. He hardly read messages from sources he wasn’t familiar with.

Missed ‘The Message’?
Read it here.
Chapter 3

Your account has been credited with one hundred and forty seven thousand shillings. Source: TPDFM Trust Fund. You are requested to make the first withdrawal within 12 hours from any Equity bank ATM near you to allow further deposits. Failure to adhere to these instructions will force an even louder beep after every hour. Don’t resist. Your good life starts here.

TPDFM? Samee couldn’t wrap his head around the initials.

He had come home to an empty house the previous night and hadn’t given it much thought until 4 am when the beep rudely cut short his dream. Ceria wasn’t in bed with him. A light pulsing on his phone begged for his attention. A message from TPDFM, the second of its kind. But again he ignored it for an opportunity to relieve himself.

On his trip back from the bathroom he pictured Ceria lying on the couch and mooched into the sitting room. Empty. Not even the hint of her scent. He was about to return to the bedroom when a bright orange notebook basking in the dining light caught and held his eye.

Had it been there the previous night?

He might have been too drunk with sleep to notice it. No, maybe Ceria had been journaling in the wee hours of the morning as she always did and had forgotten to return it to her sanctuary. Unlikely, but possible.

It definitely was part of her many mental detox bolts and nuts. A less sacred piece seeing that it hadn’t been transported back to its residence, her work desk. It probably bore nothing as sensitive as ‘an honest letter to God‘, a piece Samee wished he had never interacted with. The agony in the words still lingered in his mind every time he saw her notebooks.

Or maybe she was in the kitchen working out as she always did. Besides, the kitchen light was off as was her norm. But then the silence in that direction was deafening and it was too early for her to take her signature one-hour walk around the estate.

Where the f…!

No, today wasn’t a cursing day. No Friday deserved such dishonour. So where in the world was his wife?

The notebook seemed new, its see-through cover inviting him to turn it over. A mournful groan formed in his throat as his fingers came in contact with the temptation. He squeezed his eyes shut, heart thumping, lips quivering. He was about to sin all over again and regret it for the rest of his life. He let out a gasp and slowly set his eyelids free.

‘I had every intention of being a good person. Maybe. But I’m tired of trying…’

There was no unseeing the words beneath.

Tired. That word always made him zone out of their breakfast conversation in a pattern she had come to master. Silence, eyes gazing out through the window and then a slow rise from his dining chair with a claim that he was late for work.

Not because he was really late, but because he just wasn’t ready to perform beyond his man-of-the-house duties of financially providing for his family. So he worked himself to the spine and brought home the bag. Bills paid. Food provided. Children educated. What more could a woman who brought no money home possibly want?

But Ceria was relational. She demanded that he hold her hand wherever they went. Unfortunately, or fortunately for him, late nights in the office, which coincidentally was ten minutes away from their apartment, had overthrown the date nights. He had to work, partly to provide for the family, but mostly to maintain a good name at work and at the same time stay away from the hand-holding business or anything that dangled from her relational side of life.

She had complained about the silence during the only time they seemed to have together, the breakfast time, until her wells ran dry. She then turned to writing the ‘honest letters to God‘.

But that was more than six months earlier. She had then turned to systematic texting and calling after the death of her brother, an act Samee defended as a coping mechanism. She had showered the recipient with praises for being a keen listener. Whoever it was must have been young, male and within their vicinity because at one point she had rebuked him in Samee’s hearing.

“You could get here in 20 minutes if you really wanted. True sons don’t keep their mothers waiting.”

It was obvious Ceria saw the young man as the only person who seemed to get her. But even with him she had not allowed herself to pour out the pain of her loss, maybe for fear of giving too much of herself and still not getting the attention she starved for.

Samee continued reading the notebook pacing from one end of the table to the other.

‘But it would be easier if you considered me gone, for good.’

He had long expected her to leave. She had made it clear she would and there was no talking her out of it. Not that he could, but she had grown to be a difficult woman miles apart from the chirpy girl he married over two decades earlier. One who had mysteriously mastered the art of never asking for anything she wanted from him. She either silently went out and did it herself or convinced herself she didn’t need it; with the latter dominating in matters concerning her feelings.

Still, she fulfilled at least ninety per cent of her wifely duties seemingly out of habit. And while the no-nagging mode served for his peace of mind, he knew it would soon blow up on his face. That soon was finally taking place. Click To Tweet

He strolled into the bedroom and was again greeted by the empty bed, her prized velvet yellow pillow in its rightful position. If she had been around it would have been somewhere on the floor or tightly hugged to her little bosom.

He drummed his long fingers on the lonely pillow absorbing the emptiness. Everything in the apartment bore a touch of her in its core. He drifted towards the eastern corner where her work desk stood, desolate and longing for its queen. Or maybe to present him with a second surprise. Her laptop lay in the exact spot she had always placed it after work. But this time there sat a turquoise A6 notebook on the laptop’s panel, a setting Ceria wouldn’t condone.

A second seemingly misplaced notebook. Coincident?

He lifted the green pen clinging to its cover and was greeted by a familiar set of numbers sitting against his wife’s name. Hadn’t he agreed to become a signatory to her account less than fourteen days earlier?

He sat on the edge of their bed, his hands trembling as he examined the two pieces of exhibits. There was a number casually written on the lower right corner of each notebook’s cover; 1 of 3 and 3 of 3. Where on earth was notebook 2 of 3?

A sudden chill rose from his big toe, rode through his stomach at a considerable speed and settled around his cardiac muscles urging for a harder thump. No, this was no time to get sick.

Ceria had left him stern instructions not to look for her. She was simply fulfilling a promise she had long made him, to leave, and didn’t want to be sought after. His eyes grew glassy, this was no dream. It was actually happening. But was there a link between the beeps and the notebooks though?

His body shook fiercely as he tried to recall the last thing his wife had said to him at the breakfast table. As was the custom, he hadn’t paid much attention. He rarely did. Instead, he had avoided her eyes and opted for the blue sky. She had tried discussing something about the life she had wanted for her family but with a hint of ‘no need to try now’. The conversation had then drifted to her many adopted children and finally a young man named Leymu that he knew very little about.

But this was no time to start looking for this Leymu. And even though he wanted, he didn’t know where to start. Leymu could have been anything from a human being to a character in one of the many stories she wrote but never published.

Just maybe a visit to ATM upon the first ray of the sun would give clarity in the face of the uncertainty. Anything including the said good life that felt attached to the beep, more like a beeping explosive threatening to haunt him every 12 hours until he withdrew the money. Or maybe this was her way to have him trailed by whomever TPDFM, or even Leymu who he wished was real but prayed was imaginary.

End of Chapter 4

Read Chapter 5: The Mystery

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