Ceria’s new phone beeped alerting her that Samee had withdrawn his first payment from an ATM near Kude Waterfront Park. Perfect choice for someone unsure of his safety. The second amount would grace the account in a fortnight.
She promised herself to allow him to enjoy the money in any way he desired. He was a good man despite their emotional contrast. And it was only fair that he enjoyed the reward for the financial care he had ensured throughout their marriage uninterrupted. Soon their daughters would learn of her disappearance and go through her will with a fine comb, and hopefully forgive her.
They would each receive the email bearing Ceria’s will and their share of the loot amounting to one million shillings before Samee got home. A similar amount would find its way into their respective accounts every six months for the next five years. So much for an absent mother.
A second beep reported that Leymu had also withdrawn his token. Ceria looked up from the phone just in time to discover that both men had visited the same ATM. The monitor showed both fellows walking away in complete uneasiness as if knowing they were being watched yet not knowing whether to run or act as if all was normal.
They faced each other and as was customary in the coastal city nodded their morning greetings. Ceria stared at the monitor with bated breath; if only they could break the rules and open up to each other. But no, each man trusted his own mind and turned to take the road opposed to the other. Damn, the men!
She scrolled through her tiny list of contacts wondering if calling them would startle or comfort them. Maybe not. Her former line had long been incinerated and her twelve hundred contacts purged right from Google’s storehouses to make room for the five beneficiaries; Samee, the two daughters, Leymu and the banker.
“Think of it as getting light before the sacrifice.” The stranger had assured her.
‘Am I dead?’ Ceria wondered, oscillating between thinking and dreaming mode. ‘Hard to tell, but it sure feels good. So good, I could live in this space forever.’
Beep. Beep. Beep. Pause. Beeeeeep!
She felt her body melting onto the observation bed and shut her eyes allowing her mind to enter a place of absolute happiness. She pictured her last physical meetup with Leymu and how he had begged to meet her the following day for coffee. Just another one of his excuses to see her. She had resisted, vehemently.
Time was running out and she needed to complete her ritual. She placed a little red box labelled ‘TPDFM’ in the palm of his left hand and pressed her right palm over it cracking it open. A tiny gold pendant shaped like a key emerged and a quizzical look met her huge smile. It would only be a matter of seconds before her sad thumping heart could betray it. She hastily picked up the pendant and hooked it on his beaded bracelet.
“Mom, what does this mean?” His eyes welled, an effect gifts from Ceria had on him.
“Things People Do For Money.” She mumbled underbreath and immediately fled the venue praying he would not pursue her.
Soon those words would make all the sense in the world to Leymu first, then to Samee upon their second meeting. She made sure that on their next visit to the ATM, they would meet and notice each other’s bracelets and pendants. The fashion-sensitive men would spot the items they thought had been uniquely crafted for them in the name of exclusivity.
”I’m happy as long as my kidney goes to a deserving soul.’ She smiled.
Whether out of the heavy medication or the simple satisfaction that the stranger had kept his side of the deal money-wise and vowed to honour the pro-life clause, Ceria couldn’t substantiate the source of joy. One for the money, that’s all that mattered.
The observation bed began to move and an unfamiliar face stood over her semiconscious body wearing a far-from-friendly grin. He didn’t speak to her. Not even to ask if she was ready as she had anticipated. The blood-like stain on the sleeve of his white coat caught her attention. She would have treated it as a mistake but a pungent smell filled the room choking and sending a painful panic throughout her body. The stench of an abattoir!
‘What if I never wake up and my kidney ends up in someone’s bowl of soup?’