They had dinner in silence.

The silence was a poison to them. For in that void of sound the shallowness of their conversation was laid bare. What used to be an enjoyable banter of politics and comedic moments over their meals was utterly vapid. They had had silent days like this. On those occasions, their conversation was recycled, re-hashed, twitterized garbage worthy of no note. But today was different. The silence was as pure as fire. And it burned Linda more.

The silence in the room made the young lady’s blood as cold as the harmattan air that crept through the open window. Bereft of any wind, the leaves outside hung limp until they fell of their own accord, there was no whispering noise or rustling. It was as if nature conspired to add to the awkwardness of their evening, not daring to whisper the emancipation she craved at that moment. Then a sound from Koku’s cutlery brought her heart racing as fast as a gunshot. Her head snapped in an instant from gazing out of the window with unfocused eyes to her boyfriend who was sitting across her from the dining table.

She saw the worry in Koku’s eyes. He barely touched his food. His lips quivered. He wanted to say something. She knew she was not opening up for him to do so. He knew her; she needed space and time. Maybe, she would come around and tell him what was wrong with her. Maybe, she would not. She was not sure if she would ever tell him. One thing was sure, however. Keeping him in the dark was killing him slowly but telling him what was eating her up would kill him instantly.

Koku smiled at Linda. That weakened her. He leaned in towards her and stretched his hand to touch hers. Linda saw the hand coming and it confused her body. She hankered for his touch but at the same she time felt too impure to come into contact with him. Her hands trembled as his drew closer. Finally, she moved her hand from the table and stood up.

“I’m sorry”, she mumbled, almost drawn to tears.

“Wh-wha-wha-wha—“, Koku was dumfounded.

Linda looked away and wiped her eyes. She started to walk away towards her bedroom. She heard Koku’s footsteps behind her. She stopped. And turned.

“Please, don’t follow me. Please.” She was crying.

***

Koku was lost. The day was almost perfect. Linda looked fine throughout and from the tone of her voice when she ordered him to go back and buy the pack of sanitary pad for her, she was okay. What could have happened in the one hour he was away to make her this distressed?

He slumped into the dinning chair, his brows creased and face tense. He stood up almost immediately. He sat on something. It was an engagement ring case. He sighed and opened the case to expose its content. Sigh again! The weirdness of the turn of events ate him up. The more he mulled it over, the more his brain became a spinning top, finding more questions than answers.

Koku cleared the table and started doing the dishes, But he could not. His mind could not focus anything other than Linda. He rushed to the bedroom door. It was locked.

“Linda”, he called out.

Silence.

This time, the silence hung in the air like the suspended moment before a falling glass shatters on the ground. It was like a gaping void, needing to be filled with sounds, words, anything. It gnawed at his insides. It was eerily unnatural, like a dawn devoid of birdsong.

This silence was not like the one they experienced at dinner. It seeped into Koku’s every pore, like a poison slowly paralyzing him from either speech or movement. It clung to him like a poisonous cloud that at any moment could choke the life from him.

“Linda”, he managed to say again. This time, almost in whispers.

Still… silence.

Koku’s felt a squeeze in his heart. The paralyzing hurt spread through his body like icy, liquid metal. He clenched his fists as he fought the impulse to punch the door. He noticed his feet tremble. His throat closed in threat of screaming and his jaw became tight. He was helpless.

He turned the door knob again. The door was open but it seemed Linda was pushing it from inside. Koku gathered all his strength and pushed harder. It was not much of a struggle. The obstacle gave way. It fell at Koku’s feet like a bag of cement. It was Linda’s body.

Koku gasped! He held his mouth to prevent him from screaming. He slumped onto the floor and sat beside his girlfriend. In Linda’s hand was an empty pills container and a note.

“He raped me”, it read.

Silence. Perfect silence.

To be continued…