It drifted into the room again. Silent at first, but slithering now like the heartbeat of a phantom. That tantrum of unspoken words. That stillness spoke louder than the voice of frivolity, drilling its ugly head into the faint of heart.

She had heard it once, long ago, before she became a wife and now a mother.

It had even smudged her courage, making her wonder if this was the end for her. 

No, it was not her end. It was their end. An end without a beginning. If tomorrow starts without her, she would gladly have these lovely faces with her. It was their end. The end of a life that was never lived.





Njideka flinched but held tight the wrapped cloth as she hid behind the bamboo bed. It was a poor choice. Her heart raced as her eyes pierced the dark, towards the entrance. No one was in the room of course. They were outside. The brood of vipers that sought the head of her children were outside. Waiting, perhaps for the right moment.

She knew the voice that had spoken. Ichie Chima. The eldest among the King's men, and the only one allowed to address such matters in the absence of the king.

"Who dances with the wind and does not get their head spinning?" His voice echoed again, "how long will the canopies of heaven hold the majestic strength of a forming cloud. Can a child play with fire and not get burned? Who plays with filthy things and not expect the gossiping lips of flies?"

Njideka licked her lips. Tucking the loose end of the cloth bearing her two children, she turned towards the window and squeezed herself, trying to fit into the space with her babies.

The Blue Moon bathed them with its glow by the time her feet finally touched the cold sand. But for the fading voice of Ichie Chima, silence spoke. It was a loud voice but not loud enough to stop her.

She tightened her grip on the wrapped cloth again, making sure she was alone. 

The moon kept the shadows looming, but blessed the path with their grace, revealing the emptiness that stretched in all directions.

Pebbles grave themselves into her barefoot, but she ignored them as she started hurriedly towards the forest. She was just some paces away from the forest when the crushing of dried leaves ahead made her stop dead in her tracks.

"And where do you think you are going?"

It was her husband, Kachi. He must have predicted her moves for he was standing aghast in the shadow, just under the palm tree that stood away from the bush.

"Please," Njideka fell on her knees, tears rolling before she could even think of forming them, "Anything but the children. Please."

"Children. You call those abomination children?"


"Silent, woman."

Njideka nodded and tried to obey. But her eyes were heating and she couldn't help the tears that mixed with the sweat and phlegm. Too many thoughts ran through her mind. None of it made sense. All she wanted was a child. All she wanted was to be called a mother. 

"Those children are evil. They are demonic" Kachi said.

"But I can…no let me go!" Njideka struggled with the two men that had grabbed her from behind. She had not seen them but could feel the strength in their grip. It was more powerful than hers but that didn't stop her from trying.

Ichie Chima had also appeared from the front house, followed by some other men who were ready to keep the land from abominations like this.

"As a sacrifice unto the gods," Kachi said and drew his sword.

"No!!!" Njideka shrieked in horror. She struggled again and this time was able to break free from the men.

But she was too late. Uche's sword was already glinting with the moon, drooling with the blood of the two infants.




oo" Njideka cried as she picked up the wrapped cloth. It was soiled with blood. 

The blood of her children.

The blood of a life that was never lived.

The blood of a silent heartbeat.

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