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That feeling of being watched was there again. She could feel it. Something was not right. At first, she had thought that it was just her mind playing tricks on her, but now she was pretty sure it wasn’t. Someone was watching her, what she didn’t understand was “how?”

She turned in the bed she was in and looked in duke’s direction. He was still sound asleep. Snoring his beautiful baby snore. She reached for the switch of the bedside light that was near her bed and switched on the light on her side, she looked around slowly but still saw nothing.

She stood up and went to the walls and started to look at them closely, not sure what she should be looking out for but looking out all the same. She didn’t see anything, so she collapsed back in her bed. Her thoughts drifted to the times she had had these same feelings.

A long time ago when she felt the hair at the nape of her neck standing attention. That night, alone under the staircase that formed her house. She used to cover her bed space with a piece of wrapper to at least give her some privacy. But she always felt haunted. There was this eerie feeling of being watched.

A feeling that someone was waiting, waiting for the moment to pounce. She had often dismissed it but one evening, she had been proved right. She was in the space that served as her room under the steps as usual that night, drowsy but not quite asleep. The space under the staircase that served as her room was obviously meant to have been something else entirely. It had small holes that seemed just big enough to take in a bottle of wine. Indeed, when she had first arrived, she had seen just one bottle of wine in one of the holes. The place had been meant to be a mini wine cellar of sorts. This particular day, something… or someone as she would find out had slipped into that space and instantly covered her mouth with a hand. She had at least opened her eyes to see who or what it was and what it wanted but it was pitch black everywhere. She wondered why it was pitch black and she tried to remove his hand from over her mouth to at least ask what he wanted. He held her down with one hand and pushed down on her so hard that she could not move any part of her upper body. The minute the body came in contact with hers, she didn’t need to wonder who it was anymore… only one person smelt like that, only one person smelt exactly like that.
“ if you make just one sound, you will be on the
streets in a flash and ill have everyone make life hell for you out there .” He whispered. Mary knew then that this was not a drive by joke. Her fourteen year old body reeled with pain as he forced her skirt up her thighs and his nails scratched through. Confused as to what to do, she had stayed still as he pulled down her old, slack worn out panties. When he pushed himself into her, she had bitten her lips in a quiet attempt not to cry.

He had withdrawn instantly… “what the fuck is this… where the blood coming from? You in your period or what?” Mary was too shocked to answer. She didn’t understand what had happened to her. She had no information to prepare her for what had happened. She could see the blood. She knew menstrual periods were not supposed to flow like that, plus… it wasn’t that time of the month yet. So what was that? She concluded that whatever he had done to her had wounded her severely. That’s what it had to be… a wound. After the initial sharp pain, Mary continued to feel a dull pain, the guy had pulled out, disgusted by the blood. He had left but not before he whispered in her ears again that “ if you tell anybody, ill have you thrown in the canal.” Mary could swim. In fact, she was a swimming champion in her little town. But at that moment, she got the impression that no amount of swimming could save her from the clutches of the canal. She sat quietly still long after he had gone. Wondering what it was that had happened to her. Feeling like someone had driven something sharp through her body. The bleeding stopped, the pain left, he went away for a while…and she forgot that first experience. Until the next time. ********************************************* *************************************** “what are you looking at Mary?” Mary jumped. Why did this boy always make her jump? “good morning small oga” “ what are you looking at Mary” “ nothing… just the wall. Its nice paint work isn’t it?” Duke looked at the wall skeptically and said “ you know… Mary, I’m a child but I’m not an idiot.” Mary laughed nervously. “ who ever said you were? Little oga, let me deal with them.” Duke ignored her and walked towards his wardrobe. He opened it and started to get out clothes one after the other. “ what are you doing young man?” Mary asked, looking at him suspiciously. “ just looking for the right outfit for my outing today” “ outing? What outfit?” “ daddy is taking me out for iced cream. I have to dress properly. Please help me choose?” He looked up at her with his big brown eyes and Mary's heart melted. Even though Duke had shown little excitement last night, he was indeed excited and he really wanted to spend time with his dad. What was more, he wanted to look just perfect. Mary felt a surge in her chest as she looked at his beautiful head of curly hair. He was a little darling and the more days that passed, Mary found it increasingly difficult to leave him. “ sure duke. Lets find you the right clothes” “ I am going to order chocolate iced cream…” Chocolate iced cream, Mary knew what that was. She had had it. She hated chocolate. She hated chocolates with a passion. “ no!” She said abruptly. Don’t have chocolate iced cream Duke looked up at her, startled. What the hell was wrong with Mary, she never snapped at him. “ but I like chocolates!” He groaned babishly “ well, unlike chocolates right now. Don’t get chocolates out there. Don’t." Duke looked at her incredulously and ignored her. He would do what he wanted. If Mary didn’t like chocolates, that was her problem, not his. Mary continued to look into the wardrobe and bring out clothes that she thought might look nice for a warm afternoon of iced cream guzzling.
********************************************* ********************************---* She was getting the children ready for iced cream. Uncle Tade had come back from his station and like he always did, he wanted to take the children out for iced cream. When they were ready, she had walked all three of them out to meet their uncle. He had taken one look at her and said. “ go dress up, you're coming with us.” She walked into the house with heavy feet. She had not forgotten what had happened the last time he had come. Even though the physical pain was gone, somehow she could still feel it. She remembered what it felt like and how she felt. She still felt hollow, empty. As if something in her stomach had been taken away and it was now leaving a vacuum in her. She had nightmares about drowning in the canal and each time, as she sank into the bottom of the water, she would feel the thrust of that object go through her. The sharp pain would come and the bleeding would start. As she came back out, she was dressed just as usual. The fairly used dress that madam had bought her some weeks back. The dress didn’t look used at all, it was pretty and figure flattering. He kept on looking at her, not taking his eyes off, stripping her, violating her with his eyes. Her heart started to pound and she could feel fear settling on her shoulders and making her feet heavy on the floor. She consoled herself with the presence of the children. He wouldn’t do anything while they were there, she knew that. So she took deep breaths and calmed herself. At the iced cream stand, the three children got vanilla flavor. “what will the lady have?” The iced cream man had asked Tade looked at her, with that burning look in his eyes he said “ she will have chocolate. A big chocolate cone!” Then he turned to the children and said “wait for us in the car darlings, Mary and I will do a little shopping before we go home.”

 The chocolate iced cream melted in the cup. Mary’s heart panicked. But she calmed herself. “ run away now! Hit him in the balls and run away!” She kept saying But she didn’t. When he gestured towards the bathroom, she followed him. When he gestured for her to kneel, she did and when he took the iced cream from her and poured over himself…

 "Its yours… a big nice chocolate bar… gobble it all up.” When she hesitated, he reached out and grabbed her head, he pushed himself into her mouth and growled something about killing her if she didn’t start eating immediately. .. "I have to tell my madam about this..." She thought. But she knew she wouldn't. ********************************************* *********************************** “MARY!!!” She jumped and looked down at the little boy pulling her arm off. “Yea?” It came out in a gaspy whisper “ will these do?” He asked.

Turning aroundin the clothes he had obviously chosen. He had somehow managed to get them on. Yes… yes its good.” She said as she watched herself on her knees, sucking away at the chocolate. “duke?”
 “ yea?”
“ please don’t take chocolates” “okay.”

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