If only I can avoid
today. I exhaled as I got into my clothes. The Olutayos were here. They have lodged in self-catering accommodation about twenty miles away. Beatrice seldom spoke about her parents; but the few occasions she did, gave me a pretty good idea why conversations never strayed to that territory. Her father was always busy: busy with his accounting firm, busy with colleagues, busy with friends, busy with booze, and busy with other women. His wife and her mother, Mrs. Evangeline Oluwatayo was also a very busy lady: busy with teaching other people’s kids, busy with high-classed friends, busy organizing the staff of her gigantic house, and busy with worry over the fact that her husband had no time for her.  I had spoken to Beatrice’s mother once, and it had been impossible for her hurried conversational manner to go unnoticed. They were so busy that they literally ignored the only fruit of their proverbial loins.
Well, they gave her all the food, shelter, clothing, and some luxuries of the world. But was that enough? Most definitely not! I was always in awe of Beatrice, mostly to myself, for developing into a strong, caring, and mentally stable young lady amidst a foundation that lacked parental love. I resented them for the negligence of my late friend. Yet, somewhere deep down, I hoped that her death would serve as a lesson to them as well as an impetus for them to get closer. Then again, it had the capacity to raise an almost impenetrable wedge between the couple.  I was busy too. Busy worrying about how I would face them. Every day since that day, every piece of my day had been riddled with guilt. Why didn’t I take her to the hospital for a checkup? How did I kid myself into believing that she was alright after being knocked down by a cyclist at such an alarming speed? ‘I
killed her
’ was always a potent voice in my guilt trip.  When my body did manage to hibernate, different versions of the heart-breaking episode haunted my dreams like persistent wraiths intent on driving their victims mad. In one of those versions, she had died instantly after being knocked down by the bicycle. While on her death stretcher in the mobile ambulance, she rose suddenly and pointed to me; her eyes filled with so much sadness and tears, and said: ‘Why didn’t you save me?’ I wouldn’t be seeing those eyes anymore.  It was 4.30pm on my mobile phone and I had been waiting for some minutes in front of the door, figuring how to turn the door knob. Figuring what would happen after I did. I would have stayed in that spot for X amount of time, if the door hadn’t open, revealing a tall, unfamiliar black African. He simply smiled, inclined his head in acknowledgment of my presence and left. I prevented the door from swinging shut with a foot and entered the house.  There was a narrow red-rugged staircase some meters away from the door. A red carpet on a black day seemed out of place. As I ascended the stairs a man and a lady draped in black, appeared so I retraced my steps, and waited. The gesture I received from them would have been similar to the other man, except for the fact he said hello and pointed me in the right direction.  
People in their black attires stood out in the white-painted room. Seated at a right corner were Beatrice’s parents. I knew because I had seen their portraits in Beatrice’s room. The female wore a black satin dress and was staring distantly at a framed picture held in her grasp. Looking at her, Beatrice was no doubt a spitting image of her mother. Her hair was cropped, her cheeks were blotched with dried tear drops and her eyes looked swollen from excessive crying. Some man walked up to the distraught looking man by her side and patted him on the shoulder, and left. Just as in the photographs, Beatrice’s father was bald and pudgy.  I slowly trudged over to them.
‘I am sorry for your loss. Accept my deepest condolence’.
‘Thank you.’ He replied, holding a steady but courteous gaze. ‘Were you friends with our daughter?’
From a corner of my
eye, Mrs. Oluwatayo’s focus was still on the picture. ‘Yes, Sir. Very close friends. I was with her when the accident
The effect was instant: I felt Mrs. Oluwatayo’s eyes hit me like a hurled brick. The result was apprehension at the inevitable words that were on their way out of her mouth.
‘You are Tubosun, right?’ She asked in a tone that was eerily calm. 
‘Yes Ma,’ I managed to say.
Why did you not take her to the hospital after it happened?’ she asked. 
Although this very question had haunted my thoughts since the unfortunate incident, the blow of her words still hit me with full force. I was lost for words, and even if I had them I had no idea how to relay them.   Mr. Oluwatayo tried to come to my rescue. ‘Eva, let the young man be.’ His look was stern and voice firm. He turned to me and said, ‘I’m sorry’. She must have been totally oblivious to her husband’s demeanor. ‘If you had done the right thing, I wouldn’t have lost her,’ she said. 
‘Evangeline!’ Mr. Oluwatayo interjected in a raised tone. 

‘Let me say my piece, Tolu.’ She looked me square in the eye with the wrath of a broken mother. ‘You killed her.’ And returned her gaze to the picture as if I was no longer there. It was true. I killed my close friend.

Kreate is a budding Nigerian writer with a flair for fiction. Writing for him began sometime in secondary school where he dabbled in poetry and plays. He has authored two self-published short novels. He is a banker and lives in Surulere. Read more interesting pieces at KREATEATALE