After running her fingers over the cluster of assorted wears, Idara lowered herself to the foot of the wardrobe and pulled out a basket. It was covered with dust, which she managed to blow away with her mouth, and shake off, with her fingers. She opened it and pulled out a photo album.
“Here,” she handed it to Elena.
At first, Elena was hesitant to take it, but when she thought of the mysterious black figure, she quickly collected it from Idara.
“Open it, you’ll find all the answers that you need.” Idara pulled a wooden chair, next to the table that housed the piano and rested; while watching Elena’s face the whole time.
Elena closed her eyes and pulled in a deep breath.
“Don’t be afraid. Just open it,” Idara instructed.
Slowly, her eyes cracked open, and her fingers worked their way through the first page. When she turned over to the second page of the photo album, her heart almost stopped. She stood face to face with the prettiest woman that she had ever seen.
“She looks like you right?” Idara smiled and clasped her hands together.
Elena swallowed and ran her fingers over the flawless milky complexion; the sharp eagle eyes, the straight nose and the plump pinkish lips. Elena bit her tongue and shut the photo album. In her heart, she knew that she shared a semblance to this woman.
“Who is she? Is she alive?” Elena’s voice was shaky.
Again, Idara felt her eyes moisten.
“Can you go through the photo album some more?” Idara requested politely but Elena didn’t buy the idea. She shook her head and tossed it on the table.
“You need to tell me the truth. What is going on here?”
It seemed time had stopped. It seemed that they were the only ones in the White House. Idara couldn’t keep the heavy secret much longer. It spilled right out of her lips.
“Her name was Imaobong, and she was my former mistress. The boss loved her with his life. They were about getting married, when…” she paused and sobbed.
Elena’s limbs vibrated. So Aniekan was once involved with someone seriously? And she resembled the lady in question. Elena didn’t want to conclude anything just yet.
“What happened to her?”
Idara wiped her face with the back of her right palm, “Few months to their wedding, she became sickly and was later involved in a motor accident that claimed her life. Imaobong was a good person. She was just like you…innocent, loving, kind, and forgiving. She could never hurt anyone in this world, but people took delight in hurting her.” Idara cried.
Though she didn’t know this woman, Elena could feel the injustice that was done to her. She felt Idara’s pain as she cried. She was also moved to tears herself, but she was able to control it. She couldn’t let her emotions cloud her judgment.
“If she died this way, why then does her spirit roam around?” Elena wondered.
From her readings, Elena had learned that people who were unjustly killed were torn between the spirit world, and the world of the living.
To her wonder, she had the answers.
“She didn’t die a natural death, even though her murderers made it seem so.” Idara seemed propelled by an unseen force, as she rose to her feet swiftly.
She walked towards the only window in the room, and brushed her fingers against the glass. The tip of her fingers were kissed by dust, so she quickly pulled her hands away and focused on the storytelling.
“What happened to her?” From the heaviness in Idara’s voice, Elena knew that the story wasn’t a good one.
Idara paused, “The boss was deeply in love with this woman. She meant everything to him. But…her cleverness and her foresight got her into trouble with his brother and that greedy lawyer. They both killed her. They conspired against her. But he had been too blind to see it. He was too engrossed in his work.”
Elena couldn’t believe her ears, “What are you saying?” The photo album dropped from her hands. If Ese and Ada had killed that beautiful woman, then she wasn’t safe. In a flash, she recalled Ada’s sudden niceness towards her.
“No,” Elena murmured as she remembered the red wine that Ada had offered to her. Now that she went through that morning event, Elena realized that Ada had not drank from her wine glass.
“No, no, no!” Elena smacked her lips and rushed towards the door. Everything was happening in a rush. Everything was sudden; memories, her encounter with Regina, the antidote that Regina had given to her.
Idara was a bit confused, “What is it? Did I scare you?”
Elena paused, “No, you didn’t. I think I may have been poisoned.”
“Why do you think so?” Idara held her breath. She also remembered Ada walking into Elena’s room with a gift. It had been a bottle of wine. And she had tried to warn Elena about it, but she had been too innocent to understand.
“If Ada and Ese conspired to kill Imaobong, then I am not safe in this house. This morning, the lawyer walked into my room with a bottle of red wine. It had a very sweet and peculiar taste. One of my friends from the office caught the scent, and tried to warn me about it. She offered me an antidote, but I was hesitant to swallow it.”
Even as she spoke, Elena felt an unusual crawling sensation in her abdomen.
“Oh my God, she didn’t even waste time!” Idara cried.
“I don’t understand, do you think Ada would want me dead? Or maybe I am just afraid. I haven’t done anything bad to her.” Elena was nervous.
“You don’t need to do anything to offend a bad person. I tried to warn you not to get too close to her. They both plan to kill the boss and take over his properties. I overheard them once from the kitchen…” Idara bit her lower lip.
Elena released her belly and scoffed, “How long were you going to it before saying something? I can’t believe you are this selfish. You knew something dangerous would happen, and you kept it to yourself? What if they had succeeded in killing Aniekan?”
Elena was angry and disgusted that Idara would keep mute in the face of disaster.
Idara felt bad, tears rushed from her cheeks.
“Do you think accusing someone of murder is easy? The boss wouldn’t have believed that his beloved brother and responsible lawyer could have anything to do with Imaobong’s murder. You think it is easy to say something like that, and without evidence?”
Elena didn’t care. All she saw in Idara was a coward.
To be continued…