She stood at the door of their home watching him get into the car with their son who he was going to drop off at school. She rubbed her neck where he had strangled her the night before and managed a weak smile and a wave, more for the benefit of her neighbours than for her son because even though Biyi was nine years old, he had touched a bruise on her back one day and said, ”Mummy, one day Daddy is going to kill you,”.

It wasn’t as if she hadn’t tried to escape, she had once and he had caught them at the airport on their way to her parents in Abuja. He knew she would never leave without her son and now he made sure Biyi was always with him, driving him to and from school and even leaving strict instructions that he was the only one allowed to pick him up.

Now, everyday he went to work she would stay at home, nurse her bruises and await whatever night time torture he had planned for her. She knew she had to speak up but to whom? She waved to her neighbour Mrs Kasali whose house was across from theirs before shutting the door behind her.

*

Mrs Kasali waved back at her neighbour and saw her entering into her house. She got into her car and drove to work, her own kids having gone by school bus.

Poor Mummy Biyi, always wrapping scarves and coats around her body so that no one could see the injuries that her husband regularly inflicted on her. She didn’t know that one day the wind had blown her scarf aside and revealed one of those purple shiners that could not have been explained away as an accident.

Maybe she should do something to help her, but what? Counsel her to leave- these women never do, becoming prisoners of their own minds as well as their husbands will.

She genuinely felt sorry for her but she lacked the courage to get involved in another person’s life. Her job as a banker was consuming and every day she got to work, she would forget about Mummy Biyi until she saw her again.

A car suddenly appeared in front of her and she slammed her brakes, hitting her chest on the steering wheel. The driver in the other car gave her the finger.

That’s what she got for bothering about someone else’s issues other than her own. No more worrying about Mummy Biyi, not for today.

*

Tokunbo gave the finger to the silly looking woman driving the Toyota who couldn’t be bothered to use her indicator light. Silly women drivers. They were the worst.

The shock of her car almost hitting him early on Monday morning was the last straw. He had had enough with being in Nigeria. No electricity for two months! His home and the club running on diesel generators! How could anyone hope to break even? The sweltering heat was permeating through the car vents. It was time to head back to the States. Enough of this B.S.

*

Kola hated working in a Psychiatric hospital but this was just his day gig, until the club really took off. The Admin job was boring but the worst part of it was the paper work, including this; filling out the names of the patients cleared for discharge from the Nurses’ list to the Admin list.

The sound of a phone call broke his concentration. He looked at the Caller ID, his brother Kayode.  “I told you we shouldn’t do business with that Aje-butter snob, he said he’s leaving Nigeria today, he wants to get his money out, he’s at the club and he brought a truck to move everything!”

Kola broke into a cold sweat. “Get his money out ke, he can’t do that, stall him, I’m coming,”. Kola hurriedly finished the list with minimal concentration,  accidentally writing the name Kayode Akin instead of Kayode Akinola. He submitted the list to the nearest nurse and ran out of the hospital.

*

“Kayode Akin, pack your things you are up for discharge today,” the nurse said. She looked at her chart and double checked to be sure she had said the right name. Kayode Akin the Paranoid Schizophrenia patient with the history of poor drug compliance shouldn’t be discharged after just two days on admission?

Double-checking it with the Matron would take an extra ten minutes, better to trust the Admin clearance list so she could get back to watching Telemundo at the Nurses’ station.

“Kayode,  grab your things,”.

*

Kayode couldn’t believe his luck. He had thought he was stuck in the hospital for another four weeks like the last time. He walked out of the hospital and headed to the nearest field. He saw one just beyond a brick fence and climbed over the fence into it. This was definitely fate giving him the opportunity to test his theory that grass tasted as sweet as chicken.

*

Mummy Biyi heard a car stop outside the house and looked out of the window, it was the school bus from her son’s school. It was filled with kids and Biyi hopped off it with a teacher.

The teacher looked apologetic, “Sorry we had to bring your son back in the middle of the day but there has been an incident at the school. A madman climbed into the field and when we tried to remove him he said he would set off the bomb he had planted there, we had to evacuate all the children for safety while we verify if the threat is real,”.

Mummy Biyi looked shocked. “Does my husband know you are here?” “No, we kept trying his phone but he didn’t pick up..” She was already inside the house before the teacher finished her sentence. “Biyi go to your room, take two toys only,“. She packed only the essentials. The sound of her heartbeat filled her ears until they were in a taxi on their way to freedom.

*

After his morning meeting he saw the eight missed calls from Biyi’s school. A quick phone call to them confirmed his worst fears, the bitch had his son and a thirty minute head start. He mumbled some excuse at work and ran to his car. He drove like a madman towards the house, they would be in a taxi, all he had to do was look at every taxi coming from the direction of their house.  It was Biyi’s colourful school bag that gave them away, he saw it easily through the window of the taxi.

He made a U–turn and started following the taxi until he was just behind it. He rammed into it from behind bringing it to a stop. The taxi driver started shouting at him about how he was going to pay for the damaged car bumper but he silenced him with a wad of money. He opened the taxi door and dragged the bitch and his son by their ears into his car. He was going to make her pay.

*

Sergeant Lawal was angry at being called with his men to drag a madman of a field. Now everyone who claimed to have a bomb was a terror threat. All he wanted was to get back into the barracks and continue reading his newspaper but now their truck had been blocked by a car that hit a taxi. He saw the owner of the car get out and drag a woman and a child from inside the taxi. The man reminded him of his own father.

He quickly came down and walked up to the man’s car before he could drive off. He looked at the terrified woman and child in the car, “Madam is this man disturbing you,” she looked at him with tears in her eyes, “Madam you are safe, tell me, is this man disturbing you?” He watched the woman swallow saliva. “Please Sir, help me, if he takes me home he will beat me to death,”.

“Step out of your car Sir and into the barracks, Madam you are free to go”. Mummy Biyi thanked the soldiers. She and Biyi got out of her husbands car and into another taxi. This time they were really on their way to freedom.

“You have no right to stop me,” the man shouted,” I am a lawyer,  my father is a Judge, you can’t detain me on hear-say, I will deal with you, I will take away your job, who are you to stand in my way, I will sue you for every penny you have,”. Sergeant Lawal smiled, “That is all well and good Sir but first, please come with me so my boys and I give you the same treatment you have been giving your wife”.

***

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66 thoughts on “The Butterfly Effect

  1. Very interesting read….couldt wait till the end of the story…one man’s misery is another’s luck…..

  2. Very nice one abi! Following in popes steps. This one is yours. We will get you there. Cheers.

  3. This is by far the greatest piece i have read about domestic violence. I love the twists and turns that brought the way a single event can have a chain reaction into our oblivious subconscious.

    Kudos!

  4. It’s brilliant how the writer is able to briefly capture all perspectives of 5-6 characters in his story. However, the singular plots are hackneyed and unseasoned, making the whole thing seem like some unbridled manuscript draft. I have to to say because this stage of the competition is very competitive.

        1. He needs legal help.He should go to HUD approved nonprofit credit counseling that helps homeowners in foreclosure. Avoid scammers. Or go to an ataenroy.Mtny of these dates are not set in stone, so he needs to check things out before moving, before giving up.Many areas have community organizations working with home owners to help them avoid foreclosure.

    1. Matt Cinnamon I have an idea for a show about six regular people who are on this show like SNL. I live in a small town in California and NO experience of cartoons. I do7#n821&;t know what channel for it, but Cartoon Network is my vote. Matt Cinnamon

  5. This is very interesting story and we’ll written please keep it up…and wishing you the very best of luck.

  6. A fantastic story presented in a very informing, educating and entertaining manner. I wish the writer a final win.

  7. Does the writer even know what speculative fiction means?

    Story completely missed the theme.

    Sorry, you’re probably going to be evicted.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment James. I’m sorry my interpretation of the butterfly effect in the life of a battered housewife does not meet up with your definition of speculative fiction. I will definitely put this into consideration while writing a future draft.

    2. Do you know what speculative fiction means, James? Watch the thread of deliberate coincidences that runs full circle back to the husband. Its not until an alien falls smack into a story before you say its speculative fiction. Some speculative stories are subtle. Read Ken Liu’s Paper menagerie to educate yourself more.

      1. Thank you for your comment. I must at once read this Paper Menagerie story, it sounds like quite a read.

      2. I can’t even believe you brought up paper menagerie which shows the fantastical in its first two paragraphs- Paper origami animals growling and running around
        What fantastical thing breaking the rules of life as we know it occurs in this story
        Like you said it is a thread of deliberate coincidences.
        I am no creative writing teacher but I will call this more of experimental writing than speculative fiction.
        Anyway the theme is speculative not speculative fiction so maybe this is speculative writing.

  8. Suspense, fear, adrenaline rush all in one, rushing through with anticipation and anxiety to get to the end, all the while certain that this would end the very bad way as all domestic violence stories, but Alas! Divine intervention to the rescue, two lives spared, a wicked man nabbed by superman, just in time before a probable unforeseen tragedy would make yet another breaking news and a plus one to the growing statistics.
    If you don’t mind my kind criticism, I believe you meant ‘off the field’ and not “of the field” in the third paragraph before the last.
    Keep up the great job and it’s a definite yes for me.

    1. IMO, it feats into the realm of speculative fiction by weaving in an unseen, even to some extent unreal, element of fate interwoven across all the six characters, and beautifully captures the theme of the week – the butterfly effect.
      I like how the writer keeps it simple, and easy to follow as a reader.

      1. Fate is part of everyday life
        Stretching it out to tie six characters is fiction. Question is whether it is speculative fiction.
        Anyway I am no judge or teacher.
        Best of luck Abidemi

    2. Hmm. Very good question. At the risk of sounding defensive let me just say that I enjoy seeing fantasy and science fiction in everyday settings. I thought that the idea of a woman waving to her nieghbour setting off a cascade of events that eventually led to her emancipation was fantasy. That this is unclear means that I have either executed this idea poorly or that it is somehow expected that all fantasy must be on Middle Earth or Vulcan or similar places. I believe Sliding Doors is as much a fantasy as The Lord of the rings for anyone who is familiar with both films but of course I will put this into consideration when I pen another draft. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  9. Great set-up – I like the cumulative effect, buoyed by a seemingly unreal dimension of fate, across characters and ending with Mama Biyi’s emancipation.
    Simple, yet sophisticated.

  10. I ll disagree with some of the comments regarding the story not fitting into the theme of speculative fiction. The whole idea of one little action leading to several others that will eventually have a profound impact is the “Butterfly effect”, which in itself is a fairly good example of fantasy or magic realism. Art is subjected to interpretation.

    I like the idea of an issue of social importance- domestic violence, with the theme. I think this writer was bold to conceptualize this.

    Good read!

  11. Lovely read there. Seeing as it is a thread seemingly weaving through all characters at the end was a delight. Best of luck

  12. I enjoyed reading this though there are a few clichés and the coincidences are rather amusing. Your use of language is fresh and your creativity is evident. Not speculative to me but a good read.

  13. Interesting, captivating and alas……..a domestic violence story that perhaps ends well. Giving that domestic violence stories in itself are a tragedy.

    Good job.

  14. I enjoyed reading this piece as much as I have enjoyed all your previous entries. You carry a freshness into your everyday stories that is comparable to seeing a bird everyday but not ever getting to touch one and in that wise, seeing a bird everyday is fresh everyday. That a wave at the door could weave a busybody neighbour, a disgruntled yankee returnee, a part time hospital worker, a certified nerd and an unhappy soldier into a frenzied plot to liberate an abused housewife can only be speculative in my uneducated opinion. Kudos!

  15. Reading through the comments, I find it quite fascinating that there would be an argument on when this is speculative or not. It’s not every time one would write about aliens or the future. I like the fact that you wrote something different and outside the usual. Though, I must admit this story is quite risky for a competition, still it’s my favorite. All the best..

    1. Very risky I admit. I tried to incorporate an issue I care about into a story I hoped could win. It’s not everyday you have the opportunity to be read. I do hope for the best. Thank you for your comment!

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