ABBY followed after the warden into the visiting hall. And there they were, the Morel couple. Jerry and Emma.
Abby was entirely muddled. She’d lost in her own game. Emma had got married before she even did. Now even if Abby was released on parole soon enough, she felt she wouldn’t be able to stand up to Emma again.
I’ve been defeated in this game already, Abby resigned.
Yet irrespective of Abby’s game, the young lady was glad to see a face from outside the prison walls. Even if that fresh face was going to be Emma’s.
Abby now felt grateful. Grateful that a family had taken their time to check up on her in prison.
The sober inmate smiled a little as she settled down with her visitors. Jerry gave a slight nod of greetings. And Emma was the first to speak.
‘How have you been, Abby?’ Emma smiled mildly.
‘You two are married,’ quipped Abby.
And then she added briskly. ‘Congratulations.’
Emma muttered. ‘Thank you.’ And Jerry hummed an appreciation.
An awkward silence drifted in the space between the seated three for a small moment. Abby broke the silence with a piece of her mind.
She spat the words. ‘You’ve come all the way from town. I’m sure you aren’t here to only stare at me. Spit it out, Emma.
‘You didn’t come visiting me all this while, and I know you’re not the type to leave a friend in distress. Prisca must’ve told you things. Go on and spit it out already.
‘You want me to go on my knees and apologise to you? You want me to beg for your forgiveness. Spit it out already! Say what you came here to say, come on!’
Emma blurted it out the next moment. And her tone came matter-of-factly.
‘Why did you do it Abby?!
‘How did it start? Why did you go that far?’
Abby was hit pretty hard. She was hit with Emma’s directness.
The young lady lowered her head a moment. She’d expected Emma to demand apologies from her.
But here was her friend demanding something more daunting. Here was Emma asking for a clear explanation.
A dead silence filled the space between the three. Emma’s words had sent Abby’s mind to the genesis of everything. The genesis of her downward spiral.
In the past one month, Abby had got a reason to do a lot of thinking. She’d thought about those steps that turned her life upside down.
A small envy and resentment for a happy friend had gradually developed into a scheming game in Abby’s head. And her loss in that game had made her rode farther and farther on that road of bitterness.
And eventually in prison, Abby wrestled a hundred times with the rightness of her steps in the past month. She struggled with her excuses for resenting Emma’s happy life.
But here now she was, in Emma’s witness box. To testify for herself. And to bring her motives to a hearing.
Abby slowly raised her gaze.
She began. ‘You have more than you deserve, Emma!’
Emma’s heart was sliced through at the heavy words. She reached a hand to hold Jerry’s hands in hers right then.
‘No,’ Abby corrected, ‘you’ve always got more than you deserve. You’re the quietest among us. Yet as your friend I put my best into caring for you like a big sis.
‘I did my best. But you won’t just stay in that cute position that suits you. You keep growing wings and wanted to be big. Till you ended up stepping on my toes!’
Emma swallowed in a moment of disbelief. Jerry took over the clasp then, holding his bride’s hand instead.
Abby went on in the meanwhile. ‘You don’t talk as much as Prisca and me. But your smile is more radiant than ours. You barely know the way of the world, yet you find the things the world wants!
‘Emma, you’re always happy. You’re always glowing. You wouldn’t stop, and you couldn’t be stopped!
‘I tried so hard to reach to your height of fulfillment and happiness, but I just couldn’t. Nothing I did was enough to clamp your wings.
‘So you left me with no choice than to set you up to get you where I am today. Yet you escaped that again, Emma!
‘And here I am where I wanted you, why…?!’
Emma shook her head and Jerry heaved a sigh.
‘You have it all together, Emma!’ Abby yelled again. ‘You make everyone around you feel inferior and incompetent. And since I couldn’t beat you, I thought to destroy you!’ she finished.
A heavy sigh fell from Emma’s gaping jaw now, and tears coursed down her sorry face. She felt hurt and yet so sorry. She felt so sorry to a friend.
She spoke in a moment. ‘I never knew of your hurt and pain all along, Abby. I’m sorry I didn’t see you were hurting by me. I’m so sorry!’
Abby was baffled. She was expecting Emma to fly up with temper, or at least tear up in disappointment. But here was her friend apologising already for what she wasn’t so responsible for.
Abby was dazed. She stared at Emma, trying to figure out if she was being sincere, or if she was simply acting out.
But Abby knew. She knew she didn’t have anything to confirm. Emma was sincere, and Abby saw it in everything her friend did or say. She knew Emma was sincere.
Emma went on. ‘I’m sorry for being nonchalant, Abby. I’m sorry I wasn’t sensitive to your feelings as I should. I’m really so sorry,’ she begged.
‘I wouldn’t say I’m not hurt by your words right now. Because I am,’ continued the young woman. ‘But while you were speaking, I thought of the hard times you’re going through because of me. But permit me to say this.’
She paused a moment.
‘Abby, you are a great friend,’ resumed the young woman. ‘But you really don’t know that you are the first person I found complete and I sincerely admire! You really don’t know. And I’m terribly sorry I’m just telling you now!’
A tear coursed down Abby’s face now. She just looked away. Emma’s heart was shattered in that instant, and her eyes were moist also.
Jerry motioned to Emma, and he quietly excused the two friends.
Emma spoke on. ‘You know we don’t have the privilege of choosing our parents, but we choose our close friends.
‘You know I came into the world in a way I wouldn’t have chosen, if I had my way. But then I could choose my friends. And you are the best friend I chose.
‘You were full of life when we met in college. You were the brightness I lacked, and I was happy to call you my friend. You see, I always say I got myself a big hearted friend.
‘Abby I’ve always admired your bright and cheerful spirit. It is what I wish to be, but I’m not. Aw, if only I knew you were secretly envying me!
‘If only I knew you were this hurting watching me, I’d have giving up being around you just so I could stop you from going this far! You know it yourself, Abby! You know I’d do that for us!’
Abby blinked all her tears away in a moment. And she looked attentively.
OUT & FREE 1ST JULY
Emma sat up. ‘You see, I could tell you I have my ample shares of hard times, but why will I choose to console you with my hurts. I’d rather tell you we’re are not the same persons. Nobody is ever same.
‘Come to think of it, Abby. You said I’m weak and little, yet the little me was like the summit you want to beat. Think of it also. I’m not even a hill, let alone a mountain to attain.
‘Who am I to be the standard of perfection for anyone in the world? Who am I to be the finish line you want to reach?
‘I’m full of flaws and faults. I’m not as sociable as every average girl, you know. Think of it: Emma is just your ordinary friend. Why go this far because of me?’
Emma’s listener swallowed a small sigh.
‘Abby, you are complete in every way. Why do you still feel incompetent because of me? Why do you find my ordinariness, extraordinary?’ Emma queried in earnest.
‘Don’t you think it is because of the Extraordinary One that lives and works in me? Abby, don’t you think it is because of the Lord Jesus Christ?’
Abby sat back and looked at her friend.
Emma popped a memory question now. ‘Do you remember my bookmark card, Abby? The one that caught your fancy when you visited me around this time last year?’
Abby went back in time and recalled the card. She recalled the declaration of faith scribbled in it in Emma’s handwriting.
Abby still remembered the reference text. It was the Bible Book of Habakkuk chapter 3 and verses 17 through 19.
Emma went on. ‘The answer to everything is right there. It is the Lord Jesus. Jesus is the One who puts radiance into my ordinary smile. He is the One who makes an ordinary life extraordinary. He is the real source of joy and fulfillment!’
Abby crossed her hands over her bosom now, while Emma continued.
‘You know the number of family and friends in your life. Compared to me who only has Jerry as family. Yet you envy me.
‘You know how financially backed up you are, yet you envy me with my small business. Think about it Abby. It doesn’t add up.
‘If I’m that perfect in spite of my imperfect life, then it only means there’s a perfect God you’re seeing all the long while. And it is this God alone who makes me live fulfilled, my friend!
‘It is the Lord Jesus that can make you lead a rich and fulfilling life, despite our imperfectness. Please surrender completely to Him!’ Emma finished.
Now everything came to Abby Camille like a déjà vu.
About a year ago – and before Abby sank deep into that pool of bitterness, the young woman had wrestled with the thought of Emma having it altogether.
Abby had wanted to outdo her friend in the things that afforded someone happiness. But she resented the idea of struggling and competing with the ‘little sister.’
But then again Abby kept feeling that emptiness and void each time she watched Emma’s blossoming life.
The young woman kept feeling empty and vain in the things she had and owned. Until her foot eventually slipped off into that pit of bitterness and gall.
Abby Camille remembered Habakkuk 3: 17 – 19.
She marvelled at the confidence with which Emma could reiterate the words of that solemn declaration. Yet now she found it hard to believe that the reason for Emma’s fulfillment could be that so simple.
The young woman sat still, trying think on Emma’s words. But then the sight before her eyes wouldn’t let her.
Here is Emma happily married, she thought. Here is this girl married to her dream man already. But then again I’m here locked up in jail.
How can Emma describe the source of her joy as simply Jesus? If she doesn’t have Jerry, I’d have agreed with her.
But no, Jesus can’t be the source of her joy.
It’s definitely Jerry. It’s definitely Jerry.
Abby dropped her folded arms, tapped the desk and spoke out.
‘Well, Emma…! Now that you know why I tried to set you up, this conversation should end here.
‘You don’t need to tell me lies to win me to your side. After all you’ve won the game already. You see, lies doesn’t fit you, girl. So don’t stoop so low to convince me with this made up stuff about what makes you happy.
‘I’m already in prison. You are free and safe from me. So don’t bother to feed me with the clichés and all that stuff.
‘This conversation is over, friend. Take care of your husband! Bye!’
And with that Abby signaled to the prison officer that she was done.
And she was led back to her cell.
Click HERE to see other chapters of the free suspense eNovel Eclipse
© 2021 by Kayode & Tola Olla