“White Lie” by Enobong Etuk

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Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

White Lie
“Look at me when I’m talking to you” she yells, but you do not hear a word or rather you choose not to. You look at her as she blares; emanating such fierce intensity seems as if charges of lightning flowed through her veins instead of mere blood.
While she talks or rather blabs, your eyes wander and land on her blue bùbá and ìró. The same bùbá you got for her last Christmas together with the ìró James paid for. Your eyes wander around and meet her glaring set of eyes. For the first time, you notice that your mother-in-law has eyes like a red flame that glitters in the lantern.
“Barren witch” the words hit your lobes and you flinch as if slapped by an invincible hand. What a terrible name for any woman to be called! It tastes sour in the mouth like a bitter leaf twisting the tongue and soiling the mouth like the sticky mess of saltless okro soup.
You blink back the wetness from your eyes. You can’t understand how a woman can be this cruel, let alone your mother-in-law. You can feel the urge to talk back at her; burst out breathing fire and fury. You want to tell her to shut her trap but you bite your tongue because it is a taboo for a young woman to speak back at an elderly woman. You want to tell her that you aren’t barren, but what use will it make? You dismiss the thought because, at that moment, you are not really interested in what she thinks or says. You turn your attention back to the long-forgotten TV opera show— pretending not to hear her. She walks back to her room and you give your head a few shakes.

* * * * * * * * *
James stands outside in the dark, waiting for you to open the door. You grin at him while unlocking the bulgar bar. Your husband, a fine man with his mother’s nose, amber his eyes like that of his late father. He ignores your hug and walks past you.
“Honey” You want to ask him what the problem is, but he cuts in before you get the chance to.
“Don’t ever talk back at my mother” His amber eyes flash yours incessantly. His voice is low and rough. A Silence passes over you, and you hear the words he doesn’t say: she is right, you are barren.

“I did not…” Your throat constricts, and that’s all you can manage. You reach out for his hand, but he flings out his arm violently; pushing you hard against the dining room table. You hit your abdomen on the hardwood causing a raw cry to tear from your throat.

“I’m sorry, did I hurt you?” He asks.

“I’m fine” Your lie comes automatically. He blinks at you without a word—looking for truth in the lines of your face.
“I’m just fine” You lie again as you feel the toxic liquid streaming down your thigh
There is blood on the floor. You have just had a miscarriage. It was a month old.





Enobong Etuk is a student of the University of Uyo. She is a Nigerian writer with enormous promise and important stories to tell. She loves writing and reading short stories; her favourite is mystery.

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