Agnes smiled showing with half her teeth. That soft smile he used to love now looked like the devil’s grin. She leaned over the table giving him a full view of her cleavage, the same ones he used to suck, the same ones he used as a pillow, the same ones she was probably giving to her lawyer. She seductively tugged the contract from under his palm then replaced it with another for his signature, she was enjoying this.
He dragged his eyes from her breast to go over the content. What is the use? He thought. He still had to sign it no matter what was written on it. He could still remember her from the night of their wedding, his sweet innocent Agnes, his meek bride, the woman who was embarrassed by the thought of having sex with her husband. His sweet Agnes, the wife who waited by the door for him to return, the wife who always had his favourite food ready, the wife who never argued with him, or complained about him even when he came home drunk, the wife who always worried about him. His sweet Agnes.
She was everything a man could ever want in a woman, but she was no Layo. Layo was the opposite of Agnes. She was selfish, she was spontaneous, she pushed all your buttons until she broke them, and in bed, she demanded for what she wanted. She was not someone he wanted to spend the rest of his life with but she was someone that made him feel alive. For a business Tycoon like him, she was the perfect mistress. But Layo was selfish, she wanted more, she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him so he ended things with her. Then he met Chichi.
Chichi was the perfect girl, she confirmed everything they say about Igbo girls. She was both his Agnes and his Layo; and better. She knew he was married and stayed away from his private life, she even helped him keep their little secret. She would have been perfect if she was not so self centred. She never thought of him when she made life changing decisions; decisions like marriage. She was going to marry another man and was going to break up with him. He could not let her go, she belonged with him. She was his Chichi
He knew what he had to do to keep her. He returned home to his Agnes and confessed to her that he had been cheating on her, and just as he predicted, his Agnes cried, his Agnes begged, she brought up their children, they had two, a boy of thirteen and a little girl, he loved them. they were his. He told her he would care for them, she cried some more then she went to sleep, beside him, her head turned to face him so he could see her face in his dreams but he backed her.
Chichi was ecstatic when he told her the good news, but being the smart girl she was, she refused to call things off with her fiancé ‘just in case’, although her visits to his office became more frequent and adventurous. This was the life he wanted and he enjoyed every second of it until one day she stopped showing up. He tried her number, he paid her visits, at some point he almost had a run-in with her fiancé, but there was no Chichi, she had vanished. So he returned home to his Agnes, who had refused to leave until the divorce was finalized. She looked the same, sad, she tried to take his coat like she always did, but he pushed her away like he had been doing since he broke up with her, but that day something was different about her tears.
“So daddy it is true.” His son and daughter stood at the top of the stairs watching them “You now hate mummy, you are the reason why mummy has been crying.” his son accused.
He tried to explained things to them but what came out of his mouth was “Go to your rooms now!”
“I hate you daddy! Beating mummy everyday! I hate you!” He was taken aback by his little girl’s outburst. Beating his Agnes? He would never lay his hands on a woman. He tried to correct her but this time nothing could come out of his mouth.
“Sweethearts please go to your room, let mummy and daddy settle this.” She wept.
“No love.” She interrupted her son “Please.”
He looked at his mother then scornfully at his father. He could taste the disdain coming from his son as he gave into his mother’s plea and returned to his room with his sister.
“What just happened?” He asked.
“I told them of how you’ve been hitting me since you started dating your whore.” She said looking up at him, tears still in her eyes.
“Me, hit you when?”
“Oh don’t pretend with me Tunde, not this night, I can’t take this this night. You think I did not know about them. I knew about them, I knew about Layo. You know, Layo came to this house, to our house. She told me herself. She came here to challenge me for you.” She began to cry again.
“That is not the issue now. When did I hit you?” he demanded.
She walked towards him, held his right hand, and looked straight into his eyes as she slammed his palm into her cheeks. Her head fell sideways. “Now, Tunde, you hit me now.”
“I don’t have time for this nonsense. I am going to talk to the kids now.” he made for the stairs but she screamed.
“Wait No, My husband No!” She pulled her head back with her hand then smashed her face into the wall. He returned to being speechless, but his body ran to her aid, she pulled away blood running down her face. “Please No, Please think about the kids!” She screamed as she ran to the center of the living room and jumped into the center glass table, it shattered as a bloodied Agnes fell between it’s legs.
“You’ve killed mummy!” His son screamed as he ran towards his mother, Tunde could do nothing but watch. His son tried to pull her away from the broken glass, hurting himself in the process. Tunde moved to help him. “Stay away! Don’t come near mummy! Stay away I’ll call the police! I’ll call the police! Don’t come near me!” His son barked. His little girl stood beside them crying for her mother.
That was his wake up call. He finally realized how much the break up had hurt his sweet Agnes, and how great his sweet Agnes was at acting. Or so he thought. The next day she was up and moving like nothing had happened. She made his dinner and sent him off to work, where he was visited by a lawyer. His New Agnes’ lawyer. The Bastard, that was what he called him, that was what he was, with his smooth talking face and stupid height, and nonsensically fit body. The Bastard who conspired with Agnes to wreck him.
The Bastard brought some documents with him, proof that his wife was a joint owner to everything he owned. All those documents he had signed since the beginning of their wedding, all those times he thought he was signing a medical or school agreement for his children, everything he signed trusting his sweet little Agnes, everything, they were all joint ownership affidavits,
At some point he began to blame Layo, If Layo had not been so selfish that she confronted his Agnes she would not have taken things this far. He even tried to vent at her, but Layo was gone, like she never existed. He called his Lawyers who confirmed that the affidavits he had signed were authentic, and his only way forward was to prove that she had tricked him into signing it, he knew that was impossible, everybody knew his sweet little Agnes she could not hurt a fly.
That was what he used to believe until he stuck by his guns, decided that he was willing to split his properties in two if it meant that he would no longer have to share a roof with the new Agnes.
She was sitting on her side of the bed, packing her hair extension into her hairnet when he revealed his resolve. She pulled off the hair net then turned to stare at him with an expression on her face like what she used to have, but this was not the Agnes who worried about him, this was not the Agnes who studied him because she cared, this Agnes was sinister. “Where is Layo?” She asked.
He had learned to stop asking her what she meant, he knew she was heading somewhere with every word she uttered. “Where is she?” He retorted.
“How am I supposed to know? I am not the person who killed her.” She crawled to his side of the bed like a cat, never breaking eye contact with him.
“Layo is dead.” he mouthed, he thought the new Agnes was no longer capable of shocking him.
“I believe so. You told me you killed her.” She knelt up and crawled her arms around his neck.
“I never did such thing or told you any such thing!”
“Oh but you did, you came home drunk one night. If I remember correctly, it was last year, July 1st. You said something about her trying to tie you down and break up our marriage so you had to kill her.”
“You are out of your mind!” he pushed her away. “I have had it with you and your lies…”
“I’m sorry, I killed her… Killed who?… Layo, I killed Layo – who is Layo? – My girlfriend, I broke up with her but she would not leave me, she threatened to expose me to the world, she was blackmailing me, I killed her in our other house and I burnt her body.” That was his voice crying and confessing, he recognised it, but he could not remember killing Layo, he and his girlfriends spent a lot of time in their other house and he remembered every moment but not killing her.
“I never killed anybody. I don’t remember killing anybody, and even if I did I would never tell you about it.” He spat.
“Well that doesn’t matter. Whether you killed her or not, whether she is actually dead or not, that does not matter. I don’t matter, the ones you need to convince are your business partners and your family, let’s see if your children will believe you. If you divorce me I’ll hand this to the police, if you try to kill me like you killed Layo…”
“For God’s sake I did not kill Layo!”
She smiled. “It does not matter. If you go ahead with the divorce tomorrow or the next you’ll kill Chichi.”
“You killed her.” It finally hit him. “You killed Layo and you have kidnapped Chichi.”
“Good night Tunde, I pray your dreams are pleasant.” She picked up her hair net.
“Why are you doing this?” he asked.
“I don’t understand what you are talking about.” She said, not once sounding like the sinister witch she had become.
“Why are you trying to hurt me? What have I done to deserve this?”
“Have I told you about my mothers?” She pulled her self to the edge of the bed, placed her legs on the tiled floor and sat up. “My great grand mother married my great grandfather as his first wife. He promised she would be his only wife, but then he married wife number 2, then 3. She had to endure sharing him with them. She could not protest. You know why? Because he was a man, and men can do as they please. After all, women need to be married, not men, it is a shame for a woman to leave her husband, but not for a husband to leave his wife. She endured it, My grandmother was not so lucky, My grandfather kicked her out of his house, he needed a son but she could not bear him more than one child, and that child was the most pathetic of them all. I watched my father abuse her, I watched him cheat on her, I watched him insult her until the day she died of cancer; but her death was not the saddest thing. The saddest thing for me was watching her beg him not to make her a divorced woman.”
“How does that relate to me?” He asked
“How does that relate to you.” She got up, her voice cool and quiet yet venomous. “You are everything I hate about men. Entitled bastards, Feeling like the world was made for and because of them. Women are just tools. No Tunde. I am not a tool. I will not lose to a mere man, this will not end with you being happy Tunde. I will have the last laugh in this. I tried to be a good wife to you, I tried to love you, I really did. But you made me hate you. Tunde, the fact that you are willing to let go of your possessions to end things with me makes me hate you even more, you entitled ingrate, oh I hate you, I hate you so much, I hated you the second you walked into our house smelling like alcohol, I hated you the day I saw a lipstick stain on your cloth, I hated you the day Layo confronted me, I hated you, I hated that you were happy doing all these things without thinking about how I felt, I hated that you fell in love with Chichi, I hated that I knew how this was going to end, with you throwing me aside like a used rag, I hated you Tunde.” She closed the gap between them and whispered. “But I stopped hating you that much when I found out how easy it was to manipulate you when you are drunk, how easy it was to manipulate your driver and everybody around, how easy it was to make you as miserable as my mothers.”
“If you hate me so much, then why are you trying to keep me?”
“My husband, you still don’t understand.” She smirked “I am doing all these because I hate you. You will never find happiness as long as you are alive, I will never let you go.”
His hands shook as he signed the contract in front of him, when he was done she seductively tugged it from under his hands again.
“Good, if you ever decide to divorce me again you leave with absolutely nothing. I’ll make sure you loose your business to that your handsome partner. But if I choose to let you go then we split everything into two except the children. I take my children. I change their names to mine.” She arranged the contracts in her hands. “Tunde, I will never let you go.”
He looked at the woman in front of him, she was not like any woman he had ever met, she looked like his Agnes, Dressed like his Layo, walked like his Chichi, but was neither.
The New Agnes lived up to her promise, she never let him go and she made his life a living hell. But to his relief, he found that Layo was not dead, she suddenly appeared out of nowhere with one year of her memory gone, Chichi also reappeared, but unlike Layo, his wife had offered her a ticket to skip town for a while in exchange for her reputation and Chichi chose the ticket. When she returned to town everything was as she had left it and she married her fiancé.
A big shout out to Adewara Alabi Abdulrazzaq for giving me this title challenge! I had serious fun writing it.