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Lost in a Shadow - Episode 18

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LOST IN A SHADOW
Lost in a Shadow - Episode 18

Written by Chidiogor D-f Nwafor




The sun had been smiling brightly and gentle breeze had been blowing pushing sleep into the eyes of many. It had rained heavily the night before and so everywhere was cool despite the sun. Mr Effiong had been sleeping lazily, refusing to wake up despite his alarm. This was strange because Mr Effiong left early for work each day  for he was very dedicated. Efosa had told the children not to wake him up. She deemed he was stressed out and so needed some rest so as not to break down.

After several hours, Mr Effiong finally woke up and gasped immediately he saw the time. He had been furious that no one cared to wake him up and Efosa had tried to explain to him but he had shunned her and left for his shop.

On getting there, he had met a lot of people screaming and weeping. There were dead people lying by the side of the road with fire bruises on their body. One of his friends had been a victim. Mr Effiong, still trying to process what had happened, looked at the direction of his shop only to see a burnt building. Everywhere had been on fire. Mr Effiong had brought his hand to his head and had stared bleakly at his shop and the lifeless bodies. A shrill voice was calling unto him  but he refused to answer. He knew who it was. 
"Are you just coming?" The shrill voice had asked. It was one of the traders who sold fruits next to him. "Our shops had all burnt down. Thank God I had not been in the shop when the fire started. If not I'd have been dead. God will punish that useless man that swept all our hard work into a trash can. You remember the time we had a meeting, you remember how we opposed the grading of the road because of the pipeline underground, you also remember how majority had insisted that the road be graded. Now they've seen it. They have seen what stubbornness had caused. The road wasn't even that bad o. Now they've seen it. I hope they all burn in the fire." She had cursed while holding her beasts, weeping.

Immediately, a woman ran out of one of  the burning building with fire burning her. She had been on jeans and the thick attire had been burning seriously. People had rushed to save her but just  then, a woman had cried loudly. 
"My children! They are in the fire. Save them please." She was crying hysterically. Mr Effiong stood transfixed at the spot, thinking of what to do. His source of livelihood, his sustenance, all gone. Where would he start from now?

The heat from the fire had been terrorizing. People ran helter skelter from side to side. There had been cries and shouts from different angles as various hearse drove in to take the dead bodies out. Mr Effiong had recognized most of them. 

Mr Effiong had closed his eyes, wishing badly that all was a nightmare. He heard a man say beside him.
"In everything give glory to God for he knows all. We thought some thing had happened to you when we saw your shop locked but we didn't know God loves you so much and doesn't want you to die now. Look at mama Ezekiel, she just opened her shop few minutes before the fire outbreak and now she's dead. If she had foreseen the future, she wouldn't had come today."
"What really happened?" Mr Effiong had asked.
"The man they called to grade the road caused all these."
"Wasn't he aware of the pipeline underground?"
"We told him before he started. We asked him to be careful so as not to burst the pipeline. I don't know how he did it, all I heard was a loud sound and pohh! There was a huge fire." The man demonstrated.
"So where is the man now?"
"Who knows? I guess he's dead." Taking a glance at Mr Effiong's shop, he shook his head. "Take heart. This is not the end."

Dejected and shattered, Mr Effiong had gone back home. Joe and Clara had been watching a movie when he walked in. Surprised to see him home that early, they stood up to welcome him and he had coldly responded.
 "What happened? Why are you home so early?" Efosa had asked. She had been in the kitchen when she heard his voice. Instead of answering, Mr Effiong had sat down wearily. Efosa sat down next to him, worry written plainly on her face. She repeated her question but Mr Effiong couldn't reply instead his eyes stayed glued to the TV screen.
"Daddy! Mummy is asking you a question." Stella had blurted out for she couldn't understand the strange behaviour. Her voice was shaky and her heart was beating.
"Where's Sandra?" Mr Effiong had asked instead 
"She went to visit someone. She will soon come back." Joe had replied.
"Honey, what is it?" Efosa had asked, yet the third time. Tears slipping out of her eyes for she was scared and confused. 
"I have something important to tell everyone of you. I believe no one is a kid and so, I'd say it in front of everyone. "

Cassandra had walked in just then and Mr Effiong had signalled her to have a seat.
"Who died?" She shivered but got no response.

Mr Effiong had tried to laugh so as lighten the tensed mood but tears had crawled from his eyes instead and his laugh had sounded like a roar. He cleared his throat and narrated everything to them.
"I really don't know what to do." He had concluded.

Efosa had broken down in tears and had wept bitterly. Stella had wrapped her hands around her as they all cried. Cassandra held Clara's hands and Mr Effiong took Joe into his hands. Joe tried to fight back the tears just like his father for he heard men did not cry but looking at his mum and his sisters, he had opened his mouth and wailed loudly. Mr Effiong's heart had broken as his family cried out in pain. Why did this have to happen? Where would they start from.

Stella had made hot tea for everyone. She told them it would help soothe and relieve them but Efosa had refused to take anything. Instead, she had sat on that floor, weeping silently. 

"Mum!" Stella had begun. "We are crying over spilled milk. What has happened had happened. Stop crying. Let's join heads together and think like a family. We need to fight our way out of this calamity that had befallen us."

Mr Effiong had looked at Stella, surprised. Then finally he had smiled. He was glad that Stella was acting matured. It was such a comfort to him.
"You're right my dear daughter. So, what do you suggest we do?" 
"I don't know. Let's discover that."

Efosa had shook her head. "Where would we start from? You're about to resume school and this is a new section. You need to pay your school fees and hostel fee. Sandra would be admitted into the university this year, another school fees. Clara's school fees is still there o. Joe also. How do we tackle this?" She clasped her hands tightly and had wept. 
"That's what I'm saying. Let's think for a solution. I believe everyone understands the problem at hand so let's look for a way forward." 
"Stella is right. I have some money in the bank. We could start up something from there." Mr Peter had offered.
"Would it be enough to rent a shop?" Cassandra had asked and everyone had looked at her confused. 
"I was thinking we could start up a new business with the money dad has. Let's invest on the money. We could start selling something in the shop."
"And what would we sell?" Clara had chirped in. "Clothes?"
"Or foodstuff and provisions?" Cassandra had added and Mr Effiong had smiled broadly  for his children were behaving maturely.

They had decided to sell foodstuffs and Mr Effiong had gone in search of a shop and in few days time, the shop had been ready and so, Efosa had taken over the business while Mr Effiong worked as a driver due to his lack of formal education to fetch him a white collar job. He had gotten  a car while his business had been bubbling and there was no problem of house rent for they lived in their own apartment.  Stella and Cassandra had also gotten a menial job in order to support the family.  Stella hadn't wanted Dave to know about her financial position but he had found out anyways. She had wanted to be his girlfriend and not his liability.

Watching her parent struggle after the ugly incident was one of the hardest thing she had done. Wrinkles of all sort had consumed her mother's face due to the stress. She had been a full house wife and so everything was new to her.

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