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Oluwatobi Afolabi – “Contemplation”

The light slants in through the blinds of the window, forming zebra stripes on the floor. One of the stripes of light falls across her foot. Ijeoma stares at her toes, at the chipped polish, the scar on the smallest toe, reminiscent of a childhood injury. Dust mites dance in the sunlight the window allows into the room. Ijeoma pulls her knees up, out of the light, and wraps her arms around them. The corner of the room she occupies is dark, or maybe the darkness occupies her. She isn’t sure anymore. Ijeoma stares at her toes again. She needs to clean her room, re-arrange the bookshelves, and even remove the chipped polish on her toenails.  

She doesn’t move.

The door creaks open and sounds filter in from the hallway, sounds of familiar laughter, which drowns out the tinny music of the Christmas lights hanging around the house. 

“Ijeoma, ogini?” Her mother asks from the doorway. Ijeoma rises, quickly wiping her tears so her mother doesn’t see. 

“Nothing mama, I was just looking for something.”

“Oya, bia biko. I need your help in the kitchen.”

Her mother replies as her footsteps recede. Ijeoma pauses, stares at her messy room, steps out and closes the door. 

Close to the window, on the table, the dust motes dance on a piece of paper and a bottle of pills.

Photo by Moonshine Darling on Unsplash

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