Bidemi got into her bed immediately,and listened in the dark as her parents argued, and it was no surprise when she heard footsteps in her room late that night. She was sure it was her mother, and braced herself for what was to come. This time the covers were peeled back slowly,and she tensed her entire body and squeezed her eyes shut,waiting for the first familiar blow to strike her. But for a long moment,there was none. She could feel someone standing over her,but she couldn’t smell her perfume,there was no sound, and nothing happened. After waiting an interminable moment she couldn’t stand the suspense and opened her eyes.

“Hi….. Were you sleeping?”….. It was her father, he was whispering,and all she could smell now was the whiskey on his breath. ” I came to say……. To see….. If you were alright” she nodded,confused. He never came into her room like that.
“Where’s mommy?”
“Asleep” she exhaled slowly at the news, deeply relieved,although they both knew it wouldn’t take much to wake her. “I just wanted to see you…..” He sat down gently on the bed. ” I’m sorry…… About the hospital….. and everything….. The nurses said you were very brave….. “But he already knew better than anyone how brave she was, far braver than he was.
” How do you feel?”
“My ear still hurts….. But I’m fine….” The headache had gone,but her ribs were still taped,as they would be for the next two weeks.
“Take care of yourself,Bidemi…… Always be brave,you’re very strong” she wondered why he said that to her, what he was really trying to say. And she couldn’t help asking herself why he thought she was strong.
He wanted to tell her he loved her,but he didn’t know what to say. And even he knew that if he had loved her truly,he wouldn’t had let her mother beat her to within an inch of her life. But Bidemi had no idea what was on his mind. He stood there looking at her for another moment,and then pulled the covers up around her again,and left her without saying another word.
He paused in the doorway for jusy the fraction of an instant,as she watched him,and then closed the door as softly as he could. Neither of them wanted to wake her mother, and he was so quiet,she couldn’t even hear him tiptoe away. She burrowed down in the bed again after that,and she was still asleep the next day when her mother threw open the door to her room and shouted at her.


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