The day started well. Workers had arrived earlier to fix security equipment on the doors and gate. Ameena was feeling giddy – her no-so-date with Ibrahim was still fresh on her mind. Maybe this was what she needed to clear her head. The events yesterday no longer weigh on her mind, though she still felt at the edge. She had woken up before everyone else, watching closely the new locks as they were installed. Now, the workers were almost done. They had already installed an alarm system on the front and back door, new brownish steel doors that illuminated the sitting room even more. As she walked out, something caught her attention. Two indoor and outdoor cameras rotating around all directions.
Great! Now there’s no privacy. Perhaps, if there were no more break-ins, the cameras would be deactivated, Her phone vibrated, Dayana illuminated on the screen. She must be calling about what happened, she thought. Late last night, she finally made a decision. After much thought, it was clear. This mysteriousness might never stop. Weird stuff would keep on occurring. This only option was for her to investigate in her own way. Not having enough resources was the first thing she realised would cause a major problem. Unfortunately, she didn’t have any other choice.
“Hey, you got my message?”
“Sure, but don’t you think that a bit too far?”
“Too far? Seriously? Dayana someone broke into my house! Thank God we weren’t home. If not, I – I shudder to think what would have happened. And you think its too much.”
Dayana’s chippy voice softened, “you know I don’t mean it like that. I said it’s too far because, okay, now where do you want us to start eh?”
“Anywhere, somewhere. Ugh, Dayana, I have a horrible feeling about this, we really need to get to the bottom of this before something happens again.”
Dayana was silent for a while, contemplating what to do. “Oh, I think I have an idea. The library...”
A bulb suddenly lighted in Ameena’s head. “now you’re talking,” she smacked her fingers together, her mind going into overdrive. “Of course. The realtor had told us that this house has been around for years. It has a history, she said. Now if it does have history, then it probably was famous. In those days, they have these newspaper staff in libraries. Now if we are just lucky, we might find something.”
“it’s also possible the previous owners had a beef or something?”
“Nah, I don’t think so. Sarah said something about the house being empty for quite a long time. And besides, if they had beef, what have we to fo with that?”
“well, you never know with people, girlie. Anyway, did she mention, maybe someone ever vandalising the property?”
Ameena turned back towards the house, pushing back the back door. “Umm, not really. I think she might have said one or two things about people in the neighbourhood sneaking in. this house has been like a major tourist attraction here.” She places the phone on the brick island, then began shuffling coffee, milk, creamer, cubes onto the counter.
“maybe one of those people decided to continue their tradition despite you living there.”
Ameena suddenly felt a ticklish sensation behind her. someone is behind me. She turned instantly, almost knocking down her mug. Beads of sweat had already started forming on her forehead. She heaved a long sigh, seeing everything in place. She shook her head. I must be going crazy.
“Are you there?”
“Uh, yeah, Dayana.”
“So, maybe one of those psychos is trying to torment you guys.”
“There are things I haven’t told you yet.”
“Seriously? I’m listening.”
Ameena debated on how to tell her about what has been bothering her for the last few days. In her mind, it felt easy. Smooth even. As easy as pie. But saying it out loud was actually hard. She felt insecure about herself. What if she thinks I’ve lost it? not everyone will be willing to listening to my ramblings. Worst, not everyone will believe it. Just a month ago, Ameena would have never envisioned herself in a situation like this. Perhaps, she would have read it in her favourite mystery novels – it certainly would have gripped her whole and she would have already concluded what the mystery was about. It was different though, to live it. it was scary, crazy, and mysteriously frightening. She might not believe me, but I have to tell her. If she would help with this, then she needed to know everything. Choosing to help would be her decision though.
“I – we saw something.”
Then the story she wasn’t sure whether to believe herself began. From the weird sounds she heard, the tap in her grandma’s room, to the doors mysteriously open in the morning, and worst of all, the silhouette in the kitchen. “...and that’s it. then the breaking which you already know about of course.”
Dayana was speechless, eyes wide open like saucers. “I – I- Are you shitting me, right now?”
“What the actual fuck? Meena, you mean you’ve been living like that all this while and haven’t said a damn thing? Are you okay?”
“Everything happened so fast, I still feel it’s a dream.”
“You know what, we have to meet up at the school. this is very serious. Police serious.”
“No, no, Dayana, no involving the cops. I haven’t even...”
“11. Sharp. tomorrow.”
The taxi swerved off the main road and onto a gravel drive cutting between low cottages perched at the edge of the woods. Compact and tidy, both were of similar size and shape, Ameena observed. The cottage on the left had brown siding, black shutters. The one on the right was black and more rustic, its cedar siding making it blend with the forest. How can they live in the middle of nowhere like this, she certainly couldn’t tell. You also live like that, she reminded herself. Well, hers had few neighbours sparsed around, but it still wasn’t a busy area. She whispered a silent prayer, checking her nude makeup on a compact mirror. She had spent almost thirty minutes, wondering how to look before Madina came to her rescue.
“Allow me, this is my speciality,” she had. Ameena gave her a wary look. She knew how Madina liked to make her face. She always looked like she was going to a party. Sometimes, Ameena teased her with, you should be a makeup guru. Youtube is a great way to start. For some time, Madina had considered it, even started watching too many videos on how to vlog. After a few weeks, she dropped it. vlogging requested time, and dedication. It was nearly impossible. laziness was a special attribute she couldn’t let go of.
Khadija who was perched on a stool, playing animal crossing looked up at her sister. “Big sis, you guys are going out on a date?”
“Shhh. Khadi! What on earth. Absolutely not.”
“Uh-uh. As if we believe you. Look how giddy you are. Of course, it is,” Madina laughed aloud. “But I’m still in shock, total shock. Why isn’t picking you up?”
Ameena managed to roll her eyes before Madina smeared the eyeliner. “Because it isn’t a date.” She replied with gritted teeth.
Sighing dramatically, she continued, “this is just a friendly meeting amongst friends. You know, to catch up.”
Khadija’s mouth turned into an O, while Madina turned her face in consideration “Oh really. Hmm. So all the time you spend together in school, you haven’t caught up. You have to meet up somewhere else. How strange.”
Ameena decided to let them think whatever they wanted. Explaining would be wasting her time. Though she knew they were right. Deep down, she sort of wished it was a date? She wasn’t sure herself. She didn’t know what to make of her friendship with him. Last night, she had almost asked her mom if she knew Dallatu motors. Apparently, that was Ibrahim’s family business. Of course, according to Madina who had done her research online. she decided to not ask her mom at the last minute. Asking would come later. At least after their hangout. She looked down at her ombre manicure, brushing the edges lightly.
“Is he handsome?” Khadija persisted.
Madina jumped in to answer. “Ummm, not really. He has this mark on his left cheek that gives him the look of a ...” She shrieked, rubbing her arm.
Ameena glared at her.