Chapter 5 – Her Father
In the middle of the night, Ayira sat, cradling her legs and staring at a blazing fire through tears in her eyes, while Imani slept on the other side. Only the continuous crackling sounds of the fire could be heard for a long while. Suddenly, Ayira heard faint whispers in the teepee; she looked around, alarmed. A cold wind blew against the entrance of her teepee. The fire began flickering oddly as if it were coming to life, and Imani started to toss and turn in her sleep. Ayira grew angry; suddenly, she heard something.
“Ayira,” said a male voice.
Ayira started to breathe heavily as, without warning, a pale black man with a demonic look on his face appeared. He yelled, “Ayira!”
“Leave me alone. Father... I knew it was you, I could feel you.” said Ayira.
She shook with fear as her father stood behind Imani. The firelight shined on the dark rings around her father‘s eyes and many scratches on his arms and his face. He slowly knelt, getting closer to Imani. He looked enraged as Ayira started to shiver in terror, but quickly smiled, showing his yellow, rotted teeth.
“Ayira, I will never leave you alone. You are the reason why I am here,” her father continued angrily. “You are the reason – You know what I want.”
“What you want cannot be. You are lost and you are here because of me. You are scared – you are scared to face the people you have hurt and killed.”
The fire was reflected in his dark eyes. He had a smirk on his face as he stared at Ayira.
“You can’t get away, Ayira. We are bound together forever.” He started laughing when Ayira looked away with disgust, and then continued, “Is this your friend? Are you going to kill her too? You know I deserve it more than you do. You know – you know... I want it now. I can do so much with those gifts. You cannot imagine what I can do with those gifts. You never deserved them, and you still don’t deserve them.”
Ayira said, “I know all about the place that you do not want to go to. You are here because of me. Because you are my father, no matter what – and what I did to you... I should have left it up to the gods, but I did not and so I keep you here with me because I am guilty as well.”
He replied, “And we will both be going to that place. I asked you once; I asked you to help me – help me be as powerful as a king. I could have been known in many lands and worshipped like a god but you killed me instead. You killed your father, the only one who knew you and protected you and your gifts.”
“You will never get those powers. Not as long as I live.”
“Believe me, you will not live much longer, as long as I am around.” He stood up quickly, and then angrily paced back and forth before saying, “I will do anything you ask of me – anything. I can save Yellow Feather.”
Ayira looked stunned.
He continued, “If you help me, I will save him.” She sadly shook her head.
“I can also hurt you right now.” He walked over to her and bent to look at her face-to-face. “I can kill you quickly or slowly.”
She looked at the fire without emotion and said, “I am dying as we speak. What you do to me is nothing compared to what I feel right now.”
Her father was surprised and disappointed. He walked away and began to pace back and forth again, but then quickly stopped.
“Ayira, bring me back to life. I can help Yellow Feather. I can save all of them. Bring me back.” Ayira quickly looked back at her father.
Grinding his teeth and with madness in his eyes, he abruptly ran at her. He grabbed her hair, pulled her head back, and then said into her ear, “I am going to kill you. Should I kill you – the way you killed me? The pain I will give you...” He giggled and continued, “You will beg me to stop. Is your head hurting? That is nothing compared to what I will do to you.
In pain, Ayira strained to say, “If I die, you will die with me. You cannot take over my body if it is dead. That is why I am still alive or you would have killed me long ago. I know they are all dead.”
Her father grinned, but she continued, “I know you would have killed me, but you need me. I am all you have left.”
He let Ayira’s hair go. As she rubbed her head, tears streaming down her face, he smirked and said, “All except one.”
“What do you mean?”
“It seems when I sold your sister, I saved her life, or she would have been killed with the others,” he said, as he began pacing and staring at the ground again.
Though her tears continued to fall, Ayira was stunned. She said, “Malaika... I hated you for selling Malaika to that man. She had done nothing wrong.”
“She kept defying me.”
Ayira continued, “How – by helping me? She did nothing wrong.” Her father only smirked.
“And I had seen you kill Mother over and over again. I never believed it until that day when you first made her sick. She almost died twice. And my own brother and sisters blamed me. They knew you were killing her, but they also thought that I was helping you. You did not see the way they looked at me when Mother was dying. I kept asking you to save her, to stop killing her, but you only cared about your work and so I had to.”
He instantly stopped pacing and anxiously stared at Ayira. “Had to what? I want to hear it from your mouth.”
Ayira continued, “I had to kill you. I took some of her blood, the blood you poisoned, and I fed it to you. The sicker you got, the better she felt…”
He replied, “They told me you would turn on me. They told me you would be my death, but I did not believe them. You were my child, my favorite. We were going to be rich, but you chose your mother over me.”
“You chose death over your family. I told you – I told you, I would be your death, remember?” Ayira asked.
“So what happened after I died? Your mother died anyway. Hmm – I wonder how?”
She appeared stunned and sadly looked down. He started to laugh again. “What happened to your mother? What happened? Huh – oh, they attacked the village and they raped her. They did not kill her quickly, what did they do to her? Oh – they first cut her face and then they slowly cut her from her...”
“I don’t want to hear it,” said Ayira as she stood up and covered her ears. “They sliced her from top to bottom, didn’t they? And then they...”
She cried hysterically and began pacing back and forth as he had.
“You saved her for nothing. I made it easy for her. I just poisoned her. You had her tortured.”
He smirked and started to prance around, gloating. She closed her eyes and fell to her knees. Imani awakened and was stunned to see Ayira on her knees, crying.
“You are still awake. Is there something wrong?”
Ayira stared at Imani before slowly shaking her head, her eyes watery and red. Imani leaned on her
elbow to watch Ayira cautiously.
Her father knelt next to her, and said, “You are just like me. We have both killed people.”
Ayira just stared at him angrily without saying a word, and then looked back down at the ground. “You know what, I will help you. I will help you save your Yellow Feather,” he said.
She lifted up her head in surprise as Imani slowly fell asleep again.
Her father smiled. “You won’t have to worry about him dying a worse death.”
She appeared hesitant and he continued, “I will do anything you ask of me – anything. If you help me I will save him.”
She sighed and slowly shook her head. Disappointed, her father began pacing again, but then suddenly stopped and stared at the entrance in alarm. He said, “Ayira, bring me back to life – Bring me back.”
Ayira quickly looked at him and said, “I cannot.”
He started to grind his teeth again as he nervously stared at the entrance. Ayira watched him curiously. “What is wrong?” she asked.
Her father glared at her and said, “Nothing,” and then raced out the back of the hut When he had disappeared, Ayira took a deep breath and looked down. She was scared. Imani peeked slyly at Ayira, and then swiftly closed her eyes.