BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Copyright © Ufuomaee
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Erhuvwun preferred to wash their clothes by the stream. She had told Amadi how the flowing water was ideal for rinsing them off and left a lovely fragrance in the fabrics. After the first time, when his wrappers had returned brighter than they’d ever been, he hadn’t challenged her theory.
Erhuvwun also stole the opportunity of time away from Amadi and her new home, to enjoy a bath alone by the stream, from time to time. Due to their isolation from the other villagers, she wasn’t at risk of being caught naked. And she sang freely, in a way she couldn’t when she was at home with Amadi. Little did she know that her songs called out to him, and he’d taken to snooping on his wife as she bathed naked in the stream, being too mesmerized by the sight to offer an objection.
“Pssst! Pssst!” Erhuvwun heard the sound of someone hissing at her. She spun her head around frantically, while covering her privates with her hands, wondering where the sound was coming from. “Pssst!” the sound came again, and she was positive now that she wasn’t alone.
She hurriedly wrapped and tied her wrapper into a halter-neck dress, covering her breasts and allowing enough skirt to cover her soft, voluptuous thighs. “Who’s there?!” she shouted, hoping she was mistaken but still afraid that her spy would reveal him or herself.
And then he did, by waving a fallen branch, or maybe he’d broken it off one of the trees. She peeped at the person, shrinking away as she gathered the clothes she’d spread, thinking she could make a run for it. But then he stepped out fully, and recognition came.
Akpos beheld Erhuvwun, his beloved, marvelling at how she’d blossomed into a beautiful young lady. Her breasts had practically doubled in size since the last time he’d seen her, and her buttocks had taken the shape of a pumpkin. Damn, how had he forgotten what a beauty she was?!
Now, she was looking at him strangely, as if she was looking at a ghost. She seemed frozen where she was, so he came fully out of hiding. He hadn’t really thought this through, but now that he’d seen her, he was ready to run away with her, damn the consequences!
“Beauty,” he called her by his pet name for her. “I’ve missed you,” he said, when he got within earshot of her enough not to shout.
Erhuvwun was shaking, not sure if it was because of nerves, passion or fear. She suddenly thought of Amadi, and what he would do if he knew Akpos had come to see her. “Akpos, you can’t stay…”
“I don’t want to stay. I want you to come with me. To the city. Today!”
Erhuvwun stepped back, now afraid. Could it be she was dreaming? This had to be a dream. “Akpos… I can’t. I’m married now.”
Akpos reached for her hand and took hold of it, refusing to let her free, not that she offered much resistance. “Erhuvwun… I’m sorry I made you wait so long. But I still love you… Does he love you like I do?”
Erhuvwun swallowed, looking around. She thought she saw a movement in the bushes, but it could just be a rodent. She looked back at Akpos, handsome Akpos, the love of her life. “I don’t love him… I can’t say he loves me. But I can’t leave. Not like this… I made a promise, for Papa’s sake.”
“Yes, he told me. But he’s miserable thinking of you. He said he hasn’t seen you since. Erhuvwun, it doesn’t have to be this way… Please come, let’s leave now. I have a good job in the city, I’ll take care of you.”
Erhuvwun looked about her, wondering if this wasn’t an answer to prayer. She took in a deep breath and swallowed hard. Akpos tugged at her hand to help her hasten her decision, and she stepped closer towards him. It was now or never.
“Take your wretched hands off my wife!” came a loud bark, as Amadi stepped out of the shrubs to reveal his giant frame and an axe in his hand.
Erhuvwun’s heart was racing with fear, more for Akpos than for herself. She knew that Amadi could kill him, and to him it would be pure justice. She’d seen him fight and kill a cobra and knew that he didn’t even need the axe to be a fatal adversary.
“Sir, he’s an old friend… He brought me news about father…”
Amadi wasn’t even looking at Erhuvwun. He was strangely hurt by her decision to run away with this fool, and he didn’t quite know how to look at her. The strange man was surprisingly brave for someone who had thought to cowardly steal his wife away. Feeling renewed rage, Amadi threw his axe at the stranger’s feet, intentionally missing the point of target by a mere inch.
Akpos peed himself for fear and released his hold of Erhuvwun, before scampering away like a rat, going the way it came. Now Erhuvwun stood alone, trying to keep her head up, but afraid to look at her husband. She was waiting, waiting for his slap, which she was sure would come. But all she heard was his footsteps towards her and his downward movement to pick up the axe he’d thrown before he began to walk away.
Like a child caught in the act of theft, Erhuvwun followed her husband home. That night, Amadi did not touch his wife. And she knew she had cut him deep.
To be continued...
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