“Where are you taking me?”
“Just shut up and drive.”
“And what direction am I actually driving in, sir?” Afosua pulled on her seatbelt slowly, stalling for time.
Harold Boakye pulled a knife from his ankle and laid it on his lap.
“You are in no position to be cheeky, my dear girl,” he said menacingly.
“I’m not being cheeky,” Afosua said calmly. “I am just trying to figure out what you want.”
On the outside she seemed calm and unshaken. Inwardly she was terrified. She couldn’t believe she had fallen for Harold’s simple trick. She kicked herself for not being more aware…somehow she thought he might stage something more elaborate. She had underestimated him.
“Go east,” he commanded. “Head for the road to Mampong.”
Afosua hesitated for a moment, praying for a miracle. Had anyone seen her get in the car with a strange man? Street hawkers and drivers passed them by without giving her a second glance.
“Now!” Mr. Boakye screeched.
He was getting more agitated, and Afosua had to keep him calm. She put her car in gear and did exactly as he said. Harold Boakye snickered.
“You this woman. I’ll teach you a lesson,” he said darkly. “I will teach you a very serious lesson.”
Afosua didn’t respond. As the road leading back to the office disappeared from view, so did her hope. There was a real possibility that she might not make it out of this alive.
Lydia seemed more distracted than Annette had ever seen her. She thumbed absently at her files as Sylvester Acquah brought witness after witness to the stand to vouch for Mr. Prah’s character. Lydia barely cross examined one and declined to cross three others. As each man got on the stand, Mr. Prah was beginning to look more and more like a wronged saint. Annette was sure that it was just a matter of time before her doom was sealed.
By noon the judge declared that they would adjourn for the day. After he left the bench Annette scampered over to the bar where Lydia was still seated, staring off into the distance.
“What is going on!” she seethed.
Lydia looked at Annette strangely. Annette was so incensed that she didn’t catch the troubled look in her lawyer’s eyes.
“Mr. Acquah is making him look like an angel, Lydia. Where is your head?”
“I’m sorry,” Lydia murmured. She began absently packing up her brief case, stepping by Annette as soon as she was finished.
Annette was stunned. What was she going to do now? Was this part of Lydia’s strategy? If so, it was failing abysmally. The sound of Kwame Prah’s and Sylvester Acquah’s boisterous laughter filled the halls of the courtroom. In the midst of their uproarious chuckles, Annette heard Sylvester promise that this whole trial would be finished within a day if things kept going in this manner. Flushed, Annette ran after Lydia’s retreating back.
“Lydia. Lydia!” she called desperately. “They’re winning, Lydia!”
Lydia Oppong did not turn around. She found her vehicle and drove away.
When Lydia got home she drew her curtains closed and turned on the water in her bathtub. And old bottle of vodka sat in the cabinet in her bedroom. She had not had a drink in years, but she felt that she was warranted one today. She slid into the scalding hot water with her glass in and let it burn her skin. When the alcohol hit her throat, she felt as though she’d been scorched. She didn’t care. She downed the glass and closed her eyes, letting her mind take itself where it would. It took her back thirty years before.
Lydia was sitting on the veranda of Kobina Asare’s house, the MP for her region. She licked her lips nervously, wondering how he would take the news. She was pregnant and the baby was his. She was scared, but certain that everything would be okay. He had told her many times as they made love how much he cared for her and how lovely she was. He would be stunned, yes, but she knew in her heart he would be supportive. She smoothed the lap of the green and white dress he admired so much. The bust was a little tighter, thanks to her changing body.
After what seemed like eons his shiny black Volvo pulled into the driveway. The watchman sprinted to close the gate behind him. Minister Asare scowled when he saw Lydia on the veranda.
“What are you doing here?” he whispered harshly.
“I – I had to come and see you,” she smiled weakly. “I have some news.”
“I told you never to come to my house unless I brought you.” He grabbed her by the arm roughly. “What if my wife sees you?”
“And who says she hasn’t seen me?” Lydia asked cheekily. “I think she and I would get along nicely. We clearly have a lot in common, seeing as we love the same man. We have similar tastes.”
Kobina relaxed his grip on her arm. In the corner of his eye he noticed the watchman pretending not to watch the two of them.
“Come with me,” he said. “Let’s go somewhere we can talk privately.”
Lydia felt herself get excited. At 22 she was smitten with Kobina Asare. At 38, he was one of the youngest MPs in the country. He was charismatic, charming, handsome and had a body that made her want to do things that she would never consider. But he was also married, and that let Lydia know that she could trust him…but only to a point.
As soon as they were on the road Lydia broke the news.
“I’m pregnant,” she whispered breathlessly.
“I know,” he said gruffly.
“What? How did you know? I only just found out myself.”
Kobina laughed condescendingly.
“I’ve impregnated enough girls to know when one is pregnant. Besides, why else would you show up to my house unannounced?”
Lydia was hurt that he would lump her in with such a joyless lot. Still, she was different. He loved her. He told her so.
“But aren’t you excited that we’re going to have a baby?” she asked hopefully.
“We are NOT going to have a baby.”
Kobina Asare stopped his car. They were in the front of Lydia’s dorm room. She hadn’t even realized he had been driving in the direction of the campus. He pulled a wad of money from his glove compartment and pulled a piece of paper from his wallet.
“I knew this day would come eventually, Lydia,” he said stonily. “Of course you know this changes things between us. I can’t see you again after this.
“Mr. Asare, from now on. Got it?” he said gruffly. He got out of his car and walked over to the passenger side. He opened the door and yanked her out.
“Call this number. The woman who answers will take care of everything. She knows what to do.”
“What do you mean?” asked Lydia tearfully.
“What do you think I mean?” he scoffed. “She will get rid of the baby and you can continue on with your life, just as I will mine.”
He got into his car and sparked the engine.
“There will be enough money left over after the abortion for you to buy yourself something nice – maybe a new dress or something for the next man.”
Lydia caught a sob in her throat. This couldn’t be happening. He was bribing her – paying her to kill their baby. She felt so cheap…so dirty. Did he think so little of her? Kobina looked into her eyes. For a moment, she thought she saw remorse. When he spoke, he was kind.
“Take care, Lydia. You really were something special.”
Kobina Asare sped off, leaving Lydia in a cloud of dust and pain. She felt like she was drowning.
She WAS drowning.
Lydia Oppong pulled herself out of the tub of water and coughed lukewarm liquid from her lungs. The offer of a bribe had nearly destroyed her before but she hadn’t let it. Annette’s desperate words rang in her ears.
Lydia, they’re winning!
She had worked too hard to let the emotions from her past get the best of her. She got out of the tub and got on the phone. She had some work to do.
Kobina Asare had not gotten the best of her with a bribe, and neither would Kwame Prah.