Ethel nuzzled the baby’s cheeks and couldn’t help beaming as the child let loose a toothless grin. That feeling of rightness crept upon her as she cradled the baby.
“You’re so good with babies and you aren’t even a mother yet. How do you do it?” a cheery Sister Amaka spoke.
Ethel refused to let the words dampen her mood. Amaka meant well, she knew.
“I guess it’s God’s gift,” she responded, thinking how it wasn’t a gift. And definitely not from God. “I think she’s hungry.”
Amaka gave a grateful smile and plucked the baby from Ethel’s hands. Ethel longed so much to watch her feed the baby; there was something soothing about watching a baby being breastfed. The way the child gripped the mother’s breast with the knowledge that it belonged to him/her fascinated Ethel.
“She’s so cute. Looks like you,” she slid into the seat beside Amaka; the church premise was fast emptying.
Amaka tucked the nipple into the baby’s mouth, “I think she looks like her daddy,” she replied, “you’d be a good mother, you know.”
Ethel stiffened. She’d been a member of this church for three years and friends with Amaka for two, yet she’d never opened up to talk about her past. Not with Amaka or even Pastor Timothy. Trust had never come easily to her and she wasn’t going to start now.
“Ethel!” an urgent whisper from Amaka bought her back to reality.
“I’m here Amaka.”
“You had that look in your eye again.”
“That look you get when I mention children. Or marriage.”
Damn her intuition. Ethel winced.
She’d built a new life for herself. In Christ. Then why did she feel this turbulence within her every time? Why didn’t she feel forgiven? Why couldn’t she forget her past?
“I don’t know why we’re friends if you can’t talk to me,” Amaka continued, “I pray for you every day Ethel. But I wish you’d open up to me more.”
“I’m…fine, Amaka.” No. I’m scared, tired and unhappy. A voice rang in her head.
Amaka opened her mouth to speak and just then her husband came up to them.
“Sorry to interrupt ladies but my meeting with Pastor is over and we need to go home,” Biodun was a hulking six feet where Amaka was teetering on five-two. An unlikely couple in Ethel’s eyes but a happy one. At least happier than she was.
“Okay darling. Let me just finish up with baby Sharon.”
“Be quick ooh. My stomach is complaining. Meanwhile Sister Ethel, Pastor wants to see you.”
She’d been expecting it. As head of welfare unit, she usually catered to Pastor’s needs after church.
“Eth. We’ll talk later, okay?” Amaka gave her a knowing look.
Ethel nodded and blew Sharon a kiss. Even as she headed towards Pastor’s office; she knew she wouldn’t talk to Amaka. Not about her sordid past. She wasn’t ready.
No matter how Pastor Tim preached about being a new creation in Christ Jesus, she still felt like her dirty old self. Like He hadn’t forgiven her yet.
She took a deep breath as she got to Pastor Tim’s office. She heard voices from within as she knocked.
“Sister Ethel, come in,” Pastor Tim called.
The office was almost too plush for a man of God. So Ethel thought the first time she’d entered but as the years went by, she’d come to know it fit Pastor Tim’s person. He liked art and it showed in the spontaneity of his office arrangement.
“What do you need sir?” she asked.
There was someone facing the window. Probably one of Pastor’s minister friends.
“Ethel! Get my brother here a drink. Hollandia preferably. He’s visiting from Lagos. Charles, this is our head of Welfare department…Sister Ethel. God has used her greatly to bless us.”
A smile escaped Ethel’s lips. Pastor Tim had a way of making one feel valuable.
“Good day sir,” she greeted the visitor who was still turned away.
“Hello,” and he turned. Finally.
Time stopped. Not literally. But it did, for Ethel. She looked up at the man before her. Charles. This man who’d…
Those were her last thoughts as she felt the floor give way beneath her.
…to be continued next week
By Mimi Adebayo
Miracle Adebayo is a young lady with an incurable passion for writing. She has her eyes firmly set on the top ranks of the New York Times Bestsellers List and believes that she will make it someday by the grace of God who is her main source of inspiration. Mimi, as she is better known, writes to entertain and to inspire; she crafts more fiction prose than any other genres and considers herself terrible at poetry. But that is not to say she wouldn’t try her hands at a few poems for an attractive incentive. Her works have been published on several literary sites some of which are Naijastories.com, thenukanniche.com, theafricanstreetwriters and the latest now, chisomojukwu.wordpress.com! You can catch more of her stories on her blog http://www.mimiadebayo.wordpress.com.