Mono was named after his rampant monologues. He was speaking his thoughts aloud even without any listeners. He was living in an ever-ending soliloquy of opaque dialogue he had invented himself. For himself.

Secilia was genuinely fond of this act of rebellion. It was against the surrounding norms that dictated both their lives. He was her only friend around the house and she held in high regard the sovereignty he had over his own life. Unwittingly, he was enlightening her of how the highest level of independence can be achieved.

Mono’s proper name would have been Augustus but Ladlow never baptized him. Being his bastard, it was expected of him to pay his debt of gratitude to his master, for as long as he would dwell on this earth. Ladlow had spared him his life although his mother died during labor. Rebecca. The only creature in the entire world that enabled Beddows to love beyond what was instructed to him, that he ought to have feelings for. Ladlow put Rebecca to rest with honors that suited an official wife’s. Advised by his counsellors, he did not the child’s life even though he did not declare him as a legitimate heir because he was ‘slow’.

Mono was thought to lack the social development and progress in social skills that would befit a Ladlow successor. He also resembled his mother so much that Ladlow, unable to lay eyes on him day to day, banished him to live with the stableman’s family. Mono was separated from Almyra that day. Martha’s granddaughter, his unspoken love. Secilia knew all about it and let him watch her cook. Especially when formal dinners occurred. She stayed longer around the kitchen and Mono could linger in his reverie of preparing food only for them two. Usually, he was washing her hands from the potato peeling and she would kiss his fingers. The midday sun was always revolving around their heads but they would never cast a shadow. Darkness couldn’t touch Almyra.

Mostly, that is all he did around the house. Hector, the gardener invited him to dig out roots from time to time. Mono felt useful when real dialogues occurred between them, Hector thought it was due to the manual dexterity. He would love to make him a competent groomer.

Secilia moved slighlty and the bandage around her chest revealed the penetrative dye of her wounds. Fresh, deep red blood was ready to stain the sheets if Mono did not hurry to adjust them around her belly. A tear dropped as he bowed checking the right spot for the sheet. He was trying to figure out what the ideal temperature for her body would be. He wanted her to feel warm and see dreams even warmer. Her closed eyes caused his to shut with effort spilling more tears on the mattress. Their sudden, uncontrollable descent deteriorated his fear that she might not wake up. She was lying on that bed injured, silent, and pale for days now. Mono wouldn’t dare to ask Ladlow or anyone around the house if she would wake up. The renovations were still processing and everyone looked preoccupied with finishing it. So, Mono felt he had no choice but to sit back and keep on talking to his friend and praying at the same time that she would hear him and come back.

He attempted vigorously to open his eyes and sat back in the floor next to her. A sense of duty compelled him to keep on with his words, faint-hearted that their inept handling of the sick atmoshpere won’t improve any time soon. He was holding her hand and rubbing the line of the Venus inside her palm, he engrossed his mind with the thought that Almyra would come and change her bandages this time. He needed a motivating thought to keep on talking in faking cheerful manner so as not to make Secilia feel sorry for herself. ”Have you brought coins, to fill my hand or not?” Secilia’s sapped voice sounded.

Mono turned his head and his mouth was gaping. He felt invigorated and for a moment he loooked with his eyes for that picture of Jesus on the wall to thank him for the miracle. ”Madam, oh Madam” he said in a cracking tone. ”Am I still in his house?” Secilia asked unable to feel certain parts of her body in a drowsy way, while trying to adjust her self better on the bed. ”Yes. He saved you.” Mono answered in a guilty tone that betrayed how incapable he considered he was for not saving her from there.

Silence predominated and both gaped at the empty space on the wall across them. A stain in the shape of a square had their eyes fixed on it.  A picture of the Jesus used to decorate that square and now that it is missing, the servants failed to replace it, since they haven’t started renovating that room yet. Secilia noticed his shoes and Mono noticed her gaze on them and answered a question that was never articulated: ‘’ It was Sancho. Our dog. He ripped them up. Dogs destroy shoes because that’s what we put on before leaving.’’

‘’ But you are going back, aren’t you?’’

‘’Yes madam. I always do. I just have to let Sancho give his battle. 

Make him feel he deserves my coming back.’’

Josephine leaned her head on his shoulder and asked in a weary voice as both were still having a prolonged vacant look on the wall: ‘’Is tonight the night Mono?’’

‘’Yes madam. God is coming to save us tonight.’’


Author: Pepi Naki

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