Ezinne walked quickly along the bush path, grimacing as the long grass slapped at her bare legs wetly. It was the middle of the harmattan season and the early morning mist was thick and coldly cloying, limiting visibility, but her feet moved with the confidence of memory, buoyed by anger.
She had just returned from the home of Adaure the Wise, and her suspicions had been confirmed. The object she had found, buried shallowly on her threshold, was a charm. An old charm, Adaure the Wise had said, her almost-toothless gums chomping restlessly as she shook her head in disgust. A charm crafted to strike down only men, forged in the heart of the Odunge Wilds, where only the most ruthless dare to enter.
Ezinne walked faster, anxious to return to her husband’s compound before anyone roused from their beds. Her slippers flapped, silencing the wayside crickets as she passed. She was meant to be closeted in mourning, only to be coddled and petted for at least a week more; but she had sneaked out this morning, stepping over her weary mother and pulling on her wrapper in the dim light of the turned-down oil lamp. Armed with the last of her savings and the strange object, she had set out to find the truth, unwilling to point fingers until she was sure what she had found was not simply a bag of rubbish.
Her destination emerged from the misty morning, familiar and quiet, and her eyes stung as she remembered her losses afresh. Now that her worst fears had been confirmed, anger had replaced her sorrow. There was no longer a need to point fingers; she would see justice done.
She paused for a moment to bend over and take off her slippers, then stepped quietly into the compound, making a detour to the door of her husband’s room. Placing her ear against the thin wood, she listened briefly and the silence within assured her the inhabitants still slumbered. But she knew time was working against her; soon people would begin to stir. Already, the morning birds were beginning to chirp.
Stooping quickly, she dug at the hard earth before the door with her nails; already broken and half-chewed from all her pained gnawing in the past few weeks. Bringing out the strange, dusty pouch from where she had secured it at the end of wrapper, she quickly whispered the words Adaure the Wise had told her re-activated it, then slid it into the shallow hole, and covered it up.
Moving nimbly, she rose up and walked quickly across the compound, then sat on her own doorstep, legs flung out. Her eyes were trained on her husband’s door, behind which her husband’s greedy brother, his wife and their two sons slept. They had practically moved in with indecent haste when her husband died three weeks ago, just two days before her infant son also passed, both writhing on Ezinne’s doorstep.
Ezinne angrily wiped her streaming eyes with the edge of her black wrapper. She would sit here till everyone woke. She would wait until the screams began. This morning, they would get a taste of their own medicine.