Bernice's ride through the city was amazing. She hadn’t planned this but there was one particular place she wanted to visit. Her heart pushed her to that part of the city where she once lived. Her body resisted the temptation to go to that particular location but her mind was there already. The scenes she’d tried had to forget was going to come back one way or the other but she took the risk. She turned a junction to the mansion she once lived in and noticed how developed that part of the city had become. It was the Provençal mansion, the place where it all began. A mansion her father constructed. There were new structures but that particular building remained the same. It seemed to be the best in the entire area as Tracy usually said, ‘’This mansion was built for the generation ahead.’’ And then her father would reply to his wife.
‘’I built it for my kids,’’ Bernice remembered that man she called father.
There was this huge fancy glass boutique for men on the right side of the street which meant that major evacuation occurred before the boutique was built. What used to be full of wild vegetation was now a sight for classy men. Everyone wanting to be trendy. She giggled thinking of how someone could be trendy in a place that was almost a bush about fifteen years ago. She smiled, it was that same spot her mother wanted to build that dream school of hers. Obviously, things didn’t turn out as planned. A thin emotion of happiness was felt within her.
She parked her car still staring at the mansion. She finally bowed her head thinking about veering off like she’d never been there but she raised it up again tying that jet-black hair into a low ponytail and then walked closer to the mansion. Each step in that yellow heels caused a tear and each tear increased the abyss she had created in her heart. The garden remained the same still at the back of the house and she couldn't resist but to remember the lovely moments she had once had with her sister and father in the garden. Tracy always watched them from the garden. Theirs was once a happy family. She laughed as she remembered those flowers she was once compared to. A mixed feeling inside her as it all came back.
FIFTEEN YEARS AGO
David and his two lovely daughters; Isabella and Lawrencia were at the garden of their new mansion. It had been a month since they moved in and the family was as happy as always. Tracy stood in her kitchen watching the happy family she had made.
''If there is one thing I can see amidst my children, it's the fact that Isabella is a wild-flower and Lawrencia is a sunflower. Not just any type of sunflower but a wild sunflower. One that’s beautiful but doesn’t let others stand on her rights.'' David told his daughters and Lawrencia couldn't desist from staring at those plants she was being compared to.
They had moved several miles in search of a place that white people would respect them as the blacks they were. It was a century of racism where blacks were still treated with disrespect. Still staring at her family there was a knock at the door. Isabella raced to the door before her parents could. Lawrencia, however, sat at the garden looking at the wonderful sunflower she had always admired.
It was Enoch and the couple was surprised to see him.
''I'm Enoch Kins, the senator's guard and he has instructed me to tell this family to meet him tomorrow for breakfast. He just wants to welcome you into Poblanco.'' Enoch said and left immediately.
''It would be nice for us to meet the Senator. We can even tell him about our plan to establish an international school here in Poblanco.'' Tracy said convincingly holding unto her daughter and husband. Lawrencia turned to stare at the smiley face of her mother.
...on that beautiful bright morning, her parents signed their death contract. The nice scenes were gradually changing into horrible ones. In that same garden, she saw her sister die. She remembered how they run past the street she was standing on. The bullet her father received and how his car sparked a fire. Those gunshots signalled something to her and that was, ‘War had begun!’ Her body was covered with goosebumps out of fright. She shut her eyes in a haste but it was worse.
FIFTEEN YEARS AGO
The Provençal mansion stood in a deserted place in the still-developing city since they had decided to build Tracy's dream school close to the mansion. Therefore, the sudden gunshot in that environs made David stop his car immediately. He turned to look at his daughter who looked back in return.
David and Lawrencia parked the car a junction away from their residence as they decided to walk home. David held his daughter's hand pretending that everything was all right but even Lawrencia could feel his hands tremble.
''Lawrencia,'' he finally paused and knelt in front of his daughter,'' I don't know what is in there but I want you to wait for me in the car and I'll personally come for you if everything is all right. Just don't complain.'' David said and Lawrencia had no choice but to walk back to the car.
David walked willingly to the house but after seeing some cars parked beside the road, he noticed that his wife had company. Uninvited guests to be precise. He knew he wasn't safe since the only gun he had was at home and he wished that Tracy could have used that to defend herself. Instead of using the main gate, he used the back door. The movement of armed men in his compound was a problem on its own. He tried to call for the aid of the Police but stopped after noticing that they were the Senator's men. William's roars were evident and David needed a way to save his family.
David hid poised at the back door as he monitored the movement of the guards just when he was about to move in through the kitchen back door, the door went open. He was caught half-way in his movement surprised with what he saw. Standing in the garden that connected the kitchen to the compound was Kimberly and his daughter who seemed to be bleeding from the neck.
Isabella was so happy to see her father that she decided to race to him. Kimberly tried to stop her as David told her to wait on countless occasions just then he received a tap from the back and it was Lawrencia.
''What did I tell you?'' David asked Lawrencia but she didn't have time to answer as she pointed at her sister who had already begun to run to them. Just when Isabella was about to touch her sister, the Senator shot. Lawrencia stood petrified with her eyes in only one direction and that was her sister who lay on the ground looking directly into her eyes. Some armed men began to come in Kimberly's direction and she raced as fast as she could to David. William shot in her direction but she had made her way to David's already.
''Isabella!'' David screamed and begun to run after Kimberly had pushed him.
David and Kimberly began to run but they had to come back for Lawrencia who didn't believe that her sister was dead. They raced as fast as they could with bullets flowing in many directions. One bullet hit David on the shoulder but he had to make sure that his family was safe. Kimberly was as desperate as ever as she took Lawrencia away from David. His car was their only option and he was the only one who knew how to drive. They hopped into David's car which was a junction away and he had already taken off.
''Where is Tracy?'' David asked Kimberly.
''She's dead!'' Kimberly replied straightforwardly as tears fell down her eyes.
''No!'' David screamed in tears but there was no time to be sentimental as William and his men chased David with their van.
''Isabella saw a lot before William shot her. The poor girl saw her mother being raped by that monster!'' Kimberly screamed at the end of her statement and they felt how fast David was driving the car. He seemed to have lost his brain confused with everything that was going on. Soon, William's team shortly lost sight of David's.
''I need the both of you to get down!'' David commanded after deliberately stopping the car. Kimberly got down and pushed the muted Lawrencia along with her.
''What do you plan on doing?'' Kimberly asked.
''The only way to protect the both of you is to do what I have in mind,'' he paused in tears to look at his daughter eye-to-eye, ''whatever that happens promise me that you wouldn't let your family die in vain. You know that you're my wild sunflower and always remember that I love you!'' he shut the door still staring at the only family he had left as he fiercely drove the car. Kimberly pushed Lawrencia behind one of the trees as William's van came passing by. Lawrencia rose her head in time to see her father's car hit directly into a nearby tree and immediately the car sparked a fire. Lawrencia shook like she had never before.
Everything disappeared in the blink of an eye. Maybe her tale didn’t have to do with that mansion she once called home but every street that either led to or away from it. She wiped her tears and pulled the tie of her hair, the jet-black hair turned back into its smooth waviness. She stared back at the mansion and then stood frozen when she noticed the new residence in that house. It was no other person than Khady, Samuel's girlfriend and Samuel happened to be the son of Senator William, the man who destroyed the life of her family. It was the very same Khady she had fought with. They exchanged eye-contact within the first five seconds and Bernice sat back in her car and raced off towards the direction her father died.
''What the hell is she doing here?'' Khady screamed and her father, Daniel walked out.
''Who?'' he asked after seeing no one.
''It was that Hayes lady. I saw her with my very own eyes. She was standing there. She raced off in her car after seeing me.'' Daniel laughed at her daughter.
''I am very serious, Dad. I saw her. She was in a dark-green blouse that had one side sleeveless and she was wearing green trousers just like mine. I bet she was wearing those earrings she wore during the evening party when she poured champagne on my gown.'' Daniel laughed remembering those scenes. She held unto the tough door to the mansion.
''You're hallucinating. That girl doesn't know anywhere in Poblanco much less our home.'' Daniel laughed once again and left his daughter alone.
Each part of town reminded Bernice of her family. She drove directly to the guest-house to avoid any more trouble. She had to prepare very well for her dinner with the Blancos and that was what she was going to do. That night her parents died changed her life. She changed from being the little Provençal girl likened unto a wild-sunflower into a lady whose heart was an abyss of revenge. This was the secret of Bernice Hayes, the skeleton in her closets one would say, the billionaire who was now Senator William’s investor. She stared at the huge billboard of William Blanco that had been made in front of the guest-house. Her black eyes hot with fury.
‘’I’m back for you!’’