Thriller Adventure Suspense

For Ecko, the yuletide season was a nightmare playing out in reality. Bless Jesus for the season but the merriment and festivity in her household was always overboard. She had somehow managed to evade Christmas at home this year but on the thirtieth of December, the blaring of the telephone began her morning with her angry mother on the other end.

If not, why would she be trudging up the doorstep of the Kume family house? With a sigh and a defeated look, she pushed the door open, stepping into the room. “Hello!” Ecko cried out. This was highly unusual, strange to be precise. The hallway should be filled with babbling voices from all over the entire house. Shoes should be strewn across the wooden floorboards, the sitting room, a beehive of activities with her family huddled in groups of threes and fours. Grandpa Dee should be sitting on his rocking chair with one of the babies in his arms, cooing and making funny noises. The television should be on and the sound system should most definitely be blasting carols. And the aroma of fresh baked cookies should have seeped into every corner of the house already. The house shouldn’t be quiet. Now she thought of it, the driveway was empty. There were no cars parked outside.

Hanging her coat on the hanger, she headed for the staircase. “Mom?” She called out again. “Hellooooo"                                                                                                  “Oh, hey Ecko, you’re here.” Her brother said, coming out from the kitchen. “Hey!” she walked over and they hugged briefly. “Where is everyone? What is going on?” “Wait…you didn’t hear?” he asked.       “Hear what? What am I supposed to hear” She asked, a deep furrow forming in her eyebrow. “Mom didn’t send you a text?” Ecko chuckled, shaking her head sideways. “Do you think if she did I’ll be here asking you? No! Now tell me what’s going on, you’re starting to scare me.”  James whipped out his phone from his back pocket. “Come on, what’s it?” Ecko pressed on, frustration and worry evident in her voice.                                           “Benny is in the hospital.” He finally said. Ecko’s head shot up immediately, her eyes wide in surprise. “What!” she exclaimed. “How? When? Why?’ she was already reaching into her bag for her car keys. “Which hospital?” she asked running for the door. “Gerald’s. I’d have come along but I have to freshen up, just got back. I also need to grab a few things and swing by the pharmacy, gramps’ drugs.” She nodded and flew out the door.

Benny was her little nephew, her brother’s son. What could have happened? She thought, speeding through the streets. He’s just 5 years old! My God! It took her nothing short of fifteen minutes to get to the hospital and that’s only because she’d broken a few federal laws on her way. Rushing into the lobby, she spotted her family

“Hey Mum! Oh my God, what happened?” she cried out, hurrying over to her mum. “Ecko darling. Oh my God dear where have you been?” Her mother enveloped her in a tight hug. She could feel the weariness in the hug. Withdrawing from her mum’s arms, she turned to her family. Her sister was asleep with her baby sleeping soundly in her arms. Her head was resting on her father’s shoulders. Her aunt, grandpa, her sister-in-law were all present.

“I got to the house and didn’t find anyone, Er… saw James, he told me Benny was in the hospital and I rushed down here. Wha…at happened to Benny?” She garbled.

“He was doing just fine last night. I put him to bed last night. Then this morni...” her sister-in-law, Benny’s mum explained and broke into tears. Ecko quickly rushed and took her in her arms.      “There there, it’s okay, he’ll be fine.” She said soothingly, rubbing her back. “So what did the doctor say?” Ecko asked. “We haven’t heard much from them. Your brother’s in there talking to them right now. As you can see, Sade’s a nervous wreck.” Her mother answered. Of course, she’s a nervous wreck, her only son is in the hospital!

Oh my, this is terrifying, Ecko thought. Benny is a healthy boy, no history of illness in the family so where is this coming from? Some minutes after, her mum came to sit beside her.                                                                                                                “I know what being in a hospital does to you Ecko, that’s why I didn’t send you the text. Your brother understands that too, you don’t have to be here.”                                                                                                                 “It’s okay ma. I’ll be fine.” She smiled to reassure her mum and Corina sent her a sympathetic smile back. Now her mother mentioned it, anxiety began to seep in. Hospital. She whispered the word to herself, over and over, again, fighting to suppress the dreadful memories associated with this place. Hospital, she muttered again. She sat there along with her family, waiting for some news. She needed to distract herself. Taking in her surrounding, everything seemed pretty normal. A nurse at the counter, doctors in their white coats, and nurses in their scrubs, families, children all lingering around. Already she was feeling angsty. Her palms were sweaty and panic began to raise a fine sweat over her whole body. The stench of alcohol so strong sent a wave of nausea through her body. Suddenly, she felt the fear. Easy, breathe, she told herself. Breathe in, breathe out. Putting her hands to her face, she shut her eyes tightly, trying to recall a calming memory. But it wasn’t working. What’s going on? She can’t breathe anymore? Wha..t? Flashes of white light blinded her. Wha…t? oh my god! No… My baby!

“Ecko!” her mother’s voice rang out loudly, calling her back to reality. She immediately opened her eyes. “Breathe in baby. Come on” She followed her mother’s hands and took a deep breath. “Out.” she let it out. “In….Out…That’s it...In...out..”                               “Thank you ma. I’m so sor…ry I just lost it for a minute. I prom…” “It’s okay.” Her mother cut her off. “You don’t have to be here.” “No, I’m good. I promise. Oh look!’ she pointed to the doors. “Wale is here.” Her brother walked into the waiting room with despair and distress written all over his face. She shot up from her chair and ran to him meeting him half-way.  “Wale, what’s going on, how is he?”                                                                                                               “Hey, what are you doing here? You shouldn’t be here.” he kissed both her cheeks. “Never mind me for now. How’s my nephew?”                                                                                                     “They’ve been able to stabilize him for now. They’re still running some tests though. We’ll know soon enough.” Ecko could see the hurt and tiredness in his eyes. His spirit was so broken and crushed.         “I’m so sorry” she said softly. He sent her a reassuring smile.

“Oh honey, how is he?” their mother appeared, causing her to shift away. And the entire family was awake. She went around greeting everybody and told them what Wale had said. After talking with everyone, she took the empty seat beside her sister.                                                                                                                 “I know this is hard for you. Being in here and all.” Her sister, Kiki said. “It means a lot to him. You know right?” she nodded. “Yea, I’m good. We’re here for Benny and that’s it.” Nothing else is more important. Not some phobia of whitewalls and coats, nor insignificant memories. “How’s my lil champ doing in there? Huh? Baby...” she cooed at her sister’s baby, smiling and making baby voices. She reached into his stroller and brought him out.

“Could you watch him for a minute please? I really need to use the bathroom?”

“Of course, go ahead we’ll be fine.” She replied “Me and this little champ here, have a lot of catching up to do, now don’t we?” She turned to the baby, tickling him.                                                                                “Thanks” her sister called out already on her way. “Now when did you get so big huh?” and she continued playing with her nephew.  

Some hours later, James came with a few things and her mum, was supposed to go home. Still, no word from the doctor. It was night now, New Year’s Eve. What a way to usher in the new year. They had finally convinced gramps to take a break and go home. Her father took him home so it was left with her, Wale and his wife and then her sister. Every other person had left promising to return in the morning. Thank God she was there because the baby was awake the entire day tiring her sister out. She went with Wale to the cafeteria. Rocking him to sleep, she softly sang lullabies until his eyelids were fluttering shut.

“You know you’re a natural” her sister-in-law said. “You’d be a great mother.” Hmm, a mother. A role life had snatched away from her before she even began to enjoy it. Her sister-in-law gasped when she realized what she said. “Oh I’m sorry I didn’t mean to.” Apparently, the sadness was evident on her face.                                                “Oh it’s okay.” She smiled back still rocking her nephew in her arms. “I didn’t mean to….” Ecko cut her off abruptly, “It’s fine really.” At that moment, the doctor approached them. “The family of Benson Tomi” Sade sprung to her feet.                          “Yes, I’m his mother.”                                                      “Your son is awake now. He’s been taken away from the ICU.” Uh thank God! We both let out a long breathe we didn’t know we were holding. Relief washed over Sade. Thank goodness. “We have the test result. Can I speak to you for a moment?” He asked.

“Sure, sure.” She said her voice a tone lighter. “Erm...sorry can I see him?” I asked unsure of whether that would be possible. I just didn’t want him alone in his room. The doctor hesitated for a moment. “Okay but he’s still a bit weak. The sedatives are not completely out of his system yet.”                            “Okay thank you. Let me just put this handsome one in the strolle...r. Okay” I placed him in his stroller and rolled it following the doctor to Benny’s room.

They both left me, Sade and the doctor and went to his office. I grabbed a chair and dragged it to his side. Parking the stroller beside me.

There he was, little Benny. Looking a bit pale though, but alive. That’s the most important thing. He was alive.

“Aunty Ecko?” his little voice cracked out. “Cookies!” she exclaimed “Hey, now relax don’t stress yourself okay? Just relax. I forbid you from talking.” She said in a soft, calm whisper smiling at him while he did his possible best to smile back. “Where’s daddy and mummy? I’m tired.” She shifted closer and stroked his hair. “Your daddy went to get food down in the cafeteria and your mommy is talking to the doctor okay? Now just relax and sleep. You’ll feel better when you wake up.” It seemed her response was okay because in less than ten minutes, he was out like a light. She sat there, humming songs and stroking his hair, still keeping an eye on the baby in the stroller.

Baby. She had a baby too, once. Panic, reflexive and visceral, washed through her at the memory, as it always did. “Rest dear, you’ll be alright.” She closed her eyes and the flashes of that night, materialized in her mind. Baby. Screams. The beeping of the monitor. Crying. Always the same thing, mere patches but never the full picture. She never remembers and doesn’t even want to. But it hurts. It hurts so bad because she knew she bore a child; she had pushed a living being out from her body. Overwhelmed with emotions, she let the tears flow freely. “I’m sorry” she whispered. “So sorry.”

Suddenly she felt a body cover her in embrace. “It’s okay dear. It’s okay. It’ll be fine.” Sade, her sister-in-law. “Everything is going to be fine dear.” Sade said, comforting her.                                                    “I can’t even remember what happened. What kind of person am I?” Ecko said, speaking through her tears. “A good one Ecko, you’re a good person. Holding unto the past will only hurt you more. You have to let go or you’ll never move on. Just begin afresh, start the new year anew. Okay?”

She nodded frantically, wiping her tears with the back of her palm. Maybe Sade was right. She can’t continue like this. She mustn’t continue like this. “Yea, you’re right. Thank you.” She held onto to her tighter. “Thank you so much.” “Oh it’s fine dear. Now, you still have 3 hours before we officially move into 2021. Are there still tears you want to let free?” Sade asked.                          Saying no would be a lie. “Yes.” She nodded and let everything out. Once and for all.         

January 05, 2021 15:25

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.