I placed my hands on my head as tears flowed down my face. My mum passed the pathway that led into the bush. I followed. We parted ways. I heard a cry and turned back to see a black pussy cat. I screamed. I drew back and staggered as I hit a tree stump. The cat fixed its large yellow eyeballs on me. I turned to run as I remembered the story my mum told me about pussy cats. Since then, I never dreamed of seeing cats. Finding my sister was my priority, so I waved my hands at the cat but it cried more. I looked into the eyeballs of the cat. It mewed as if it wanted to communicate with me. It turned. I followed the cat as it struggled among the heap of dried sticks. I removed the specks of dirt that stuck to my clothes as I crunched the dried, fallen leaves. Seeing the swing, I regretted not listening to my mother. I remembered what happened as fresh tears flowed down my face.
I quickly did my assignment and also helped my little sister with hers so that I could join my friends to play with the local swing made up of planks and ropes tied to a coconut tree.
The laughter coming from the bush in my backyard drew me. I held my little sister as I scurried to meet my mum across the street.
"Mum, I want to go and play," I said.
"You aren't going anywhere. Go inside and play," my mum said as I dodged her hand.
I looked at my six years old sister. "Peace doesn't know how to play. Assuming you bought a swing or a butterfly toy, I won't go anywhere."
My mum kept quiet.
I had mentioned her weak point. I knew.
"Go! But watch your little sister. And I don't want to see any scratches on your bodies, Patience."
"Don't stay long. The time is…" My mum paused and looked at her shadow. "2 p.m. And you must be back by 3 p.m."
How did she know the time? I thought. I've tried several times to do that but I didn't guess correctly. Maybe when I grow big like my mum, I will. I used that to console myself. I held the hands of my little sister as I hurried to meet some of my friends who were swinging. I bent down so as not to be hit by a branch which crossed my path. I carried my sister up as I step on the little sticks. I hit a stump but was quite lucky I had stamina. I arrived at the swing and had to push other children who sat happily on the plank. When it got to my sister's turn. A few mothers came, held the ears of their children and dragged them out of the place. My sister and I were behind. I placed my sister on the swing and pushed her. Instead of my sister being afraid, I was. She sat, smiling.
I felt a sharp pain on my right foot that brought me back to reality. I bent down, picked the soldier ant which stuck to my skin and killed it by rubbing it between my two fingers. We have been walking for ten minutes now.I guessed. Bright colours on the ground drew my attention. I saw the butterfly I caught lying on the floor and I regretted not listening to my sister's voice.
"Let's go home." I heard my little sister whisper and at the same time, I saw a butterfly whose feather was designed with many colours perched on a flower. I tiptoed toward the butterfly. But I didn't see the butterfly when I reached the spot. Seeing the butterfly in the air, I waited for it to perch and I ran to meet it. It flew again. I was determined to take this butterfly with many colours home. I would show it to my friends and take care of it as my pet. I walked as if my feet would not touch the ground again toward the butterfly which was fixed on a flower. I used my two hands and grabbed the flowers. I held it tight but I couldn't feel anything struggling for escape in my hand. I let the leaves fall and turned to go as I saw the butterfly on the grass. I decided this would be my last trial. As I got closer to the grass, I fell flat as I stretched my hands. The butterfly lay under my hand without moving. My eyes became red and I bit my lips as I turned to go and meet my sister. I realised I had gone far away from her. Hurrying back to the swing, I met no one. "Peace," I screamed my sister's name but heard nothing except my voice. I cried as I picked up her footwear. I scurried to and fro. I couldn't smell my sister's presence. "She is at home." A thought came into my mind and I ran out of the bush. The sun had gone down. I prayed. I regretted not listening to my mum.
"Patience, what is it?"
I recognized my mother's voice. She was coming toward the bush pathway while I was on the road.
"I can't find Peace. Is she with you?" I said.
"No.You disobeyed all my instructions. You came late. You don't reason like an eleven years old girl but you didn't look after your sister."
I nodded. "I was catching a butterfly."
The cat pinched me. I walked to hit the cat as I heard a loud sound behind me. I saw a big coconut in the spot I left. I patted the cat. Will this make me like cats? My sister is my priority. I thought. For days and weeks, children had gone missing in my local community. I will never allow my sister to be among them. I had to save my sister. I dragged cobwebs from my face as I walked. I grew scared as I never knew that this bush is wide and long. The cat stopped. I looked across a river and saw children who were sitting on a wooden bench. A man was sitting down with them. The children looked neither sad nor happy. I saw my sister playing, whose face was swollen. She had cried for a long time. She was playing among other kids. I wondered whether the man was a good Samaritan or a kidnapper. My mind went to the police but I had to go and call my mum first. I turned to go but I couldn't find the cat any more.