Fair woke up earlier than usual, in fact she wasn't sure if she could say she slept at all. At the first crow of the hen, she got up from the bed where her mother still lay fast asleep, she put on her slippers and tip-toed out of the room in order not to wake her up.Sitting on the stairs leading to her door post, she drew in fresh air into her lungs. She loved the feel of the early morning dew on her silky skin, the cool breeze that flushed her face sending her hair flying in different directions across her face, she had also grown accustomed to watching the sun rise.
Today, she will be turning eighteen no wonder she could hardly sleep. Fair, as her name goes was fair and beautiful with lovely brown eyes and round full lips. Her appearance always caused a stir in any crowd, she had a stately figure, the type that would pass for an aristocratic lady, her 6 feet height gave her an intimidating edge over other young ladies her age but she had a pure heart.
Today was the day her mother had promised her she would begin to go into the village and here it was.
For the past seventeen years of her life, she and her mother lived in the secluded hill side of Ughelli village overlooking the main town. Growing up was somewhat lonely and quiet but as the years passed by she grew accustomed to it even to the point of loving it. Her only companions when her mother went into the village to buy groceries or for business were the birds chirping above the tree beside their house and of course their dog, Luna.
How and why she and her mother, Emilia, had ended up on such a secluded hill had been a mystery to her and even when she asked questions about her dad, her mother always brushed the question aside telling her to wait till she turned eighteen. She smiled broadly, today she was going to get the answers from her mother and "mom you had better be ready to talk", she mouthed. A cool breeze that sent chills down her spine awoke her from her thoughts, she stood up, pulled her robe tightly around her body as she went inside to do her chores, it was already morning.
The night sky was brightly lit by a full moon and numerous twinkling stars, a beautiful weather for a tete-a-tete between mother and daughter. They both sat in silence, facing each other, with Fair sitting on a low stool and her mother on a much higher one and the tension in the air was almost touchable, except for the occasional hooting of an owl somewhere in bush surrounding their hill side house and the croaking of frogs.
Emilia was the first to break the silence, "Fair my child", she started, "I know you have a thousand questions to ask me and I am not even sure what to tell you or what to even expect, but I want you to know that everything thing I did was to give us, you and I, a better life".
Fair stared at her mother who wasn't much older than herself with unreadable eyes, not giving away any form of emotion, nothing!
"Nineteen years ago, Emilia continued, I lived down there in the village" she said, pointing her index finger as if to show the exact spot where she had lived. Orphaned at the early age of eight, I turned to relatives for help, at the age of twelve when they got tired of me, I was kicked out into the streets. Emilia paused, and dabbed at her already teary eyes with the hem of a wrapper that was loosely tied on her enormous waist. Fair's heart reached out to her mother and impulsively, she stretched out her hand to touch hers while still holding her unreadable gaze. Having gained courage from her daughter's gesture, Emilia continued, " for many days I slept on the streets, at the mercy of good and bad people alike. I practically begged to eat. As fate would have it, things turned in my favour when I got ran over by Mrs. Doughlas. A faint smile spread across her lips as she remembered vividly the occurrence of that day, she took me in and for the time being, I didn't have to worry about food and shelter. Things soon turned ugly when her son began to pick interest in me, "but what was I to do"? She asked, looking pleadingly at her daughter whose reflection suddenly looked strikingly in resemblance of her father. Well, "I was raped by him in his mother's absence and too scared to speak", she said with resigned tone. Of course, when it was discovered that I was pregnant, I got kicked out again but this time I was too weak to fight. Fresh tears welled up in her eyes as she spoke, "I'm sorry mom", was all Fair could bring herself to say.
"My child, Emilia continued, Life hasn't been fair to us and so to your question on why we stay in this secluded hill"? I guess you now know the answer. Fair nodded her head, without staying a word. I wanted to stay far away from people and I also wanted to protect you from the wicked claws of the world, as Emilia spoke, the hot tears that welled up in her eyes began to pour out freely, but she continued to speak nonetheless. The only way I knew how to protect us was to run, far, far away from the world and people that hurt us, she reached out and grabbed Fair hands tightly, stroking it as she spoke.
She stood up and motioned for Fair to do the same. As Fair stood opposite her mother, she towered high above her, at the same time her gaze remained unflinched and then it dawned on Emilia that her daughter was nothing like her.
With renewed energy, she put her hand on Fair's shoulder and said "you my girl are stronger than I, and I know that the world can not crush you".
From tomorrow, you would no longer stay with me in this secluded hill side, you would no longer be in hiding, you will face the world unafraid. You have always been a fighter since you were a child, now you would have to go into the world and carve a part for yourself, remember the world would deal harsh blows at you but you must not cower in fear.
In that instant it dawned on Fair that she was no longer the little girl shielded behind mama's apron, instantly she realized that the best way to win at life was to face it head on and by God, she was determined to win, not just for her but for her mother.
As the two women stood in the darkness of the night in tears and in warm embrace, they knew that tomorrow had been decided, what it would bring they weren't sure of all they had was now.