By Sinmisola Ogúnyinka
Back from rehab, all I wanted was to make things up with my sixteen-year-old daughter, Zoe. I had a job now, and that was very important. I now paid bills and had a daughter to look after, even if only on weekends. Her mother would not allow her to live with me on a more permanent basis. I counted my little blessings.
The job meant I was away all Friday night. I’d resume at about 9 pm and clock out twelve hours later, or less if the engine room I worked in functioned optimally. Problem-solves were nearly every night I worked, though.
Zoe had been giving her mother a hard time lately, which made me feel I was doing something right on the weekends we had together. Not that I could fault my perfect ex-wife on mothering, but it made me feel good she lacked somewhere. Zoe looked forward to our weekly “Friday-after-school to Sunday” together. I couldn’t be with her only one night of the two, but I tried to make it up during the day on Saturday, and through church on Sunday, till she returned to her “normal” life from Sunday evening.
So, when the supervisor at work called for a VTO (Voluntary Time Off)—which wasn’t paid but offered whenever we had too many people on the shift—I gladly took it. I’d lose about $80 in paid time, but I thought it was worth all the while to be home with my kid at least for the two nights we had in the week. Previously, I snubbed VTO because I needed the money and there was no one to go home to anyway.
It was close to midnight, and Zoe would be watching a movie. That’s what she told me she did till early hours of the morning. I wasn’t surprised to see the lights on as I parked my Oldsmobile in my slot. I looked forward to watching her movie with her.
Full of excitement, I jogged to my door. It wasn’t locked, which I didn’t like at all. Though the neighborhood was relatively safe, I’d told Zoe to always lock up after I left.
When I walked into the 2-bedroom house, which I had gotten so I’d be allowed to keep Zoe for the night—and which took almost half of my paycheck—the first thing that struck me was the TV. It was off. The temperature in the room was freezing and my dear daughter had a male visitor. Beside these initial observations, the room was dead still. My daughter was totally “out” and her guest, a dark-haired man who looked double her age, had a teaspoon with a cigarette lighter lit under it.
Nothing could have held me back. All the years in prison, and rehab disappeared from my thought process as the same anger which got me incarcerated overwhelmed me. I couldn’t have been able to think straight when I lifted the man off the floor, and all 300 pounds of me flung him against the wall several times before I threw his limp figure out into the snow.
Zoe was too stoned to notice whatever was going on. And the man, probably half my size was too weak to put up any meaningful struggle.
I was going back. To jail. Definitely. I’d be lucky to come out someday, again, if that strange man lived.
I fell on my knees and wept. It didn’t take long for a neighbor to call 911. I heard the siren from a long distance.
About the Author
Sinmisola Ogúnyinka is a pastor’s wife, mother, writer and movie producer. She has a university degree in Economics and is a Craftsman of Jerry B. Jenkins’ former Christian Writers’ Guild. She lives with her family in Philadelphia, PA.
You can read Sinmisola's flash fiction column on the 4th Tuesday each month here at Pandora's Box Gazette.