Tade jogged every morning. Today was no different. As usual, he left his house at 05:30 am and decided to take a route different from his normal one round the estate. He particularly had a reason to go jogging this morning because the day before, he had passed a house. It looked a bit unkempt from the outside but it was the breathtakingly beautiful woman he’d seen there yesterday that made him want to pass the house again. She had thick, curly hair and strikingly piercing eyes. They’d made mad eye contact when he passed by and he could almost swear he’d felt her eyes on his butt till he turned off the street, heading back home to get ready for work.
He hoped to see her again today but he wasn’t so lucky or at least that’s what he first thought. Just as he was about to pass the house, he saw a curtain rustle from the side of his eye and turned to find her staring straight at him. The look was like a soft massage on his skin and when she smiled, he felt his knees buckle. He looked down for a moment, slightly embarrassed at how hard he was blushing. When he looked back again to wave at her, she was already gone and he almost felt as if he had imagined it all. He couldn’t concentrate at work all day because his mind kept wondering back to her.
Tade usually played a game of Ludo with his neighbour, Arinze, by 06:30 pm every day. That night, he told Arinze of his experience and wondered why the man looked so shaken.
‘Tade, nobody lives in that house.’ Arinze whispered.
‘Really? Well, I guess she just moved in.’ Tade answered confidently.
‘Guy, you know say I don dey live for this estate before you. Just take am as I talk am. NOBODY dey stay the place.’
‘Apparently she does.’
‘E be like say you no dey hear word.’ Arinze was getting more agitated by the second.
‘What exactly are you trying to say?’ Tade was starting to get worried.
Arinze lowered his voice even more and bent towards him conspiratorially. He spoke in hushed tones. ‘I am saying that all the past owners of that house have died mysteriously and everybody knows. Everyone is afraid to buy it so it has been empty for the past three years. Rumour has it that a ghost haunts the house.’
Tade shook his head in disbelief and looked around fearfully. ‘Are you sure?’
‘What do you think?’ Arinze replied. As the words left his lips, a female scream pierced the silence of the night and the voice seemed to be getting closer by the second. Both men looked at each other in horror, then at the door handle that had started rattling. Someone was knocking violently at the door. ‘Help! Help! Help!’ she kept screaming. With little choice left, Tade opened the door, found her standing there and passed out.
He woke up on his bed, sweating profusely. With shaky hands, he checked the time. It was 06:30 pm, time for his Ludo game with Arinze. It had all been a dream. Taking two cold cans of malt and a bottle of groundnut, he headed over to Arinze’s house for the game, fighting the urge to look over his shoulder and question every strange-looking shadow (which was basically every shadow) on his way there. Throughout the game, he didn’t bring up the mystery woman but when he asked about the empty house, he got an answer that chilled his bones.
‘Tade, nobody lives there.’
-The Grace Ola
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