fiction

11:55

He had never thought the day would come when he would take his own life. He only began considering it the previous week, but with each thought, the idea began to solidify and sounded convincing as the way out of his dilemma.

He wasn’t sure how he would do it, but painless and quick would be good. He chose a quiet rainy day, and the timing was perfect: at noon, when no one would notice he was gone until he was on the other side.

He decided not to leave a note behind, or to prepare for his departure after all if death had come any other way previously he wouldn’t have been notified.

He emptied the sachet of rat poison into the glass of fruit juice and sat down waiting for the clock to strike noon.

As he closed his eyes, images of his life flashed before him. His parents and siblings, his two years playing on his school’s football team, the bitter sweet years of studying law at the premier University of Ibadan, his call to bar ceremony and his brief stint with the chamber he had worked for before he was accused of a crime he never committed. He had slept a few nights at kirikiri maximum prison, Lagos before he was charged to court.

The criminal was found miraculously and his lawyers (well colleagues) put up a brilliant defense and he was found not guilty but his license to practice law was revoked on grounds that he was an unintentional accomplice to the homicide since the accused was indeed his guest at the time the crime was committed. It was a harsh verdict which he appealed not once and not twice but each attempt fell through.  He was fired at work and life had gone down ever since. The case had been widely publicized by the media and his name and reputation had been badly stained.

It was 11:55am, he would have to wait five minutes. It seemed like the longest wait of his thirty-year life. It had stopped raining and power had returned. In those quiet moments he began to hear a piano piece coming from the next door. It started soft, but as it was played over it grew louder. It sounded familiar but he couldn’t place it, however he was not pleased. He wasn’t a lover of music and this noise would disturb the quietness with which he wished to transit to the other side.

He decided he would tell his neighbor to stop the music. He reached the door from where the music came but was stopped in his tracks by the husky baritone voice he heard.

Every day is so wonderful and suddenly, I saw debris. Now and then, I get insecure from all the pain, I’m so ashamed…..” and with energy the voice continued: “I am beautiful no matter what they say, words can’t bring me down. I am beautiful in every single way; yes words can’t bring me down so don’t you bring me down today.” 

 He was now in tears as he listened hoping the song hadn’t ended. He sat down on the floor and rested his back against the door as his neighbor continued to sing: “To all your friends, you’re delirious so consumed in all your doom. Trying hard to fill the emptiness the piece is gone, left the puzzle undone. You are beautiful no matter what they say, words can’t bring you down. You are beautiful in every single way, yes words can’t bring you down don’t you bring me down today.” As the chorus was sung again and again he wondered how the pianist knew what he was about to do. They weren’t on the best of terms as he had always seen the pianist as the wheel -chaired eccentric musician who made a living writing sad songs and a few jingles yet the man he had never been kind to, just saved his life without knowing it.

His name was battered but he could save it, yes he had been sacked but he could start over. He vowed to fight back rather than kill himself after all two wrongs never make a right.

“You liked my song?” asked the neighbor who was surprised to see the other man at his door.

“sort of….well….yes.” replied the lawyer now cleaning his eyes hoping no tears remained.

“it’s not my song,  it’s Christiana Aguilera’s.”  

“I know….well I figured so…..” said the lawyer as he stood up. And as he walked back to his door he said: “Thank you.”

“For…….?” Asked the musician puzzled.

“…..for saving my life.” The lawyer replied quietly as he entered his apartment and shut the door.

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