Buried in Guilt – XVIII

Petrina looked over at Jacob who was comfortably sleeping in the seat next to her. Although she had hardly slept the whole night, she could not fall asleep then either. She felt so many emotions within her all at once. She was scared, worried, and anxious. Surprisingly, she did have some happiness within her.

Things had happened very fast that day. When she finally got out of her room, she saw a pick-up parked in front of their apartment. Jacob was taking breakfast with a man she did not know. He smiled when he noticed her presence and introduced him as Mr. Debuo, a friend of his in the city. She exchanged pleasantries with him and went back inside her room, thinking she needed to give them some privacy. Shortly after, Jacob came knocking. When she opened the door, he seemed surprised to see her still in her casual clothes.

“Aren’t you going to get dressed?” he had asked.

“Dressed for what?” she had replied. She had been very confused.

“Dressed for what? We are going to Accra, remember?”

Her expression had changed completely then. Jacob had immediately spoken up when he noticed this.

“We do not have to go if you have changed your mind. Mr. Debuo would understand.”

“Understand what?” she had asked, feeling even more confused.

“You know no public transport moves out of Soma today so I called Mr. Debuo so he would take us to the city.”

“But…” her voice had trailed off.

“It’s okay, Petrina. I’ve told you already that you do not have to go if you have changed your mind.”

“Did I ever make up my mind, Jacob?”

“I thought you did.”

“I didn’t, Jacob.”

“Then I’m very sorry, Petrina. It seemed to me that you had agreed.”

“I didn’t,” she had replied, feeling very distressed. “I told you I would think about it.”

“Really? I was probably feeling tired then and I had misinterpreted what you said. I’m very sorry. Let me speak to Mr. Debuo now then.”

Somehow, Jacob’s desire not to force her to go to Accra against her will had rather made her feel like she had to make a decision to go. She thought about how he had gone through the trouble of inviting his friend over. She considered the journey from the city to Soma and thought about how terrible it would be for Mr. Debuo to have driven all the way to Soma and drive back without accomplishing what he had come there to do.

“Wait,” she had said.

“Don’t worry, Petrina. Just take your time.”

“It’s okay, Jacob.” She had taken in a deep breath as she considered what she was about to say. “I would go.”

“You would?” he had asked, looking surprised. “I don’t want you doing this against your will, dear.”

“I know, Jacob. But I think I should go. After all, I would eventually have to go back. Why do I have to wait any longer?”

He had started to speak again then but she had assured him that she was not making the decision against her will.

She looked out of the window, and then turned back to Jacob. She was going to miss him. She had really learnt a lot from him. And she knew for sure that he would stand solidly behind her no matter what everyone else back at home said to her about the wrong she had done. Realizing her thoughts were going back to feelings of regret, she closed her eyes and tried very hard to fall asleep.

*************************************************************************************

“Petty!” Harry screamed. For the first time in the last few weeks, he sounded very excited. They were all surprised as they turned to look at him.

“She would come soon, ok.” Laudina said, not believing the words herself.

“I know, I know! I saw her from the window.”

“From the window?” Laudina and Mrs. Bannerman asked together.

“Yes! Yes! The window! Right now!”

Laudina and her mother looked at each other. It was true someone who was out on the street could be seen through one of the windows in the hall but they were certain he had not seen Petrina. They were all praying for her to be found but they were very convinced that she would not just appear in the house. They did not know how to explain that to Harry.

“Harry, Petrina would come soon but not today,” Mr. Bannerman said attempting to pick him up.

“But I saw her!” he said, avoiding the grasp of his father. “She is coming now! Let me go and open the gate so that you would see!”

Mr. Bannerman picked him up despite his struggle and exchanged a worried glance with Mrs. Bannerman.

The last few days had been another tough time for the family. Although adverts were now in the newspapers and the police had assured them that they would soon find Petrina, the family was still anxious. What even made the situation more difficult was the sudden disappearance of Gerald after he had given them the information about where he believed Petrina would be. It was very strange that after that text message, he never picked any of Laudina’s calls. His phone was now permanently off. He also did not come by the house as he usually did. Mr. Bannerman remained convinced that Gerald was behind Petrina’s disappearance. Mrs. Bannerman was gradually beginning to side with her husband. Laudina on the other hand was not ready to accept that. It was true that his sudden change in behaviour was very strange. She however was not willing to connect it to him having a hand in Petrina’s disappearance. She simply did not understand why she felt that way but she was convinced that Gerald had nothing to do her sister’s absence. She turned to see Harry squirming in their father’s arms still insisting that he had to open the gate. She wondered what had suddenly gotten into him too.

*************************************************************************************

“We’ve spent enough time at this gate already, Petrina.” Jacob said giving her a pleading look. “Let’s gather up some courage and enter the house.”

“I’m scared, Jacob. What would they say to me? What would they do?”

“Petrina, we would only know when we get inside. What’s the worst that could happen?”

“I don’t even know!” she sighed as she run her hand through her hair. “Okay, I’d open the gate for you so you take the lead.”

“Take the lead? And tell them what? I have not even met them before.”

“Just say something, Jacob. Please.” She opened the door then and pushed him inside. “Go,” she whispered.

*************************************************************************************

The family was startled when they heard the gate open. They wondered if they had actually not locked it. That would be very strange, especially considering that it was already dark. Sure enough, the next thing they knew, there was a knock on the door.

“I told you so!” Harry screamed finally managing to get out of the grips of Mr. Bannerman. He run toward the door.

“Hey!” Mrs. Bannerman shouted. “We do not know who is there. Do not open it!”

It was however too late. He had already opened the door. There stood a young man they had never met. Realizing that it was not Petrina, Harry immediately sat on the floor and began to cry.

Everyone else stared at the young man.

“Good evening,” he said.

“Hello, young man.” Mr. Bannerman said with a grim expression. “You seem to have broken into our compound because our gate is usually locked.”

“Er…well…no…” he looked very confused and seemed not to know what to say. “I’m Jacob Gaisie.” He finally said.

“Thank you for your name, Mr. Gaisie but you have not answered me.”

 “Well…I’m not sure what to say…” his voice trailed off as someone appeared behind him. The women were startled.

Is this some kind of robbery? Laudina thought.

There was an uncomfortable period of silence and then the second person finally appeared in full view. The whole family was utterly stunned to see Petrina standing behind the stranger with a very scared look on her face. Harry was the first to break the silence.

“Petty!!!!” he screamed as he run to her. He gave her a big embrace. “I told you I saw her!” He said as he turned to the rest of his family.

They remained speechless.

 

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