Carpe diem


She is one of those girls who has been through hell and back. Quiet. Most days she feels suffocated by guilt. She believes her parents died because of her, her fifteen-year-old sister, Cinderella, a world-famous ballet dancer is left paralyzed, stuck in a wheelchair. If only she hadn’t demanded that cake that night on her birthday. She looked at the circled date on the calendar placed at the desk. Their parents anniversary.

Barely seventeen, Juliet has learned what it means to be an adult. After the death of their parents, she has taken care of her sister like it’s the sole purpose she’s put in this world. Although she knows it couldn’t compensate for what she took from her. She works multiple jobs to put food on the table and to take care of her sisters medications but it’s hardly enough and as she lies on the bed face front she worries where the rent for the month is going to come from. She gets up from the bed and walks to her sister’s room, enters without knocking. Prior the accident Cinderella would have taken offence but now she just stares through her.

“Time to bathe”

Cinderella stares and gave no response. After the accident she has stopped responding to anything. One wouldn’t believe they used to be so close like twins. Juliet lifts her up from the bed and put her on the wheelchair, she wheels her to the bathroom and bathes her.

“I’ll be late today like 10pm-ish” Juliet tells her as she feeds her. no response. Just then someone knocks on the door, Juliet’s went and opens the door.

“Mama tee. Good morning”

“Morning my sweet girl”. Mama tee is Cinderella’s caregiver. She’s in her fifty’s and lives two blocks away.

“I was just feeding her” Juliet tells her.

“I’ll take it from there” Juliet nods and went to get ready for work. Two years ago all her thoughts were on how she will secure an admission to the great University of Nigeria Nsukka. How far-fetched that dream is now. She towels herself dry, dress up and comes out ready. She peck Cinderella on both cheek.

“I heart heart you” she whispers and waits for the “I triple heart you” she used to say back but it didn’t come.

“I’m going” she said to Mama tee “take care of my sister”
mama tee waves it off “I will, now go.”

Juliet is working on her second job of the day. She cleans for Mrs Johnson and her family in one of the prestigious neighborhood in Lagos. Mrs Johnson and her kids went for spa treatment, and she is left alone with Mr. Johnson who’s in his late fifty’s.

Juliet has finished washing the plates and is wiping her hands on the apron when Mr
Johnson walks in only in a towel.

“Can I get you anything sir” Mr Johnson smiles mischievously and drops his towel.

“What are you–”

“You want it, don’t you?” Juliet shakes her head but stare unabashedly at the man’s crotch with the curiosity of a child. She knows about the penis, she was taught in secondary school, but she has never seen one.

“You know there are many ways a pretty girl like you can earn money, apart from scarring your delicate hands. I’ll give a million if you come upstairs with me”
Juliet stares at him.

“you greedy little thing. Okay I’ll double it, two million naira” Juliet gasp, just then the doorbell rings…

“Shh” Mr Johnson shush her and rushes upstairs. Juliet removes her apron, rushes and opens the door, all jittery

“Oh dear are you done? Did we waste your time?” Mrs Johnson says as she enters with her three kids. Juliet just stares at her. Then, to her daughter, who’s probably her age.

Juliet takes off. “Juliet” Mrs Johnson calls after her.

“Juliet? Where are you going? Your money, your mon–” Juliet has already gone far. Mrs Johnson turns to her daughter
“what is wrong with her?” Her daughter shrugs.

Juliet was beating herself up as she walks home. She has already called the bar where she works at night that she won’t be coming.

“Stupid, stupid” she rants to herself. “That’s 10k Juliet. Two weeks worth of food. Stupid” She enters their house with her spare key and stops dead in her track.

“What is going on here?”
Mama tee and her sister are watching her sister’s dance videos.
Mama tee walks up to her.

“Shh, she wanted to watch”
Juliet shakes her head.

“You shouldn’t have put it for her, it will only make her feel worse” Juliet went to go and off it, mama tee draws her arm back.

“Don’t, you will only make her hate you more”
She exhales. “I’m sorry mama tee” but you have to go.”

Mama tee shakes her head “Juliet you need to listen to me”

“No I’m tired of walking on eggshell around her. Please go”
Mama tee walks out the door.
Juliet walks to her sister, and offs the television.

“We need to talk” a moment of silence pass as Juliet stares into her eyes.

“Are you seeing me?” She asked “Are you really seeing me?” No response. She swallows.

“I’m low on patience today, you need to talk to me Cindy” she gave no response and Juliet was not having any of it anymore as she shouts.

“What! Last I checked you are not dumb” Cinderella averted her stare as Juliet continues. “I’m doing everything. I’m trying. Doing everything. Do you hate me that much?” She starts crying. “I couldn’t have known. How would I have known. They are my parents too. If I had known I wouldn’t have demanded the stupid cake, but it has

happened, we need to move past it.”
Cinderella turn her eyes to her as her own tears slips.

“I can’t.” She shouts. “I can’t move past it because I’m stuck in this wheelchair watching my dreams slip past me every day. Do you even know how I feel? Do you consider how I feel? No you don’t. Maybe you would if you stop feeling self-righteous for once.”

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Cindy cries “Sorry won’t make me walk again. Sorry won’t make me stand on stage again. I-I just want to dance. again.” Juliet hugs her as they cried together.
That night Juliet fed her in silence, wheels her to her room, and lays her gently on her bed as she was walking out Cindy calls her.

“Jules” Juliet stopped and turns.


“Happy birthday”.

She nods. “Thanks” and walks out.

Juliet stands in the bathroom naked, staring at herself in the mirror and wondering how she was going to raise ten thousand dollars for her sister’s surgery. She stares at her big boobs as an idea takes root. Mr. Johnson.

Juliet fidgets as she stares at the hotel room number. She takes a deep breath and remind herself why she is doing this. She presses the bell. The door opens, she walks in.

“Three million naira or we have no deal.”
Mr Johnson snorts. “Greedy little girl” he circles her. “What makes you think I won’t get what you are offering at lesser price”
Juliet shivers. “Deal or no deal”

“Feisty, I like it. Deal. Now get rid of those clothes”
Juliet kept repeating the mantra she’s doing it for her sister as she strips.
Mr. Johnson climbed her. “Relax” she nods nervously. Close her eyes and still herself.

Juliet stares at her bruised self In the mirror. Tears slipped through her eyes. She sits on the toilet seat and cries silently, her whole body shaking. She walks home feeling the weight of what she did.

“Cindy” she calls her sister. “I talked to a doctor in New York. You can have your surgery next week”

Cinderella’s eyes almost bulges from its socket. “What! How? Where did you get the money?”

“I robbed a bank, duh”

“Where did you get it Jules?”

“You know Mr. Johnson from where I work, he gave it to me”
Cindy can’t believe it. “Just like that?”

“Yes, just like that. I told him about you and he gave me the money”

“Oh, that’s wonderful of him” Juliet nods and walks to the kitchen to distract her. “What do you feel like eating? We have rice, eggs, yam, noodles”. She rummages through

The noodles pack and none is left. “We’ve run out of noodles. what’s it going to be?”

“I want yam and red oil” Cinderella shouts from the sitting room.

“Right on it My young princess”

Cindy snickers. “Of course I am but not before I pass through the most painful suffering known to man from the hands of my stepmother and stepsisters. And I still have to lose my shoe at the ball. Ridiculous”

Juliet burst out laughing. “You are ridiculous”

“You have to admit that our names are funny”

“Romeo and Juliet is the best book ever written. I love my name. Speak for yourself.” Juliet walks in with the food “Yam and palm oil as you requested your majesty”

“Bet you didn’t know she died at the end. Both of them even. How cliche Shakespeare.” She rolls her eyes.

“She died?” juliet wonders. Cindy burst out laughing.

“You didn’t know?” She kept laughing. Tears spilling from the corner of her eyes.For the moment their life seems normal.

“Be careful there.” Juliet said but her lips tips up.

She feeds her and herself simultaneously. After eating she gave her, her drugs.

“Time for bed” she settles her in on her bed. “I heart heart you” she said. Cindy nods and smiles. Juliet smile back. She didn’t say it back but baby steps.

It’s a chilly night. Two days before the travel. Juliet strolls with her sister in the neighborhood.

“Are you cold?” Juliet asked





“I’m scared”

“For the surgery?”

Juliet exhales. “Don’t be. Everything will turn out fine. Everybody is waiting for your comeback”
Cindy smiles. She can’t wait to dance again. “Jules?”


“Don’t leave me when you meet your Romeo” Juliet burst out laughing only to realize that she is serious.

“You are serious? I’ll never leave you. Ever”

“You say that now, but what if he is handsome like that Korean guy, Lee min ho”
Juliet smiles. “No I won’t leave you. Even if, he’s handsome like Brad Pitt”.

“Pinky promise?” She said then, stared at her fingers, forgotten they were paralyzed for a second.
Juliet trying to distract her rolls her eyes. “ What are we. 12?”

“Jules I’m fifteen and you are seventeen, it’s allowed”.

“Okay. Pinky promise.” She said. “You, promise me that no matter what, no matter what, you will still talk to me”

“I promise” Cinderella said

The D-Day. It’s seven in the morning. Juliet have gotten her sister and everything ready

for their eight o’clock flight.
She brushed Cindy’s hair back.

“Go and bathe, didn’t you say the flight is eight o’clock” Cinderella said.

“Listen, I’m not going with you”.


“Mama tee is going with you”

“You promised”

“I know Cindy.” Juliet is finding it hard to control her tears. “But after your surgery, they said you will need to undergo physiotherapy for a month and half, so you can be steady on your feet, that’s money and I haven’t paid for it, so I’ve to stay and work hmm”.

Someone knocks on the door. “That would be mama tee” Juliet walks and opens the door and mama tee walks in with her luggage.

Cinderella didn’t say anything even as they entered the taxi to the airport. The taxi drops them at the airport and they walked inside.

“Mama tee take care of her”

She nods. “I’ll my sweet child.”

Juliet turns to Cindy. “Cincin I’m going” she didn’t response. Juliet snapped. “I’m doing everything I can for you”

“You are not doing me any favour” Cindy snapped back.

“Because I caused it. I’m the reason you are in that chair but I’m about to rectify it. You promised to talk to me. What more do I have to do Cindy”. Just then they called their plane number.
Mama tee turns to them.

“Juliet we’ve to board”

“Okay, take care of her” She starts walking out.

“Jules” Cinderella shouted. “I’m sorry”.
Juliet nods. “See you in two months” She waves at them and walks out.

It’s three days since their departure. Juliet stands in the hotel room in front of Mr. Johnson stripping.

“We are going to try something new today” Mr. Johnson said.


“Anal” he smiles mischievously
Juliet shrinks. “What!”

“I’m paying you five million little girl, so I get to do what I want”
Juliet nods. “Okay” it’s like her body is here but her mind is not. She will get the money and she will be done.

“Kneel on the bed and bend your ass” Juliet stills herself and kneels on the bed. She allows the thoughts of her sister to fill her mind as Mr. Johnson pounded away.


It’s the thirtieth day after their departure. Juliet is zooming with her sister.

“Jules you can’t believe it, I took five steps today”.

“Really? Wow, I’m so proud of you”
Cindy giggles. “I’m proud of myself too. The doctor said at the rate I’m going, I’m going to be discharged early”

“That’s good news. How’s Mama tee?”

“She’s fine, she just stepped out.”
Juliet’s phone vibrates with a message.

“Okay, I’ve got to go. Take care of yourself” Juliet rushes

She pouts. “You too. Bye”
Juliet opens the message. It’s from Mr. Johnson. “Come to the hotel Now or bear the consequences”.

Juliet walks inside the hotel with the sore purpose of ending it with Mr.Johnson. She enters the room and Mr. Johnson is already sitting down on the bed

“I told you I’m not doing again” she said

“You don’t get to decide that little girl. It’s over when I say it’s over”

“I slept with you knowing it was wrong for one reason which I have settled. I’m not doing it again” she steps past him and walks to the door.

“Come back here you little whore”. He slaps her hard on the face and drags her by her hair. Juliet starts fighting him. He pushed her, she felled, hitting her head hard on the glass centre table.

“Little girl get up” he pushed her body with his leg, when he sees the blood around her head, he runs out.

Three weeks later. Cindy and Mama tee is back. Standing infront of their house.

“You knock on the door, and I’ll come out from your back and be like tada!” Cinderella tells Mama tee.
Mama tee nods and knocks on the door. A lady opens it.

“Who are you” the lady asked
Cindy comes out from mama Tee’s back.

“This is where I live. Where’s my sister?”
The woman looked at them. “You mean the one that died three weeks ago?”

“What!” Mama tee drops her luggage.

“What did you just say? With all due respect ma my sister is not dead”

“She was found on the floor in Dumes hotel” the lady continue.
Cindy shakes her head “No. No” she rushes inside the house shouting. “Jules. Jules. Come out I’m back.” She was frantic, searching every room. Without finding her, just then did it dawn on her that Juliet is no more. Mama tee was crying her heart out but Cindy wasn’t

She was numb to the pain.

Mama tee is sitting in her room watching Cinderella perform on the television for the annual ballet competition. She was perfect, dancing her heart out until the music stopped. She bows and walks offstage.

“Now. It’s time to announce our winners” the announcer said.
“Our second runner-up is, give it up for the 16-year-old, Emilia Mathew” the crowd cheers as Emilia walked forth and collected her trophy.

“And our first runner-up is none other than Sophia Anderson” the crowds cheered. The announcer cleared his throat.

“The winner for the Immaculate ballet dancing competition 2020 is Cinderella Williams” mama tee jumps and shouts “yes”
Cindy walks up and collects her trophy. She was given the mic.

“I buried my sister two weeks ago. She gave me everything, literally everything she had but I couldn’t let go of the one mistake she made. If only I could turn back the hand of the clock to tell her that I triple heart her”. She started crying. “It means I love you in our little language but I can’t because she’s no more and that’s the regret I’ll live with for the rest of my life. I want to leave you all with a piece of advice. CARPE DIEM.





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