Read part one here: https://jessyburche.blog/2020/04/18/the-girl-within-part-i/
My body ached. I hated having to walk in Anya’s shoes. She always had so much to get up to. The one-week media tour; back to back meetings have been so exhausting. I was grateful to finally get a day to myself. When I was in control, I’d pay attention to my fashion illustrations. Anya’s music career was our main work, but fashion illustration was the side hustle. I did little gigs here and there when I was in charge. A part of me wished I could take it up. I loved it but, there was Anya and Anya was a lot.
It was late Sunday afternoon and the heat was maddening. I had finished my latest illustration requests. Scrolling through my WhatsApp messages, I caught an unread message from a Kamsi. I wondered who he was. One of Anya’s contacts possibly. She must’ve forgotten to open the message.
Hey, Chiaka. This is Kamsi. Not sure you remember me but we’d met at the 103’s Fashion Exhibition? I said I’d loved your illustrations. I hope you’re okay and I’d love to message you when you’re available.
I groaned. Now I remembered him. He was a fashion curator and the host of TIVALIVA’s Fashion Talk show. I was going to leverage on his contact to for more exposure to my work. The message was over a week ago.
Trust her not open it. If it wasn’t music-related – or – anything Anya related, she’d ignore it. This body sharing was beginning to stress me out. I made a mental note to speak with her about it.
Hey. I’m sorry I’m responding to this now. I had a busy week with the media tour and whatnot.
His reply came in almost immediately.
Hey, I’d sent that message over a week ago. Lol. It’s cool. I saw in your story so I figured.
Thank you. Are you free this evening? I’d love us to have a chat.
Sure. where? when?
Coffee Cravings. 6:00pm. Bills on me for the delay.
Okay. See ya.
I wore a pair of boot cut jeans, a yellow tank and was ready to go at a quarter to 6. I stole a look at my reflection. Ebony. High cheekbones. Small brown eyes. Bulbous nose. Full lips. My reflection. Only it wasn’t me staring back. There was a fierce look in the eyes that stared back at me. When she looked at me like that, I felt my stomach drop.
“Where are you going?”
“To see Kamsi. You ignored his message”
Anya raised her brows. “Are you saying I purposely ignored him”
“I didn’t say that Anya but let’s not act like you don’t ignore the things that are important to me too. Can you at least pay a little attention to my desires when it’s your week? I don’t even want to talk about what you did with Ochuko”
She looked as if I had slapped her across the face. In a clipped tone, “Well, forgive me if I skip a little bit of info on you when I’m busy chasing my career”
I sighed. “Anya, it’s not like that. I’m stating what I -“
“If we keep talking, you’d be late. We’ll continue when you get back”
I let out a breathe, grabbed my purse off the couch and left.
I arrived at Coffee Cravings fifteen minutes past 6. I was lucky. As the Uber pulled into the driveway, I sighted Kamsi walking through the double doors.
My phone rang. “Yeah, I saw you getting in. I’m just arriving myself. There was a bit of traffic on Admiralty. Yeah…Yeah”
I stepped through the double doors.
“Hey! Good to see you!”
I spotted him at the far left of the coffee shop. Which was a good thing as I couldn’t bear to deal with a cranky Anya. The sweet smell of ground coffee and creamed calmed my nerves.
“Good to see you Kams. Thanks for agreeing to see me on short notice.’
“Na it’s alright”. He wore an African print shirt and denim jeans. He had a little fro, a full beard, heavily-lidded brown eyes set in an round face that matched his big build.
I ordered a latte and cheesecake.
We talked about his talk show; his connections after the fashion exhibition and, my illustrations which I’d shown him on my phone.
“Thank you. I’d like to do more with it you know. Give it more exposure”
“Hmm? What about the music?”
Stilling my chuckle, “Well, fashion and music kinda work hand in hand so it wouldn’t be hard finding a balance”
He nodded. “I agree. They can both complement each other”
“You could find time to come on the show. It’ll be great to know your process”
My heart leaped. “Are you serious?”
He chuckled, “Yeah, why not. We could talk about your music too”
I stilled. I didn’t want to talk about music. That was Anya. I wanted to talk about what I loved.
“That’s awesome and I’ll love that”
“So I’ll speak with the crew and let you know when it’ll be cool”
I did the math. Anya was stepping in for the new week. Better to schedule for the week when I had more control. “Let’s plan for the upper week. I’d have freer time then”
“Okay. That’s cool.”
By the time I had done three shows with Kamsi, I realized I had feelings for him. It was mutual. And that was where the problem started. Anya was seeing Ochuko and flaunting it over the TL while I was trying to manage my own emotions. Balance is very delicate. One nudge and everything will come crashing down like a pack of cards. And it did.
It was a late evening and we’d come back from a small creative’s hangout Kamsi had invited me for earlier. At first, I didn’t want to go but I needed a distraction from all my conflicting feelings so I agreed to join him. We sat inside his car; air condition on low. The light from his headlamps cast a dull shadow in the car’s interior.
“Thank you for inviting me, Kamsi. It was a great show”
He was quiet for a time. It made me uneasy.
“You know..” he began, “I don’t get it”
I knew where he was going but I feigned ignorance and shot him a quizzical look.
“Really. One minute, it’s like we vibe and we get along, then the next minute, you’re cold and distant and unapproachable”
I said nothing.
“Like the last time we met at the Star Alive show, I tried saying hello but you rebuffed me! And then you send a response one week later. it’s just not…” he looked around, grappling for the words
“But Kamsi, you know I’m dating Ochuko”
“I know that and I respect it even though a selfish part of me will want…you know..more” he sighed, “I want to be a friend to you Chiaka. Stop pushing me away”
I sighed. A sudden pang of realization hit me. I desperately wanted Kamsi and I was sure he wanted me too. I also wanted to live and breathe fashion but I was stuck. The feeling of hopelessness engulfed me. I sat, frozen, unable to speak. I could feel his eyes boring into the side of my face, expecting me to say something. I struggled to keep my voice steady.
“I’m sorry Kamsi. There’s so much going on”
“You know what also baffles me? When you’re on stage or in front of the camera, you’re so bold. Even when I scroll through your Instagram posts, I see how you are with Ochuko. Very extroverted. But then there’s this side of you that’s withdrawn like unsure of how to enjoy yourself. It’s like you have two contrast personalities”
I thought for a moment what it would be like to tell him. That I made a pact with the ghost of a girl to live her dream in my body. Not stopping to think about me and my own dreams. I knew he’ll never understand and it’ll only scare him.
“When I’m on stage, I’m Anya but when I’m home, with you and in my space, this is what you see.” I turned to face him. “You don’t like this side of me?”
I saw the shift in his eyes. His eyebrows knit in concern. “No. No. That’s not what I mean Chiaka. I like every part of you. I only hope that you’re happy.”
Despite the fast-paced beat of my heart and the small still voice pulling me away; I leaned forward. I planted a kiss on his lips. It was a timid kiss but Kamsi took the reign – parting my lips with his tongue. I liked the taste of his breath and the feel of his hands on the back of my neck. I only opened my eyes when he stopped. For a moment we stared at each other. I wished I didn’t have to go into the house to face Anya. I dreaded the conversation I knew I needed to have with her.
“Come to my place next week…”
“Kamsiii” I groaned into his shoulder.
“One day. You don’t have to stay the night. And we don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do”
I let out a soft chuckle.
“I’ll think about it,” I said, pulling back and gathering my purse. “I have to go”
It was a face red with anger that met me when I got into our living room. We’d managed to live peaceably for the past few years but here we were – changing in our wants and needs. I needed Anya to reason with me.
“So… you have something to tell me?” Her voice cut like a knife. Even though things were a bit shaky with her, I loved Anya. She made me do things I would never have done. Like making new friends. Traveling. Taking up driving lessons even though I insisted there wasn’t a point if we didn’t have a car.
She’d become my soul sister.
I sighed. “Anya…”
I was grasping for words – the right words.
“We want different things. You want to be a star…a music star. And I want to be a fashion authority”
“And who says we can’t be both? Stop beating around the bush Chaika and come straight with me.”
Trust Anya to be direct. She continued, “This isn’t about our career choices”
I avoided her eyes. Her eyebrows raised, accusingly. “It’s about that Kamsi…Isn’t it?”
I heaved a sigh.
“Anya, Kamsi seems so right for us, for me. What you have for Ochuko is a game! Nothing tangible. But Kamsi, he means well”
“And I love him”
“Of course you’ll love him! You’re too sensitive Chiaka! Ochuko and I may be having our fun, but you can’t deny he’s a door to the very thing that I desire!”
“But you already have the record deal, Anya! What’s there to want?” She was quiet. Her jaw set.
“For once I want to live my life! I want to spend it doing what I enjoy! And I know deep down, I want to spend it with Kamsi! We can still do you, Anya. I’m willing to compromise that much. But you have to take the ba-“
“So you’re saying our pact is no longer suitable for you!?” She flared, eyes hot and wide with anger.
My heart beat fast against my chest, unsure what my next words would mean.
“Is that what you’re saying Chiaka! Stop being a coward for once and say what you mean!”
“Yes!” I yelled. “Yes, it’s no longer convenient Anya! When I am in control I still live for you! I go for your shows! I attend those endless meetings about things I would rather not do!”
“But when It’s my turn. You put no effort! You don’t even bother to check my requests! How do you expect me to share my body with you when you’re one selfish, insensitive bit-“
I felt a hot slap across my face. It dazed for a second as tears stung my eyes. My hand rested on the spot. It was hot and painful. I stared, mouth wide open at Anya. She’d never slapped me before. In fact, I didn’t even know it was possible for her to touch me from the mirror. She breathed in, trying to still her anger.
“How dare you!?” I screamed.
In a low poisonous voice, she said, “You don’t want to mess with me Chiaka. Don’t test me!”
With that, she turned her back on me. That was also a first. Stunned and scared shitless – that was how I felt. My mind raced. If Anya could slap me from the mirrors then there was so much about this pact that I didn’t know of. What else could she do me? Then it hit me. I needed to see someone, fast.
Without looking at her, I stormed out of the flat; my heart wheezing in my ears. I needed to see Nike. I called her phone. She picked on the second ring. I told her I was on my way to hers. At a few minutes past 9, I was pounding on the wooden door.
“Hey!” I said, rushing in. My breath deep and ragged with fear. All the way, I tried not to stare at the mirrors. I prayed that Anya was too angry to pay attention to anything I was doing.
“Are you okay, Chiaka?” She asked, leading me into he a small part of her living room. It was for the dining area but Nike had transformed it into her consultation room. Stringed beads divided it from the main living room space. They clinked in our wake. Nike was an accountant by day. At night, she was a spiritual alchemist and sold a variety of incense, herbal purifiers, and all sorts. I and Anya had befriended her in University. Nike knew that there were two of us in my body. It was her first remark when we met. It felt good to know there was someone in the world I could speak with about what I’d experienced.
We sat on opposite sides of small bean bags in the middle of the room. Nike dimmed the lights and lighted a bunch of sage she laid in a glass bowl. She brought out some white candles, laid them like four pillars. Then, she placed a few crystals in the middle and asked me to relax. The sage helped calm my nerves. I narrated what had happened.
At first, she said nothing. She was twirling a string of cowries in her left hand. She stared into the flames before she said, “It is good she is angry and didn’t follow you here. Chiaka, some spirits are good, kind even, until you offend them. Threatening to break your pact has put her on the attack.”
My body rattled with fear as she spoke.
“Let me first tell you where you made a mistake. You let down your guard, Chiaka. Whenever you are not in charge, do you try to follow Anya’s senses or did you trust her to take full charge of your body?” She was leaning towards me now, staring deep into my eyes.
“You see, leaving a spirit to lead your body is giving her authority of yourself. She has become bolder and more confident. Powerful even because when you take the backstage, you do not try to be aware of her. Do you understand what I am saying?”
I nodded. It was the opposite when I was in the centre stage. Anya would nudge me, bug my mind tirelessly if I was doing things she didn’t like. I would hear her in my heart and my head.
“But what can I do Nike? I am scared. Look at my face. There’s a red patch where she slapped me.” My voice was hoarse.
“Calm down. It’s normal to be afraid. You say the mirror is the main form of communication between both of you and how you both make your switch ba?
I nodded, shaking my legs nervously.
“Okay. You will first break all the mirrors you have and us. Any mirror, avoid it. It will leave her trapped. Then you must start to cleanse your spirit so you can gain control. It means speaking your truth and acknowledging the soul within you.”
Nike stared into space for a moment. “I will go and buy the materials we need but you have to be careful between now and then. Any slip and the plan will fail”
I heaved a sigh of relief. That there was a solution made the load in my heart lighter. I knew I couldn’t go home. I called an Uber and sent Kamsi a text. He responded that it would be fine for me to stay the night at his. I thanked Nike and gave her some cash to buy what we needed. My palms itched with anxiety.
When I got to Kamsi’s, I tried my best to look normal and not like the shaken leaf I was. He opened to let me in. There was a surprised look on his face.
“You didn’t change when I dropped you off at home?”
I forced a smile.
“I had a few drinks and thought I’d take you on your offer,” I said, sliding into his brown sofa.
“Oh, that sounds good.” he said, “well, welcome to my humble home. Do you want to have a shower?”
“Yeah I would like that”
I let the water run extra hot, I was freezing. By the time I’d finished, there was mist in the bathroom stall. I stepped out of the bathtub. I was standing right in front of a clouded mirror and a very angry Anya was staring back at me. This time, her eyes were jet black like Onyx and she had a wicked snarl on her face. I stifled a scream.
It happened in a flash. The mirror cracked. A flash of light and a loud scream, then it was me in the mirror. Trapped.
I stared at the split image of Chiaka in the mirror. Anger was hot in my veins. She thought she could trap me!? After everything, I’d done for her! For us! The door to the bathroom opened and Kamsi rushed in.
“Is everything okay? I heard you scream”
His voice irritated me. This here, was the problem! This man!
I looked at him.
“I was in the kitchen” he explained
I feigned fear. “It-its the mirror. It just cracked!”
“What? he asked, pushing me back to get a closer look.
I stole one looked over him at Chiaka and I let her see my plan. She was shaking her head in the mirror. Tears raining down her cheeks. I liked the fear in her eyes. The way she tapped desperately for help. Her voice echoed in my head.
“No! No! Anya please!”
I seized the opportunity then. In a swift movement, I grabbed Kamsi by the fro and smashed his face against the mirror
The more she screamed, the more I smashed until there was nothing but blood and glass in my hand. I only stopped when the body stilled and her voice cracked.
“You’d never get this body back Chiaka. I rule it now!”
Holla! Thank you for reading! This is the the second part of The Girl Within. If you liked this story, there’s more to read here. Please subscribe to my site so you get a notification when I post new stories! Don’t forget to like and drop a comment! I can’t wait to hear what you think about the story.
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