“Brave” by Gabriella Rhoda Rockson.

I’m angry. I’ve been angry for close to 8 months. Nobody knows – of course – and no one ever has to know. “She was so happy and calm,” they’d say. “We can’t believe she did that.” A tiny giggle escapes my lips. Hiding my smile, I prepare to mingle like the best friend that I am. Working my way through the crowd, I make small talk and make sure everyone is having a great time. Smiling and shaking hands, I paint the perfect picture of warm and friendly. I’d been studying Devin’s mum and I had the act down pat.

Eventually I make eye-contact with the guest of honour, my best friend. He looks so worried. I quickly give him a reassuring smile that says all is forgotten and forgiven. Before I can cross over to join Devin, I’m waylaid by his vapid girlfriend. The last time we’d met I’d felt sorry for her and so I’d sat down to listen to her go on and on about her latest worry. She was slightly neurotic bordering on irritating. She was only Devin’s girlfriend because he felt the need to settle down. Devin’s parents -my god-parents- were the kind of Ghanaians who everyone aspired to be. They were still madly in love. They were down to earth. They were also insanely rich.

Devin was unfortunately the only who might know how angry I was. It had happened yesterday. I’d been testy the whole morning, I see now that I should have had lunch alone in my room. We had been sitting outside at a small table having lunch when he made a careless joke about my scars. I lost it. I turned over the table and slapped him.
Someone else might have thought it normal for me to react that way after what I’d been through. Someone who didn’t know how I’d acted after the incident. That’s what I called it. Right after it happened I’d been calm and collected, reassuring anyone who dared to cry about how bad my skin looked. I’d smiled and comforted them, letting them know that after my skin graft I’d look brand new. Not once had I yelled or cried. So it was perfectly normal for Devin to think he could make a joke. I was always making jokes about how for someone with such a name, he tended to make crass and very crude statements in the three local languages he and I spoke.

I fled to my room and locked the door. That’s when I cried for the first time since my death. That’s what I actually called it. Waking up in the hospital and realising what had happened to me had changed me; “Deadened” me. I cried, finally allowing myself to feel the pain I’d shut away for so long until I eventually fell asleep. When I woke up the first thing I did was to check my phone to see how long I’d slept. 2 hours. I had 17 missed calls from Devin. I called him back and we talked. I said what he needed to hear; insulted him to let him know we were cool, and lay back listening to him as he talked about the party he was throwing the next day.

Yesterday’s events would cause me to shift it to a further date. There really was no rush. Making my way across the room I wondered what people saw when they looked at me.  

A dark woman wearing a spectacular gown that showed only a glimpse of her neck?

A phenomenal woman who could still socialise after a horrifying ordeal with her ex-boyfriend, who turned out to be a psychopath who liked to inflict multiple cuts on his victims, and watch them bleed to death?

Or a woman, struggling to appear placid, as she plotted how exactly to kill her ex-boyfriend, in the most dramatic way possible?

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