17 YEARS IN SOLITUDE

“That was great”. “You seem to be getting better by the day, I love the man you’ve become”.

“…..and I love every moment with you mum…its my duty to protect you, this is the only way to a good life now and here-after” Ed responded.

She stood up, walked to the balcony and lit a cigarette, took a long one and rocked the seat.

It’s become a tradition, more-like a ritual.

”He’s mine forever”she whispered.

Ed is a special boy. Fifteen years and 7 months had past since he came into her life.

Podoski and Gwen met at an international gathering of zoologist and nature enthusiasts at Mosoga, Delta state, Nigeria. They’d travelled from the United States.
They had a lot in common. Podoski is a vegetarian and Gwen, a lover of nature and organic food. They waited a few more weeks in Nigeria to explore the beautiful gifts of nature generously displayed in the western part of the Country.
A fire that’d transform into the most adhesive union of two weirdos was kindled.
They returned to Alabama together, got married and lived together for six months before Podoski traveled back to Houston to get his belongings.

“I’m tired of seeing these sick folks everyday, I hate everything they stand for” Gwen said.

“…..And who might that be?” Podoski inquired.

“Everyone. I’m going insane. The noise is killing me; the noise from everything that makes this city the ratchet place it is”

“I hate it too Gwen”

“Then let’s do something about it”

Two months later, they bought a large expanse of land thirty six miles away from civilization. They built a modest house and moved in.

While Podoski continued working at the agricultural research institute, Gwen stayed home and tended to the beautiful vegetable garden they’d created.
She soon owned a variety of animals.

Nine years later, the garden had grown into a huge farm. Podoski decided to give up his day job and concentrate on the farm and sales of the produce. It was good money but their lives had become more uncanny.
Gwen had neither visited the city nor spoken to anyone besides Podoski in three years.
Eight years earlier, She’d notified him of her desire to bring forth a child. He was excited about the thought and had gone to the store in the city to get some baby supplies. Gwen received it with a grin.
‘He’s so affectionate and always supportive’ she thought.

“I suppose it’s time to pay a visit to a doctor” He suggested, after trying to get her pregnant for two years.

“There’s nothing wrong with me!” She yelled.

“I don’t think so” He retorted rather precariously.

“Then you go ahead” she snapped.

He visited the doctor alone. When the test result was released, it was determined that he had a low sperm counts but a fifty percent chance of impregnating his wife.

“It’s been nine years since we got married and three years since I visited the city, I’d like to drive to town tomorrow”

“That’d be great darling.” He responded.

The next day they were in the city. It felt new. A lot had changed, a new store had been built. There were more cars, more people and more noises. She sighed, heralded herself for her ingenuity in leaving this hole called the city; it disgusts her.

“I’d love to ride around town alone. It’s been a while”

“That’s aight”

He pulled over at the store and let her behind the wheels. She smiled and zoomed off. The city is as terrible as she had anticipated. Idiots everywhere. They all seem to embrace sadness, anger and stress over common sense. Wealth built is squandered on frivolities. She wonders why most folks chose to live this way.
She drives around the park a few times to catch a glimpse of the same old scenario; worn-out looking parents monitoring and protecting their hyper-excited, ignorant kids running and jumping carelessly around. She drives back to the store.

They drive back home in silence after loading their supplies in the trunk.

“I want to visit San Diego next week” she broke the silence.

“Ok……but May I ask why you suddenly want to visit Dan Diego?”

“Do I need a reason to want a vacation?” She snapped.

“No”

Gwen had changed a lot. She’d become more introverted and a little more vindictive. Her attitude gives him a lot to worry about but he’s also become weary and scared so he puts up little or no challenge to her intricacies.
They rode all the way in silence.

A week later, She packed a few cloths and shoved it in her bag.

“Honey you mind bringing my bag to the car?”

“Aight. I’m a little worried as to why you intend to drive for 28hr all by yourself”

“I’ll be fine honey”

She made several stops but made it to SanDiego 34 hours later. This was a trip to heal her soul, away from her husband and a rediscovery of herself.
She left her hotel room for the first time in 48 hours.

She took a short walk to the bay. She’s been there several times. She loves it but hates the crowd.
While returning to her hotel, she saw a beautiful baby about 10months old in a pusher rather un-attended. She walked closely and noticed that it’s mother was returning a tricycle she’d apparently rented.
She pushed the pusher away from the spot and swiftly took the baby out. She briskly walked to her car, starts it and put the baby on the back seat. With the air on, she was sure the baby wouldn’t suffocate.
She went back to her room and called the reception.

“I’d be checking out in a few minutes”

The ride to Alabama was without a few constraints, but she made it home.

She made a brief stop in Phoenix and got a baby car seater and a few supplies for the child and paid cash.

Podoski welcomed her with a mix of apprehension, confusion and fright.

“Who’s child is this Gwen”?

“Our baby” she replied, smiling.

“How in Pete’s name did you get the baby”

“It’s a gift from God”

“Gift from God? The hell you’re talking about”!!!

Podoski had done a few stupid things in the past and had told Gwen so it was easy for her to blackmail him into accepting the child.

He was nursed with utmost care and ‘love’. Gwen ensured he got all he wanted, but education.

The only TV in the house was secretly kept in the study; it was under lock.
Ed grew into a fine strong boy who never made contact with any other humans but Gwen and Podoski. He was never taught to read nor told of the existence of any other being. He saw an airplane fly a few times over their home but was repeatedly told that that was God sending the Angels to watch over them.

One morning during one of Podoski’s frequent visits to the city, Gwen called Ed to her room and told him that God had told her to tell him that it was time for him to become a man and live a happy and a fulfilled life and it was her duty to teach him.
She pulled down his pants and carefully massaged his manhood until he became rock-hard. She had sex with him and afterwards made him pray for the opportunity to become a man. She told him the implication of telling Podoski. He was twelve.
That became a constant. Ed liked it, he looked forward to it.

Gwen became intrinsically obnoxious and Blatantly critical of all Podoski did. Ed did not hide is resentment towards him too. He had become a man and everything Podoski did for or with Gwen affects him and threatens his very existence. He became increasingly spiteful.
One day he called Gwen.

“Mom, I think dad hates me.”

She paused momentarily to buy enough time to process the assertion..

“I know he does honey and I have plans to take care of that”.

She was tired of Podoski but most importantly, she was addicted to Ed and the need to own him had occupied her. She’d thought of killing Podoski numerously but the problem was; how?

With the help of Ed, he was murdered and buried deep in the woods. It was easy to get away with it. No one comes around, they had no phone, no TV, no family and she wasn’t about to report him missing; it is was easy.

Their lives became a rendezvous of exotic satisfaction; work-eat-sex-sleep-sex-play-sex-eat….. for every intimate moment shared, her addiction for him increases but he was equally getting increasingly tired and weary.

One morning, Gwen went to the city for supplies; something she does quarterly. Ed was out in the field tending to the animals, he heard voices, turned and saw two people, one, a lot like him and the other like his mum. He was very frightened.

“Hi dude”

“Hi” Ed waved.

“I’m Bryan and this is my girlfriend Annie”

“Ed”

“Nice to meet you Ed. We had an issue with our car about two miles away and we just need some water to fill up the radiator so we can drive back to town. We saw the rather rarely used road and thought we could be lucky and here we are.

Ed stood still, a little too confused to fathom what was happening. It was his first time to ever see any human other than his mum and Podoski.

Terry and Annie stared at themselves not sure what to make of the frightening look from Ed.

The silence was broken by the sound of the car driving so fast towards them.
Gwen jumped out of the car and yelled.

“What the heck are you two doing on my property?”

“Hello ma’am, we just came to get some water for our car with a little radiator problem. We don’t mean no trouble. We can leave if you want us to”

She looked at Ed and knew she had to manage the situation tactfully.

“Oh, I see” she said. “Come with me let me get you some water so you can be on your way”

They got some water and left.

Ed couldn’t ask who or what they were. He’s been told all his life that they were the only people in the world.

The entire house oozed of raw silence for hours until Gwen broke the silence.

“Ed, those people you saw are the only two people in the other world. They were on their way to their world and they needed help”

Ed was too confused to respond. He wasn’t sure of anything anymore. His mind raced with inexplicable thoughts. Has he being obtuse all these while?……he shrugged off the thoughts.

At night, he could not sleep. For the first time, he analyzed a lot of things; he thought of where Gwen gets her supplies, where she occasionally drives to, why she asked him to stay in the basement praying a few times while he hears voices of people from the main house.

Something wasn’t right but he couldn’t tell what it was…..the seed of resentment had been sowed.

His desire to follow through on their daily ritual withered.

A few months later, Gwen was going to to make it to the city to get supplies; Ed walked up to her.

“May I go with you?”

Those words startled her. Ed had never been in a car. He had been repeatedly told that God drops the supplies for them down the road and only she or Podoski were allowed to pick them up. It worked perfectly; until now.

“That’s a taboo before God Ed. No one but me can pick up our supplies”

“I’m insisting mum. I wanna go with you”

“Ed! Get back inside now!” She snapped.

Like a sheep, he obeyed.

She drove all the way to the city pondering what he’d likely do next. What if he escapes? ……

A few minutes after she left, the sheriff and a few police were at her house.
The kids who came the previous day had suspected something was not right and had gone to the sheriff’s office to lay a complain. Upon checking the records of the occupants of Gwen’s house, no boy had ever been known to be living there.

Ed was in the living room when they got there. They were startled at their findings, more so that Ed had never made any contact with any other human beside Podoski and Gwen…….they waited for Gwen to return.

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