A story written by Atreus… If You missed Part Ten, read it HERE!!!

Miriam walked into the parlor,heading for the door. “Miriam”,her dad called. “Yes dad?”,she answered and turned to him. He was seated on the two-seater. “You up for a game of chess?”,he asked. “Chess?”,she asked,looking at her father like he was speaking Latin. “Yes,Chess”,he repeated. “Uhm. . . I was actually going out to buy something,but i guess we could play a game”,she said and walked to him. She sat down opposite him and her dad arranged the pieces. The game lasted for about an hour. Mimi’s dad always talked when he was playing chess;he’d crack jokes or tell one of those when-i-was-your-age/In-those-days stories. Mimi had learned a long time ago that that was a strategy-the objective was that you’d be so engrossed in the stories,you wouldn’t pay attention to your game,and before you knew it-checkmate. That time,her dad was talking about how when he’d married her mom a crate of minerals was #2.50k and a goat was #150. Miriam was a naturally competitive person,but that was the first time she’d so thoroughly enjoyed being beaten. “You’ve gotten better”,her dad remarked after the game. “I guess so”,she replied. “I wanna go buy the stuff”,she said,and added as an afterthought;”Is that okay?” “Yes. Sure”,her father replied,a bit disappointed-he’d wanted them to watch a game together. She left,and then he sighed deeply. Efe,her mother walked in. “So?”,she asked. “We played chess”,he said,gesturing towards the chessboard on the table. “How did it go?”,she asked softly. “It went”,he replied. “That bad,hunh?”,she said in question. “I don’t know,Efe”,he said with another sigh and continued;”She couldn’t wait to leave. I don’t get it. Miriam and i used to be so close. We used to play chess everyday,watch football,tennis together,talk,and now it’s like i’m a stranger to her. You should’ve seen the look on her face when i asked her to play chess with me. It was like;’who are you and what’ve you done with my father?’ “. “Mo. . . Things between you and Miriam aren’t going to change overnight”,she said.

”I know,i know”,he said. “What’re you going to have for dinner?”,she asked a few minutes later. “Unripe plantain and vegetables”,he replied. “Okay”,she said,not bothering to ask which vegetable-she knew it was spinach. Her husband was into healthy food,and the iron-filled unripe plantain and spinach was a staple in his diet. She stood up and went into the kitchen to cook for herself,her husband and Jacob. The girls had told her they’d take care of themselves-they could only eat ripe plantains and maybe manage the spinach,but it had to be stewed,not steamed,and steamed was the way their father liked it,so that night,they were on their own.
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***
That evening,her parents and Jacob had just finished eating. The girls didn’t cook anything;Eghosa and Claire ate golden morn while Miriam ate a gala and drank a pack of Hollandia yoghurt. Jacob had just finished clearing the plates when Miriam came to talk to her dad. “Dad?”,she began tentatively and then continued;”I need to ask you for something”. “Seems like that’s the only time you talk to me. When you need something”,he mused aloud. He took a sip of his glass of water and then continued;”What is it?” “I’d like another extension of my curfew”. “Why?”,her dad asked. “I wanna have dinner with a friend of mine”,she said. “This. . Friend,is he the same person you went with to the party last week?”,her father asked. “Daddy. . “,she began. “Answer the question”,he cut in. “He’s the same person”,she replied. Her dad nodded his head but didn’t say anything at first. After a few seconds of tense silence,he said;”I’ll let you go. But on one condition. Your sisters will go with you as chaperones”. “Chaperones? What for? You didn’t insist on Chaperones last week”,she said in protest. “That’s because they weren’t around last week. They are now”,he said. “Daddy,i don’t need chaperones. I’m gonna do anything wrong. I don’t need them”,she repeated. “If you know you’re not going to do anything wrong,the idea of having a chaperone shouldn’t bother you”,her father said. “This isn’t about me. It isn’t about whether or not i’ll do something wrong. This is about you,dad. You don’t trust me”. “Trust? You’re talking about trust? Trust is not demanded,it’s earned”,her father said. “So i haven’t earned your trust? That’s what you’re saying?”,she asked in mock astonishment. “I’ve been a model student,good grades,never done anything untoward. You gave me permission to go out to a party,and i returned home at the time we agreed on,sober! What more do you want dad? What more must i do to ‘earn’ your trust?”,she asked in anger.

“First you wanted to go see a movie with a friend of yours. Then you went to a reunion party with him. Now it’s a lovely little dinner you want to go on with the same boy. Do you think i’m dense,Miriam? Or are you going to say it’s just a friendly dinner? Are you? Answer me!”,he demanded in anger,voice raised. She turned away,silent. “You can’t answer me,can you? You can’t,because you know as well as i do that this is not just dinner between friends. It’s a date. A date! Do you even understand the concept behind dating? It’s a way for a man and a woman to get to know each other better with the intention of finding out whether they’re compatible and possibly getting married. That’s what dating is for. Do you plan to get married anytime soon? No? I didn’t think so. Trust! You’re dating a boy,and you talk to me about trusting you?”,he asked. He took a deep breath and then continued;”I’m trying. . . I’m trying very hard to be reasonable here Miriam. You will go to dinner with your sisters as chaperones,or you will not go at all”. “Dad. . .”,she began. “It’s your decision Miriam”,her father cut in. “Then i guess i have no choice. Looks like me and the girls’ll be having dinner with my friend”,she said and stormed off.
***
Miriam entered her room and slammed the door behind her. She was angry. A few minutes later,her mother knocked on the door. “Miriam? Miriam,open the door”. Miriam didn’t answer her. Miriam hadn’t locked the door,so when her mother turned the handle,the door opened. She went inside and saw Miriam sitting on the ground next to her bed. “Miriam. . Baby? I want to talk to you”. “Well i don’t”,she replied. Her mom sat down on a chair opposite her and began;”Miriam,your father is just trying to do what’s best for you”. “Oh don’t give me that crap mom. Dad isn’t trying to do what’s best for me. This isn’t about me. I don’t even come into the equation,never mind the fact that it’s my life. This is about dad;his ideas,his perceptions-how he sees me. It’s about what he wants.

Look at the way he was going on and on about dating,like i was gonna commit fornication on the first date or something. And him insisting on chaperones? It all boils down to this simple fact-he doesn’t trust me,period”. “Your dad’s just trying to protect you. The chaperone thing is not such a bad idea. . ” “Really? Is that what you think of me mom? You think i won’t be able to keep my legs closed when i’m with a boy? Is that why you think i need chaperones? Dad doesn’t trust me,and the fact that we’re having this conversation shows that you don’t either”,she said. “Miriam,this isn’t about whether we trust you or not. You’re a teenager;the bible talks about desires incidental to youth. You’re in the bloom of youth and . . ” “Mom”,cut in Miriam and continued,speaking slowly through clenched teeth;”I really don’t want to talk about the bible at this point in time,so can we please not do this now?” “Miriam,i’m just trying to. . ” “Please,mom. I can’t do this now”,she said. Efe looked at her daughter and sighed in frustration,knowing it was no good trying to reason with her when she was in that mood. “Fine then. But later,later we are going to have this talk”,her mother said and left the room.
***
Miriam had gone out for a walk immediately her mom left the room. Now,she had cooled down but she was still in a bad mood. Her phone rang and she checked caller ID. It was Orisha. She picked up the call on the fourth ring. “Hey”,he replied. “Orisha,i’m not in a very good mood right now. Can you call me back later?”,she asked. “Whoa,whoa,whoa. . What’s wrong?” “Nothing”,she replied. “Come on Mims,i know there’s something wrong. I can hear it in your voice. What is it?”,he asked. “My dad said the only way i could go to dinner with you is if my sisters come with me as chaperones”. “Chaperones?”,he repeated. “Yeah. He just. .y’know what? I don’t wanna talk about this”,she said. “Okay. Then let’s talk about how you feel right now”. “Angry. Frustrated-because i can’t get through to him and i’m tired of trying.

Hurt-that he has such a low opinion of me”,she said,getting angry all over again just thinking about it. “Mimi,calm down. Alright? Calm down”,he said,his words like a soothing balm. “He just made it seem like having dinner with you was such a bad thing. He wants my sisters to chaperone us because he doesn’t trust me to do the right thing”,she said and continued with a sigh;”Orisha,i don’t wanna burden you with my issues”. “Burden? You’re not burdening me with anything. What on earth makes you think talking to me about your feelings is a burden? You can talk to me about anything,Miriam,anything. You’ve gotta know that”,he said,enunciating every word of the last two sentences clearly. “Miriam,this Friday night,we’re gonna have dinner together. You’re gonna wear a beautiful gown that’ll blow me away when i see it. We’ll. . We’ll order the most exotic thing on the menu. We’ll dance. We’re gonna have a great time,and nobody’ll ruin it. Nobody. It’ll just you and me. We’ll have a wonderful first date,chaperones or not”. He paused and then continued;”I wish i could say something to make it all better”. “You just did”,she replied softly with a small smile,and continued;”Thank-you Orisha”. “Anytime,Mims”,he replied. “I’m looking forward to Friday night”,she added. “So am i. Everything is gonna be fine. Don’t forget that”,he said. “I won’t”. “Bye”,he said. “Bye”,she replied. “No goodbye kiss?”,he asked. She chuckled. “Kiss-kiss”,he prompted. “Muuahh”,she kissed into the phone with a laugh. “See you Friday”,he said. “Kay”,she replied and ended the call.

To Be Continued…

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