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Ijeoma slapped me. Full on the face. Her hand covered my face, from my scalp to my chin.
My brows contracted, they always do whenever the volcano begins to heat up within and my vision gets blurry and my hands move fast and when, after a few minutes, I open my eyes, I discover some sort of damage that surprises me. It's hard to take in, even to myself the sort of damages I cause whenever the volcano heats up and erupts.

 Dr. Ken, the shrink at Westhill downtown, calls it excessive choleric syndrome. At least that was what he told papa, four months back, the second day I visited Dr. Ken's office. I didn't comment on that though, I didn't tell Dr. Ken outwrightly, he was fake for suggested a case as "excessive choleroc syndrome", I kept quiet through it all. Since papa wants to waste money, let him.
The volcano did heat up but my brows did not contract. I stared at Ijeoma, head held. High, panting, trying to control my fast breathing, another symptom Dr. Ken pointed out to papa was wrong with me. "She has to take two of this painkiller and pink pills, twice daily, to control the situation". My fast breathing was the "situation", so I feasted on my pills most days. Still catching my breathe I vomitted the words "you're a whore Ijeoma, an ashewo o". And then the sobbing seized me. I ran out of the kitchen, out of the house and started walking.
I didn't know where I was heading to, or maybe I did because Kossiso's house was in the same direction and I needed someone to  talk to. It was another five minutes walk from Kumar's store, where I stood for almost long enough to look at Obinna through the transperent glass windows. Obinna the noble, dusting and cleaning the shelves upon shelves of goods.
I sat at a corner, east of Kumar's Store, on the floor, like most bums do. I needed to clear my head a bit before I continued to Kossiso's. I remembered Mama, her wide smile, Ivory skin, her thick full curly  long hair and her soft voice, even when she spoke igbo. She was always fond of telling me, "ibu omalicha m, a furum gi n'anya" with her wide grin and her glowy eyes and her soft skin holding me. Then cancer came last year and took away her wide smile, and shiny skin, her soft voice and her beautiful hair.
The doctors said it was lung cancer and that mama would undergo chemo and that If she got lucky, she'd fight it. I choked on my tears that day because I knew mama hated fighting, she was a peaceful person. Cancer would take her from me.
Cancer did take mama, she could not make it for a fortnight and she didn't leave instructions for me to do before her death. She just went like that, without saying goodbye or without saying "omalicha m, afurum gi n'anya". I felt lost then. A part of me shut down.
In less than a year papa married Ijeoma, his co-worker. I wanted to run. Maybe to Kossiso's house or Obinna's. I dropped both options; papa would eventually find me. I decided to run away to grannie's in Nigeria. Papa caught up with me at the airport. I'm tall and light-skinned and easy to spot out in a crowd, at least that is what Obinna keeps telling me. I must be because papa spotted in less than five minutes in that crowded airport.
The next day, Ijeaoma suggested to papa that I visit a therapist, Dr. Ken, "he's so wonderful with teens especially", she had said,in her feinged American accent to my hearing. I sighed, I'd have preferred she'd said that in igbo. That's another thing I hated about her, she never spoke to me in Igbo.
Yesterday, Ijeoma slapped me and I went to my room, stuffed some clothes into my denim duffel bag. She let me walk pass her,and leave the house without a comment. She probably knew where I was headed to and would ask papa to come for me tomorrow or the next. But she wouldn't dare raise her hand on me ever again, that I was sure of. Dr. Ken said yesterday, "channel all the anger boiling inside of you and pour it into a secret chest."
This, what I just shared, is my secret chest.


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