Bibiana Ossai

A Young Heart’s Dangerous Hobby

In a darkly lit chamber with Piet Mondrian paintings hanging on its walls, there is a neutral woman with platinum-colored hair, faint lipstick, and a plastered smile sitting on the opposite side of the table, in front of myself. On the tabletop are a blank notepad and a fixed pen on the side of it. She is dressed in a formal outfit that appears casual. There are several pots of flowering plants placed according to their sizes on the window facing the busy city roads and pictures of amateurish drawings plastered on the wooden board next to the window with names written under the drawings. I can see her try to undress me with her eyes when mine catches a glimpse of her name written with blue thread on the right pocket of her lab coat with a single extra pen tucked in it. Before I look any further, I hear a screeching sound come from her chair, then the words that follow.

“Why do you think your Mama has brought you to see me?” She asks with the pen tapping on her full wide lips.

“She says I am empty.” I chomp quietly under my breath before replying in a childish voice that sounds distant to me, “Mama loves me.”

Though this small-shaped woman with mahogany wrinkles tracing the robust veins on her neck feigns her concerned look for me, I can tell she sees me in the same light as my Mama. A dangerous poor little thing. She blinks twice while like there is more she expects from me. But I place my hands neatly on my young thighs exactly the way Mama trained me with my chest out and shoulders upright.

“I know your Mama loves you. But, I will like you to tell me why you are here,” she asks again.

“Klaus … Papa will find out about Klaus … Mama caught me with him,” I say in a soft yet straightforward tone as I wriggled my black ballet shoes. All I feel in this moment is to have a long quiet rest in my room with my science books.

“Tell me what happened. Take your time.”

Seven. That summer holiday in our New York apartment, after Mama’s trip to London with Papa, they gifted me a white teddy bear with chocolate brown eyes that looked delicious. They both sat on the gray chair opposite mine in Papa’s Victorian cozy study, although only Mama looked at me open the deck of big Leatherette Collapsible gift boxes they got for me from London. I opened one orange, one blue, one green, but it was the teddy bear in the deep black box with a golden bow that entranced me. Its body scented of minty lemon, and I inhaled every drop with my small flat nose, caressed its fluffiness, and massaged its neck tenderly with love. The delicate softness of the teddy bear aroused a sudden urge to end the loneliness that dwelled in its eyes. So, I took a black pen on the center table to stab the right side of the teddy’s neck and twisted it in a circular motion before pulling it out. It rained white cotton fluff that afternoon. There was a royal blue leash with a tiny circular diamond pendant around its neck. It sparkled like the sun, and I could not resist stealing it for myself. The diamond looked as fragile as a teardrop. I wrapped it around my wrist, and made it into a bracelet. I still remember the look of horror on Mama’s face, while Papa’s facial expression was the same as always.

Mama got up from where she sat to spank me on my shoulder, “You should be grateful, this little child of mine. Stop this madness. You are a lady now.”

There was an unreadable emotion on her face. I watched her lips move in different directions a little longer. Behind her, I saw Papa carry the day’s newspaper in one hand and his briefcase in the other as he walked away from the room. When the fluff stopped rolling down from the teddy’s neck, I dropped it on the chair, and I stared at its lifeless body with a sense of accomplishment.

“Mama, can I go to my room now?” I asked her in a self-satisfied smirk. She blinked and stuttered in technical repetitions like a damaged disc playing on the family’s turntable.

“Let this be the last time,” she said with her motherly tone, but that was my first time.

Nine. My next fascination was an old Puppy. He was a peculiar sick dog, especially loved by Papa, called Klaus. Papa got the name from the only person he ever believed in several lifetimes before my existence. The dog was playful that evening when I went down the stairs to grab a cup of orange juice. He barked, whined, and his cheerful sounds gave me a headache. I whistled at him, and he came running to where I stood. I crouched to be the same height as he was, and when I looked into his dark eyes, he reminded me of the teddy bear from two summers prior. He stared right into me. For the first time in two years after my romance with the teddy bear, an intoxicating feeling tugged the vulnerable part of my heart. I played with Klaus, patted his hairy body, and put my arms around his neck, this time I had the smallest and sharpest kitchen knife in my right palm. I could feel Klaus’s heartbeat perfectly synchronized with mine. For a moment in time, my tongue salivated, and so I pinched his neck, out of curiosity, you might say, but I felt nothing, absolutely nothing. The hole was at a perfect point where blood gushes out as though from a faucet. It was spruce and mesmerizing. A pinch in his neck was enough to get the juice out of his fragile body.

By the time I finished making the hole, I dropped Klaus carefully and watched his solemn body fall into peace. I stood up from my position, went to the sink to wash the knife and returned it into the cabinet. After, I grabbed two table cloths and one small bowl from the cupboard and filled it with water and liquid soap. Then I wiped his body and the floor, one slide after the other. However, as I did this, I dipped one of my fingers into the hole to get a taste of the thick reddish juice pumping out of his neck. It was at that moment I heard Mama call my name. She stood at the entrance of the kitchen with a different horror painted on her face.  

“Magenta, who are you? What have you done to my daughter?” She asked me.

Her skin looked paler than ever, and I could hear the trembling of her feet on the floor. Upon seeing Mama’s clownish facial expression, I chuckled in the dark corner of the room with my milky melanin hands covered in blood, but Mama ran over to where I knelt and embraced me in a mouthful of tears. She rocked my body that night, then looked me in the eyes as though searching for her lost child. Her tears dropped one after the other onto my cheeks. They smeared themselves on the bloodstains around my mouth till they found their way onto my tongue and I tasted the saltiness. Mama stared at me as though she hoped to see the reflection of her eyes in mine, but nothing changed. My eyes were in their times of drought despite my actions. To silence the outpouring of shrieks and undesired human contact from my Mama, I offered her a taste of my hobby dripping from my pinky finger of blood.

Bibiana Ossai is a graduate of the MFA Creative Writing program at Long Island University, Brooklyn where she was awarded the Marilyn Boutwell Creative Writing Award for Fiction. She is the winner of the Equinox Journal 2019 poetry contest and an Idyllwild Arts Writers Week fiction fellow. Her works appear in The River, The Book Smuggler’s Den, Refractions (iō literary online journal), Sad Girls Literary Blog, and The Republic Journal.