Monye washed her hands with water, sighing heavily as she looked around at the lines and lines of the wounded, for whom she had been crushing herbs and administering hot bitter concoctions since the break of dawn, offering empty soothing words where she could do nothing. A man with a broken leg moaned from the far side of the encampment, one healer holding him down as another administered treatment. She shuddered and left, gritting her teeth as his muffled cry of agony followed her. She moved swiftly but quietly past the people outside, waiting for word on their beloved ones. The Heart Sniper watched unseen from a vantage point, tightening the knot around Monye’s heart, pulling her towards the forest.
She walked, a long way behind the encampment, her slippers raising the red dusty earth as she moved. When she got to the forest she raised her wrapper and ran, barely feeling the branches scratch at her as she zoomed past.
The bright blue piper birds in the trees and their love for gossip passed around the message speedily and soon every living thing in the forest knew that Monye was again going to meet her lover from the enemy kingdom. She’d met Eyimofe even before the war between the two kingdoms began, and even now it did not matter to her that he was supposed to be the enemy.
She always thought she was the only one in her kingdom who wasn’t afraid to use the Nkume juju, and she’d jerked in shock when she felt a force zoom past her inside the river. She followed it to the other side and watched as a lean, hard, muscular and completely naked body rose out of the water. He strode unhurriedly to some clothes on the bank, putting them on as if unaware she was there staring open-mouthed. “I know my body is impressive. You can close your mouth now,” he’d said. She was turned on by his arrogance. Attraction, like a hunter, captured her. He was sugar and she, a sugar ant.
Now she headed to the river, waded in and searched for an Nkume-mmiri, a sheeny pebble that grants the user the ability to control the tides. She placed it on her abdomen and immediately felt the power flow from it through her, right from the top of her head to the soles of her feet, enriching her with the ability to control the currents, breathe and see underwater. She shot with the speed of an arrow to the other side of the hill in minutes.
She stood up, gave back the Nkume-mmiri to the river, wringed her clothes, and walked to the hill. There, she picked an Nkume-ugwu, a tiny misshapen stone with distinct markings, and placed it once again on her abdomen. A green face materialized from the side of the hill. Its dark eyes assessed her, and she felt the Nkume-ugwu burn hot, then cool. The figure opened its mouth and allowed her to step through it.
She found Eyimofe waiting for her under a tree. She became very shy and tried to smooth back her short, wet, spiky hair. Eyimofe hurried to meet and hold her. He buried his face in the crook of her neck, one hand at her waist and the other in her hair, his heart pounding. “I was afraid you wouldn’t come,” he said, his voice muffled. She laughed. “Not even the piper bird’s gossip can keep me away from you.”
She sighed. “I don’t how I would survive with the wounded everyday, without you to help me remember that despite the evil humans do to each other, there are still good people.”
“You’re a healer,” he said. “I want to hold you all day like this.”
“How will you eat then,” she teased.
“I don’t need food. The sight of you fills me up.”
“Ha! I crossed seven mountains and seven seas to meet you here.” She tapped on her stomach.
“Come, hungry lioness.” He pulled her playfully to a cashew tree. “I brought some food.”
He fed her tapioca and coconut, and she nipped his fingers playfully with her teeth.
“I won’t feed you again,” he pouted.
She pulled the finger into her mouth and sucked it gently, holding his gaze with her eyes and watching them darken with pleasure. “Better?”
He nuzzled her nose with his. “You make me forget the pain the war brings to my kingdom.”
She moved her fingers through his hair. “Do not mention it.”
She jumped up, her hips swaying, her hands on her waist. “Sing me the igede song. I can’t remember the last time I danced the steps.”
“Of course,” he smiled.“I love to watch your hips move.”
He began the song, his voice a rich, warm caress as he tapped his hands on his muscular chest to create the beat. The sun reflected on her skin, and on the glassy beads on her waist. He quickened his tempo, drinking in the splendid sight of her body as she danced faster and faster.
When the song ended, she reclined on the ground beside him, her chest heaving. She pulled him down and kissed him, desire blocking out the cries of the wounded.
The Heart Sniper, a messenger of Ani the creator, smiled down at them. She looked away from Monye and Eyimofe, and toward the weapon suppliers for both kingdoms. She turned their gazes towards the forest, making them pine for a stroll along the same bush path. The heart sniper knew it would take a lot of her power, but she had to end the fighting and pain. She grinned and cracked her knuckles. There were more intricate love webs to be complicated and cast.
Blessing Ofia-Inyinya Nwodo studied Adult Education/ English language in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where she merited the award “Best Female Writer.” Her short story “Vaginismus” was featured in Erotic Africa: The Sex Anthology by Brittle Paper, and she was awarded the Highly Rated prize in the Nigerian Travel Story competition organized by Travel Next Door in 2016. Her essay, “The gendered double standard of adultery in Nigeria” was published by Women’s Media Centre (FBOMB), and she has also been published on Kalahari Review, The Common, Naija Stories, 100 words Africa, Lion spot, and the Rota-Lion magazine. She would love to go for a master’s degree in creative writing.