Date released:
November 4, 2021
Short story
Photo credit:
Paul Bill

Chasing bloody unicorns


My sister lies on the ground with her legs wide open, her wig by her side. Its many strands spread out in the pool of blood she sits in. She's going to be pissed later. Later, when she finds out her precious mahogany coloured wig, her favourite, is soaked in the blood of her fiance.

I squeeze the rag into the bleach-filled water and almost gag at the strong smell of blood. "Let me help," she says, and I shake my head. Her face is bare now. The only sign of the tears she had cried is the white line that streaks down her cheekbones. "Take your gown off and put it in the trash," I say, and she nods solemnly.

She walks back into the room and heads straight for the shower. She leaves the door open, and I watch as she takes her lingerie off. Normally, she would have closed the door. She hated being seen naked. But again, this wasn't a normal situation. I look at the spot I've been cleaning, and I sigh in relief as it's clean now. I take the bowl and head to the sink to discard the bloody water.

Death by a thousand cuts

The drive to the bridge is surprisingly quiet. Antonia has changed into shorts and a tank top, but I still have my blood-stained white shirt on. I'm not bothered about anyone seeing me. It's two in the morning, and everyone is home and sleeping. Home and watching TV or probably home and in bed. But home.

The last time I went across the bridge was to go to their engagement party. So it's pretty ironic that now I will be dumping his body over into the water, and the ghost of a smile dances bitterly against my lips. I park and switch the ignition off. I don't have to tell her to come down because she's already out of the car.

We go to the boot, and I heave the door open. If not for the blood seeping through the floral sheets and onto my carpet, the parcel of human flesh could almost pass for a harmless bundle of goods. The weight is staggering, and we almost throw it down, but we move swiftly across the road and throw the body into the waters below. The deed is done.

The drive back to the house is silent. She keeps stealing glances at me. "Saying goodbye is death by a thousand cuts, or whatever Taylor Swift said." She says and chuckles. "Only this time I made the cuts. And it's a little below a thousand"

Shrieking babies

Seven months ago.

I've always hated gatherings. My presence isn't a necessity, but my absence would be misinterpreted. Humans are weird.

"Bose!" I turn and see Antonia coming towards me with a man trailing behind her.

"Bose, this is him. My boyfriend," he smiles, and I smile back.

"I'm Chris. It's nice to finally meet you," he says and takes my hand in his. His palm is rough, calloused. Antonia likes men with smooth palms, men with clean, smooth, razor-sharp jaws. Chris has a bush of untamed hair decorating his face.

They walk away, and I sit back to stare at the proceedings without interest. My spine tingles. I turn and see Chris holding my sister and screaming in her face. She's quiet. That's very strange. I'd talk to her about it later. I feel someone sit by my side, and I turn to see Antonia. She flashes me a very tired smile. Her skin is bruised, but I resist the urge to say anything. I'd talk to her about it later. A baby is crying close to us, disturbingly loud shrieks, and I want to block it out of my ears.

"Do you have your AirPods? The shrieking is driving me crazy," She says, and I hand them over to her. She plugs them in and closes her ears to the world. Antonia likes children, especially the shrieking ones. She likes to hold them and smile till they quiet down. So why is she blocking the cries out?

More blood

Four months ago.

"He proposed!" Antonia says and flashes her diamond ring in my face. I smile and hold her hand to admire the ring. The wind blows her dress up, and I see them, ugly scars on her thigh. Strange. She has flawless skin. Did she fall? She pulls her dress down, and the scars vanish from my sight, like they were never there.

Lubes and stuck elevators

Two months ago.

Top floor. The elevator is surprisingly empty, but I relish in the quiet. I wonder what Antonia is doing up there. Why did she sound so scared? Finally, I reach the floor, and as I'm about to come out of it, Antonia runs in and hurriedly shuts it behind us. She presses the down button, and the elevator stops a few floors down.

"Damnit!" Antonia hits her fist against the steel wall enclosing us.

She rarely ever swore. She slumps against the wall and slides to the floor. Her fist is wrapped around something. I sit beside her and open it up. I look at her with confusion written all over my face.


"It was the only thing close enough to hit him with," she says and laughs. Then she starts to sob.

Papaya ice cream

Two weeks ago.

"It's such a delicacy, really," he's talking and scooping the yellow mustard-looking thing into his mouth. Antonia is seated by his side; she has big sunglasses on her face. I look around again. Maybe I missed the blazing sun. We're in an enclosed space. There's no sun.

"You should try it, Bose," he says, and I move to protest, but he's already flagging a waiter down. Five minutes later, a cup of the mustard yellow thing is dropped in front of me. I read the inscription on the cup. Papaya. I scoop it in my mouth and almost gag. Who came up with this atrocious thing? Chris is looking at my face and laughing.

"It's really a delicacy," he says again, and I nod absentmindedly.

Hoodie and sunglasses. The Lagos weather is literally hell. Antonia is wearing a hoodie. "Perhaps it's an acquired taste," I tell him and force a smile.

Like you.

Double pink lines


Antonia enters the house and trudges to the sofa. She sits.

"Want to tell me what happened?" I ask, and she looks up at me. I didn't notice the bags under her eyes before. She stands and walks to the room.

"I showed him this yesterday," she says and shoves the white PT strips in my face.

"And he was happy. Very happy."

She sits on the ground beside me.

"I don't know why but I wasn't really happy. His happiness made me sad," she chuckles. "He didn't get to be happy about my baby. He was talking about unicorns and bouncing castles for the fifth birthday of my child." She keeps saying her child. "And then he was hugging me. Can you imagine?" she laughs. "He wasn't hugging me hours before that. He was hitting me and carving my thighs with his butcher knife. To carry the mark of his ownership, he says. He doesn't forget to wrap my marks in bandages. He disinfects and wraps them up. He leaves me to heal, and then he opens the same place the next time. Again." She's crying now. I pull her up and rest her head against my breasts. Her voice is barely a whisper now, but I hear it. "Cynthia took me to the clinic. I had to get rid of it, the thing growing inside me. You understand, right?" I look at her to nod, but she isn't looking at me. I think she's talking to herself.

"I came home and told him the child was out of me, and he broke down to cry. I swear I didn't know someone as cruel as him could shed tears. And then he was hitting me again. My tummy was hurting, and I was still bleeding out thick curdled chunks of blood, but he didn't care. Then I snapped. His knife was right there. He was going to cut me again. And I don't know what happened. I swear I don't know," she's sobbing hard now. My shirt is wet—a mixture of blood and salty tears.

"Then he was on the rug. And blood was everywhere. I didn't know what I was going to do so I called you. I still don't know, Bose. I never knew all this while." I hold her to me and pat her till she cries to sleep. I place her gently on the sofa and move to discard the shirt. I enter her room, and I see the purple unicorn lying by the side of the bed. There's a note attached to it. 'for my child. To chasing unicorns and leprechauns.' I pick it up and see the blood splashed against it. I can't help the smile that climbs onto my face.

More like chasing bloody unicorns.


Maruf Aliyah is a teen writer obsessed with the mystery of death. She builds her stories around it, some way to understand the end of life or perhaps the beginning.

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