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Dying Embers || πš‹πš’ π™Έπšπš’ π™Ύπš–πšŽπš—πš’

SYLVIA GLANCED AT THE POPUP and smiled. "Another text message has come in," she said to Anne, who sat beside her. She was used to words like bastard, old maid, destroyer of the young generation, being used to describe her. And she received a lot of such comments on her phone.

"We’ll not be moved. The struggle continues," Anne said.

"Yes. Have you heard from the other ladies in the executive?"

"All except Lucia."

"Hope she’s okay? I’ ll call her at once."

Sylvia dialled a number as Anne looked through her phone.

‘Wow. Fifty more ladies have joined our Facebook group.'

"Good to know," Sylvia added. "Hello, Lucia," she breathed into the mouthpiece. Lucia was saying something strange. "What’s wrong? Just hold on." She shook her head. "You can do this. Okay, can you spend the weekend with me? ... Great. I’ll be expecting you."

"What’s wrong with her?" Anne asked.

"The pressure is getting to her."

"Oh no! She must not succumb." She nodded. Make sure you work on her when she comes to your place."

"I’ll do that. The VIGOF Revolution stands."

"Yeah, together we stand."

For a while they gazed at each other, shared passion radiating off their faces.   

                               ~~~

Sylvia flickered a smile at the eager faces staring at her, almost two thousand young ladies in all. Anne, her assistant, had booked a hall that could contain a thousand persons, but had to go for a bigger one when more people registered. And the numbers kept growing. 

"I’m thrilled to welcome you all to this second meeting," she announced. "The first meeting was held in my sitting room. VIGOF started with just five ladies. Today, less than six months after, we have twenty thousand followers and counting, on Facebook. Both people living in this country and beyond. 

The revolution has caught on, and awareness is spreading fast. I intend to take the next phase to schools. We need to catch them young. For VIGOF!"

"VIGOF, the revolution. Together we stand," the ladies in the hall cheered.

                                ~~~

The meeting wrapped up. Anne hurried towards Sylvia, brows knitted. "Mum called yesterday. Guess what she told me."

"What did she say?"

"She said someone told her that I joined a club of lesbians."

"My God." Sylvia fell silent, lips twitching. It sounded crazy. "People are something else. No matter what they say, the revolution stands."

"Yes. VIGOF forever!"

                                ~~~

Anne tried Sylvia's number repeatedly. She had gone to Lucia’s house to visit her but couldn't gain entry. "She’s still not picking up her calls," she said, sinking into the sofa.

"I hope she’s okay," said Lucia. She was finally back after a depressing week.

Anne palmed her mouth. "Oh my God!" Her eyes were fixated on her phone screen.

"What is it?" Lucia asked, frowning.

Anne wordlessly handed over her phone to Lucia.

"It’s a lie. It’s not possible!" Lucia yelled.

Anna sprung to her feet, looking around as if to find someone who would explain the issue to her. "Where’s she? Let her come and defend herself." Her voice was thick with tears. "I need answers. I’ll camp in front of her house till I speak to her.’   

                               ~~~

Sylvia’s eyes were bloodshot. She had spent another sleepless night, weeping. Her phone had rung repeatedly, till the battery went down. She did not open the door when the knocks started. She couldn't hear anything. This time, all that mattered was grief. Nothing more. She just wanted to die.

She sat there, surrounded by the guilt and shame that was making mincemeat of her. Wasn't it better to drown in this dark? She eased up and stumbled to the front door. Switched on the light and opened the door. Perhaps a good walk would do some good.

"So, you were inside."

The voice made her jump. She stifled a sob and posed an indifferent look.

"Lucia! What are you doing here?"

"Finding answers,'' Lucia replied, entering the house. "Better start talking. Everyone is worried about you."

"I can’t face them. I have disappointed the ladies who had faith in me."

"What did you do? Is this true?" Lucia showed her the text.

"Who sent it to you?"

"That does not matter. Is it true?"

There was no reason to hide it further. There was no reason to keep the grief pent up. "It’s true,  Lucia." She sniffed a sob. "We were so close to getting victory over immorality. More and more ladies were joining us, and then—"

"You allowed this to happen." Lucia shot her a glare, raising the phone to her face. "How could you? You made me leave my boyfriend who wanted to marry me. You burnt with the fire of the virgin girls. Then you did this!" She pulled a few steps back and spat. "I’m disappointed in you."

"Lucia, please!"

"Don’t ever call my name … you hypocrite! God knows what else you've been doing behind closed doors. If Anne didn’t get that text message, you would have continued deceiving us.’

Sylvia watched Lucia walk away, the vision dying afresh in her fading footsteps. The words in the message Lucia showed her danced before her eyes.

WE PACKAGED A MAN TO DESTROY THE VIGOF REVOLUTION AND SHE FELL FLAT.

"What happened to me?" Why didn’t I stand my ground? she thought. Who are the we? "Who has made me fall!"

Sylvia’s questions bounced off the walls of the house and the answers mocked her. The flame in the fireplace at a corner flickered off. "No, you can't go off," she muttered, the sobs coming afresh. 

She rushed to the hearth, picked a matchbox, and tried to bring back the flames. It just wouldn't work. The flame of  VIGOF, The Virgin Girls On Fire. Extinguished. She staggered, dropping the lighter. Was this the end? The end? Would those ladies crumple away?


MEET THE AUTHOR:

IFY OMENI is a graduate of English & Literature from the University of Benin, Benin City. She is a skilled creative writer, book editor, performance poet, speaker, English Grammar and Writing trainer and was the recipient of 17 academic awards from the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON). 
Some of her awards include Insight Communications Prize for the Best Graduating Student, APCON Prize for the Best Graduating Student, Rosabel Advertising Limited Award for the Best Graduating Student in Integrated Marketing Communications, Cowbell Prize for the Best Student in Integrated Marketing Communications amongst others.
She is a master’s graduate of the School of Media and Communication, Pan Atlantic University, Lagos and has written eight books - the motivational Pearls are not for Pigs and Footprints of Note, a collection of articles titled Spring of Life Book One, a memoir titled The Ship of Dreams, a collection of short stories titled Tales of Our Time Volume One and three novels, Letter to Thilda, Wind of Change and Song at Sunrise. 

She is the Chief Ideas Officer of Touch of Gold Media Limited, a communications development organization committed to Creative Writing, Book Editing and Training.

Ify is popularly known as the ACE PROFESSIONAL (Author, Communication Coach and Editor) and writes inspirational articles which she shares on her Facebook Timeline, Whatsapp platforms and her blog at www.aceprofessional.com.ng

She is also called the Tale Weaver, because of her ability to spin tales that send her readers into a world of delight.

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