Kathie Mae sat and stared at her surroundings; everything was in place just like he liked it.
The cream coloured sofa just at the right angle, three meters away but right in front of the large floor to ceiling window that faced the street before their house. The window sparkled. The brightness from the sun shining heftily through it. The mahogany wood piano, opened, displaying its ivory black and white keys, and a portrait of her hanging over it, singing.
Kathie Mae looked at the portrait and examined the eyes of the woman she no longer knew. Yes, the eyes in the picture were brighter, livelier, and mischievous filled with hope and the desire to conquer the world. Where had all that gone?
The clock ticked away the minutes; her heartbeat quickened with every passing minute.
Soon he would be home. In an hour or two, Kathie Mae would have to stop her wandering mind from going back to the past.
Whoever thought that having everything that money could buy meant fulfilment had to be gravely disturbed she thought and heard Louisa knock softly on the living room door.
“Come in, Louisa.”
“I don’t mean to disturb you, but I’ll be leaving soon. Is there anything else you want me to do?”
“No,” Kathie Mae said and gave her a hollow smile that didn’t reach her eyes. “What are you going to do this weekend, Louisa?”
“I’m going to do what I do here every day,” Louisa said. “I’m going to clean my house.”
Kathie Mae chuckled. She’d talked to Cesare about reducing Louisa’s days to three times a week, but he’d insisted that she had to come every day except Sunday. When he returned home, he wanted to see an orderly, well-kept house without any clutter. That when she’d begun to notice that well-kept meant everything including her.
“Well, take some time to enjoy your Sunday, Louisa. Everybody needs rest.”
“I will. If I had a husband like yours, I’d be in Heaven,” Louisa said. “It would be so nice to wake up and not have to do anything.”
Kathie Mae shuddered at Louisa’s words. The woman didn’t know what she was asking for.
Would she really like living in a cage? The changes Kathie Mae had had to undergo bombarded her mind.
Black men love long hair, white men love afros, but what about what women like. Were there no women in the world outside of the Stepford Wives?
Cesare had told her to get rid of her coils. Why were they so distasteful and unruly for him? Afro, he’d shouted, Afro! An Afro was what Cesare expected her to wear. Little by little, he’d whittled away at her until she’d become the pretty hull that he wanted her to be.
Soon, she didn’t recognise who she was. When she looked into her mirror, she saw Cesare’s creation. The one he wanted to come home too. She’d managed to save only a tiny small piece of who she was hidden deep inside her and would visit whenever she could.
“Are you alright, Ms. Kathie Mae?” Louisa asked, frowning.
She had drifted so deep into the small piece of herself that she’d forgotten that Louisa was standing before her.
“Yes…Louisa. I’m sorry…No need to tell Mr. Domenico…about this. I…was just thinking about what you said,” Kathie Mae said.
“Okay, I won’t mention it this time, but I don’t want you to slip away like that. You scared me. Mr. Domenico said it’s dangerous when you slip away.”
“I’m alright, Louisa. I didn’t slip away. I was just thinking about what you said, ”Kathie Mae repeated even though she didn’t remember what Louisa had said.
“Good, then I would like to leave early if it is alright with you,” Louisa said.
“Sure, why don’t you do that,” Kathie Mae said, “I’m waiting on Cesare to come home just as he wants me too.”
“When are you going to sing again?” Louisa asked.
“Sing? Oh yes…I did sing once, didn’t I.”
“Why don’t you know, Ms. Kathie Mae?” Louisa asked. “You sing so beautifully, with heart and soul.”
“One day…Louisa…one day, I’ll tell you all about it,” Kathie Mae said. “Now go home.”
Kathie Mae heard the front door close and listened as Louisa turned the key in the lock.
She walked to the living room window and stood so Louisa could see that she was in the house. A fake smile on her face, Kathie Mae waved at Louisa. “
Caged birds don’t sing, Louisa. “They dressed as puppets without souls. Caged birds don’t sing,” Kathie Mae murmured while waving to Louisa.
Kathie Mae went back to the sofa to sit before the window, so Cesare could see her when he came home and looked at the window from the sidewalk. He would wave. She would wave back. He would walk up the steps and open the door to the cage and say darling before he locked the cage for the weekend.
Caged Birds don’t sing.