In case you missed it, read Episode 1 , Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4, Episode 5, Episode 6 and Episode 7
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 26th, 2014.
Sylvia’s eyes travelled through the sitting room as she admired the use of colours on the wall. It was beautiful but it was not exactly what she would have done. She let herself dream about how she would redesign the house immediately she settled in, the taste of the wine in her mouth helping to inspire patterns for her design.
She watched on as Chika chatted and laughed with Fred his best friend, and noted to herself that getting Fred involved in the surprise birthday celebration had been a stroke of genius -even though she had only used him as a pawn.
‘What is she doing here?’ Chika had asked his friend immediately he set his eyes on her as she set the cake on the table. His stare was unwelcoming.
‘She’s the organiser,’ Fred replied laughing. ‘Where else should she be?’ He asked, holding his friend by the arm and leading him away.
She rose up from her chair with a bottle of wine in hand and made her way to the gisting friends. Fred was the only guest remaining and until he left, the second part of the plan would just have to wait.
‘More wine?’ She said, offering to fill the glasses of both men.
‘No more for me,’ Fred said rising up. ‘You know I still have to drive home.’
‘Ah! So soon?’ Sylvia protested. The worry on her face masking the joy she felt inside. She was beginning to think he would never go.
‘I’m the only guest remaining, besides its way past eleven,’ he said as he picked up a well garnished snail from the tray on the table.
‘Let me clear up this place a little, I should also be on my way soon,’ Sylvia said, almost in a mumble as Chika escorted his friend out.
She smiled to herself as she cleaned up the sitting room, amazed at how much things could change in just six months.
Yes she had been sure the video would rock the boat of Chika’s marriage, but to think that it would break it up and present her with an opportunity like this was completely out of script.
‘Thank you so much for this,’ Chika said as he joined her in cleaning up. ‘I enjoyed myself.’
‘You’re welcome dear. Anything for you,’ she cooed, sounding as seductive and suggestive as the script would let her, as she let her left hand brush against his.
Chika smiled. ‘I think I can handle the cleaning up, it’s getting really late, you should be on your way home,’ he said as he walked her up to the kitchen to drop the saucers in the sink.
The second part of the plan was fully underway and even though she wasn’t sure about what the fine details of the plan were, she was very sure that going home tonight was not part of it.
She wiped her hand with a napkin, took a wine glass from the rack and handed it over to Chika. ‘If you stay here with me in the kitchen, I should be through in ten minutes,’ she said as she poured wine into the glass.
The words struck him like a fist in his gut. Those were the exact words she used to tell him when they were dating as she prepared meals in this same kitchen, and then he usually replied by holding her from behind and kissing the nape of her neck.
He searched her eyes to see if the words were spoken deliberately to ignite a reaction from him but her eyes were blank and innocent as she turned her attention back to cleaning up the kitchen.
Chika drew the glass to his lips, savouring the feel of the wine as it hit his tongue and travelled down his throat. He felt a need to relive history but he restrained himself. That was a former life, a life that was now firmly buried, in the deepest parts of the forgotten past.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 27th, 2014.
Gwarimpa Estate, Abuja.
Laide placed the phone on the head of the bed and turned her attention to the set of clothes neatly stacked beside her on the bed. She could tell from her mother’s voice that she was worried about Yewande’s preferences for her upcoming wedding even though she could not see a reason for it.
'Laide, better talk with your sister, you know you’re the only one she listens to. I wonder why she insists on having only a hundred guests when my guests alone, number close to fifty. Is she sneaking away from the house or it’s a wedding?’ The mother had complained bitterly over the phone.
As these thoughts coursed through her mind, her eyes landed on the picture frame on the mirror stand. Her hands reached for the frame, as the picture brought back beautiful memories.
It was her wedding day.
She remembered every little detail of the day like it was yesterday and she couldn’t believe that come October ninth, which was barely two weeks away, she would be celebrating her tenth year in marriage.
She traced her fore finger on her husband’s face in the picture, letting it rest on the smudge of red on the left corner of his lips. She smiled as she remembered exactly how a portion of her lipstick found its way to that corner, staring straight into her husband’s eyes in the picture like he could see her.
‘These tops are fine,’ Yewande said examining one of the blouses she picked up from the stack on the bed.
Laide was roused from her day-dreaming as she placed the picture frame back on the stand. She hadn’t noticed Yewande entering the room. ‘I was just searching out tops for Nike, plus I want to give her my gold necklace too,’ she said, her eyes on her sister, ‘the one that has a cross pendant.’
‘So which of these tops have you decided to give her?’ Yewande asked, running her hands through the stack to get a better view of the collection.
‘Everything,’ Laide replied as she picked her jewelery box from the ground and placed it on her laps.
‘Aah! Sister I’m taking this one,’ Yewande said as she removed the blouse she had been examining from the collection. ‘These are all new tops!’ she exclaimed, as her hand ransacked the stack for another.
Laide smacked her sister’s hand off the stack of clothes, ‘that’s the only one I’ll let you take, after-all I’m aware that you have a box of clothes you are yet to touch.’
‘But I’m your sister o,’ Yewande protested, her face forming a mischievous frown.
‘Nike is my sister too,’ Laide replied. ‘Ehen mumsie called, and she says I should help…’
‘I put soup on the fire,’ Yewande interrupted her sister as she hurried out of the room laughing. ‘If it’s because of the tops that I’m begging for, that has made you bring your mother’s matter up again, you can keep the tops. I don’t want them anymore. All I know is that I’m not having anything more than a hundred guests for my wedding.’
Laide burst out laughing. ‘Come and take tops now,’ she called after her sister, but Yewande was far gone, as her laughter rang out from the lobby like the jingling of bells.
She opened the case in her hand and peered into it, checking to make sure that the necklace was in excellent shape. She closed back the case and placed it atop the stack of clothes beside her, satisfied with what she had seen.
She scoured the room with her eyes for a shopping bag in which to put the gifts, humming as she scanned the place. The radiance from her expression reflecting the joy she felt inside of her. There was nothing that gave her as much joy as acts of giving, and apart from Yewande, there was no one whom her heart loved giving to, like Nike.
Amaka steered the car into the compound and parked behind her husband’s Toyota Highlander, which was the next best option as a car was sitting cosily in her usual parking spot.
She gave no special thoughts to the car as she made to unlock the belt from around Josh -her son. He had been extremely excited hearing that they were going to visit daddy but was right now soundly asleep in the car.
With the belts unlocked, she made to lift up her boy but changed her mind almost immediately, as she instead picked up a bag from the back seat.
Josh was her husband’s responsibility today.
She smiled as she stepped out of the car. She was getting used to calling him her husband again after it had seemed like the damage done by the video tape to their marriage was irreparable.
Chika had suddenly started calling her again and had called her every day of the past week in the excuse of talking to his son Josh whom he usually spent just a minute with, while talking to her for nothing less than three minutes on each call.
He had called her three times yesterday and even as late as eleven fifty in the night to remind her of today’s picnic with Josh. And like he joked, she was only coming as an escort.
She was not overly expectant as to what the picnic would do for her marriage but she could feel a change in Chika’s disposition towards her and was optimistic that it could only get better.
As she made ready to press the bell, the door opened. ‘So you’re still wearing your boxer shorts, when we scheduled picnic for ten ‘o’ clock,’ she said as she slid past him into the sitting room.
‘Good-morning,’ Chika said, finally finding his voice, ‘I did not think you’d make it so early,’ his voice groggy.
‘I can’t believe that you’re just waking up’ Amaka said smiling, as she placed her bag on the chair. This certainly was not the welcome she had expected as the space between them seemed a bit too tense and edgy. It was very different from the vibes from their recent conversations on phone.
‘Where’s my son?’ Chika asked, still standing by the door, with a smile on his face as he watched Amaka tease him.
‘Your son is sleeping in the car; you can go and fetch him. After-all you said I was just an escort,’ Amaka replied as she settled into the chair closest to her. ‘Whose car is parked outside? I actually thought you had an early morning visitor.’
‘Car?’ Chika repeated, his eyes displaying a bit of panic.
‘There’s a black CRV parked outside in your house,’ Amaka stated with a bit of mischief as she picked the remote control from the stool beside her. ‘Or you didn’t know?’ She asked, her brows arched inquisitively.
‘It’s mine,’ Sylvia replied sashaying into the sitting room, with a glass of water in hand.
Amaka’s countenance turned ghostly, as she stared at the figure with the glass in hand. She was clad in one of Chika’s shirts with no visible piece of clothing underneath, while her top buttons were exposed to show off a bit of cleavage.
The ladies were not strangers to each other as their eyes locked in a hateful stare that was borne from familiarity.
Amaka rose up from her chair, picked up her bag and made out of the door.
Chika followed her immediately, reaching out his hands to hold her back as she approached her car but she shrugged him off.
‘Don’t you dare!’ She spat out angrily, her eyes fierce with rage as she opened the door to the car.
‘It’s not what you think,’ Chika said, smiling sadly in resignation as his eyes caught the face of his sleeping son in the front seat.
Amaka hissed, doing a reverse as she let out two sharp honks to the gate-man to open the gate. She turned her gaze briefly to the parked CRV and cursed under her breath. Sylvia had not only succeeded in taking over her parking spot in the compound, she had also succeeded in taking over her parking spot in the bedroom.
She felt the gentle raps of Chika’s knuckles on her side windows but refused to lower the glass, speeding off into the main road immediately the gate was opened.
‘Men can be such unforgiving bastards,’ she muttered, stepping on the gas pedal as the traffic light went from green to amber. The whole stretch of the road was free being a Saturday morning and she was not in the mood to wait for another thirty seconds for the next green light.
She zoomed past the light as she saw the flicker of red come up from the corner of her eyes and just as she glanced sideways to the right, to check that there was no incoming vehicle from the adjoining intersection, she heard the familiar sound of screeching tires, quickly followed by a crashing sound, bang!
Aide Yarn Daniel