“What’s up ma’am?”
“I dey my special place… what’s up with you?”
“Not much… in the bus.. I hate road trips mehn!”
“To the Ranch? How can you even hate? Just think of the ranch na…”
“I hear… this one you’re in ‘your special place’, you dey?”
“I dey babe!!”
“Niyi’s baby mama… you two will be fine. When you’re calm, talk to him okay? Approaching Ikom, network will start getting messy soon, later babe.”
“thanks babes… later.”
It was a rainy Saturday morning. The first day of my holidays. I dragged myself out of bed, pulled the curtains and just sat and stared as the rains poured down. The skies howled and I noticed several streaks of lightening. My house was awfully quiet. It wasn’t any fun being the only one in a four-bedroom flat though. After refusing to be intoxicated with boredom, I prepared and drove my mum’s car to the Deli downtown. There wasn’t any crime to indulge in a cup of hot chocolate, or two or three… I checked on Womi who was her way to the Obudu Ranch Resort with her family and while sipping my hot chocolate slowly, I reminisced on the events of the previous day.
There was no doubt that Niyi and I had hit rock bottom, I kept wondering what went wrong. I had given everything, my time, love, heart, my body, everything. I cared, I felt his pain, even when he lost his job, I was very supportive, in the search for a new one, I was involved 100%. So, what? I looked around the Deli and I was the only one not regarding the sales girls. As the rains subsided, I could see from the window that more cars were out on the road. Suddenly, I felt my chest tighten and my throat went dry. Warm breeze passed by me and I knew someone was behind me. With a sharp turn, I was face-to-face with Niyi. For a moment, I sensed hurt and rage. I thought back to the day we first met in the Driving school where he had come to encourage his friend to sign up for the lessons. That day I had been sarcastic and a bit arrogant. I was arrogant because I knew I was better than another person after all, I was 3 days from the end of my training. He liked me then, so, I was just going to be myself again. no need for extra drama.
After taking a deep breath, I looked at him with dead cold eyes and smiled while he tried to collect himself so he could speak.
“Too bad there’s no prize for this your poke face” He began.
“Ah! So I win.” I said
“Hands down. May I?” He dragged out the seat, sat and extended his legs before him.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, wasting no time
“I needed to talk to you. i knew i’d find you here because the gate-man said you were not home. I know I screwed up yesterday. Big time.”
“But Niyi, you know you’re not very smart. Why did you even want to try yourself?”
“Zina… you just called me dumb…”
“No, I didn’t. I said ‘not very smart’.”
“Anyways, it really isn’t what you think. I ___”
“You what? Had sex with your ‘cousin’ and it’s not what I think?”
“When you put it like that, it sounds bad”
I blinked twice. Was he serious?
“Anyhow I put it, Niyi, even in Latin, it’s bad. Explain yourself!”
“I’m trying… she’s not my cousin. She’s my … friend”
“Ehn? Friend?? That’s worse oo!”
“So, you’ve been cheating on me with her?”
“Actually, I’ve been cheating on her with you”
I spat out my drink and shivered with shock. Words failed me. So did my breath, for split seconds.
With a barely suppressed sigh, he kept talking. “ You know I said we had broken up, we did, but we made up. But I liked you a lot and ____”
“And you made me your side chick? God knows I hate you with every bone in me right now. Who does that, Niyi! Who? You strung me on for so long… for 9 months, Niyi.”
“Zina, you don’t know how much it hurts to be doing this right now… I’m sorry, from my heart.”
“Sorry? You’re sorry?!” I shrieked.
The sound of his words penetrated my brain slowly. Every word that registered was dreadful. For a moment I looked at him. He looked confused as if he’d like to just reach out to her and comfort her, but he couldn’t. Frankly, I didn’t want him to. I needed to get away from him, far away from him. Trying hard not to sigh and barely succeeding, I spoke up.
“I can’t believe this it, Niyi. But I’ll be fine. Hope you will be too.”
I didn’t wait for him to respond. As I got up to leave, he reached for my hand but I shrugged it off and walked away. I threw a 1000 naira note on the counter and made my way out of the premises soon after.
“Ah! Why are you crying?”
“Hey, Amaka. I’d rather not talk now, please.”
“You’re sitting on top of the trunk of the car, it’s drizzling and you don’t want to talk?”
“Abegi! Enter the car. I’m driving you to my suite.”
For a girl that has had a couple of heart breaks, I was not doing to good at handling this one. I had driven off to somewhere, parked and come out to sit on top of the car. It was still drizzling and apparently Amaka was just coming back from her early morning jogging.
“The rain caused me to come out late today…” she was explaining.
I was surprised when she drove into Montana Hotels but I remembered she had said she was driving me to her “suite”.
“I live here in this hotel suite alone because of school. My family is based in Lagos. Would you like to take anything?”
Without hesitation, I shook my head. “I’m fine.”
“No, you’re not. Talk to me”
I folded into a Yoga position and started narrating my frustrating story for her. I barely knew her but then again, she was the closest person at that point. If you can’t have Mr. Right, manage Mr. Available. She was nice; she served me a cup of tea with few crackers and tissues for my tears. I was broken beyond my realization. I felt like there was a vacuum somewhere within me. I cried uncontrollably as I talked and Amaka came and sat by me. She stroked my back softly and help me ignore Niyi’s call for the umpteenth time. She stroked my hair affectionately and it tickled. She spoke calmly and softy assuring me that I’d be fine.
“These things happen but you’re a strong girl. You loved him and that’s a credit to you and his loss. He’ll regret his actions. But, be strong dear, you’ll get over this. You have me and your friends. I promise to be here for you, anytime. You can even come and stay here with me for the mean time since that your friend is not around…”
I felt a bit of relief as I listened to her talk. She began to play with my hair, stroking softly and I felt a hint of discomfort as her hands defined my curves and jerked off her lap.
“Amaka, I don’t ___”
I broke off and for a moment there, I thought I was in a parallel universe. It felt so bizarre yet sweet. I felt as though I had been ravished in the moonlight; As though the pieces of my broken heart were being rearranged. And then, I came to reality with a tap. And my eyes popped, my arteries constricted, chest tightened, throat dried and I felt queasy. I wasn’t dreaming. Amaka actually kissed me!