Most times, I find myself wanting to go contrary to Your instruction to love and pray for my enemies. Your instructions go against all my human instincts. When people hurt me, my instinct is to hurt back. When people misuse or curse me, I want to even the score.
But then Your way is love. And as Your child, it is not my job to seek vengeance, but to pray for my enemies, for those who mistreat me, abuse me, and take advantage of me. Vengeance must always be left in Your hands, cause I am Your person. I belong to You and I’ll trust You to do what’s best to me – and to those who hurt me.
You promised to take care of me, if I leave all in Your hands. You are not only my Helper and Keeper, You are also the Righteous Judge. All I need to do is to put You in my case.
Enable me then Lord, to love unlovable people in difficult situations. Help me Lord to retire from self-care, since I have Christ as my Friend, the Holy Spirit as my Advocate, and You as my Judge.
“Come out o. Come out. Ashawo, come out.” The lady shouted, clapping her hands repeatedly as she paced desperately at Ivy’s doorstep.
One after the other, the girls started coming out of their rooms, gathering round the lady, whispering and murmuring as they waited expectantly for the scene that will soon unfold.
“Come out o, ashawo. If hin sure for una, come out now.” The lady shouted again, banging unceasingly on Ivy’s door.
“Una dey fear abi? You no fit face me? I no go commot if una no come out. I dey wait o.”
By then, most of the girls were already guessing what could had happened, as they whispered to themselves in low tones.
“Wetin dey shele for here?” Doyinsola, one of Madam Iris’s favourite asked angrily, as she approached where they gathered. The loud shouts and persistent door banging had woken her up from her sleep, which made her set out angrily to find out what caused the noise.
The girls cleared the way for her as she finally reached their side.
“You no fit talk?” She yelled, about to lose her temper.
“Tell that ashawo, Ivy or wetin be her name, to come out.” The lady said directly to Doyinsola.
“Wetin this one dey talk bayi?” Doyinsola snapped.
The girls laughter rang out loudly.
“I no dey joke oh. I get matter to settle with her.”
“Ta le leyi? Wetin you wan do with Ivy?” Moyo asked with pure disdain.
“I no get time for your questions. Just…”
Before she could complete her sentence, Doyinsola slapped her hard across the face.
“Na me you dey follow talk laidat. E ma gbami oh.” Doyinsola said angrily, clapping her hands.
The lady made to reply as she fumed angrily, but Doyinsola cut her off.
“Wait sef. Shey no be the new girl be this ni? Eva or wetin dem name you?”
“Her name is Eva.” A girl affirmed.
“Oshey jhare.” Doyinsola said to the girl.
“You get mind oh, babe.” She sneered. “ You con bring your broomstick body con meet Ivy. You sabi who she be for this yard?”
Without hesitating, Eva fired back at her. “Who is she? If she get mind, mak she con face me herself. Abi shey na you be her mouthpiece?”
Doyinsola made to launch at her, but a door opening stopped her. And there stood Ivy, so calm and collected. At her presence, all the whispers and murmurs stopped. Even Doyinsola edged closer to her side. Glancing round, her gaze met that of Eva, who stared hard back at her. She gave Eva a tight smile and walked to where she stood.
Quickly and as if well-calculated, Eva swung her hand to slap Ivy, but having seen it coming, Ivy held her hand before it could smack her.
“Chill babe.” She smirked at Eva. “Why this act nah?”
Eva snatched her hand away from Ivy’s hold, glaring daggers at her.
“If na cat- fight you wan fight, I don’t do such.” Ivy stated, raising her hands in mock surrender.
“You just dey waste your time, Eva. Ivy no go fight.” One of the girls said annoyingly.
Realizing that fact, Eva calmed down a bit.
“Why una con thief my client na? Na from him I dey profit most. Hin no fresh, babe.”
Laughing out loud, Ivy replied her. “You be newbie, abi? I fit see am for your body.” She paused, taking a quick scan of the girls. “Tell me, who Ivy be for this yard?”
As if they were expecting the question, they all chorused, hailing her, “Ivy be the mamosh!”
“Who Ivy be for this yard?” She asked again.
“Mamosh!” They hailed.
“So babe, I no dey thief client, okay? I hand-pick any.” She smirked.
“Come off it jhoor.” Doyinsola snapped at her. “You’d better get used to the order here. Hin no fit change.”
“Oshey jhare.” Ivy smiled at her, giving her a high-five.
“I don’t bark nor bite Eva,” Ivy said, stalking closer to her intimidatingly, “but I can do worse than that. There had better be no repeat of this.”
Eva looked so terrified that she could voice out no reply.
“Know your place and you will enjoy your stay here.”
With a flip of her finger, she indicated that she was done. Doyinsola followed after her as she made her way to her room.
At her exit, the girls dispersed, each throwing one or two comments at Eva as they passed her by.
. . .
“I’m at the building now – just getting out of my car.” Erica said to the person on the other line, her phone placed firmly against her left ear. Wasting no time, she picked up her handbag, got out of her car and locked it up.
Existing the parking lot, she set her pace towards the building, still on the phone.
“– oh, are you the lady in black standing at the entrance?”
“You are the one, right? – Alright – surprisingly enough, I’m clothed in black as well – I’ll cut the call now.”
* * *
Tina Adeosun watched the approaching figure mouth-agaped. Big glossy brown eyes stared at her nervously. She was the epitome of beautiful…dark and beautiful. Her big brown eyes were shiny that she swore she could see her reflection in them. Her long brown hair pulled to one side of her shoulders in bouncy waves of curls, her skin glowing, and her make-up was absolutely flawless. She was wearing a black pencil dress that clung to her so perfectly and black louboutin. She looked gorgeous.
Tina had always being one to appreciate beauty whenever she sighted one. But this struck her.
Recovering from her speechless state, her lips stretched into a beautiful smile, flashing her perfectly lined white teeth.
“Hi!” She chirped cheerily.
“Hi.” The lady replied hesitantly and flashed a smile of her own, even though hers was no where compared to Tina’s.
“You must be Erica?” Tina asked in a sweet tone.
“Yes. Edith-Erica Adeoye.”
Closing the space between them, Tina pulled her into a warm embrace.
Erica smiled her thanks. “I wouldn’t call you a plain Jane either.”
“Your comment just made my day.” Tina said happily. “Your doofus of a brother should have told me about you earlier, but no, he will always be Edward.”
Erica grinned widely, “You must be really close to my brother.”
“Best friends.” She beamed. “I’m kinda annoyed with him about just knowing you, though.”
“Well, we’ve met now and I like you already. Does that make you feel better?”
“Yeah yeah. Friends?” Tina asked cheerily.
Erica smiled sweetly at her, “Let’s see.”
Taking no offense to her reply, Tina nodded.
“I shouldn’t keep you standing out here, let’s go in.”
Together, they walked inside the building and took an elevator to Tina’s office floor. After saying their hellos to Tina’s secretary, they went into her office.
Admiringly, Erica took in every details of Tina’s office. Her office was full of warm tones. The walls were pastel yellow, there was a giant brown bookcase filled with books. There were artworks displayed on the walls and three comfy chairs in the room along with her desk.
“I can feel the warmth in here.” Erica said nicely.
“Glad you love it. Have your seat please.” Tina said in reply.
“What would you like to have?”
“Water will do. Thanks.”
“You sure?” Tina asked.
Tina picked out a bottled water from the mini fridge, placed it on a tray with a glass cup and set it before her. She then went to make herself a cup of coffee before taking her seat beside her.
“Can you trust me?” Tina asked out of the blues.
Erica raised an eyebrow at her, “Why that?”
Tina chuckled. “Don’t be surprised. I guess Edward didn’t tell you much about me.”
She took a sip from her mug. “After getting my client to be comfortable around me, I don’t waste time anymore.”
“Oh… So you believe that I’m comfortable around you already?” Erica deadpanned.
“Are you not?” Tina smiled.
“No… oh…Yes, I am.” Erica replied, stumbling over her words.
“I know.” Tina said, raising her mug cup to her lips again. “You relaxed when I hugged you. The tension had worn off since then.” She said casually.
Erica opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out.
“It’s my job. I’m your therapist, don’t forget.”
Erica smiled. “It’s just that…you have this aura around you that screams calm and warmth. Maybe that was why I warmed up to you easily.”
At her words, Tina cooed childishly, covering her face with her palms.
“You know why I asked that question when I should had rather asked about your details?”
Erica shook her head in the negative.
“Because along the way I will get to know. But for now, I need to know you – the real you, and you need to know as well. And to get to that, you have to be able to trust me.”
“I guess you’re saying that all you need is the inner definition of me, right?
“Well, I believe I can trust you.”
Tina smiled, “That’s a step forward for us.”
“I trust you.” She reframed.
Tina clasped her hands together, grinning widely. “We can start our talk then.”
“But it’s okay if you’re not ready for any serious discussion yet. We can just get to knowing more about each other.” She added.
“I’m ready. I don’t want these pent-up emotions anymore.”
“Alright. So, how do you feel?”
Hesitating and swallowing words after words, Erica kept on glancing at her nervously.
“Can I do this?” She asked in a whisper.
Catching her words, Tina scotted closer to her.
“Hey, look at me Erica.” She implored gently.
Erica raised her head and fixed her gaze on her.
“You can. I’m ready to listen. I won’t blame or judge you for anything. Don’t back out now, please.”
“I’m not used to telling others how I feel.” She shrugged.
“Let’s make this a first then.”
“I won’t appreciate a pity party.” She mumbled.
Tina smiled. “I won’t.”
She kept on looking at Erica, silently pleading with her.
“I feel lost, like I don’t know what is true anymore, including myself.”
Tina breathed out, “Okay?”
As if propelled by something unknown, she continued.
“I don’t find happiness in myself.” She said sadly.
“This thing inside my head convinces me that I can be surrounded by millions of people and still feel like I am the only one on earth, and when I am alone, I’m too alone. And the worst part is that it comes at random. I can feel the best one minute, and something can tip the scales – it can be anything – and then I’m sucked in a dark abyss, moving through life without so much as feeling. I feel too much. I become too much. And then I have to pretend like it doesn’t affect me.” She paused to catch her breathe.
“I hate myself sometimes.”
Tina kept on listening silently, noting some things in her notepad.
“I don’t know who I am anymore. I doubt if I had ever known.” She said sorrowfully. “For years, there had been something wrong with me, and I can’t let it go. All I do now is to bask in nothing – to bask in my emptiness.”
“Basking in nothing.” Tina said thoughtfully. “A lot has happened, right?”
“More than a lot.”
“Do you know since when?”
“It’s been a consistent battle since the age of nine – maybe even younger – where I felt like I had no one to go to.”
“And no one knew of these feelings?”
“No one really.”
“Not even your parents?”
She gave a bitter laugh. “They might have contributed in some ways to my situation.”
Tina nodded. “And your friends?”
The closest emotion that came to her was pain. “I have no friends, I’m an alone person. A little bit boring, and not very easy to interact with. I know many people, but I’m not close to anyone enough to call such person a friend.” She sighed. “My brother is my only friend, and you also.”
Tina’s smile was immediate.
“I’m by your side now. With God, all these too shall pass – everything will soon be a thing of the past.”
“I hope so.” Erica mumbled.
“Thanks for opening up, Erica. It means a lot.”
Erica laughed, and for some while, Tina was lost in that sweet sound.
“Don’t thank me yet. What will happen by the time you get to know everything, and I mean, everything?” Erica said, with an air-quote on ‘everything’.
Tina joined in the laughter as well. “But still, everything starts from here.”
“Yeah. Who says therapy and counselling sessions are that easy?”
“I can relate dear. Easy, isn’t a word for it, both for the therapist and the person undergoing the therapy. But so far, it’s been God all the way.”
“You won’t even strike one as a therapist on a first meet.” Erica commented.
Tina grinned widely. “I’ve been told that many times. It’s the deal for me though, I can’t imagine myself doing something else. My work is my bliss.”
“Yeah.” Tina affirmed.
“Edward told me you just got back from your NYSC service.”
“Right. That was two months back.”
“You must be really young then. Young and beautiful.” Tina complimented.
“I guess. I’m 22.” Erica replied, smiling.
Tina eyes gleamed with joy. “Twenty-two? Our ages are close then. I’m two years older.”
Smiling widely, Erica said, “So lucky of me to have an older friend then.”
“I should let you leave now. I’ve taken enough of your time for today. It was nice meeting you, Erica.” Tina said as they stood up.
“Oh, it’s the other way round, I took your time.” Erica countered. “And it was nice meeting you as well.”
“We should meet again on Saturday.”
“Yeah, Saturday will be okay. By what time?”
“Will 12 noon do?”
“Right. I have nothing planned for Saturday.”
“Okay then. Till later.”
“And Tina?” Erica called.
The other lady fixed her gaze on her.
“I keep thinking about what every other person might be thinking about me. I don’t approve of myself, but live on other people’s approval of me. And I’m so overly self-conscious and self-doubting. My worth… I don’t know what to do.”
Tina gently placed her hands on her shoulder. “Erica, your worth isn’t defined by the opinions of others. Who you are isn’t defined by what they see. You know you deserve better because you are better, and if anyone tried to tell you that you’re not enough, then know that you are enough to many people out there. You are enough to God.”
“And if that person can’t see you for who you really are, then it’s their loss. It shouldn’t change anything about you.” She added.
“Thank you, Tina.”
They hugged each other warmly and Tina escorted Erica to the exit before returning to her office.
I guess I’m well on my way to becoming who my inner person wants to be. I hope I meet her soon. Erica thought within herself happily.
“Just like you, she is basking in nothing as well. We have to turn your emptiness into fullness.”
As she gently whispered “As you will, Lord” in her heart, she couldn’t help but wonder who it could be.
What could be more intriguing than having a weird attraction towards someone whose aura screamed mystery?
I guessed nothing else.
And there she was, the object of my attraction, staring hard into the woods, so afar off. I watched her silently for some while, and without knowing when and how, I found myself sitting beside her on the grass.
She gave off no impression of having heard someone settled by her side. She spared me no glance, she just kept on basking in her aloneness. Well, I wasn’t surprised, after all she had a reputation of being the school snob. An attitude problem if you would call it that.
“I don’t have an attitude problem, just a personality no one can handle.” She said out of the blues.
Her words caught me off-guard, and I couldn’t help but stare at her like she’d grown two heads. Coupled with the mysteries that surrounded her, could she read minds as well?
“I’m no weirdo, okay? You can stop staring at me like I’m one. I’m just your normal girl.” She shrugged.
Normal? She called herself normal? She was nothing close to being normal. Weird… Strange… Name it, that would be the perfect definition for her being.
“Call me whatever you want, I care less.”
“Why are you here anyway? You shouldn’t be seen with the loner, you know?” She pointed out in a voice dripping with sarcasm.
“You are not that.” I voiced out shakily.
She turned her gaze on me. Her mask slipped off from her face that moment, and I caught a glimpse of surprise off her. Well, why shouldn’t she be? Even my words surprised me.
“Maybe you’re just different?” I muttered, the statement ending as a question.
She snorted with laughter.
“Why the sudden interest?”
I shrugged, clearly uncertain on the reply to give. “I’m just drawn to you, you piqued my curiosity.”
She gave no reply.
And like that, we sat in silence.
She stared into the sky and I followed her gaze. It was fixed on a bird floating through space.
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than one seeks. Nature provides a place of comfort and solitude, an escape from the pressures of life. Looking deep into nature makes me understand everything better.” She said with a lit face.
I stared at her in admiration. I had always known that she had a deep side to her, never knew it ran that deep.
“I never meant to be this way…” She started.
To say I was surprised would be an understatement. But I didn’t interrupt her. Guess I would finally get an answer to her mysterious aura.
“…It just happened.” She finished off.
A deep sigh escaped from her mouth.
“There was no one to help me. No one would have believed my sith. I made the journey alone, and unfortunately I got caught. In my mind, things go dark. And no one knew. But then no one really knew me. Only me.”
She pressed the back of her hand against her mouth, her eyes squeezing shut. A stiftled sob sound escaped her lips and she immediately sucked in a harsh breath in an attempt to calm down. Then she glanced at me with a watery smile.
“Trying to know me won’t help you.”
“And why?” I deadpanned.
“You know half to nothing.” She chuckled. “I’ve always watched you, and I’d watched you watched me over the years as well.”
I laughed at her words. “I’m glad you stalked me as well.”
She smiled brightly, willing herself not to laugh.
“You are like that man my Ma do talk about everytime. Maybe I should call you picture-perfect.” She said.
Picture-perfect? Should that word be used for a mortal like me? I shook my head in disagreement. “I’m not without flaws. No one is perfect.”
She looked at me like she wanted to dispute that, but then she nodded.
“Ma said life isn’t perfect, maybe you’re right as well. When we lost all, she told me to hold on to the perfect moments, that the scars do not have to define me.” She said reflectively.
“Ma told me a lot about that man. But I will forever hold on to two things about Him. He is a Father. And He is a Saviour. I have never had a real father, but I imagine that a real father, a real Saviour, doesn’t wait for his children to say the right words when they are hurting. He would throw his arms around them, wanting to save them, right?
I nodded affirmatively, my gaze fixed on her.
“Ma said that in everything I should give thanks. In times of good and in bad, I should remain grateful to Him. But then, I found it hard to understand the idea of an unconventional God who resided up high and watched His people suffer. Why should He be revered? It made no sense to me.”
I pondered on her question as well, trying hard to wage it from her perspective.
“But after He had saved me, I realized that truly, God dwells in shadow and mystery. But I know one thing about Him now, one thing forever – This God of mystery and shadow gave good gifts, even to those who failed Him. Even if I fail Him again and again, I believe He would still be near, walking with me in my darkness.”
I believed that also, cause He had saved me at wild and unpredictable moments. He is here and He is at work. I am together with Him and I am safe.
Her words were all I needed at the moment. Who knew the strange girl always cladded in black had so much depth to her being?
“Ma said even though life didn’t work out for her the way she had wished, I am the good gift she got from Him.” She said dreamily. “With Ma, I had been through a lot, but He held it all together for us.”
I imagined what she might had been through and I sighed deeply.
“By some miracles, maybe the stars would align and the planets would rearrange, but in this moment, He is our picture-perfect.”
She smiled widely. “He was my rescue, and He saved me from myself. He love me, this I know and there are no exceptions. My picture-perfect!”
“And I’m happy about this. It’s just that…” she trailed off. “I’m pained about having wasted three years with that guy.”
“He messed me up – real bad. Being with him did more harm to my mental health. He said a lot. That I added no value to his life. His words were harsh and hurtful. And I felt so sad, so worthless, and so tired of everyone and everything.”
She paused to catch a breath, while Edward nodded at her encouragingly.
“It had all been me faking happiness, smiles and joy, presenting myself to people like all was going on well with me, while actually, I’d been wearing off from within. All I feel now is emptiness. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Edward heaved out as she kept on sobbing. He knew best not to console her, but to let her cry it all out. He knew she would cease her crying. And that was what she did some minutes after. Wiping her tears with an handkerchief he had handed to her, she stopped her sniffs and looked up to him.
“I’m pathetic, right?” She asked in a whisper.
He smiled at her, pulling her into his arms. “You are not. It’s okay to cry.”
It was silent afterwards. They sat in silence, without any utterance from any. For that moment, the silence was enough. It communicated Erica’s pains, sorrows, feelings and thoughts to Edward, and the same way, it communicated Edward’s love, concern, thoughts and unshed tears to Erica. The silence was a voice on its own. They understood it well. And it was enough. It had always been enough for them.
“What I need now is a break. No more tears on any other person. I need no one to make me feel worthless anymore, my mental health is more important.” She said.
“It’s for the best, I believe.”
“Erica?” He called, heading towards his table.
“I’m really sorry about having nothing to say to this.” He said.
“No need for that.” She smiled at him. “You made a great listener. Thank you.”
He nodded, then picked up a card from his table and handed it to her. “What do you have to say to that?”
With a quick glance at the card, she raised an eyebrow at him questioningly, “A shrink?”
He shrugged, “She is a friend of mine. She can help.”
Leaning more into her seat, she tapped a finger repeatedly on her chin. “You do trust her?”
“Yeah. I wouldn’t have recommended someone I do not.”
“If you want it, let me know. I’ll give her a call.”
Without more words, she smiled her thanks at him.
* * *
Once she got home, she tossed her flats into the shoe closet and set her bag on the dining table. Grabbing a pie, she took a minute to collect herself before heading to her room. The bed was a huge no-no, since the minute her body hit the mattress, she knew she’d be out like a light. With care, she maneuvered around the space. First things first, check emails. Her laptop took a minute or two to start up, but once it did, it was smooth sailing.
She started sifting through the pile, deleting and replying. Then she came across one that left her blood cold. Her fingers trembled and a bead of sweet trailed down the base of her neck. She read and reread the writing in the sender box.
The English language was seriously lacking at that moment. There was no specific word to describe the atrocious mixture of pure rage and confusion swirling around in her brain. She might not be sure what her stance was on the email Dennis decided to dump into her inbox, but she knew one thing – it wasn’t needed. Not by her, at least.
She sighed and slumped lower into her chair. As much as she tried not to, her eyes skimmed across the text on her screen once again.
– The text message was a drunken mistake, Erica. It meant nothing, please. –
All she wanted to do was to press the delete button, but what held her back from doing just that, she couldn’t fathom. The next thing she knew, she found herself typing a reply to him.
– An email? You should have sent another text like you did earlier. –
His reply was immediate. Desperate much? She scoffed.
– I can explain babe. Can we meet up please? –
The nerve of him! She groaned, her eyes flashing with anger.
She hesitated for some while, her fingers hovering over the keyboard.
– We’re done, Dennis. Your explanation won’t be needed. –
She read her reply once again, about to hit on the send button. Then for some reasons, she backspaced all she had typed.
A smug smile found it way across her face. With a quick move, she picked up her phone and pressed dial on his number. He answered at the first ring.
“The Shark. 7:00pm tomorrow. Don’t worry about being stood up, I won’t.”
* * *
“Yesss!” Dennis screamed, flinging his phone carelessly on his bed.
His flatmate looked up at him questioningly.
“In two days time, I’m gonna get that big contract, bruv.” He said happily.
“Wawu. How will you do that?” His flatmate asked, his voice laced with sarcasm.
Dennis laughed. “I own the ace.”
“You got that right, TK.” Dennis replied with a smirk.
“You’re still using that girl?” TK scoffed.
“Oh, yes. I planned on popping her v-card before discarding her.”
“You disgust me sometimes guy.” TK said with pure disapproval. “You never liked her?”
“I never said I didn’t.” Dennis replied defensively. “But I happened to like her father’s money and connections much more better.”
“The poor lady did you no bad, D.” TK said in Erica’s defense.
Dennis glared at him, “Her soon-to-be broken heart is gonna need some ice-cream and chocolates. I bet you’ll be the perfect shoulder for her to cry on.”
TK glared back at him irritatedly, then flipped him off.
It began on that day where an ordinary text message played a critical part in the outcome of her life and everyone else.
She had rolled out of her more-than-comfortable bed in the morning with high ambitions. She had no definite plan for the day, yet she believed it would be a great one. But after she had read the text, all that her mind could comprehend was for her not to turn to an emotional mess.
She took a shower and completed her morning routine in record time. After she got dressed in a skinny blue jeans that had turned tight for her lately, she pulled out her favourite wool jumper.
With a quick glance at the clock, she assumed that her brother would be awake by then. Holding on to a milk chocolate packet, she let herself out of her apartment.
His front door was left unlocked. Reminding herself to chastise him on that, she let herself in and made her way to his office. Carefully, she tapped her knuckles against the door. From the other side, she heard a muffled response which she could only guess as come in, so she did. She gingerly pushed open the door and shuffled in.
Edward’s office was a pretty standard work space. A small room with a heavy desk to the left piled with stacks of papers and two monitors, and several plush seats on the right. The back wall was a floor to ceiling built-in bookshelf decked with all variety of literature.
Her favourite part, however, was the small bay window to the right, with soft white curtains hanging loosely above the blue cushion.
Edward was at his desk, hunched over the keyboard. She rounded the table to stand directly in front of him. His fingers were folded and perched against his lip, chin resting on his palm. Taking up a majority of his face were black thick rimmed glasses.
“Your front door was left unlocked. I could have been a burglar.” She said.
He looked up then with a grin, “You will make a pretty burglar then.”
She scoffed at him. “Stop using your petty lines with me. I’m your sister, not one of your girls.”
He faked a hurt gasp, then smiled at her. “Morning Erica.”
“Good morning.” She relaxed into the seat across his desk, bringing her knees up to her chest. Edward shifted in his spot, then glided to the bookshelf and picked up a thick text from the Christian fiction selection.
“‘Complete’ by Goodness Adegbola. You should have it.” He said, as he held it out to her.
“Nice cover.” She commented, flipping through the pages. “Are you planning on writing a review of it?”
“Yes. I learnt a lot from the novel, and those lessons shouldn’t be kept to myself alone.”
She nodded in support, then gently placed the book by her side.
“Have you made anything this morning? I’m really hungry.”
“That is something with you.” He chuckled, referring to the packet in her hand.
“Chocolates is real food to you abi?” She asked him with a frown.” Answer me jhoor.”
He laughed at her impatience. “Alright, I made pancakes, but it should be cold by now. “
“Who cares?” She snorted, then made her way out.
“Should I bring you a plate?” She called out to him.
“Thanks. A glass of smoothie will do.” He replied.
She returned some minutes after, a tray in hand.
“Here, strawberry and lemon smoothie.”
“Thanks.” He said, taking a little sip.
She settled back into her seat, balancing the tray on her lap with care.
“Is everything alright?”
She raised an eyebrow at him questioningly. “Yeah – Sure.” She replied.
“We chatted late into the night yesterday and you gave off nothing. Whatever it is must have happened this morning.”
She gulped. “What are you talking about?”
“Come on Erica. I know you better than anyone else. I mean, you showed up here this early. Something must be wrong.” He replied.
“So, I can’t just decide to pay you a visit?” She chuckled. “I’m hurt, brother mine.”
“Are you okay?” He asked with concern.
“I don’t need a pity party.” She mumbled.
Her face fell and her expression reflected only pain, with nothing else. She opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. She tried hard to keep her cool, all the while fiddling with her fingers.
“Nothing is okay.” She sighed. “I’m confused, alright? I feel so empty. I don’t even understand anything anymore. I feel nothing now. I’m just numb.”
Edward quietly stood up from his seat and walked over to her side. “Can you trust me enough to tell me what it is?” He asked gently, placing a hand on her shoulder.
“Dennis.” She croaked. “He broke up with me over a text message. Three years, Edward!” She cried.
“Okay, calm down.” Edward pacified. “Have you reached out to him?”
She looked at him as if saying, “You didn’t mean that, right?”
“It’s of no use.” She shrugged. “I should have been the one to end things, guess I never had the courage to.”
Looking back now, she realized that she should had never started anything with Dennis. But then, she was at her lowest when she met him. Her father was putting so much pressure on her, and Dennis being Dennis, his sweet words got her hooked. Since he showered her with all the love and affections she so much wished for from her father, she wasted no time in saying yes when he finally asked her to be his girlfriend.
Times spent with him started replaying themselves in her mind. She remembered the first time she baked for him.
“You can’t make a living out of this, you know?” He said, as he took a bite out of the custard cookie in his hand. “You bake like shit.” He scoffed.
His words hurt her, but she masked it off quickly with a smile. That was the last time she ever baked, despite her brother’s constant nagging.
The first day he took her along with him on an outing with his friends also flashed quickly across her mind.
“You are so weird, Erica. So strange!” He yelled at her after they’d left the place. “You couldn’t even flow with the conversations. I had no idea that I signed up for a girlfriend who is only good at embarrassing me.” He huffed. “I wonder what I’m doing with you, you’re so socially awkward.”
He never asked her out for any outing again. When she challenged him about it, his reply was unexpected.
“Take a look at yourself.” He scoffed. “Have you seen my friends’ girlfriends? You’re nothing compared to them. I don’t want to be the butt of jokes because of you. You are too slim, and we all like our girls thick.”
Having had enough of him, she retorted, “Then why are you with me?”
“I should ask myself that too. But I like you.”
To be approved by him and his friends, she started stuffing herself with foods, eating at odd hours and excessively. And no, she added no weight. Mother nature was a real bitch to her.
At any chance, he made sure to always take a jab at her.
“With all your father’s money, can’t you dress well? No one would believe that you are the great Tayo Adeyi’s only daughter if you keep on dressing this way.”
And on and on, until her self-worth was reduced to almost nothing.
Was that a yell or a scream? She had no idea. Maybe another Ivy, right? It was too early for her name to be heard. With that, she pulled her blanket more tightly over her head.
“Ivy!” Moyo called more loudly as she took two steps at a time.
Clearly impatient, she pulled open Ivy’s door and walked in, banging the door loudly at her behind. Still that did nothing in waking up the sleeping figure.
“Who the hell sleeps till 11:00am?” She mumbled.
“Ivy,” She called again. The only response she got was a tiny purr.
Sighly loudly, she roughly shook the body awake.
“Heyyyy.” Ivy mumbled. “That was no nice way to wake up a princess.” She protested.
“It’s almost noon, idiot.”
“Still, I hate mornings!” Ivy groaned.
“See ehn, I know you love your sleep, but I seriously need your help.” Moyo rushed out, settling herself into the bed.
“That serious that it couldn’t wait? I was having this so intense dream.” Ivy whined.
Moyo watched irritatedly as her friend covered up herself.
“I’m pregnant, Ivy.”
Whether she heard or not, the other girl gave no reaction of any such.
“What Moyo?” She groaned, her head popping up from underneath the blanket.
“Then sort it out yourself. Last time I checked, I wasn’t the one who impregnated you.” She snapped.
Moyo’s eyes widened at Ivy’s outburst. Not ready to take any shit from her, she fired back, “What’s got your pants so twisted this morning, huh?”
“You woke me up from my damn so sweet sleep, only to give me some shitty news of your pregnancy. And that’s even if you know the father this time around.” Ivy said angrily.
“Wow. Low blow, Ivy.” Moyo stared hard at her, folding her arms across her chest before retorting, “I’m not having that from you. You are not much of a saint either, you know?”
“At least, I have mine wrapped up all good. But you?” Ivy glared back at her. “All you do is to get knocked up every damn time. This is your fourth? Fifth?” She let out a mocking laugh. “Geez, I’ve even lost counts.”
“How could you be so stupid, Moyo?” She added irritatedly.
“Not funny, Ivy. I’m not stupid.” Moyo rolled her eyes exasperatedly.
“You can just go for another abortion.” On a second thought she added, “Madam Iris must not know you know?”
“That was the help I needed from you dumbass.”
“To help you abort a baby?” Ivy asked, her voice going a pitch higher. “Hell, no! I won’t have an unformed figure haunting me. So sorry, but no!”
“I won’t be having an abortion.” Moyo chuckled. “I’m keeping this one.”
Ivy’s lips failed her at that moment, as they refused to move. “I give up,” She sighed dramatically. “My friend clearly is insane.”
Moyo laughed, a little bit forced.
“I live in a brothel, alright? Which is no environment to birth or raise a child. And I know what Madam Iris’s reaction would be to this news. I should be freaking out now, cause I know next to nothing about motherhood. And as much as I hate to admit this last fact, I know that my unborn child won’t have a father figure in their life. So…?” She said sadly.
“I understand your worries, even without you voicing out any word. Still, I want this baby.”
Tears threatened to fall off from her eyes, but she masked it off pretty quickly.
Ivy stared at her friend sadly. She knew Moyo didn’t have a good upbringing. She wasn’t raised to be strong or independent. She was raised to be frail and submissive. But circumstances taught her to be strong and brave. And from her words, she knew she wasn’t just keeping the pregnancy out of guilt.
“Well, I don’t want you to be like me. I want you to be strong, confident and independent. To create a better version of yourself off that baby. Just follow your heart, it will always lead you aright.” She said with a broad smile.
“So?” Moyo asked nervously.
“You’ll be leaving tonight. Leave Madam Iris to me.”
“Seriously?” Moyo squealed happily. “Thanks, b.”
Ivy scoffed at her use of the alphabet ‘b’. Affectionate words don’t go down well with her. Not at all.
“Mind you, I’m not doing it for you. It’s for your little one. She deserves a chance at life.”
Moyo teared up then. “A ‘she’?” She whispered amidst sobs.
“Now the hormones are working.” Ivy groaned. “Honestly, what’s it with pregnant women?”
They both laughed at that.
“Are you really doing this for me?”
Ivy nodded. She knew convincing Madam Iris would not be a hard nut to crack. She only had to offer up herself till a replacement would be found for Moyo. It would be a sacrifice worth making.
“Yeah, we’re friends afterall.” She grinned. “I will work your hours with mine.”
“She is a real bitch.” Moyo said grimly.
“I know right?” Ivy chuckled.
Moyo smiled her thanks. “I can’t thank you enough.” She gushed out, rushing off to her side to engulf her in a hug.
“Yeah, yeah. Meet the incredible Ivy. She’s so nice, right?” Ivy said drily. “Now get off me, I hate hugs. Arrrgh!”
“Doofus!” Moyo laughed, as she gave a light smack to her back.
“I am scared. I don’t want you to leave. But I don’t have a choice here. You have to leave – to create a better life for your baby. I don’t want to lose anyone anymore.” Her voice trembled.
Moyo was surprised by her confession. That was a first. She knew she was someone who never admitted or showed anyone her doubts and fears. She was glad she was opening up to her.
“People complain too much about their lives, yet when they have the chance to do something about it, they don’t.” She said thoughtfully. “We can leave together, Ivy. This life is not cut off for us.”
Ivy laughed. A bitter laugh.
“We are different, Moyo. This is my own life. It can’t be changed.”
Moyo scoffed. “This is no life, babe. Don’t you wish to live the way you want?”
“This is my life.” Ivy snapped.
If only she knew that Ivy hoped to be just Ivy.
“Well, I guess this is my cue to leave.” Moyo said nervously, as she clambered off the bed.
“Hol’ up. I have something for you.”
She leaned towards the bedside table, pulled out the second drawer, then took out a big black purse.
“This is for you.” She said, as she handed it carefully to Moyo. “Coupled with what you have, it should be enough to get you started wherever you moved to.”
“You don’t have to – ” Moyo started to protest.
“It’s nothing, honestly.”
Moyo opened the purse and gasped loudly.
“How much, Ivy?”
Ivy started scratching her neck nervously. “It’s nothing much.”
“I know it’s nothing much, but I need an exact figure to these.” Moyo said, in an almost scream.
“I don’t know, okay? But it sure exceeds an hundred.”
“Thank you.” Moyo breathed out, as she threw herself at her once again.
Ivy laughed nervously. “It’s just a little…”
“It means a lot to us.” Moyo smiled appreciatively, rubbing her little bump as well.
“I’m also sorry for going off on you earlier. It was petty of me. And I hope you will forgive me for my words.”
Moyo waved it off. “I woke you up from your sleep, knowing how much you hated that.”
“And I don’t know,” She continued hesitantly, then reached around her neck, and pulled off a neckchain with a locket. “A present from me to her. There’s a golden inscription in the locket.”
Moyo’s hands flew up to her mouth, as she choked back a sob. “Ivy,” She rasped out.
“This is not goodbye. The future holds a lot for us, I believe.” Moyo said, wiping off tears from her face.
“The future?” Ivy shrugged with a grim expression. “I don’t picture the future. It’s fickle. It never pans out the way we hope.”
Moyo glared at her. “Be optimistic some times, huh?”
“Duhh… You can ask life why it had always been so cruel to me?”
Moyo smiled. “Still, thank you. For everything.”
“Geez. Friends don’t say thanks. Now stop the waterworks. It sucks.”
“Okay. Okay.” Moyo sniffed, wiping off her tears.
“You being a crying mess is not a beautiful sight at all.” Ivy laughed.
“You should get packing. Wait up, okay?” Ivy sent her a smirk, then walked out.
Moyo smiled happily, and mouthed as she gently rubbed her baby bump. “That is Ivy. She is not as tough as she looks. Her toughness is only a shield. She has been through a lot and seen a lot that she shouldn’t have seen. She keeps it all inside and hides it with her tough attitude, but on the inside, she is a kind soul.”
She had always admired Ivy and had wanted to be like her. She walked with confidence and had an aura that demanded respect. Not to speak of her beauty, that girl sure do turn heads. Her life might be a mess. But to Moyo, she was a beautiful mess.
The neckchain took that time to slip off her hand. As she bent to pick it up, the locket flew open. A simple message in a golden inscription stared at her. “When life gets out of tune, sing anyway.”
A broad smile appeared easily on her face. Well, what other perfect gift would a little girl had wished for from her godmother.