14 Days: The 12th Day
Day 12 went something like this:
She likes church. Why? Who knows?
It can be because of the singing and dancing that seems to go on forever. It can be the fact that she always gets a lot of admiring glances from men and women – some of them pay her compliments. It can be the drop-dead gorgeous bald-headed usher who smiles with one side of his mouth. It can be the fact that she always feels calmness – a kind of peace she never feels anywhere else whenever she is in church. And it can be all of the above.
Anyway, she sits through the service paying attention to every little part of it. She dances enthusiastically throughout the praise. There are small tears in her eyes during the worship. She knows; sooner than later, that she will have to return to the world. But while she is here she is one with it. She is only too happy to part with her tithes and offering, and her voice is the loudest during the choir’s singing.
And then service ends and she gets into her car. She has a date after all.
A very important one.
She takes off the high heeled pumps she’s wearing and puts on a pair of flat-soled Hush Puppies slip-ons. She throws the pumps into the back seat almost carelessly and opens her bag.
Absently she checks her phone. There’s a text message from her mother; a reminder about her sister’s two-year remembrance. She frowns and deletes the message, grumbling about her parents not letting the dead rest in peace. Her sister is dead. She just wants to move on with her life.
She guns the engine and waves at the nearest traffic guy. He beckons to her and she drives carefully forward, easing the car into the traffic. She navigates her way out of the church’s parking space and joins the hundreds of Lagosians in motion. Her date is on the island so she drives towards the stadium. Within moments she’s cruising towards Marina.
As she drives she thinks about her destination. Actually, she thinks about a lot of things – one after the other in rapid succession. She wonders why her parents make it a point – have made it a point for the last two years to remind her that her sister died on the 8th of February. It was damn insensitive on their part because she had loved her sister most of all. They did most of what they did together, and when her sister died she had cried for months – just as she is crying now. She angrily wipes her eyes and takes a firmer grip on the steering wheel. She’s going to have a talk with her parents about this.
She thinks about her destination and she smiles. It’s a smile that almost mirrors the images in her head and it’s not a nice smile. She feels a small flutter beneath her left breast and the smile widens. A loud horn from the right side of her vehicle startles her and she sees an Okada man waving his free hand and talking in her direction. Of course, she cannot hear him.
“I thought they banned you idiots,” she mumbles under breath but pays better attention to her driving. She turns towards the galleria and then makes a left at the traffic light. She drives forward a little bit and then makes another left. She drives further down and then parks in front of a non-descript building.
But of course, that is not where she’s going.
She opens her bag, brings out a small silvery compact and touches up on her make-up, using the small mirror in the compact and the rearview mirror simultaneously. When she’s done, she replaces the compact and fishes around in the bag for something. After a few moments she finds it – a tablet of Lemon Vicks. She tears the wrapper open, pops it in her mouth and crushes it with her strong startling white teeth. She chews rapidly, inhaling deeply through her nose.
Switching off her phone, she places it in her bag and places the bag underneath her seat. And then, chewing the last of the Vicks she gets out of the car and locks it. And then, holding only the car keys she walks back towards the entrance of the street, turning into the second building – the same one she comes to almost every day for a different reason.
“Good morning madam,” the security man greets her as he holds open the steel door for her. She smiles at him as she walks past, already distracted. She’s almost in a hurry as she walks, slip-ons making almost no noise on the tiled floor. She walks past the main hall into a small corridor, looking through the glass walls into the offices as she walks past them. She can see him in the last one, scribbling something in a book on the table in front of him.
He looks up as she stands in front of the open door smiling at him. He puts down the pen he’s been writing with and leans back in his seat, watching as she loosens and removes the belt that holds her dress together. She drops it on the floor beside her right foot, kicks it away and inserts a finger between the first and second buttons of her dress.
Pop! Pop! Pop! the buttons fly open as she runs her finger down the dress, not stopping till she gets to the twelfth one, the last one just above her knee. She straightens herself up, holding the dress together with one hand and starts walking slowly towards the man seated in the chair. Halfway to him, she slowly pulls the dress open, shrugs it off her shoulders as she walks and gets to him clad in matching see-through undies.
“What is your order sir?” she asks.
Of course, you know she’s talking to her boss right?