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The Gift, Part 2, Short Story

Shade felt the warm rays of the sun caress her face and her eyes flickered open. She turned her head away from the sun and saw the picture of Kola her fiancé smiling at her. Next to that picture was the picture they took on a boat in Dubai with the Burj Khalifa in the background. She had fond memories of that weekend in Dubai. She tried to smile but was rewarded with a headache.

She sat up in bed and noticed that she was still wearing the clothes from yesterday. One thing she never did was wear her work clothes to bed. She got out of the clothes, rushed into the bathroom and took a shower. Minutes later she emerged from the bathroom, did her beauty routine and put on some new clothes.

She entered the kitchen and made herself a cup of mint tea. The heat of the brew helped to clear her head. The clock on the microwave oven read 9:23am. A frown creased her face as she looked at the time. She never slept this late on a Saturday. She was supposed to be at the gym at 7:00 am, but she had missed today’s session by two hours. She pushed aside the cup of tea as concern rose up in her mind. She remembered going to Uche’s apartment. She couldn’t remember leaving it or what happened afterwards. As hard as she tried she couldn’t remember where she had been last night.

Her phone beeped and rescued her from the agony of trying to figure out where the last eight hours of her life went. It was a text from Kola, her fiancé. He was on his way to her apartment and wanted to know if she was back from the gym. She evaded the question. Yes, she was in, she ended the conversation. He had requested for a key to her apartment but she had refused. They were not yet married and until then he had no right to barge into her apartment whenever he wanted. She needed her own space where she could think her own thoughts, process freely and do as she pleased. She felt some sadness as she looked around her apartment. She would miss this apartment when she moved into Kola’s house in Magodo after they returned from their honeymoon. She had so many fond memories, secrets locked in the walls of this house. After living here for seven years, the environment, the people, sights of Surulere had become a part of her life. She wished she could keep the apartment and return to it when she needed some alone time. But society wouldn’t allow her do that. It would be regarded as an act of rebellion for a young bride to retain her former apartment. Her mother would see it as resistance to marriage or the fear of moving into an uncertain future with her husband. She stood up and touched the leaves of the plant that grew in a pot by the window. She liked the scent of the flowers when they blossomed. There were other flowers pots on the balcony but this one was special. She even gave it a name. Cher. Its flamboyant colours reminded her of the ageless, iconic rock artist.

*******

‘Where were you last night?’ Kola asked her as he drove.
‘I was at Uche’s place then I came back home to sleep,’ Shade avoided his eyes.
Kola gave her a curious look. ‘I called your phone over ten times but it was switched off. When did you start turning off your phone? We had an agreement that our phones should always be on in case of an emergency.’
‘I must have forgotten,’ Shade said without conviction.
Suddenly Kola veered off the road and entered a gas station. He found a spot and parked the car. Shade looked at his face and feared for what was about to happen. This could very well be the end of her intended marriage to him.
Kola held the steering wheel tightly. Shade watched him.
He turned to her. ‘Shade, I am going to ask you one more time. Tell me the truth. I know you weren’t with Uche last night. I called her at 11:25pm. She said you had left her apartment and you said you were going to your mother’s place. I called your mother and she said you were not at her place.’ Kola paused and rubbed his palms together. Shade said nothing.
He continued. ‘I was tempted to call your pastor and let him know what was going on but it crossed my mind that if I brought him into the matter, there were questions I wouldn’t be able to answer. He could also tell us to call off our wedding. I didn’t want that to happen, so I didn’t call him. but if you don’t start talking to me, I will call your pastor and tell him what is going on.’
Tears came to Shade’s eyes as she listened to Kola. She saw the end of her relationship with him. She saw the wedding cancelled. She saw herself shamed out of the church. She saw herself mocked by fake and false friends who would rejoice about her break-up with Kola Owolabi. Her face would be splattered on social media platforms and people would call her mean names. Continue reading

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