Leaving the hospital ward Lola was in with all the anxiety gone felt like an actual – not the proverbial – weight had been lifted off of his chest. He felt himself being able to breathe normally, his body temperature getting cooler and his heart returning to its normal rhythm. He was still flexing his lungs with his just recently rediscovered clear-headedness that he didn’t see Lola’s sister walking towards him from an adjacent hallway.
“Chris!” Lola’s sister said a little louder than necessary in his general direction.
Startled out of his absentmindedness, he looked up at her. “Oh hey. I was just on my way out.” He said turning on his automatic charming smile.
“Already? I thought you were gonna chill for a while.”
“I was but reason prevailed.”
“How do you mean?” Lola’s sister said hiking up her left eyebrow as far as it could go.
“Well. . . I wanted to stay but Lola suggested that I left based on the fact that your mom would start too many questions and she – Lola – thought it best not to meet her – your mom – under the present circumstances.” Chris explained.
“She thought that or you thought that?” Lola’s sister asked pointedly.
“She thought that. I just agreed with her. It just seemed the voice of reason at the moment. I’m just happy she’s okay” Chris said.
“That’s even right. I’ve been meaning to ask you. What exactly happened?”
“How do you mean?” Chris said, playing coy.
“Don’t play dumb and don’t blow smoke up my skirt. What exactly happened?” Lola’s sister said and with that, Chris started fast realizing the inquisitive nature was encoded in their family genes.
Chris looked up and exhaled sharply. Turning on his automatic smile, he said “she must have been pretty tired. It’s probably something she ate at the party yesterday or didn’t eat”
Lola’s sister regarded him guardedly. “If that is so, where were you in all of this?” She asked.
“I don’t understand.”
“You threw her a party last night. From what she has told me, you don’t live in the school hostels until during exams.” Lola’s sister said waving with her arms gesturing Chris to provide some form of input.
“I get you so far.” Chris interjected.
“Okay. It only stands to reason that both of you should have gone back to your place last night. Why was she alone?”
“Yes. That.” She retorted.
She most definitely got that from their mother, Chris thought. Aloud he said “We got separated last night.”
When he saw the alarm that registered on her face he quickly added
“No, not like that.”
Yes. Like that. She broke up with me last night because I cheated on her and I can’t say I blame her. With the relief that came washing down her face, he could tell that she – Lola’s sister – knew a lot about his relationship with her younger sister.
Continuing to talk, Chris said “she wanted to hang with her girls and I was doing the rounds and after the party was over I had a lot of things to attend to. I just figured she shouldn’t wait around for me.”
“Oh. Okay. That’s understandable.”
“Whew! Interrogation complete. I’d thought that I would’ve had to call my lawyer.” Chris said smiling.
I can see why Lola likes him so much. He has a great sense of humor.
Aloud she chuckled and said “Didn’t mean to put you under the gun but you know how it is. You can’t be too careful these days.”
“Well . . . yes there’s that.”
“Sorry to have kept you.” Lola’s sister said leaning in for a hug.
Chris returned the hug and then he straightened his torso, holding her by the shoulders and at arm’s length, he grinned and said “I’ll be on my way now.”
With that, they parted ways. He started heading towards the stairs since he was on the first floor. No point heading to the elevators. He thought. Racing down the stairs and out of the hospital towards his car, he just wanted to put as much distance between him and the hospital as possible. Getting to the parking lot, he saw Camille standing around apparently waiting for him.
As soon as she saw him, she started asking him rapid fire questions.
“How is she?” “Did she say anything?” “What did she say?” “Did she mention my name?”
“Slow down” Chris said. One question at a time.
“Did she ask about me?” Camille pressed.
“No. Camille. She didn’t and quite frankly I’d be surprised if she did.” Chris answered.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means that not everything is about you. She’s just recovering from an almost-death experience and you expect her to ask after a friend that cheated with her boyfriend? Really Camille? Would you?” Chris fired back at her.
Camille seemed to shrink a little because of Chris’ admonitions.
Chris continued “Well as for how she is, she’d be back in school tomorrow just so you know.”
Chris pressed one of the buttons on his key and the car went “bloop bloop.”
“Get in” Chris said to Camille over the top of the car.
After they were both seated in the car, Chris said “sorry I snapped at you. The events of the last couple of hours had been pretty exhausting.”
“It’s okay. I understand. Which way are you taking?” Camille said trying to abruptly and deftly switch the topic.
“I’m taking the shortest route that will at least have me drop you off at a location not too far from the school gate.”
“I’m not going back to school. I want to go to my aunt’s place. I need to stay there until all of this blows over.” Camille replied.
“Until all of what blows over? What are you on about?”
“This! This sand-in-cream relationship with Lola and also the drama in the hostel.”
“Chris you were at the party yesterday. You saw the spectacle Lola made of me. Everybody that was anybody in our level knows about that. Some girls were openly calling me ‘boyfriend snatcher’ in the hall. I can’t deal with that now. I just need to go somewhere and chill and my aunt is the perfect person to go stay with at the moment.” Lola said.
“Wow” was all Chris could manage.
“Yeah. That’s where the matter is. Anyways, she lives in Ogba and I’ve already called ahead.”
“Alright. I’ll drop you off in Maryland and then double back.”
“Okay.” Camille said and then buried her head in her phone.
They drove in relative silence all the way to the mainland with just the sound of text alerts and the occasional familiar buzz of a vibrating handheld device. When they got to the place they’d agreed on, Chris said “we’re here.”
“Oh” Camille said lifting her head for the first time since they left the hospital lot. “Thanks for the ride.”
She got all her stuff and left the car.
“Buh-bye” she said.
As he eased the car out onto the freeway to continue on his journey home, his phone began to ring. Looking at the caller ID, he quickly snatched the phone off the dashboard, pressed the answer key and then raised the phone to his ear.
“Hey hey” A soft, sweet voice with the hint of a North London accent at the other end of the line said.
“Hey! Hello! What’s good?” Chris replied.
“I’m fine. Where are you?” the voice asked again.
“I’m driving. I’m on my way home. Why?”
“Well. . . I thought I was gonna surprise you but you weren’t home. So I had to call.”
Chris chuckled and said “Is this some sort of joke? How can you possibly be calling me with a +44 number telling me that you knew I wasn’t home in my +234 zone?”
“I’m roaming, duh!”
“Okay. Say I believe you. The last time you and I spoke was just 3 days ago. You didn’t say anything about coming home.”
“It was supposed to be a surprise. Apparently, I didn’t think it through. How long till you get here?”
“How am I sure you’re not pranking me right now? Besides, how are you sure you are in the right place?”
“Just get here. Lagos hasn’t changed that much you know? Besides Lade told me where you lived.”
“So you’ve spoken to her, eh?”
“Let’s just say she drove me here.” The voice said and giggled.
“Alright. I’ll be there in 15. Sit tight.”
Clicking off the phone, he still couldn’t believe his ears. He started to visualize all the shortcuts he knew and started making all the necessary turns and speed changes sort of like doing a heat run. “Heat run” one of those phrases you’d come across if you were a fan of action and crime movies or TV series. A heat run is a series of random turns and tricky corner cutting and speed changes done whilst driving in order to either lose a tail or discourage anyone from tailing you.
Getting to his apartment building, he drove into the lot and from where he was he could see a lone figure standing at his door. She really is here.
Walking over to her as calmly as he could trying to contain his excitement, called out a name and the person turned around. Visibly happy to see him.
“Wow! You look stunning.”
“You’re not doing badly yourself.” She replied.
“What’s it been 5? 6 Years?”
“Come on in.” He said reaching for the door knob. “It really is good seeing you again after all this time Yemisi.”
“It feels good too.” She replied.
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