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October 12, 2019 at 5:15 am #1343288
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Author: Sam Freddy
“The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice.”
My face twisted into a radiant grimace and I felt what seemed to be a wave of assurance surging through my entire body. Deep chills ran down my spine, and I could’ve sworn I saw stars revolving around my head. Imaginary goosebumps filled my smooth dark skin as I read the message again, feeling quite optimistic.
“What’s making you smile?” I heard Kennedy’s voice and I lifted my head up instantly, hoping to see him looking back at me, but he wasn’t. Instead, I found him staring at me through the taxi’s inner mirror.
“Someone.” I said, trying so hard to suppress my smile.
“Who is this someone, if I may ask?”
“He’s Prince Charming.”
Kennedy and I burst into laughter due to how silly I sounded. Fortunately, he didn’t bug me any further for the main details. Unfortunately, our loud laughter disrupted Jessica’s calm nap. We apologized for our actions but she found it hard to sleep back, so we all engaged each other in a conversation to while away time.
We finally arrived at Camelo Mall after what seemed like ages on the busy roads of Lagos. Kennedy and Jessie assisted me to step out of the car and fixed the crutches under my armpits so I could hold it well without stumbling or falling down. Surprisingly, the driver refused to collect the money for the service he rendered to us when we tried to pay for it. Even when we both insisted and tried to persuade him into collecting it, he still didn’t budge. He said he’d take the liberty of paying for us and he also shared his gratitude for the company we all shared during the slow ride. After thanking him profusely, we parted ways at last.
When Jessica led me into the mall, the first person I started looking around for was a lady who had been described to have what seemed to be a relatively blond hair, a slim body shape and a skin as bright as the sun itself—wearing a tight black shirt and well-ironed blue trousers. She wasn’t so hard to find as I had thought she’d be. We found her selling yoghurts to some children who were holding toys and balloons in each of their hands. The eldest child collected the yoghurts which had been placed into a customized nylon, paid the bill and left with the others trooping behind him like they were mere puppets bowing for a demi-god. The moment they all left, Jessica and I approached the good-looking lady.
“Welcome, ladies.” She greeted us with a brief wave of the right hand, almost squinting her eyes to have a proper look at our faces. She was a living testimony of someone who partially escaped albinism. She would’ve been an albino if fate hadn’t given her a redefining touch to look as pretty as a picture on the wall.
“Good evening.” Jessica and I greeted back in unison.
“Evening, ladies.” The salesclerk responded with a wave of the left hand this time around. “How may I help you both?”
I noticed the nametag on her uniform and spoke quickly. “Denise, right?”
She nodded affirmatively, apparently confused. “Yes. I’m Denise. How did you know my name?”
“Your uniform’s nametag.” I said, pointing at it.
“Oh… That’s true!” She glanced at her T-shirt and sighed with relief. “I don’t know why I always forget about this thing on my shirt.” She giggled. “Please, pardon me.”
“It happens. It’s completely fine.” I assured her, making a cool grimace. “We are not here to buy anything though.”
Denise raised an eyebrow, giving me a puzzled look. “Okay?” She exchanged glances between Jessica and I, her artificial eyebrows furrowing. I could even notice the dark mascara on her eyelashes. “Then how am I supposed to be of help to you both? Do you need help in finding merchandise or something?”
“No. Not exactly.” Jessica said, shaking her head disapprovingly. “We just–”
Predictably, Denise folded her arms across her chest, still giving us a weird, puzzled look. “You just what?”
“We just need to find someone.” I filled in the gap on Jessica’s behalf, increasing my firm grip on the old crutches. “He’s a man—a tall man with a well-built body. He actually directed me to you.”
“To me?” Denise grimaced and widened her eyes dramatically, impulsively pointing a finger at herself. “Why—I mean, what for?”
“He sent me a text message which says you’re the one who knows the shortcut to the VIP section of this mall.” I explained coolly, hoping to convince her doubtful mind. “His name is…”
“Don’t worry.” Denise interrupted me and smiled, having recognized who I was talking about. “I know who you’re talking about. He’s at the topmost floor right now, waiting for…” She paused all of a sudden, shifting glances between I and Jessica again, probably unsure of who to place as the major subject since I was barely standing upright with crutches in my hands and my friend was more qualified to be seen with a gorgeous man like Tunde.
“…you.” The salesclerk finally settled her gaze on Jessica when she completed her sentence, probably thinking my best friend was Tunde’s guest and I was her nosy sister who just decided to accompany her sibling over here, or her one-legged bodyguard or something. I felt so insulted, but I said nothing negative to her. I simply shrugged it off and masked my disappointment with a sweet smile.
“How do we get to the topmost floor?” Jessica asked.
“It’s easy as ABC. Use the elevator over there.” Denise answered, pointing at somewhere behind us. Jessica and I looked back and traced her gesture with our eyes, and we saw the machine for ourselves.
“Thank you…” I said, still wearing a mask in form of a cool smile, “…for everything.”
“We really appreciate your help.” Jessie added.
“You’re both welcome.” The salesclerk said softly, entwining her hands on impulse, and that was when I noticed her fine fingernails covered in multicolored paints.
With that, we left Denise’s presence and proceeded toward the elevator. When we got there—precisely in front of it, we tried to click on the buttons on the wall so that it would open, but it didn’t. We tried seven more times but it still didn’t work. A security personnel who happened to be passing by at that very moment somehow noticed the trouble we were having with the elevator’s switch and offered to help us, but we still ended up having no luck at all. The odds were not in our favor. We were left with no other option than to use the long staircase which would not be convenient for someone like me, but I had no other alternative so I had to do it even though I didn’t like the idea at all.
Thinking about walking through a flight of stairs with nothing but one functional leg and mere old-fashioned crutches almost made me sick. It could seem crazy, risky and impossible to some people, but I was determined to scale through it at all costs.
I was more than late and I knew it. If the word ‘disappointment’ were to be an actual living person, it would most certainly be me. I’d always had this habit of keeping late appointments right from my ‘wonder years’ which I wasn’t too proud about. If care wasn’t taken, I even had the tendency to sleep off on judgement day while other people would be getting raptured and judged by the Almighty God.
15 steps and counting. Jessie was right beside me, holding my left hand gently to support me while we talked about the vastness of the mall as we continued to ascend the stairs.
16 steps, 17 steps, 18 steps, 19 steps, 20 steps, 21 steps and as I placed my only functional leg on the twenty-second step and extended the crutches in my arms towards the same step, someone ran into me so hard. The impact of our collision practically made me stumble and I almost fell on the staircase, but Jessica’s firm grip steadied my body and I was able to regain my balance in no time. The stranger who had been paying much attention to his smartphone rather than the stairway he was descending had now bent down to pick up his phone which had fallen down when we collided heavily.
“Can’t you see?” He said without looking up at me, still picking up the scattered parts of his phone from the steps. “Are you blind?”
As soon as we heard his voice, Jessica’s eyes and mine almost popped out of their sockets and our mouths fell agape.
“You can’t even say sorry.” He complained, fixing his smartphone’s back cover right where it belonged. “You’ve damaged my phone’s screen! How bad of you! Can’t you look where you’re going? Argh!”
The funniest part about the entire drama was the fact that I was finally standing in front of the one and only Prince Charming himself, and he wasn’t even aware of it. He hadn’t even bothered to look up at the person he ran into before he started to complain so much. He sounded so angry; I could tell by the tone of his voice. I was quite sure that his anger wasn’t based on what had just occurred between us, but on something else entirely.
I looked at Jessica and mouthed the words: “Should I talk?”
“Yes!” She mouthed back, giving me her signature ‘don’t-be-stupid’ look. “Talk ASAP! Don’t be stupid.”
We were both speaking in hushed whispers. As I opened my mouth to say something again, Tunde got back on his feet and straightened up, raising his head to meet my gaze.
At this moment in particular, I could’ve sworn I felt a calm wind blowing inside of my remarkably flat tummy as we locked gazes for a while, both beyond stunned. Admittedly, the rate of my heartbeat increased from normal to stupidly abnormal, and the raging of my hormones skyrocketed from its moderate flow to what seemed to be a p--n star’s excessive libido—especially one who acts under the influence of Viagra.
My ovaries were sizzling deep down inside my abdomen. My pubic region seemed to produce more sweat than usual and my beautifully rounded bosoms stiffened like plutonic rocks hanging below the Earth’s surface. At the age of twenty-six, I had never been ‘touched’ by a man before, but just staring at Tunde’s face made me feel as if I had developed a fetus growing inside of my womb already. What a spectacular thrill indeed!
“Lola?” He couldn’t believe his eyes at all. Prince Charming gaped at me in total disbelief, clearly disappointed in the human version of his online Duchess.
As expected, the first thing his eyes fell upon were the outdated crutches under my arms. After that, he looked at my legs and I noticed the way his eyes widened as if they were about to pop out of their sockets or explode right inside of them.
I bowed my head down, filled with so much shame. “I warned you.”
Jessica was visibly petrified, just standing right there behind us, not knowing what to do or what to say in such an awkward situation. She had a hand in my current predicament anyway, so she was meant to take a fair share of the blame too. We were both guilty as our conscience charged against us. I was starting to regret why I never opened up to him in the first place. If only I had known this whole thing would turn out this way, I would’ve done the needful without hesitation. If only I–
“Lola! You?” Tunde’s voice was barely audible at this point in time, but it was loud enough to disrupt my bitter thoughts of regret. I felt awful.
“You? Lola… Crutches? One leg?”
Even though he was mumbling incoherent words, any sane person could definitely read sense in the grimace he was wearing and gestures he was making with his hands. I’d never seen a man look so disappointed than that before in my entire life!
Tunde was traumatised. He couldn’t take it anymore. It was too much shock for him to handle for one night. His expectations had been compromised so badly—all thanks to the one stupid mistake I made by not telling him the truth about who I am in the real world.
“Tunde, I’m very sorry about this.” I was on the verge of breaking into tears as I raised my head up again, but I continued batting my eyelashes in order to hold them back in. “I should’ve told you earlier on. I gave you the hints. I tried!”
“You should’ve been straightforward.” Tunde’s voice still retained its low pitch, and I saw him blinking his eyes too, surely avoiding to make eye contact with me. “You should’ve been honest with me!”
“I know!” I whispered, feeling my dry lips starting to quiver. “I was afraid. I was…” I trailed off when I saw him clenching his fists and chewing on his lower lip, greatly agitated by listening to my c--k-and-bull story.
In order to avoid any further catastrophe he wasn’t prepared for, Tunde decided that he had had more than enough of my drama for one night. He started to walk away, descending the staircase without sparing me a glance at all.
At this point in time, my heart was bleeding deep down inside. Instead of pumping the regular blood it was meant for, it started to produce tears that soon forced their way out of my weary eyes.
“Tunde, please!” I swallowed my pride and begged, attempting to descend the staircase just so I could follow him, but he was considerably faster than I was. He paid deaf ears to my plea and continued to thread his way down the staircase, slamming his fists against the wall at intervals. He was so vexed and so heartbroken.
“Handsome.” I called out, failing at every attempt I made by trying to bat my eyelashes to suppress the flow of tears that poured down my cheeks like a mighty waterfall. “Please! Please I’m begging you! I am s-s-sorry!”
Prince Charming’s mind was made up already. He wasn’t going to stop no matter how I cried and begged him to wait. As I tried to balance my leg on another step, I misstepped and almost fell on the staircase but Jessica’s quick reflexes saved me.
“Lola, let him go!”
“No!” I cried, reaching out for the crutch that had fallen out of my right arm when I slipped. “Please come back here, Tunde!”
“Let him go!”
“Tunde, come back to me. I can explain. Please!” I tried every technique I knew best on how to break loose from Jessica’s firm hold, but my efforts were all in vain. I even bit her hand out of frustration but she still didn’t release me.
“Stop this madness! LET HIM GO!”1+October 12, 2019 at 11:05 am #1343374
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Its Fine Lola i Don’t blame You. I Blame Jessica for Your Embarasment0October 12, 2019 at 11:06 am #1343375
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pls ride on0October 12, 2019 at 12:54 pm #1343382
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All is well0October 12, 2019 at 5:35 pm #1343435
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Let him go jare0October 12, 2019 at 10:03 pm #1343474
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He.is.coming.back0October 13, 2019 at 8:18 pm #1343583
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what a pity. learn to speak d truth always0October 17, 2019 at 6:53 am #1343972
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