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Saturday, April 08, 2017

The Men She Loved (4)



Lola glanced at her phone. Only five minutes had passed since the last time she had checked it. Her neck hurt, her palms felt sweaty and she had a distinct feeling that what she was doing was wrong.

Dayo had told her he would be at hers at 5pm. It was now 5:05 and her anticipation had reached colourful heights. She alternated between wanting to call him and cancel and wishing her doorbell would ring with an intensity that had her hands feeling numb. Her phone began to ring to the tune of Lagbaja’s Konko Below. She dragged her eyes to the screen.

It was Ada. She had not spoken to her friend throughout the week and she wasn’t sure talking to her now was a great idea. Ada had a great bullshit radar. She would know something was up and she wouldn’t rest until she discovered what it was. She ignored the call.

Her doorbell rang and her heart thumped She glanced at the mirror in the corridor.

Her makeup was light – just a gloss and some liner. She wore a bright yellow and pink summer dress. Not because yellow was his favourite colour but because it suited her and she felt summery.

Dayo stood before her in jeans and a pink polo shirt. She tried to smile but failed. His eyes were boring into her and doing terrible, wonderful things to her insides.

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

“You know you have to invite people like me in – vampires and all that…” She laughed obligingly and stepped aside “Nice place.”


“Thank you.”

They stood awkwardly facing out facing one another.

So now what? She wondered. Her ex-boyfriend was in her home, in her space, looking excited and sexy and tense all at once. She stepped back.

“I made some food. Jollof. Would you…”

“I’m starving.”

Barely had she finished putting the food on his plate that he dug in.

“This is great.” He told her mid chew “no-one cooks quite like you.”

She grinned at him. Her phone rang again. Ada was not giving up. Dayo raised his eyebrows, but she ignored him and she ignored the call.

“I think I’m ready for seconds.” She laughed at him. She had not yet gotten halfway through her food but Dayo’s plate was clean. Spotless almost. She stood up and took his plate away from the table and into the kitchen. He followed her closely behind “I’ve got to make sure you’re not stingy with the portions.”

“Urgh. You’re such a beast. Where does all the food go? You eat like you’re an adolescent.”

He patted his six pack.

“My libido burns most of it.”

“Ha ha.”

She handed him his mountain of rice with three pieces of chicken. He grinned at her. As they walked over to the table, she heard Konko Below again. But before she reached her phone to see who it was, her doorbell rang. She froze on the spot so suddenly that Dayo bumped into her.

“Are you going to open that?”

“Errr.”

For a moment she wondered if it might be Temi. But it was out of character for him to visit her without telling her he was coming. She dragged her feet to the door and opened it. Ada stood before her with furrowed eyebrows, tapping feet and crossed arms.


***

“What the hell is going on? I’ve been calling you and calling you. A friend of mine said she saw you at a wedding, with Dayo – talking! I told her she must be mistaken, but now you won’t pick up my calls?”

“Ada, this is not a good time.” Ada pushed past her, stomach first and then she stopped short. Dayo stood before her, holding his plate of food and eating out of it. She turned back to Lola.

“What the hell is this?”

“Hello to you too Ada,” Dayo remarked.

“Save it.”

“Ada, can we go to another room?”

“Not until you tell me why he is here!”

Lola tried to think fast about her to dilute the situation. Behind Ada, Dayo sat at the table and resumed the eating of his food. He seemed unruffled by the exchange, on the outside. 

But she could sense his anger like a biting wind radiating towards Ada. Ada on the other hand looked as annoyed and shocked as she undoubtedly felt.

“Calm down Ada. And don’t shout at me. I can hear you just fine from here.”

“Why shouldn’t I? You were doing just fine. Better than fine. But you had to rock the boat by dragging this scum out from the depths of hell.”

“Talk about him like that again, and I will kick you out!”

“Oh…how quickly we forget the past. This man cheated on you, broke your heart, broke the law and you welcome him back into your life like it never happened. You are such a doormat.” Lola heard the scraping of the chair and knew Dayo was standing up. Ada paid no attention to his movements but Lola knew what Dayo was like when he was angry and she couldn’t be sure that he had changed.

“I think you should leave.” he told Ada.

Ada snorted, “Last time I checked this wasn’t your house.”

“I think you should leave.” Lola said.


Ada looked at her in shock, and then pain flashed across the features of her best friend. But it was only for a second, before they were contorted into a combination of anger and disgust.

“When he leaves you broken, and weeping, don’t call me,” she hissed, as she spun her huge stomach around and stormed out.

The door slammed shut behind her, leaving two figures frozen and silent. Dayo returned to his seat, but Lola remained where she was, staring at the door. Tears filled her eyes. This was all wrong. Ada was right. Everything was going smoothly before Dayo came back.

“I think you should go too.”

“What?”

She turned to face him, “I’d like you to leave.”

He stood up, slowly; then said, “No.”

“What?”

“You heard me. I’m not going anywhere. This is what you do. As soon as there is any hint of trouble you turn tail and run!”

“Seriously?! I stayed with you through 5/6 affairs, and those were the ones I knew about!”

“And after that?”

“I would hardly call your jail time – a hint of trouble!” she shouted at him.

“You never even asked if I was guilty!” he shouted back.

“I had come to the conclusion on your guilt a looooooooong time before you were accused of committing a crime! You were guilty of cheating on me, you were guilty of playing with me –“

“I never played with you. I loved you.” He had stopped shouting. He seemed deflated “I loved you Lola. I love you still.”

His words had a calming effect on her. Her anger was replaced by an immense sadness. She started crying again. He walked over to her and pulled her into his arms.

“What was it like?” she whispered into his chest.

“In jail?”

She nodded

“Dull.”

“Just that?”

“Dull. Repetitive. Monotonous.” He lifted up her chin “I’m glad you asked me. No one else has.”

“They are probably afraid of what your response would be.”

“And you weren’t?”

“I was. But not knowing wouldn’t mean the bad stuff didn’t happen, it would only mean I wouldn’t be able to offer you comfort.”

He stepped away from her

“I needed comfort when I was rotting away in jail. Where were you then?” she looked away. She tried to smother the guilt rising up within her. He was the one that betrayed her! Wasn’t he? He was breathing hard, trying to control his burst of anger and she stood quietly waiting it out.

Dayo was arrested in the last term of her final year. She had spent those last months in a daze, avoiding everyone. His sentence was pronounced just before her graduation.

Her parents had been there to celebrate her achievement and to swoop her back home, back to Nigeria, away from boyfriends that had less than favourable backgrounds. She hadn’t even fought them, she had left him to his fate and he knew it.

“Aren’t you going to say anything?”

“No.”

He grabbed her by her shoulders, and shook her hard. She looked up at him, “Why should I have been the faithful loyal girlfriend? You certainly expected more than you were ever prepared to offer.” She said this to him quietly and he dropped his hands.

“I would not have abandoned you in that situation.”

“I would never have been in that situation.”

“Semantics. In a similar situation, then.”

“Maybe you wouldn’t have, but I would never have cheated on you. So I guess we both have our weaknesses.”

They stared at each other and Lola admitted to herself that this was the most alive she had felt in a long time. This bubbling crackling anger mixed with a lavish serving of desire.

“Do you want to take this to the bedroom?”

She burst out laughing, “Err…no.”

“Ok, I think I’ll go finish my food then.” She followed him to the dining table and momentarily regretted her harsh refusal of his offer.

They sat together in companionable silence whilst Dayo finished his food. She knew he was thinking about their conversation the same way she was.

“So, what now?” he asked, rubbing his altogether too flat, too sexy stomach.

“Well, we could watch a movie? I’ve got all the Xmens, all the Lord of the …”

“No. What’s next for us?”

“Us?”

“You and I, babe. I think we should get back together.”


To be continued. ..


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