As Mabel and I were eating at the “Peppermint Restaurant”, there was a feeling I wanted to feel but I did not feel. I burrowed into myself and my feelings for her began to die away. I admired her, her beautiful face and flawless acquaintance with the English Language. I liked her dress sense and walking steps but the more she stared at me with her eyes narrowed, the more I was losing interest in her; she was just an attractive lonely career lady, looking for a husband. I began to visualize her being with me, being my fiancé and future wife but my thoughts didn’t rhyme with my heart’s core and besides, I didn’t want our relationship to get so intimate because I was never really passionate about loving her.
“So how’s work?” She asked smiling. At that instance, a strange silence engulfed us. I was hesitant to speak even as she was calmly waiting for my response.
“I lost my job.” As those words fell from the tip of my tongue, she exclaimed: “What happened?”
“It’s a long story but to cut it short, I’m looking for a new job.” I said sharply.
“Ooh, that reminds me…the bank where I’m working is recruiting new members of staff.”
“What are you implying?”
“You can work in the bank for the meantime. At least half-bread is better than none.”
“As cashier or what?” I chuckled and she raised her eyebrows, looking at me as though I wouldn’t want to work where she was working.
“Of course naa. Working in the bank is a lucrative venture, you know.” She whispered.
“I know but I don’t know anybody there to make the way for me.”
“What am I here for? I will help you.”
“I’ll really appreciate.” I said and she stood up and kissed me.
“I’ll help you baby.” She assured me.
I was already looking at our relationship through the lens of the past tense but with the promise of a job, I decided not to end it immediately. She asked me to come with her after we had had dinner and I couldn’t respond to the contrary. On the table next to us, a family of a father, mother and son were eating and chatting as we gingerly walked out of the restaurant.
At her house, we watched a movie before we went to the bedroom. I showered and just when I was about to join her on bed, my phone beeped. It was Angela. She had refused to pick my calls since she left my house and I wondered why she was calling me at such an odd hour. I answered the call with a muffled voice.
“Hey baby, how are you?”
“I’m fine dear. I’m really sorry about the other day, it won’t happen again.” I promised.
“Can I come over for the night? I’m really missing you.”
“I’m out of town dear but when I return, you would have the whole of me.” I lied and she laughed out loud.
“But do take care of yourself for me ooo.”
“I will and you take care too.”
Three weeks later, I got a job as a cashier in “The People’s Bank” and that drew me closer to Mabel. Had I a voice, I might have woven a nest of songs for her, for helping me secure the job. Not that I loved her; not that she was my dream woman. “How will it be for me?” I was sunk in the river of thoughts. My love for Angela had started so naturally but my affair with Mabel had always been conditional. Although she helped me get the job, I was reluctant to take our relationship a step further. Anyway, I thought how dicey and risky having a relationship with her could be especially when Angela was still my perfect woman.
“What’s up?” Mabel greeted me after closing from work one evening.
“Nothing much.” I responded, looking at her with her beautiful smile.
“I hope you like the job?”
“It’s nice. I like it.”
“I can see it in your smile.”
“abi ooo.” I was hesitant to speak further.
“Take care dear.” She said as she opened the door of her car.
“I will and you too.”
I was entranced by her care and concern. I wondered if the power of her admirable tenderness would make me truly fall for her. My repressed desires and passions were beckoning my attention. Comparing her with Angela would be an exercise of futility. Angela was like a nightingale singing at sundown, transparent as white clouds. She had the softness and majesty of roses. She had the unparalleled quality of loving patience, losing her was tantamount to a calamitous calamity. She was so exceptional in my eyes.
While on my way home, I stopped at a supermarket to purchase some toiletries. A group of young women were there, surrounded by older men. With their hair loosed and eyes staring at the items displayed for sale, they threw their head up and down to the rhythm of the songs they were listening from their ear-pieces.
When I came to the cashier to pay for the items I picked, her eyebrows danced over a demonic smile as she watched two ladies quarrelling because one of the lady stepped on the other’s toe.
“Your money is N7000,00.” The cashier said.
Removing the money from my wallet to pay, the cashier’s face changed into Annabelle’s. I screamed and ran out of the supermarket.