December 14, 2013
Belmont, Western Australia.
Nkeiru sat, a bit fidgety. Her eyes did a clean sweep of all illustrations on the wall; and to every other item that caught her attention—anything to keep her eyes, and mind, from Dr. Audre as she flipped through the pages of the file she held.
When Dr. Audre looked up, Nkeiru met her gaze immediately. Dr. Audre was professional enough to keep her face free of any expression.
“When did you first notice the decline in symptoms?”
“I . . . About—” Nkeiru paused to steady her breath, and to think too. Dr. Audre watched her closely. “About three days ago. My breasts,” she said, her right palm placed beneath both breasts. “I don’t feel sore anymore. The morning nausea gone, suddenly—just the way it started.”
The doctor’s face still held no expression. She only nodded while Nkeiru spoke.
“Ok, madam.” Dr. Audre said, with a smile—the first expression since the conversation started. Nkeiru prayed the doctor will maintain the smile. Dr. Audre held on to it for a while as she said some other words, directing Nkeiru’s attention towards the little bed in her office, with the doppler fetal monitor beside it. She had said to Nkeiru, “I want to check for fetal heart tones.”
“I didn’t see my blood.” Nkeiru said as she laid her back on the bed. She found it hard to contain her concern, and despair.
“Be relaxed, madam. Its too early to reach a conclusion.”
Ambrose Giwa Holdings, Lagos.
Kathryn felt young and confident as she walked from her car to her office building. Kathryn normally favoured the more serious, darker colours. But today she wore an orange coloured camisole on a sandy-brown skirt. She only played down on the colours with a black long-sleeved jacket, and equally fitting black shoes. The cool air of the air-conditioner was first—in the list of those—to greet the change in her dress sense as it blew on the slightly exposed part of her upper cleavage.
“What’s with the springy model-like steps this morning?” She heard from behind her. Kathryn needn’t turn to know who it was. James Salako’s high-pitched, near feminine voice easily gave him away.
“Nothing special,” Kathryn said to James who had quickened his steps, and now walked by her side. “I’m sure you just paid a little more attention this morning.”
“I doubt.” As they approached Kathryn’s office, James Salako whispered, “Girl you almost turned me on.”
“Almost?” Kathryn questioned. She laughed heartily, knowing she had chosen the right colours. “I guess I ought to do better then. I really got to up my game.” Kathryn said as she winked at James, and pulled at his thin blue tie. Her action, she knew, was a little improper, only if someone aside James was there. It didn’t matter since no one was in sight.
“I just might get turned on, girl.” James said, returning the wink. What about lunch, huh? I’ll pay.”
“I wish.” Kathryn said, turning the knob of her office door. She had a broad smile. “Actually—someone beat you to it.” She knew she had nowhere to go, except the meeting at Dr. Zakari’s hospital.
“I thought as much.” James said, a mile-wide smirk on his face. “I pray he’s worth your time.”
Kathryn had a playful frown as she closed the door behind her, in James’ face. She pressed her head on the door and heard James’ laugh. Kathryn smiled. Their friendship had grown in the last two weeks after she had begged to use James’ phone. James had simply punched a few buttons and dropped the phone on her table. He had walked out of her office, leaving Kathryn and his phone behind.
Kathryn was sure James had changed his screen saver with the few buttons he had tapped. The new screen saver was a photo of James and an equally dashing young man. It was a photo they had taken in James’ sitting room. After about six years of knowing James, Kathryn, with the help of the photo, could rightly place his sexuality. She was sure James really wanted her to know.
As Kathryn walked towards her chair, she remembered her laptop in her bag, and the words she had typed the previous evening. Kathryn had started with the rape scene, and ended with the events of that evening. She hoped James would like it, for what it was. And maybe make a story out of it. Aside James’ sexuality, she had also come to know that he had a flair for writing.
Marina, Lagos Island.
Simon resumed work that morning with a fresh start. He had received Miss Ibeh’s call late the previous night, after which he had surprisingly drifted off to sleep. He had slept peacefully too. He only had a dream where Nkeiru seemed upset. Simeon had assured himself that he would call her that day, when he had the time.
His phone rang as he sat in his office. It was Nkeiru.
“Hello,” her voice was low and sad.
“Are you alright?”
“Yeah. I only lost the baby.”
Simeon was silent for a while, considering Nkeiru’s choice of words. “When?” he finally asked.
“Something must be wrong with me, I’m sure.” Nkeiru lamented. Simeon wished he could voice his agreement. “I lost a baby, still inside of me, and I didn’t even know—who has that ever happened to?”
“It could happen.” Simeon said quietly.
“The doctor, who looked more like a large toad, called it a—missed miscarriage.”
Simeon smiled, allowing himself the memory of Nkeiru infamous way of describing others, especially when she had nothing else to cheer her up. It was only disturbing to him when occasionally she made those descriptions while the person was yet around. She had once called a newly employed staff a fat rodent. Simeon stifled a chuckle, reminding himself that he ought to be sober, at least for Nkeiru’s sake.
“Do you feel any pains?”
“I don’t feel a thing. I wish I did.”
“Is Martha there with you?” The last time he had asked, he had gotten a cheerful—yes.
“Don’t even mention the name. I don’t even know where the bitch is.”
Simeon was taken aback. He chose a finer line to pursue. “You try and get some rest, I will call you later.”
“Can we just talk a little longer?”
“I wish I could, dear. Pamela has been standing here, waiting to get some files.” Simeon lied. “I promise, I’ll call you later.”
Simeon heaved to show his relief as he dropped the phone on the table.
California Correctional Centre, United States.
Philip Poweide walked past the large gate of the centre unto freedom. He drew his breath to allow in the cold air. Philip had chosen to walk for a while before he would stop a taxi that would take him to Reverend Gregory’s church. He folded the piece of paper in his right hand even more. He had only glanced at the words and numbers—written on it—as the Reverend hurriedly scribbled the address of the church, some days earlier. Reverend Gregory had been glad that Philip had agreed to come see him immediately he regained freedom.
Philip had always been the quiet type, maybe shy. Still the last ten years within the walls of the correctional centre had made him more sober. Especially since the New-found Faith Foundation, led by the ever pale-looking Reverend Gregory Hipkins, visited the inmates. Reverend Gregory had convincingly made Philip believe in a lot of things. Philip had come to believe that it was his inability to properly handle rejection that had brought him this far. He knew the episode with Kathryn—who had once rejected him, choosing his younger brother instead—had made him confident. Caroline, his first white girlfriend had tasted of same assault after she called it quits with him. Unlike Kathryn, who had run away from the city shortly after, Caroline had run to the police.
Philip flagged down a taxi after a brief walk.
“Here,” he said as he served the man the paper that bore the address of Reverend Gregory’s church. The recipient took the paper, studied it for a moment and started the car, without saying a word.
As the car travelled the distance, Philip wished he had a family he could go to, maybe a wife and son. He sighed knowing the only family he had was miles away in Nigeria. And he had no intentions going back nor contacting them. He had even considered changing his last name.
To read the previous episode, click on this link: www.naijastories.com/2015/05/illusion-episode-10/