Tera gazed at her reflection in the mirror for the umpteenth time and dabbed at her upper lip carefully as she wiped off the orange pigment; she didn’t think it would complement her complexion in anyway. She wished Debs was present; she was her personal shopper,wardrobe stylist,and closest cousin. The knock at her door prompted her to brush aside such feelings of camaraderie.
” Come in . ” She ordered as she fixed two rings on her index,and pinky fingers.
” Ahhhhh! Dracula? You’ve got to be kidding me !! ” She cried out in excitement as he reached out to peck the two sides of his cheek and hug him affectionately.
” Why does Miss Bunny look so dazed? Could it be..that she wasn’t expecting me? ” He asked sarcastically with his hands akimbo.
” Why didn’t you call to inform me? Mom said your family was coming over,but I wasn’t expecting you to visit with them..its been over 9 years… I wouldn’t have recognised you if not for your frequent instagram updates . ”
” See? You got the memo,but you were just too distracted to pay attention to the details Aren’t I a part of the Ekwe family? ” His rather funny and reasonable question earned him a nudge on the shoulder. They walked downstairs shortly after,and both families had brunch together whilst they broke the etiquette rule and conversed at the table.
The Ekwe’s were very dear to the Olagunju’s heart. The tight bond was formed in their fathers’ teenage years,and it grew tighter ever since the tragic incident; Mrs Ekwe passed on shortly after she had given birth to Dozie,her second son,who was barely seven years old at the time. She had battled with cancer for several years,and undergone several series of chemotherapies,all to no avail. Mr Ekwe was forced to travel out to Ukraine after her demise in a bid to start a new life with his two children. Although he wasn’t particularly as close to Tera as Mark was, she felt very concerned about him after his loss and almost cried her eyes out when she was informed of his trip to Ukraine by her mom two months after. He was now a sophomore medical student at the National University of Ukraine and had grown more handome and able bodied over the years. Her parents were well aware that his company was going to be the elixir Tera required to spring back to life.
She sighed in relief as she walked into The Marina. It was her favourite diner,and a spot where she usually hung out with Mark on special occasions. She reluctantly suggested the place to Dozie when he asked for her preferred eatery,and hoped Mark wouldn’t be present therein. Nevertheless,a part of her wanted that to happen; she needed him to see how happy she was,and how fine she was doing without him. She crossed her legs and replied some messages on her phone whilst he went to place an order. He was walking back with a tray of chicken and chips when she heard the doorman greet a prospective customer who walked in with a female. A familiar scent filtered into her nostrils as she raised her head up; It was Mark,and he was with Griselda! Her hands went numb almost immediately and she fumbled with her purse anxiously in a bid to avoid any form of eye contact with him. Dozie perceived that something was wrong; Mark’s face seemed a little familiar to him,but he couldn’t make any conclusions as to where they had made an acquaintance.
” Are you okay? ” He stretched his hand towards hers in an assuring manner.
” Yes, I am. I was just startled,but I’ll be fine. Let’s eat, Dozie. You worry too much. ” She feigned a wide smile and lifted a finger of fries to her mouth.
Mark’s emotions ran wild as he got seated in the restaurant. He felt mad at himself for not making any attempt to contact her since they had arrived,and had a deep seated conviction that he knew the guy she was with. They were seated at the other end of the restaurant,which was Ninety degrees away from Tera’s position.
“……. I want a diet soda. ” He hadn’t heard a word Griselda had been uttering over the past few minutes; his attention was distracted,and she had started noticing it.
” Huh? What did you say? ”
” What? You mean you haven’t been listening to me? Isn’t that Ms Klutzy? The ridiculous,overweight kid from summer school? I must admit,change is inevitable. She looks good,but I would have swapped the rigid spectacles for contact lenses if I were in her shoes. ”
” She looks great to me.I would watch my mouth if I were in your shoes ” He answered dismissively.
” Everything looks great to you so,I’m not surprised. ”
” Can you place an order please? I need to get out of here as soon as I can. ”
” If you insist. ”
Dozie tried his possible best to cheer his childhood friend up but he knew something was amiss,and his instincts led him to believe that had something to do with the guy who entered with a vixen an hour ago. Tera stared in their direction whenever she thought he wasn’t looking,and asked a ton of questions when she sensed he was about to make enquiries about her strange behaviour. They were distracted by a loud chortle a few minutes later; Griselda had wiped a smudge of ice cream from underneath Mark’s nose,and licked it with a big smile. She couldn’t get herself to stop laughing when he complained about her rather ‘ kind ‘ gesture.
” My love … ” She cried out amidst her laughter and hit him tenderly on his shoulder. She was obviously besotted by him.
Griselda’s words rang in Tera’s ears like an alarm. She was devastated and couldn’t believe what she had just heard; she tried to maintain her composure,but she just couldn’t. Tera could almost swear that she felt a tugging sensation in her chest which made it impossible for her to breathe.
” I… I have to go. ” Tera whispered and rose up to her feet.
” Tera! ” He called out and restrained her by pulling her with his hand. Tera jerked herself free from his grip and ran out of the eatery; he was about to follow suit when the cashier reminded him that he was yet to pay his bill. He dashed off to her stand with his ATM and stared right at the door like Tera was standing there. His suspicions were confirmed when he sighted the guy running out of the eatery whilst his date complained and yelled.
It was just a few minutes past 8pm. Tera knew how difficult it would be for her to get a cab right in front of the eatery and chose to walk for a few minutes till she got to the main junction. She usually took such long walks with Mark after their regular visits to the eatery,and couldn’t stop herself from breaking down in tears along the way. The area was unpopulated thus providing her with the privacy she rightly deserved. She sat on a park bench which was placed outside a kiddies playpen to catch her breath and get some rest.
” Tera!!!! ” He called out as he ran down the cobbled walkway that meandered to the main junction which led to the outskirts of the city. It was a route he was most familiar with.He felt tired and worn out; running wasn’t a hobby of his,but his feet just couldn’t stop moving. His heart raced and pounded as he searched for her,and hoped something bad hadn’t happened to her. He was moved to tears when he sighted a feminine figure sitting on one of the park benches twenty-five minutes later. The street lights seemed brighter to him all of a sudden; he could now see clearly; it was Tera,and she was in tears.
” Terracotta..I’m sorry. ” He fell to his knees right before her with his head bowed to the ground; he couldn’t stare into her eyes. He wanted to,but he just couldn’t.
” Don’t be. Just leave,please……. This isn’t about you,its about me. ” She covered her eyes with her palms like she was ashamed of herself,and nodded whilst she spoke. He could sense that her esteem had deteriorated by a landslide,and it was all his fault.
” No. Its not…. I’m the jerk,the idiot. You’re blameless…. ” His words caused her palm to graze his face; his face got instantly reddened by the hit. She couldn’t see it,but she felt it within her.
” Don’t follow me. ” She commanded as she rose to her feet and started to walk away from him.
” Please forgive me. Pleease…. ” He pulled her arm lightly whilst he spoke and let go of her when she refused to respond to him.
” Stop following me! ” She yelled without turning back to face him. The sound of a loud thud attracted her attention; Dozie had landed his fist right in Mark’s jaw after pushing his head against the wall.
” Are you a stalker? Answer me! ” Dozie spoke in his loud baritone voice and placed his hand firmly around Mark’s neck,like he was about to choke him.
” Tera! ” He whispered confidently with drops of blood running from his mouth to the nape of his neck. He looked pale,and his vision got blurry almost instantly. He passed out after sighting Tera running towards him with a loud cry.
” Mark! Mark!! What have you done? ” She shot an accusing stare at Dozie before getting down on her knees to check his pulse and temperature. She covered her mouth in shock when she found out that his temperature was cold,which was very abnormal.
” I’m sorry,I thought he was a thief or something. ” He apologised after dialling 911 and reporting the emergency. She thought her heart would burst and she would die right there.
” When did you become a combatant? Take a good look at him! Does he look like a thief to you? Is this the manner of apparel thieves in Ukraine usually put on ? ”
Tera called his parents almost immediately after calling hers and fumbled for words to speak when Mrs Akinwale asked her for certain important details concerning the incident; she wanted to get the police involved.