She was overly conscious, afflicted with the need to maintain a steady smile; a trial that made her lips quiver. She was happy—no doubt about that, who wouldn’t?—but she had never maintained a smile for such a length of time. The photos were being taken in quick succession, and she was unsure when a photographer had taken a shot.
“Friends of the bride.” the master of ceremonies called out. He did not like the pace at which they walked—they were not slow; they were just not fast enough—so he urged them on. “Where dem dey na?” he continued, his voice nicely comical. “I say, all the people wey sabi the bride well well, make una come out now oh!”
She smiled—whew! it was not a struggle this time. Quite a number laughed. The man—in a deep blue fitting suit, six foot two inches tall—beside her laughed too. His laughter mirrored his person: beauty. It made her turn to behold his face—her man! They both smiled as their eyes met.
She resumed her position, relaxed and with less worries. But only for a brief moment. Among the present crowd of onlookers was a man—so many men were there, yes; but, Dave?
And the memories came in a rush. One was too strong; it dominated the league.
The third day of the first week it had been; the eleventh month of the year, three years ago. At about 9:52am her mobile phone began to ring—the special ringtone she had assigned him. If she had been of a lighter shade, she, likely, would have gone red in the face. Her heart assumed a rhythm that was clearly too fast to be termed normal; at first it had skipped a beat.
“Annie,” he said. Some seconds were allowed to elapse. Both parties held onto their phones, sadly, with no words to offer.
She cut the call.
She stood, phone in hand, and walked out of the office she shared with three other colleagues. Her phone started to ring again, but with a tap on its screen she made it silent. She continued her walk, now in haste, towards the restroom.
“Dave.” she said, while supporting the phone with her left shoulder; her hands held the door, to fasten the lock.
“What happened? I mean the call—it went off.”
“I wanted to take the call privately. My colleagues were there.”
“How have you been?”
The privacy the restroom offered allowed her to shed a tear. For a week there had not been any form of communication between them, after a fight. And it had become a trend. A month hardly went by without a fight. And after a new tiff, days—mainly; sometimes a week, few times a little more—would go by without either party contacting the other. They were both tired of the relationship, but she was the only one who did not have the courage to leave—and he knew it; made exploits from it. She wanted to leave, but? He had been her first—boyfriend; and the one who made her a woman. And her fantasy allowed only one man.
“Did you actually call me to know how I’m doing?”
“Can we hang out this weekend?” he asked. She felt a piece of her heart drop from its place. She wondered if her concerns had truly gone overboard, unto paranoia—as he always claimed—or was there a true haughty touch to his voice?
“I don’t think its possible.”
Just then she had a knock on the door. “Anniette,” She recognized Amina’s voice.
“I’m . . . I’m—” she hesitated with the words, not sure what exactly to tell Amina.
“Anniette, please hurry.” Amina begged.
“Anniette? Hello!” This time the voice came from the mobile phone.
“I’m done.” she said as she unlocked the door. But David thought she had said those words to him.
“What did you just say?” he asked. “Anniette?” he called her name in full. “You’re done with?”
A force surged within her as she found a spot to stand, close to the restroom. “I’m done with you—David.”
“You’re joking, right?”
He laughed. “Anniette, there are no perfect people out there. You’ll likely end up with another me.”
“There just might be . . . ” she felt a need to say a little more. “There just might be . . . someone better than you out there.”
She felt a gentle nudge from Desmond, her husband. And she recognized the moment.
“Sister, smile for me nah!” The master of ceremonies urged her. “Ah! not too much oh, make oga no vex.” She smiled. She smiled as she saw Dave again—and the look of regret he wore.
“Na so! Oya, camera people!”