Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.
“Sorry, I didn’t—” Kathryn paused, immediately she saw Susan.
David was grateful for Kathryn’s apparent surprise. It made him realize that his mother had showed up a little too late at the door; she heard—nothing. “Susan just came to pick a note she left the last time she came to the house.” David said, his face revealing his concern—agree with me, please.
“Yes ma. Good afternoon.”
Kathryn nodded in response to the greeting, and walked to her room. Two pairs of eyes followed her steps till she disappeared from sight. Though only David noticed her tired and, somewhat, depressed mood.
“That was close,” Susan started, “are you sure she didn’t hear us?”
“Whether she did or not, I hope you are not about to continue?”
Susan smiled. “No. Actually, I didn’t plan to stay for long—not when I only came to collect a note I forgot.” Susan chucked, “Liar.” She turned quickly to check if Kathryn had re-appeared.
David walked back to the door and opened it—with just enough space—for Susan’s lean frame.
“Wider, please.” Susan commented, “I’m not that thin.” As she walked through the space that David had pushed open a bit more, Susan turned to him and whispered, “What if your mother peeps through a window—I’m not holding any book?”
“Why not allow me the pleasure of worrying about that?”
“Why the sarcasm—or whatever? I know I didn’t offend you so much.”
“Bye, Susan.” David said and shut the door. As he put the locks of the door in place, he could hear Susan’s laughter from the other side of the door.
Bye Susan, David muttered as he placed his head on the door. He wished he had recognized Susan’s ploy from the start.
Cornerstone Estate, Ikeja, Lagos.
The house seemed unusually quiet as he stirred on the bed. The tick-tock sound of the clock on the wall proved to be the only sound that broke the silence, but at a fixed interval.
Simeon reached for the bedside lamp, but the room still clung to its near-dark shade though he had turned the lamp on. No wonder the unusual silence, he mused. Simeon guessed that the generator that provided power to the estate must have developed a fault. He frowned as he remembered Mr. Daramola the old retiree neighbour who must have started his infamous flat-to-flat visit, soliciting support for a petition he would eventually write against the care-taker of the estate on ‘negligence of estate facilities’.
He pulled himself from the bed and walked to the bathroom to ease himself. Simeon stood in front of the water closet, first, patiently waiting for his hard member to return to its normal flaccid state from the spontaneous sleep-erection. As normalcy returned and his liquid waste flowed, Simeon made a mental note of his next line of action: make a call to Nkeiru; prepare a quick dinner; tidy the kitchen, glance through some old newspapers, polish his shoe—just enough time for his meal to settle-in properly, before he hurried back to bed. Simeon knew he needed all the rest he could possibly get; he had a tough week coming, and he wanted to be ready for it. The end-of-year official meetings scheduled for the week would drain him physically. Still he dreaded more the meeting with Kathryn. Simeon was sure it would leave him emotionally drained. If Nkeiru would be back by the coming weekend, Simeon prayed she wouldn’t meet a wreck.
Simeon switched his phone on when he got to the room, and dialed Nkeiru’s number. His phone displayed a battery low signal as the call connected. Simeon knew the call would be brief.
“Hello” Nkeiru responded. Simeon easily noticed that her voice had lost the joyful timbre it had when she had called in the morning.
“I hope my lady had enough rest?”
“Yeah” Nkeiru chuckled. “Though —” Nkeiru started, but hesitated to finish the sentence.
“Any problem?” Simeon inquired. He silently prayed there was none.
“No. Only . . . the doctors suggested that I stay a little longer before travelling.”
“I don’t know. Just as a preventive measure—it’s my first pregnancy.”
Simeon heaved. “How many more days will it take before you are back?”
The line was silent for some seconds.
“Hello,” Simeon called.
Nkeiru sighed. “I can’t travel until two weeks.”
“Two more weeks?”
“Yes—No. It’s only a suggestion from the doctors; I can travel if you want. Its—”
“No. Stay.” Simeon said.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah. I—” The soft tone he heard reminded him that his battery was low, and almost empty. And the call had lasted longer than he’d expected. “I’ll call you tomorrow, immediately I get to the office.”
“Did I say something wrong?”
“No. Low battery. The light is bad. I promise, immediately I get to the office.” Simeon heard the battery empty signal while he said ‘promise’. He was sure Nkeiru did not hear the remaining words. Surprisingly, those same last words reminded him of the coming week and also an email he ought to have sent to a colleague.
Someone will not be pleased with me, Simeon mused. He jerked his rear off the bed and walked to the wardrobe to get Nkeiru’s laptop. He knew her laptop was the only alternative—his was safely locked in his office, power was yet to be restored in the estate and his phone had just gone off. Simeon was grateful Nkeiru had not travelled with her laptop. He hoped it was charged and no password would be required.
Simeon flipped the laptop open and pressed the start button. He smiled. The laptop was charged and unlike other devices Nkeiru owned, it did not ask for a password. He inserted his modem. Few clicks and the yahoo page opened. Nkeiru had not logged out and she had some unread messages. Simeon played with the cursor, taking his time to decide if to check the messages or not. Simeon was taken aback when he paid a closer attention to the messages. Most of the unread messages were sent from foreign hospitals, and they all had same title: In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).
Simeon’s heartbeat raced as he clicked the message that topped the list.
Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.
She stared blindly at the television screen. As much as she wanted to, Kathryn could not take her mind off the meeting on Tuesday with Simeon. Or maybe off—just Simeon.
The mobile phone by her side rang. The screen displayed a set of numbers yet to be saved, but Kathryn knew the digits well.
“Hello Kathryn.” The line was awkwardly silent for few seconds as none of the participants made a sound. Finally, Simeon found his voice again. “I got the call—Tuesday, four pm.”
“Oh, yes. I . . . I—” Kathryn stammered.
“It won’t be necessary.”
The line went silent again.
“Simeon,” Kathryn called. “Are you there?”
“I’m ready to do the DNA test.”
To read the previous episode, follow this link: www.naijastories.com/2015/04/illusion-episode-5/