The heat was unforgiving and the atmosphere in the room clawed at them. When Lola observed Ada stick her tongue out like a dog, she proposed that they sit outside. She placed a cushion on the steps of the porch for Ada to sit on and she took the garden chair so that she was high enough to help her friend remove her braids.
“If you keep rubbing your stomach like that, your baby will be overcooked,”
“Jealousy is not attractive,” Ada continued to rub her stomach and Lola continued to remove braid after braid after braid. They settled into a companionable silence; until Ada broke it with “It’s valentine’s day tomorrow.”
“Is Temi going to do anything?” asked Ada.
“I don’t know.”
“Has he gotten you anything yet?”
“He is saving his money.”
“You need to stop making excuses for him,” Lola said nothing. She knew Temi cared about her; he just wasn’t adept at showing it. She had tried to bring up the topic of gifts but the conversation had quickly become awkward, she had sounded like a shallow materialistic woman. “Men, Lola, I am thirsty,”
“What would you like?”
“Chapman.” Lola started laughing but she quickly stopped when she realised her friend was being serious.
“You want me to drive to a bar now?”
“It’s not me, it’s the baby.”
The drive was relaxing; it was good to get away from the braids and her friends obsessive compulsion towards her rising stomach. She turned into the nearest bar and stepped out.
“Now look who’s here.”
Lola’s heart told her the voice belonged to Dayo but her brain was having trouble functioning. She turned around. He had a woman clinging to his arm but the lady paled in significance to him. He was taller than she remembered and he looked healthier than she would have expected. His ginger skin seemed to glow and his smile was wider and brighter than ever, though it did not reach his eyes.
“Lola baby, no time no see,” he said. The woman beside him looked uncomfortable. She shifted from foot to foot. Lola tried to speak but no words came out. Dayo grinned. “Janet, this is Lola, my first love. Lola you are looking sexier than ever.”
She touched her hair, which she had quickly combed before leaving the house and remembered that she was wearing her oldest pair of jeans and a vest top. Janet, who was not smiling anymore, was clothed in an off the shoulder glitter mini dress. Dayo looked far more laidback in his white shirt, black blazer and jeans. His style hadn’t changed.
“Hi.” The word came out sounding like a half croak, half squeak. She cleared her throat.
“We are going to be late,” interjected Janet but Dayo didn’t remove his gaze from Lola.
“Wait for me in the car, I’ll be there in a minute.” Janet frowned at his response but she left without saying a word.
“That was kind of rude.”
“Sweet Lola, always thinking of others,” his tone was accusing. He was reminding her that she hadn’t thought of him. He took a step closer and she felt her back press against the car. He placed his hand over her head and on her car. “You look nervous. Why is that Lola?”
She didn’t know what she had wanted to say to him. She wanted to beg for his forgiveness, but what good would that do? The smell of him was intoxicating. She looked into his eyes and saw a mixture of emotions there. He was in pain and she wanted to kiss his pain away; he was angry and she wanted to soothe him; he desired her and she wanted to please him.
Do not talk to him under any circumstance.
Lola pressed her palms to his chest and pushed him away from her.
“I’m sorry, that I wasn’t there for you.”
He looked away from her but his mouth was set in a grimace and she knew he was disgusted by her apology. The grimace lasted only a moment before he had plastered on his false smile.
“I shouldn’t keep my date waiting,” he replied as he slipped his hands into his pockets and turned away; but then he paused, “It was good seeing you Lola.” He walked away before she had a chance to tell him it had been good to see him too.
She drove; her body shaking with silent sobs and her face streaked with tears. She was halfway home before she remembered she hadn’t bought the Chapman.
*Chapman is a non-alcoholic mix, that can be bought at almost any bar or restaurant in Lagos