Demi did not want to be at work, but heartbreak was not one of the reasons listed for taking a day off. Her dreams of a future with Tosin had died, but she was fairly certain that that was not to what they were referring when they said death of a close relative.
She still hadn’t congratulated Dotun or Tosin. But no-one in the office appeared to have noticed. Everyone was too occupied with admiring Dotun’s ring. And Dotun flashed that ring boldly. It was as though her ring was gravity and her wrist incapable of resisting the force. Even when she typed her reports, she paused every once in a while to look at the ring. Dotun had seen her doing so when she had walked to the water dispenser.
“I hope there are no hard feelings…”
Demi spun her chair around and craned her neck to look at her colleague. She wished she had approached Dotun first, now the advantage was no longer hers. She tried to smile but all she was able to manage was a twitch.
“Why would there be h-a-r-d feelings?” she asked, channelling Jameelah.
“Well, you know, cuz you liked Tosin and he likes me.”
“I really did try to talk about you; but then he would change the subject and then he asked me out and…before I knew it…”
“You don’t have to explain. You’re engaged. C-o-n-g-r-a-t-u-l-a-t-i-o-n-s.”
“Ok. Cool. Cuz I want you to be one of my bridesmaids!”
Demi felt as though her spirit left her body, looked down at her and laughed. She opened her mouth, and shut it again.
“Come on, say yes. I know you want to get married really badly…And Tosin has these really cute friends that’ll be his groomsmen. ”
Behind Dotun, Tosin approached and smiled. Demi found herself melting.
“Did she say yes?”
“I’m still working on her.”
“We would be honoured Demi,” he began, “You’re the coolest girl in this office…besides my wife to be.”
Not cool enough to date, came the treacherous thought.
Dotun cooed and leaned forward to engage her fiancé in a kiss. Demi averted her eyes and focused on the letter her boss had dropped earlier. After a while, the words became blurry.
“So what’ll it be?” asked Dotun, her lips still shiny from the kiss.
“Let me think about it?”
“Is it about the money?” asked Tosin, “I’ll pay for your dress.”
Even if a flood was to sweep through the office, it would be unable to wash away her shame. Demi died a little inside.
“What did you say?”
Had she said that out loud?
“Sure…I’d be happy to be your bridesmaid.”
“Great! I knew you’d say yes!” Demi winced and swivelled away from Dotun’s whose jumping up and down was making her dizzy.
“What? What’s happened?” asked the office amebo.
“Demi agreed to be my bridesmaid.”
“Awwww,” hummed the office girls in unison.
“So you’ll follow me after work?”
“Follow you where?”
The tailor that would make the bridesmaid dresses lived in Ikeja and Demi found herself driving behind Dotun in rush hour. She hated traffic. It was like a force designed to sap your strength or turn you into the Hulk. Even now, a man stepped out of vehicle to scream at a danfo that had added a new dent to his already battered car. However, the danfo man would not be left behind, he leapt out of his vehicle, stormed right up to the man and grabbed his vest, whilst also shouting.
Demi drove past before she was able to witness whether or not it would turn to a full blown fight. Being stuck in the car with no form of entertainment besides the endless chatter of On Air personalities, Demi had plenty of time to think about her life choices, to wonder how she had ended up being a bridesmaid at Tosin’s wedding, instead of the bride. It was almost funny. Almost.
Dotun veered off the expressway and Demi followed her. If her colleague was taking her to be sacrificed, there was no real way to know. Demi wasn’t familiar with the mainland roads and they scared her a little. Unlike the island, if you took the wrong turn on the mainland, you could end up in a different state. So she would have to trust that Dotun did not consider her any kind of threat, and wasn’t trying to get rid of her.
They stopped in front of a dilapidated brown building with a grey slab for a roof. On the side of the building was a winding staircase and Demi followed the bride to be up the stairs. There was five minutes of intense knocking before the door was opened.
“Ah aunty!” cried the woman who was at least twice Dotun’s age. The woman wiped her palms on her wrapper and Demi thought she noticed a brown smear in the exchange. She decided not to touch anything. The room was stuffy and the receeding light from the one window made it appear all the more dingy. The corridor they had come through had led straight to this room.
Clothes hung from a rack that was angled in front of the shop window. Behind those was a little corner where payments took place, if the high stool and POS were anything to go by. Demi grabbed one of the many short stools in the room and sat on one.
Dotun walked towards the table in the centre of the room and grabbed one of the materials that lay atop it. It was sheer pink. Demi prayed to God fervently; she closed her eyes and begged Him to show her that it was all a cruel joke – that Demi was not planning to dress her bridesmaid in this Barbie pink colour.
“Don’t you love it?”
“I didn’t know you were a fan of the colour pink.”
“I’m not. But this is so bold and memorable!”
“Will your dress be this colour as well?”
Dotun threw her head back and laughed. The tailor joined her potential windfall in the laughter. Demi laughed at how cruel life could be.
“So I’m thinking that it’ll have like a tight bust and waist area…and then it’ll have like a ballerina skirt.”
“Like an ‘aunty-give-me-cake’ dress?”
Demi wanted to channel Jameelah again, so that she could tell Dotun she was not going to wear such an atrocious dress. But she couldn’t garner enough energy. If in fact, Dotun had ever really intended that Demi would find a man at the wedding, the dress destroyed any chances of that.
“There’ll be plenty of tulle under the skirt,” imputed the tailor.
“Great! The more, the merrier,” added Demi, through her teeth. Dotun sat on a stool and got down to business with the tailor. They talked design and haggled over price, whilst Demi stared at the dark spots on the ceiling.
“Demi will handle the measurements!”
“I’ll handle the what?”
“The measurements. She needs the measurements of all the bridesmaids and I’ll be busy with the other wedding stuff.”
“But…I don’t know any of them.”
“Don’t worry. My sisters are very chilled and my friends are – “
“How many bridesmaids do you have?”
Demi laughed, then stopped when she realised Dotun was serious. ”Twelve?”
“I have a lot of friends. I had to cut down sef.”
It had started to feel as though she was in the twilight zone. She stood up abruptly.
“I’ve got to get some air.”
“Yes madam tailor; it is so stuffy in here.” The tailor apologised profusely and Demi snuck out. She rested her arms on the staircase balcony and leaned forward looking out on the street. A couple of boys played football, even though it was no longer day and she could almost make out the twinkling of stars in the sky.
“It’s all done! We are good to go. Once the measurements are in, she will start the work.” Dotun’s wide untrustworthy lips grew even wider as she waited for Demi’s response. It was ten minutes past eight; a boy picked up the football and he and his friends dispersed. From the main street she heard the echo of blaring horns. It would take her at least two hours to get home.
“Great! I’ll sort out the measurements.”