“I don’t like how you’ve been distant recently.” She said. She was sitting across me on the dining table from where I was going through several reports that represented an untidy stack on the table which I came back from work with. It was a friday evening; I would have been at Bola’s but she was on the night shift.

“I’ve got a lot on my mind.” I said as I closed a report I was done with and picked up another.

“Its like you don’t love me anymore.” She pressed.

I had to look up from the sheaf of papers I was going through to see if she was joking. She wasn’t.

“I never told you I loved you.” I said bluntly.

She seemed surprised at my blunt response.

“How can you say that?” She asked.

“Because I never did.”

“You did.” She insisted.

“When? Four years ago? Lola, not now please. I’ve got a lot to do.” I said tiredly.

She left where she sat and came and stood in beside me. I looked up and sighed as I saw her belligerent stance. Not again, I thought.

“Tell me you love me.” She said, looking at me directly.

I ignored her and continued to go through the papers in front of me.

“I’m talking to you!” She shouted. “Stop ignoring me. You know it makes me mad!”

I looked up at her regretting why Abdul let her in today. I had been avoiding her for the past few weeks since I started dating Bola. A day never passed since that first time at her place that we didn’t see each other. The more I got to see her, know her – the more I fell helplessly in love with her. She was the epitome of perfection that I had always dreamed of, much so that I began to wonder why I had ever settled for less.

Over the past few weeks as our relationship blossomed, we talked a lot about ourselves, our past and other notable matters. When I told her about Lola, the accident, she smiled. When I asked why she smiled, she said simply:

“If you hadn’t given her a second chance, we would never have met. I’m grateful for that. You should be too. The second chance you gave her gave you a second chance.”

I had never seen it that way. It was such a profound way of looking at it. I was so overcome with joy that I had hugged her tightly after she said that.

“I love you honey.” I had said honestly. Her smile as she looked up at me was priceless.

“Tony!” Lola screamed like a banshee, her voice snatching me from the blissful past and thrusting me back to the not-too-pleasant present.

“What do you want from me? Why can’t I just have a moment’s peace whenever you’re around? Why are you so aggressive?” I said with exasperation.

“I haven’t seen you in almost 18 days. You don’t call, you don’t return my calls and you ask me why I’m being aggressive?!” She asked me incredulously.

“I told you, I’ve been busy with work.” I said, going back to my papers.

“So busy that you couldn’t call?”

“Look, can we not do this right now? I’ve got a lot to catch up on.” I said gently.

She stood there looking at me, breathing hard, so hard that I could visualize the heaving of her chest . The next thing I saw was a quick flash of her hand and the papers on the table I was reading flew in a million different directions. I looked up at her, quite angry but was surprised to see a strange expression on her face. It was wild and animated.

“Tell me you love me.” She said softly, almost menacingly.

I stood up angrily and walked to the door and opened it.

“Get out!” I roared angrily.

She gave a loud cackle that alarmed me. She strode to the sitting room and sat down on the sofa nonchalantly and started staring at me like I had said something funny. I was speechless. Was this what it felt like to deal with a mentally unbalanced person? I left the door ajar and went to sit on the sofa. She didn’t look up; she started to mutter to herself as she began to shuffle her feet.

“Lola, its time for you to leave.” I said softly. She looked at me and suddenly smiled. With a deliberate movement, she shifted her loose blouse aside exposing a fair breast.

“Come and suck me.” She said.

I shifted back on the chair, at total loss for words. I was now convinced that she was quite gone. She kept inviting me with her smile but it only infuriated me further.

“Lola, you’re sick. You need help.” I said, a bit disgusted.

She flared up suddenly, shoving her loose breast back into her blouse.

“Its that whore, isn’t it? Your nurse-whore. You think I don’t know you’ve been fooling around with her?” She screamed, her whole body vibrating.

I picked up my phone and dialled Aunty Joy.

“Who are you calling?” She asked suddenly. I totally ignored her. Aunty Joy picked up on the third ring.

“Please, Lola is having an episode. Come and get her. She’s in my house.” I said into the phone. Aunty Joy told me she would come as soon as her husband got in. She asked if I could manage and I told her I could.

Fear crept into Lola’s eyes and she seemed to calm down a bit. She regained some form of composure and asked lucidly.

“Was that Aunty Joy you called?” She asked with concern in her eyes.

“Yes.”

“Why did you call her? You shouldn’t have. You shouldn’t have.” She said, looking deeply troubled. She began to mumble to herself. I couldn’t make out the words.

“Lola, this thing between me and you, its not going to work. Its not working for me.” I said solemnly.

She looked at me. There was a flash of malice in her eyes but it went as quickly as it came.

“Are you dumping me?” She asked without the agitation I expected.

“Not dumping you; moving on with my life. I can’t cope with who you have become.” I said. “Aunty Joy is coming to pick you up soon.”

She fell silent. I had been planning on the best way to get rid of her for a while and so far, this was the best opportunity I had. Nothing had been going as I had planned it but I was amazed at my ability to improvise.

“You’re leaving me for that nurse, aren’t you?” She asked, surprisingly calm.

“No. I need peace of mind. You’re not it.” I said simply.

Without another word, she stood up, slung her bag over her shoulder and walked towards the open door. I stood up and called out to her.

“Wait. I’ve got something for you.”

I took out a cheque from my pocket and handed it to her. She took it and scrutinized its contents. She seemed impressed and looked up at me.

“Very generous. You’re paying me to stay away from you.” Her voice was heavily loaded with sarcasm.

“No. Its a parting gift.” I said.

“A parting gift…hmmm.” She said as she continued to look at it. Before I could react, she tore the cheque into little pieces and dropped them on the floor. I was stunned.

“You’re not getting rid of me that easy.” She said coldly before she stormed off.

“You’re no longer welcome here!” I shouted after her as soon as I recovered.

She didn’t look back.

Malcolm O. Ifi.

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