Mara lay on her bed and dialed the number again. The operator kept repeating the same message. The number had been switched off. She had been trying to reach her best friend since she returned from work on Friday evening but her line didn’t go through. It’s being two days, yet, it was still switched off. Where was she? Where did she go? She had gotten a text message from her on Friday noon that she would be dining with Uwa and might return late. She didn’t come home. It was unlike Didi to spend the night in her boyfriend’s place. It was unheard of that she would actually spend the whole weekend in a man’s place. She had never done it before. Why start now? She shook her head. No, Didi wouldn’t. Her friend had never liked the ‘Live-in-lover’ drama. Maybe she had gone to visit her family in Ikorodu. If she had, she would have called or texted her. Maybe it was an impromptu visit. But, why was her phone switched off? She hoped she was all right. What if she had spent the weekend in Uwa’s place? Her chest gave a tight squeeze. She shook her head. Didi wouldn’t do such a thing. But, what if she had?
She sat up. If she had spent the weekend with him, that meant things had gotten out of hand. It could mean that they did it.
She couldn’t imagine another woman touching him. He was hers and no one else’s. She closed her eyes. Why? Why? Why? Why did Didi sleep with her man? She placed both hands on her braided hair and began to weep. The doorbell rang. She stopped crying. Who could that be? She hoped it wasn’t her nosy neighbour. She didn’t feel like going to church that morning. Maybe it was Didi. She got down from the bed and wiped her w€t face with her blouse. Maybe Uwa was also with her. She checked her reflection in the wall mirror. She was putting on a black clingy V-neck blouse and a three quarter blue jeans trouser. She freed her braids from the hair ruffle and allowed it to dance about her face and neck. She looked beautiful. The bell rang again. She hurried out of the room barefooted and ran towards the front door. She unlocked and opened the door.
“Morning,” Didi and Uwa stood at the doorway.
“You didn’t go to church,” Didi walked in, Uwa came in after her.
She shrugged, “Where have you been?”
Her dark brown eyes flew to Uwa’s teasing ones and back to her friend’s concerned face.
“I tried calling you. Your phone has been switched off since Friday night.”
“Really?” she brought it out of her bag, “My goodness!”
Mara eyed her. Uwa settled on a chair. She switched on her phone and noticed the brown envelope on the center table.
She followed her gaze, “Oh! That’s yours.”
She walked over and picked it up.
“It’s your suspension letter.”
Uwa and Didi stared at her.
“I don’t understand,” she opened the envelope and brought out the letter.
“I forgot to apply for your sick leave, your one week absence from work earned you a four weeks suspension.”
She shook her head, “That is impossible.”
“How on earth did you forget to apply for a sick leave for your best friend?”
She met his angry gaze. She hissed and headed for her room.
“I blame you,” he directed his gaze at her.
Didi turned to him.
“I told you to call your boss and explain things. But, what did you do? You allowed your so called best friend to mess everything up for you.”
She lowered her head and bit at her lower lip.
“I asked you to do one thing, just one! But, no… you will rather do it your way.”
She had been working at PZ Industries for less than a year. The company’s policies was very strict, she could get fired immediately after her suspension expired. What was she going to do? Maybe she should call her boss. Was it too late? Why did Mara forget to apply for her sick leave? What was wrong with that girl? She was beginning to suspect that she was acting out of spite. If she had done anything wrong, she should have confronted her. She would speak with her later.
“I am leaving,” he got up and stormed out of the room.
She heard the front door close. She looked towards the door and sighed. He was upset with her. She didn’t blame him. She wished she had listened to him in the first place. She marched towards Mara’s room and found her standing by the opened window.
“What kind of friend are you?”
She turned away from the window.
“What did I do to you to deserve such treatment?”
“You did it on purpose. That is cruel.”
She began to laugh. Her friend was right. She did it on purpose. She was upset that Uwa had asked her friend out. It was a good payback.
“Since Uwa asked me out, you have been acting weird.”
She eyed her.
“I think you are jealous.”
She stopped laughing, “Me, jealous?”
“Don’t be silly.”
“You can pretend all you want, but, I know you Amarachi Esther Maduneme.”
“You must have felt slighted when he chose me over you.”
“You don’t know what you are talking about.”
She seized her up, from braided hair to bare feet, “It might hurt, but there is nothing you can do about it. Uwa loves me, get over it. Don’t ruin our friendship with your jealousy.”
She watched her leave. She turned back to the window. It had been a while since she had, had a confrontation with Didi. They usually settled their differences over a week or so, but she doubted if they would ever get past the present situation, not when Uwa remained in her life. She hoped Didi got sacked from work. She doesn’t want to work in the same office with her anymore. It was hard enough living with her and enduring her relationship with Uwa.
She stared at her blackberry phone and paled. He had not called or texted, not even an email or a ping. She had called him several times and he had given her a dozen excuses. Do people get tied up from one meeting to another all day? Was that common or was he deliberating avoiding her? He wasn’t that kind of person. Was he still upset with her? She needed to distract herself. She would go loco if she continued to check her phone each time she saw a new text message, a new email or a ping. It had been a boring day. She was supposed to be at work, but, thanks to Mara, she was suspended. They had not spoken a word to each other for the past three days. She had not seen Uwa for the past three days. He was definitely avoiding her.
She dialed his number again. She noticed that she had a new message on her blackberry messenger. She cut the call, scrolled through the phone and opened the message. It was from him. Her heart leapt in joy. She sighed with relief. He had sent her a song by Cece Winas titled ‘More Than What I Want’. She clicked the ‘Accept’ tab and waited for it to download. She increased the volume of the phone and clicked ‘Play’.
“I wasn’t looking-All the colours were grey-It’s hard to notice-When you’re out in the rain-All of a sudden-Colours are starting to change-You brought the light-Now the darkness is gone-The search is over-Now I know you’re the one-Somebody tell me-Where does an angel come from-Cos you’re more than just the one-Yea, you’re more than what I wanted-Everything I never had-Gotta get it right to your heart-You can show me where it’s at-You are the miracle I needed so bad-You’re more than what I wanted-Everything I never had….” The song played on.
She held the phone close to her chest. She understood his message perfectly. She felt ecstatic. He was everything she also wanted and more.
Uwa where are you?
The doorbell rang. She got up reluctantly from the settee and dragged her feet towards the front door. It was just five in the evening. Mara doesn’t return home until six-thirty or seven. She turned the key and opened the door. She gasped when she saw Uwa at the doorway clad in an ash coloured Italian suit.
“Good evening My Lady,” he bowed.
She smiled and chuckled.
“Did you get the song?”
“You are all I ever wanted.”
“You are all I need.”
He drew her close and hugged her.