MAGICAL MONDAYS WITH KREATE
Episode 4: Reunion & Roommate
It was June and the air was fresh with the chill of last night’s rain and the breath of the air conditioner, so a turtle neck under a light linen jacket was appropriate. The matching combo of the pair of denim and tan shoes was untayolike; the Tayo she knew couldn’t dress well to save his life.
He was taller than she remembered and had clearly evolved into one of those guys that worked out and consumed requisite protein for muscle building. But the eyes behind the spectacles were his; uncharacteristically confident, but his. The wave of recognition followed by shock that passed through his eyes told her he had no prior knowledge that she was an employee of The Lodge.
Moments passed as they gazed at each other, one waiting for the other to break the ice.
‘Ashley?’ He finally managed to take the plunge.
Memories of what happened that fateful night rushed in like a Tsunami and her legs felt weak but she willed herself to stay upright. And then came the wave of betrayal and anger. She wanted to slap him, scratch him, strangle him. An overwhelming urge to cry taunted her throat, caressed her tear ducts. And then her bag vibrated once, twice, thrice, the fourth time before going mute. Picking calls during a meeting for her was nothing short of unprofessional but she needed a distraction now. Professional could go to hell. ‘Excuse me.’ Her voice was surprisingly still calm. She did not wait for his answer before fishing her phone out of the handbag. She listened to the voicemail. It wasn’t urgent. Just some potential roommates from letshare.com. And yet the distraction wasn’t sufficient. ‘I need to return this call,’ she said.
Tayo sighed. ‘Okay.’
As soon as the door was shut behind her, she dialed the number. Someone picked up on the second ring.
‘This is Ashley. You called about an apartment ad on Letshare?’
‘Yeah, I am interested in the ad. Can we meet up today?’
‘I believe I can make that happen. What time do you have in mind?’
‘What are you doing now?’ Chinwe asked.
‘Hmm…’ Ashley had a business to conclude with Tayo but she could not trust herself to be civil. ‘Where do we meet up?’
‘I am currently in a room in Belvadoire. It’s just beside –‘
‘Lagos Suites and Holdings,’ Ashley cut her short.
‘I take it you know where it’s located?’
‘Yes, I do. I am in the neighborhood. I can be there in another 10 minutes.’
‘Great. Let’s meet up at the rooftop lounge.’
The receiver went mute and Ashley returned to Tayo’s office. He was seated behind his table and looking through some architectural blueprints. His eyes met Ashley’s and she was observant enough to know that they held regret, remorse and some hidden tale. But she didn’t care. A bit of her was surprised at how mad she was at him. How mad she had been all these years. She couldn’t deal with him now, couldn’t deal with the memory he conjured effortlessly. ‘I have to leave. We’ll have to reschedule.’ She had betrayed every professional etiquette in her portfolio. Her company was looking for business so the client should hold the prerogative to reschedule and not the other way around. Her boss would kill her if she didn’t seal the deal. But she just couldn’t bring herself to do what was right. Not now, at least.
‘I understand. Drop your card. I’ll be in touch.’ He had changed. He had grown. His response spoke of maturity. She complied. ‘Have a good day.’
‘Thank you, Ashley.’
Ashley and Chinwe
As they exchanged pleasantries and took their seats, the two ladies sized up each other like two male dogs trying to decide who would take on the status of Alpha.
‘So what do you do, Chinwe?’ Ashley asked.
‘Blogging, basically,’ Chinwe replied.
‘Linda Ikeji.’ Chinwe smiled. ‘Well I’m still a few million bucks away from her but I make enough to live without pestering others for help. And you Ashley, what do you do?’
‘I am Business Development Manager.’
‘Okay. So how does this Letshare thing work exactly?’
‘Basically, we split house rent and maintenance costs and agree on certain terms.’
‘House rent, I understand. Define maintenance costs?’
‘Electrical bills, water bills, security bills, and cleaning bills.’
‘That sounds fair. And what are your terms?’ Ashley raised a brow.
‘I may be cohabiting but let’s face it, it’s your apartment. So you get to make the rules.’
Ashley smiled. She liked the candid nature of this Chinwe girl. ‘Alright. There’ll be a cleaning schedule for areas that we’ll share i.e. the sitting room, the kitchen, and the balcony. The rooms are ensuite so what you do with your side of the building is totally up to you.’ She shot Chinwe an inquiry.
‘That sounds fair. I can work with that.’
Ashley remembered something. ‘Ah, yes. I’d prefer to my meals alone.’ Chinwe laughed. ‘Trust me, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Any other thing?’ Ashley shook her head.
‘Other than the legal papers and the other information clearly stated on the ad, I can’t think of any other important thing.’
‘So when do I get to see the house?’ Chinwe asked. ‘We both know photos can be deceptive.’
‘That should be the least of your worries. You’ll love it. We can head over there right away if that’s fine with you.’
Ashley was right. The apartment was beautiful. Chinwe loved it.
Ashley returned to work that day expecting her boss to rain furious fire on her. She had been trying to figure out a logical excuse for rescheduling the meeting but couldn’t come up with anything valid. Her conclusion was to simply state it and take whatever comes next. She knocked his door, entered, all prepped for the worst. Dotun smiled. An unexpected reaction. ‘Well, you know busy men could be like that sometimes. And I assure you he wouldn’t have canceled if it wasn’t something serious. He has been magnanimous enough to give you an open cheque; you get to choose the next meeting date. But I suggest you make it quick. He has good money and we need that money.’
So he chose to save her neck? Amidst the stream of anger, the bubble of gratitude couldn’t be kept down. Her face broke into her most professional smile. ‘I understand, Dotun.’ She glanced at the wall clock behind his desk. It was 5pm, home time. ‘Any other outstanding for the day, Dotun?’
‘Nah, but there is a matter I’d like to discuss.’ Dotun gestured at his seat. ‘It’s about my wife….’
Here we go again, Ashley thought as she made herself comfortable. But the distraction was welcomed; she wasn’t quite ready to think about Tayo. Not yet.
Kreate is a budding Nigerian writer with a flair for fiction. Writing for him began sometime in secondary school where he dabbled in poetry and plays. He has authored two self-published short novels.
He is a banker and lives in Surulere. Read more interesting pieces at KREATEATALE