LIFE IS GREY

Episode 4: Reunion & Roommate

Ashley
            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 were ‘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. 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
roommate 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. As a matter of fact, 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 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. ‘My terms?’
‘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 enquiry.
‘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
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 cancelled 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.
Oluwole Olusanya
Oluwole Olusanya is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of one of the fastest-growing lifestyle and entertainment website in the country. He is a banker, writer, blogger, public affairs analyst and a tax consultant. He anchors Trending Topics on SHEFFA where he shares his thoughts and opinions on trending issues. He is currently studying for a Master’s Degree in Business Administration at the University of South Wales, Wales, United Kingdom. He has diplomas in Banking and Finance, Investigative Journalism, Creative Writing, and Linguistics from Lagos State Polytechnic, Isolo, Lagos, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland and The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom.