Foxy sauntered to my side of the pool whistling a tune. He smiled in his usual fashion like he just won a global prize. I never met anyone so vivacious. “Freshest boy!” he teased. I shut my laptop to give him the attention he craved. It was a relief to have someone to talk to. We had met at the lobby of MindBlind hotel where I lodged. His wedding was the day after. I had met other members of the bridal train including his wife-to-be. Amazing people, the entire lot.
“One day you go teach us this your coding stuff” he teased further, pointing at my laptop. “What do you know about coding? I asked shutting my laptop. “I know about bugs at least and I am here to bug you” We both laughed. He ordered drinks for both of us. “Congrats in advance. It’s no easy feat what you are about to venture into” I remarked.
“Thank you, my brother. It’s easy when you find the right one.”
I let my eyes wander awhile catching the sight of a white bird soaring freely in the air.
“How about you? What plans do you have regarding marriage?
With the emotional tumult rocking my life, I told him I did not foresee that happening anytime soon. I was lodged in MindBlind not because I could not work in the comfort of my home in Lagos but because I wanted to be close to Clara. Clara had told me without a blink that she settled for me in the interim until her true love emerges.
“Na ment? Guy, what are you still doing with her?” He asked letting out a burp loud enough to express his dissatisfaction.
“I can’t explain it, the more she hurts me the deeper I love her. This is why I left Lagos for Akwa Ibom. I have spent 50k daily in this hotel for the past two weeks. I think she is starting to love me”
His furrowed eyebrows and stern gaze gave his thoughts away. He must think me mad. Isn’t love madness after all?
“You’re not playing your card right. Your opponent can see through your game”
“Opponent? This isn’t a battle. I bare my heart when I am in love.
“Yes, that’s the problem. You still have a heart. Spread your love wings like a bird and soar.”
“You mean I should date multiple ladies?” I asked bemused.
“Well, it is not out of my mouth you will hear that a goat gave birth to a monkey. Do what you have to do but never be at the mercy of anyone.” He gulped what was left of his drink, stretched out his hand over the table, and gave me a tap on the chest that sounded like “be a man”
The bride was a sharp contrast to Clara. She never looked anyone in the eye and spoke in whispers. Her fair skin shone like polished glass. Foxy sure had a penchant for the beautiful things of life. She was young too, probably ten years younger than him.
It was 2.03 am, few hours to the wedding when I heard an uproar. I shut my laptop and made for the door trailing the noise. The corridor was laden with walking robes, the bridal team jostling in a frenzy.
Just beside the lift was the bride-to-be yelling with every fiber of strength in her. “You bloody cheat! You heartless soul! You shameless pig!” Every sentence was punctuated with an affirming slap on Foxy’s face. “How can you be cheating a night to your wedding? Who does that?”
“Let’s talk about this. It’s not what you think.” He stuttered pleadingly.
The bride would not have any of it. Her tenderness had gone with the wind and what stood before everyone was a raging beast. “bastard! Low life”
Like a lost child, I watched her curse away, showering invectives on Foxy. The love birds had in an instant grown into strangers communicating in unfamiliar languages.
When I retired to my room at 4.15 am I knew that the union had torn apart like a shredded piece. A horrid collapse just at the very beginning. Clara was fast asleep curved into a ball. Foxy’s words to me the previous day played in my head “Love is easier when you find the right one”
At 8.30 am, the bride stood in all her glory, wearing a bright smile flanked on both sides by colorful members of the bridal team. It was almost like I dreamt it all. The screams, the slaps, the bridal train, and groomsmen pacing down the corridor in a haste to nowhere, there was no trace of any of these.
The bride smiled coyly while her man wrapped his arms around her waist. The camera shuttered. I shook my head still absorbed in a million thoughts. How can one perfect the art of faking a smile such that it looks like art? Of all masks I have seen and known, none comes close to concealing a person’s emotions like a wry smile.
I left MindBlind hotel with mixed feelings. I had snooped through Clara’s phone the night before. I read chats where she gushed about me to her friends with the finest of adjectives. Why did she never express her feelings to me? I guess I will never find out. She informed me this morning that she would be going back to her ex and for the first time my heart was gone.
Miracle Okpala is a graduate of English Language and Literature from the University of Lagos, Akoka, Yaba, Lagos. She contributed to an anthology of short stories by the Department of English, UNILAG titled “International Sisi Eko and other stories” Her hobbies are singing, acting, and reading fiction.
Miracle presently works as a Tax Analyst at KPMG, she also anchors Mira’s Space, a column on SHEFFA where she shares her poems, short stories and timeless pieces of art. Please follow the link to read her column on Medium