Always One More Time #8 By Temitope Ogunyinka
Funlola raised her hand to her head and moaned. She shifted her left leg and hit something hard. She put her hand down and looked at her side. He was still sleeping; his irritating snores as evidence. She had partied hard the night before and followed him home. What’s his name sef? Oh yeah . . . Jide. She swung her legs to the carpeted floor and moved her head from one side to the other, satisfied when she heard little cracks. She stretched and got up.
Her clothes and underwear were at the foot of the bed. She picked them up and walked into the bathroom.
She used the toilet, splashed water on her face and rinsed her mouth. The black marble counter close to the sink was filled with all sorts of toiletries. She tested her breath against her hand and grimaced. She spotted a bottle of mouth-wash and helped herself to some. After which she fluffed her hair, dressed up and walked out the door to find Jide pulling on his trousers in a haste, a worried look on his face.
“Okay? What happened?”
“My wife just got back.”
“Oh.” Funlola said and quickly grabbed her purse and shoes from the floor close to the door. She didn’t want woman wahala that early morning. He led her down the stairs as she heard the sounds of car-doors slamming and children chattering. Her eye caught on to a family portrait she hadn’t seen earlier on. Jide, his beautiful wife and a boy and girl. The children a replica of their father. She hadn’t noticed the picture in their rush to tear at each-other’s clothes earlier in the morning.
“So where did your wife go to?”
“All those useless night vigils they have at her church.”
“You would leave through the back door. The security guard would let you out.”
Na wa o! “Obviously this isn’t the first time you have been a bad boy.” Funlola teased.
He turned to look at her briefly from head to toe. “I would call you later on.” He brushed his lips against hers quickly and ushered her out just as she heard his wife call his name that she was home.
Funlola ran barefooted to the gate and out of the compound. Lucky for her she didn’t have to walk too far before she saw a taxi that took her home. She was against traffic so she got home within forty minutes from Surulere to Lekki.
She entered the apartment and saw Audrey sitting on the long couch, eating a bowl of cereal and watching T.V.
“Babe! Where did you disappear to last night?” She said over her shoulder, not taking her eyes off the movie.
Funlola tossed her keys and purse on the dining table and ambled over to her. “I caught up with an old friend of mine.” She didn’t need to tell her she slept with someone she barely knew. Though he was really an old friend of hers from primary school. They were friends on Facebook and he followed her on Instagram. Their little cat and mouse romance started off whenever she uploaded her picture on Instagram. He would complement her and didn’t mince words in saying how different parts of her body looked. She never chided him whenever he started, which gave him the boldness to continue and finally ask that they hung-out last night.
“Guess you had fun then.” She chunked a spoonful of cereal into her mouth.
Funlola’s stomach made growling sounds.
“Is there any more of that cereal? I’m so hungry.”
“Check the cupboard.”
Funlola got up and walked over to the cupboard. She pulled it open and upon sighting the cereal she grabbed it and closed the cupboard. She got out a bowl and helped herself to a large serving.
“So what’s up with you and Dele? Are you guys going to get back together?”
Amebo. Why are you asking? “I don’t know jere. Been trying to communicate with him but he rarely replies my messages. When he finally replies he doesn’t sound interested in talking to me.”
“Eh-ya. I’m sure he would come around soon.” She dropped her empty bowl on the floor.
“I’m going to my room. After I’m done with this I need to sleep.”
Funlola dropped the bowl on the bed. She took off her clothes, and talked herself out of taking a shower as she settled on the bed. She ate up her cereal and dropped the bowl on the floor. She picked up her phone and tapped on the BBM icon. Dele had sent her a message asking to meet up.
She tossed the phone aside and snuggled on her bed. The Air-conditioner was on and aided her drifting off to sleep.
“Your mum is very sick. She’s in the hospital with our family doctor. Come quickly.” The message had her racing down to the hospital. The nurses directed her to the room where her mother was admitted. She saw her step-father was in the room.
“Mum,” Her voice broke when she saw her mother there lying on the bed. Her frail frame saddening. Tears clogged Zainab’s throat as her mother stretched her hand towards her. She hurried forward and threw herself on her mother. Sobs racking her body.
She felt her mother’s hand on her head, rubbing gently. “Zainab. Don’t be annoyed with me.”
“Mum why didn’t you tell me sooner?” Zainab looked up. She knew the answer even before her mother could utter them. She had never been available for her.
“I didn’t want to worry you. I wanted to spend time with you without pity in your eyes.”
Her mother placed her cold hand on her cheek and smiled in pain.
“Mum I would have created time. I would have been there for you. If only you had told me . . .”
“There’s no use crying over the past. I love you.”
“I – I love you too mum.”
“Zainab let’s talk outside.” He didn’t wait for her to answer and she heard the door close behind him. She didn’t want to leave her mother’s side just yet.
“I’m coming mum.” She squeezed her hand lightly and went out the door.
“What kind of cancer is it?” Zainab asked as soon as they were alone.
Bone cancer? “There’s something like that? What does it mean?”
Her step-father shoved his hands into his pockets. “The doctor said it’s a cancer that affects the bones. Mostly bones that have been fractured or infected. Something like that. You remember there was a bump your mother discovered on her knee two years ago. We thought it was nothing. Just arthritis. But when we visited the doctor we discovered it was something else.”
Zainab shook her head as tears filled her eyes yet again. This couldn’t be happening to her mother. “Is- Isn’t there some sort of treatment she can do that would make it go away?”
He shook his head sadly and Zainab knew his next words were going to be more painful. “It’s stage four. The last time she visited the hospital they gave her a month to live.”
“When was the last time she visited?”
“Three weeks ago.”
Zainab gasped. He wrapped his arms around her as her breathing grew harder as the tears fell down her cheeks. I just have a week left with her?
“Only one week. I told her to tell you but she didn’t want to-”
“Do the others know?”
He shook his head. “No. She wanted to enjoy her days with you guys. Wanted her,” He paused and pinched his nose a bit before continuing, “She wanted her last memories with you all to be happy ones.”
Zainab thought of all the pain she had caused her mother in the last few months and she felt tears gather in her eyes. “Ho -h- how long has she known prior to this?”
Her step-father hesitated.
“Tell me, please.”
“Six months ago.”
She leaned against the wall and and slid down to the floor. She cried silent tears even when she wanted to scream and shout at him for not telling her earlier. She wanted to be angry. Anything that would help as a distraction and make her feel better. She wanted someone to blame. God why did you do this? First my father, now my mother. Why have I not spent enough time with her? Why is it only one week? Why does she even have to die in the first place! God why?!
Her mind kept throwing questions and statements that hurt her. She pulled her knees close to her chin and stared at the wall. Just give her more time . . . Please don’t let her die. I would make amends . . . I promise.
“Zainab get up and go to your mother. Spend time with her now.”
What I need is a fix. I need just a little. . .
She looked up at him and nodded. She got up and wiped her tears with the back of her hand. She pushed the door open and went to sit by her side. Her mother opened her eyes and looked at her.
“’yata, you’ve been crying. Please don’t. Give me happy memories.” Her words slurred as she spoke.
“Mum please rest. Just rest and we would talk later.”
She nodded and closed her eyes. Zainab watched the rise and fall of her chest as she slept.
He parked his car in-front of the building.
“So you have gotten confirmation. What’s the next step?”
“I would propose this weekend.” Even as he said it he was still in shock over the matter. It had been two weeks since he got his confirmation and he had been thinking of how life would be with him getting married to her.
Pastor George had patted his back. “You can bring her over to church this Sunday so I can meet her.
John had rubbed his chin. “I would try to.”
“She doesn’t attend church too?”
“Hmm, it is well.”
Indeed it is well. He had always had in mind the type of woman he wanted to get married to. A woman that would support him in ministry, be submissive, pray for and with him, someone he would play with, someone he could love and cherish. He had spent his whole life waiting and this was what it had come to. Would he be able to love her as a husband should a wife? He found her funny, but love? He sighed and got out of his car. He wasn’t going to keep questioning and complaining. He was just going to do it.
He could hear music playing behind the door and he hoped she was alone. He rang the doorbell and waited; staring at his brown loafers. He heard the locks of the door and looked up to find Funlola staring at him. A surprised look on her beautiful face.
“Ahn-Ahn PJ! You’re here, what’s up?”
“I’m good. I – er – came to see you.”
She raised her brow at him and shifted aside. He walked into the apartment and walked to the dining area. The tunes of boyz-to-men grazed his ears. His eyes scrutinizing the place for any sign of a man. It didn’t look like she had company.
“So what can I do for you Pastor?”
He turned around to see her dressed in shorts and green Polo top. Her arms crossed around her chest. He shifted his eyes and focused on her face.
“What do I offer you?”
“Nothing, I’m fine. I wanted to ask if you guys had anything I could eat. Erm – I’m really exhausted and weak.”
“Oh? Sorry o PJ. You know cooking is not my best skill. Anyway I was about heading out to eat.”
“Can I take you out?” She raised her brow. “I mean since we’re both hungry . . . We could go eat together.” Gosh, I sound like a fool.
“Alright. We can go together. Let me quickly change.”
She disappeared down the hall and John took a seat on one of the couches. Minutes later she came out looking beautiful in a jeans trouser and red chiffon blouse.
The local joint they had gone to was filled with all sorts of people trooping in and out of the place. It was located in a bend he would never have discovered and he asked how she had found it.
“I asked around. Not a big deal. Not like I was doing detective work or something.”
A plumpish woman clad in ankara walked towards them with a huge grin on her face.
“Customer! How you dey na?”
Funlola smiled at the woman. “I dey o! See as I come bring customer for you now. Make you gif me jara o!” Funlola said.
The woman chuckled and looked at John. He greeted the woman.
“PJ what would you like?”
He shrugged. “Anything available.”
She nodded and faced the woman once more. “Mama K wetin dey?”
“Amala, Semo, Pounded yam remain one wrap, Egusi, Gbegiri, Ogbono, Efo-riro, Jollof and Fried rice. Which one make I bring come?”
“I would have Semo and Egusi and assorted meat.” John told mama K.
Funlola said she wanted Amala and Gbegiri with beef. The woman left them and returned within five minutes with their order. A small boy brought two bowls of water for them, left and returned with two table water at John’s request.
One taste of the food widened John’s eyes. “Wow. This is good.”
Funlola smacked her lips as she chewed on a piece of meat. “I know. That’s why I frequent this place. Her cooking skills are amazing. I know another joint sef where to get good food. It’s on the mainland though.”
He nodded and took another scoop of Semo and Egusi. He took a piece of meat and could literally feel it melt in his mouth. It was that soft.
“So why don’t you like cooking?”
“Well, I do-”
He looked up at her when she didn’t go further. She was staring straight behind him and horror on her face made him want to look back.
“Don’t!” She whispered. She ducked her head low. “Don’t look back please.”
He moved his eyes from one side to the other; checking if other people were watching them. They had no audience.
He bent low as well and whispered, “What’s wrong?”
“I would tell you later.”
She turned sideways and suddenly lifted her head up. She looked at him and burst out in laugher.
John was confused. He raised his head. “What?”Had he missed out on a joke?
“So – sorry PJ. You – you have some soup on your chin.”
He looked down but couldn’t see anything.
“Let me help you.”
She took her serviette and reached out to clean his chin. Chuckling as she did so. After she was done he asked her what had happened.
“I would explain later. Let’s finish our meal.”
They were back at loving each other just like before. Sometimes he spent the night in her house and she did the same. Daniel loved every minute he was with Adesewa, but he knew it would soon come to an end. He was the only one that knew that sad fact. It was Saturday afternoon and they were presently on his bed, lazying around while he kept thinking of the best opportunity to tell her.
“How many guys were you with after we broke up?”
Daniel had kept pushing the thought away from his mind, but now he really wanted to know.
She giggled. “Why are you interested?”
“Just want to know. You don’t want to tell me?”
“Well it doesn’t mean much. I was only with one guy.”
He felt his heart literally drop. Only? One is too many!
She looked up at him. As if reading his mind she said, “It didn’t mean anything. Just a guy I was dating. You were on my mind most of the time.”
“And the other little part?”
She turned her gaze to his bare chest. “I thought of myself and how much you hurt me. I was telling myself how much of a fool I was to still love you. To still want to be with you.”
He trailed the side of her face with the back of his hand. “Baby, I never meant to hurt you.”
“Yeah, you said so.”
“Please believe me.” He knew he was still going to hurt her in the near future and he hated it.
She nodded. “It’s fine. You’re here now. We’re together.”
But for how long? Something had been troubling him. It seemed to give him the nudge that he was making the right decision in the long haul. Adesewa had told him point-blankly that she didn’t want to see his daughter. She couldn’t bare to look at her. So whenever he had Ulunma with him she decided to stay in her apartment.
“Mmm.” She said, playing with his chest hair.
“When would you want to meet Ulunma?”
He felt her stiffen beneath him.
“Daniel please don’t ask me to do this. It’s bad enough that you had a child that’s not ours. Now you want me to look at her and watch as you cuddle her and take care of her? I’m not interested.”
Great! I‘ve ruined the moment. He tried to make amends by kissing her but she turned her head and instead his lips made contact with her cheek. He got the message. He shifted aside and she got off the bed and went straight to the bathroom. Slamming the door shut.
Daniel sighed and turned on his back. He wondered if it was possible that she would one day get rid of all the resentment she harboured in her heart. Was she ever going to accept his daughter? He didn’t want what happened when a woman had a step-daughter she didn’t like; the maltreatment and all that. He threw his covers off him and walked to the bathroom. He knocked on the door.
“Ade love. Let’s talk.”
“Talk about what?!”
“The same thing we were talking about before you walked out on me.”
“I’m not in the mood. I don’t feel like talking.”
“Ade don’t be stubborn.”
Daniel stepped back as the door opened and he stared down at Adesewa’s angry face.
“I’m stubborn?! Are you crazy? First you carry your thing and dis-virgin another woman. Then you have a baby and now you want me to join you in taking care of that child? Na me send you message?! Do I look like your baby-sitter?”
Gosh she looks so cute . . . “Ade please stop shouting. I’m not telling you to be her mother. I only want you to see her. Babe if we were going to get married you would have no choice. She’s a part of me. I can’t just toss her out.” He moved closer to her and placed his hands on her shoulders despite the sinister look she was giving him.
“I’m sorry nau. Vex for me but don’t vex for the innocent baby that has nothing to do with it.”
She pushed his hands away and went to sit on the edge of his bed.
“I would see her but not now.”
He nodded. May be they were getting somewhere.
He was about to go cuddle her when his phone rang and he took three strides to get it for the bed-side table. “Hello Nne.”
“Daniel, biko I want to see you.”
He forehead creased as he frowned. “Is everything okay?”
“I’m almost at your house.”
“Ahn-ahn. You could have told me and I would have come over. Okay see you soon.”
“Was that Efe?”
He held a puzzled look. Why is it Efe that would come to mind? “That was my mum. She’s on her way. Wants to see me.”
She stood. “I should get dressed and leave.”
“No. You aren’t going anywhere. You can get dressed but you aren’t leaving.”
She smiled. “Okay.”
He had a ring in his wardrobe, hidden underneath all his underwear. He had bought it long ago when he had decided to marry Adesewa before he slept with Efe. Now, he had to decide on who he would give it to.
“I know how you feel Daniel. I know you love this Adesewa girl a lot, but you have to do the right thing. When did your word stop being your bond?”
Her words jabbed him in the chest. When his mother had arrived he saw the look of disapproval in her eyes when she saw Adesewa with him. She hid her emotions when Adesewa had greeted her warmly, kneeling before her and offering her cold orange juice and a plate of cookies.
She leaned close to him and whispered, “See how she’s staying here with you and acting like your wife; the both of you aren’t married yet. Have you forgotten all the things you were taught when you were younger? How I told you to treat a woman? I won’t be surprised if the both of you are doing things underneath the covers.”
Daniel didn’t deny it.
“What about Efe? Have you come to a conclusion? Two weeks ends today.”
“So what is your answer?”
“I would call Uncle Eghosa tonight.”
“And tell him what?”
He let out an exasperated sigh. “Mum what is it nau? Please let me be. You would know later on.”
“Okay. Please make the right one. Please.”
When his mother left he sat at the sitting room a while longer and went back to the room to find Adesewa sitting on the centre of the bed. Her legs drawn up to her chin and her face swollen. It looked like she had been crying. His heart jolted. Did she overhear their conversation?
“Ade what’s wrong?” He moved towards her to grab her leg playfully but she recoiled at his touch.
“Don’t- touch- me.”
“Ahn-ahn. . .” Ten minutes ago everything was okay nau . . . He hoped it wasn’t what he thought. “Oya what happened? What did I do now?”
“You are getting married to that bitch and you lied to me! You freaking lied to me Daniel!”
“Ade calm down. . . .” He was grateful his next-door neighbour wasn’t around.
“Don’t you dare say that to me! Are you getting married to her?”
He hung his head low. He had regretted when this time would come. He couldn’t bear to look her in the eyes. He was a coward.
“Yes . . .”
“You freaking bastard!”
Efe knew it. She felt it. Asides that her father told her. It turned out Daniel had spoken to his mother about it and she in turn had passed the news to her husband and her father had found out as well. She wiped the tears from her eyes. She made up her mind then and there to stop chasing her dreams of when she was a little girl. This was the last time she would shed a tear for him. She couldn’t keep hurting herself. She couldn’t continue in the same pain she had been harbouring for years.
She was done. It was time she let go of her silly crush that had only caused her pain. The seed of her love for him was what she had. Her precious daughter Ulunma Eduwa Nwachukwu. She had made a terrible mistake by sleeping with him those years ago. She should just have waited. God, why was I so impatient? HolySpirit why didn’t I listen to You . . .
The first time she had had confirmation that Daniel was her husband she had thought it to be a flimsy dream. She had seen them together living in the same house. Married with children. She was happy. They both were. She tossed the dream aside until she had it two more times and she prayed and fasted. It was true. God wanted them together. She had waited for him to get the same confirmation but he hadn’t. She had decided to take matters into her own hands and sleep with him. At first it had been a silly idea but she had let it grow on her and had slept with him. That had been her trap for him, and now she was paying dearly for it. She just had a bad feeling about her future. A really bad feeling.
NEXT . . .
It was time to think forward about his future with Adesewa. For years he had fantasied about being with her. It felt like a dream. But he had pinched himself right from when she had knocked on his door last night dressed in a short, pink pleat dress. Her black stilettos adding to her height.
“Ade? What are you doing here?”
“I came to see you. Can I come in?”
He nodded. He watched as she walked in. Her backside looking amazing. He shook his head and slammed the door shut.
He cleared his throat. “What’s up?”
“I’m feeling a little down. I thought you could cheer me up.”
He quirked his brow. Cheer her up how? “Daniel nko?”
She shrugged. “He’s busy. I’m not going to waste time here. I’ve seen the way you look at me. No matter how much you code it, I know you want me. I’m horny, you’re horny. What are we waiting for?”
She reached to her back and next thing he knew her gown dropped to the floor. His eyes took in all of her.