Always One More Time #16 By Temitope Ogunyinka
I apologize for this coming late. The site was slow over the past few days and I had someone working on it all day. It’s a bit better now but we’re still working on it.
How was your day, though?
Enjoy episode 16 of Temitope’s engaging series.
The afternoon sun poured in through the windows and shone on Funlola’s forehead as she washed the dishes in the sink. The least she could do after John made the meal was clean up after the both of them. She was making progress little by little; showing herself useful in the house.
Her glass of wine was seated on the counter waiting for her so she could relax in-front of the TV. John never took alcohol but permitted her to have a drink once in a while. Her life was taking a new turn each day. Sometimes it was boring, other days John made it exciting, but that was mostly when he was home.
Funlola bent down to put away the plates when a wave of nausea hit her suddenly. She grabbed the edge of the counter and let it pass. She took deep breaths, wondering what just happened.
I haven’t started drinking and I’m already feeling dizzy? Or . . . Or am I pregnant?
She knew it was a possibility, after-all the only person she never used protectives for was with her husband . . .
Her eyes widened at the thought and she laughed out-loud. John, for the past few days, had insinuated she was pregnant but she always waved it off. She reached out to the glass of wine on the counter. She took a sip and walked barefooted to the bedroom. Obviously, it was most likely going to be her last glass of wine once John found out she was pregnant.
Funlola squealed and moved her body from side to side in a little dance. She wasn’t expecting to get pregnant any-time soon but then it wasn’t a bad thing. She placed her hand on her flat belly. The earlier the better. Like John had proposed right before they got married. But she wasn’t so sure who the baby’s father was.
She bit her lip as she sat on the edge of her matrimonial bed.
What if the baby is Dele’s? She remembered when the condom broke one day. What would I do? Would I keep it a secret from John and carry on with my affair? Let him father a baby that’s not his?
She fell back on the bed and stared up at the white ceiling as she thought about Dele. The occasional flings with Dele were good. It brought life to her. She just hoped the baby wasn’t for Dele. She shoved aside her worrisome thoughts and got off the bed. Would it be a boy of a girl? Or would it be twins like John’s mother said? The thought of a baby growing within her was wonderful and she couldn’t wait to share the news with John.
He would be home tomorrow morning. He had to be in church and they had a vigil later on at night.
“How come you guys do so much vigils?” She had asked the day before when she felt his vigils were becoming too frequent.
“It’s not always nau. Just twice a month and for different programs.”
The sound of her cell-phone ringing filled the room and she pulled it out of her back-pocket and checked the caller ID.
“Hi Jide. How’s you?” She said once picking the call.
“Honey drops. I’m good. Long time no hear. How have you been?”
Funlola played with her belly-button. “I’m fine.”
“You free tonight for Purple Lake?”
The thought of going out that night appealed to her. It had been a while she had been to the club. John wouldn’t be home and she could also celebrate her pregnancy as well. So . . .
“Sure! Pick me up at Ten-thirty.”
“Okay babes, see you then.”
Adesewa opened her eyes and licked her lips. Her whole body ached and she felt tired and she had no idea why. She threw her legs off the bed and sat up. Big mistake. She jumped up and made a beehive for the bathroom. She threw the door open and kicked it shut with her leg.
She went down on her knees and grabbed the toilet seat with both hands as she threw up the remains of her dinner last night. She wiped the side of her mouth with tissue.
Minutes later another wave of nausea hit her and Adesewa found herself throwing up whatever was left in her stomach.
This was the second day it was happening. It dawned on her that she had missed her period for a few days but didn’t think it as a big deal. She had always been careful. But what if . . .
When she was finally done she locked the door and tore open the pregnancy kit and took the test. She leaned against the door and set the small timer she usually kept in her bathroom.
She shut her eyes. The next few minutes were the longest of her life.
“Ade?” She heard him call her from her bedroom.
“I’m coming! Using the toilet.”
She tapped her foot on the tiled floor and waited till the timer went off. She looked at the pregnancy test and her heart plummeted.
She licked her dry lips and ran her fingers through her hair as tears glistened her eyes. This wasn’t part of her plan. She slowly dropped to her knees and let the tears fall freely.
She shook her head as if that would make everything go away. She wasn’t ready to be a mum. She wasn’t ready to have a baby. She did futuristic calculations in her head. What was going to happen to her business that she was set on opening in a month? She would have to work from home? Have to look after a baby and her whole life would be put on hold?
“No . . . No . . . No. God, nooo . . . ” She moaned.
There was a knock on the bathroom door and Ade jolted.
“Ade, are you okay?”
She opened her mouth but no words left her lips.
His voice was heavy with worry and Adesewa pushed herself to speak lest he suspect anything.
“Y- yes, I’m fine. Give me five minutes please. Just started my period.”
“Oh – Okay.”
She ran her fingers through her hair and bit her lip. This wasn’t life. It wasn’t her life. It didn’t look that way. What had she turned in to? Where had all her time gone to? And in doing what? Destroying a man and all for what? What was the end plan? It wasn’t pregnancy and it wasn’t to end up being his second wife or to be his wife. She didn’t see Daniel in that light any-more. She hated to admit it, but Ebuka was right. All of a sudden she had turned into a bitter woman being spurred on by revenge; all at the expense of her future.
Ade sniffed and wiped the tears from her eyes. Enough was enough.
She dumped the evidence of her pregnancy at the bottom of the bin and covered it up with the trash there before. She washed her face and brushed her teeth before she opened the door and walked out. Daniel was sitting on the bed and tapping away on his phone. He looked up.
His handsome features was so appealing to her any-more.
“You good now?”
She nodded. “Yup.” She went to her wardrobe and got out what she would wear. “Erm – I need to get somewhere.”
“This morning? Thought we planned to hangout all through?”
“Yes sir, but plans change.” They always do, just like what has happened to me. “I need to see a client at Victoria Island and sort something out. It’s important.”
“Oh . . . Okay then. Let me shower first.”
As soon as he went into the bathroom she pulled out her phone and dialled her gynaecologist. She needed to schedule an abortion; if possible today.
John said a silent prayer. He had to travel to London for a minister conference in the next two months and he hoped Funlola’s visa would be approved. He sat in the privacy of his study; a room he had dedicated as a place of meeting with God and writing down his messages. He thought of how restless his wife had been for the past couple of days and how tired she was. He didn’t know if it was ‘cause of her partying or the probability of her being pregnant. He asked her the other day and she pushed aside the possibility of her being pregnant and he thought it was from the partying.
He got home from talking business to find the house empty. He had changed his mind about going for the vigil at the last minute because he was a bit down; probably due to the mosquitoes in the room. He had wanted to surprise Funlola and enjoy her company. But then he had discovered she had gone out, and he had an idea where. Purple Lake.
A pastor wife’s partying, drinking and coming home late? He had never heard of that before. He would have preferred if she was going to church and drinking of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. He had to address the situation before things got out of hand. He had a fear he had hidden in his heart; the possibility of Funlola cheating on him.
“Us women when men cheat. Not that I have a problem with all that nonsense but Efe is s good girl she doesn’t deserve that.”
“Wait. What do you mean you don’t have a problem with a man cheating on you?”
She shrugged. “Means if you want a woman by the side you are well capable of getting it without me complaining.”
That day she asked if everything was al-right and he had nodded. Deep within him he was terrified of her cheating on him. Over the past few months of married life he had come to love Funlola. Despite getting a go ahead from God and accepting to marry her, he had still been sceptical about it. He had questioned deep within him if it could have been Stephanie or some other strong Christian woman in the church. But he kept aside every thing he thought he wanted or needed and accepted her.
She wasn’t perfect. But neither was he. He loved her for who she was and that was exactly how much God loved His children. John was gradually getting to understand that. Now he didn’t want to let her go. He dozed off while seated on the couch and waiting for the Mosquito spray to work. The last thought on his mind was Funlola and the fear of her leaving him.
John stirred when he heard the car-engine in his compound. He opened his eyes slowly, taking in his surrounding. He remembered that he didn’t sleep in the room last night. He cleaned the saliva on his chin with the back of his hand and sat up. The front door was being unlocked and in walked Funlola.
He checked the time and his eyes widened. He shifted his eyes back to Funlola and saw his wife clad in black, leather pants and a cropped red top and red stilettos in her hand. She looked dishevelled and devoid of make-up.
Where has she been?
“Hi PJ. Good morning. How was your vigil?”
He stretched his hands and back and rose up. “I didn’t go. Wasn’t feeling too good.”
Concern filled her features. “Oh! What happened to you?”
“Little fever but I ate and took pain-killers.”
She moved towards him and touched his forehead with the back of her hand. He could smell the alcohol on her. As soon as she opened her mouth to speak to him he smelled her minty breath. He shifted back and looked and studied her. Something felt odd.
“Funlola where are you coming from?”
She was taken aback by his question. “I went to Purple Lake.”
He shook his head. “I know you went there, but where else did you go to? Where did you spend the night?”
“Ahan, PJ what are you insinuating?”
“You didn’t come home straight from the club. You didn’t call me to say you won’t be back home at the usual time.”
“’Cause I thought you would be at church! PJ you hardly have any-time for me. It’s either church this or church that. Why would I think you would be bothered about me? I didn’t bargain for this.”
John frowned. What? I’m the one at fault? “Of-course I’m concerned about you. Why are you saying all this? What did you bargain for? I don’t make you go to church -”
“But you don’t have time for me either. It’s either you are in that cubicle of a room you lock yourself up in or you go for vigils and programmes and leave me home alone. I have a life PJ. You knew that before you got married to me.”
“Funlola, you want to party. Fine. But-” He pointed at his wrist-watch. “This is eight in the morning! I don’t assume you just slept in the club. Where did you spend the night?”
He saw the guilty look on her face and he pressed her for an answer. “Funlola where were you?”
“I spent the night at a friend’s place.”
“Which friend Funlola?!”
Jide? Who’s Jide? “Wait. Is it the same Jide you spent the night with the other time? The guy after you stopped seeing Dele?”
She shifted her eyes from him and nodded.
“The married man?”
Funlola closed her eyes and nodded again.
Father Lord have mercy . . .
Efe dropped her bags on the floor and wiped the sweat from her brows. No one was home. She looked around the house and rolled her eyes. Couldn’t he just clean a little? She purposely didn’t tell him she was coming to Lagos today; maybe she thought she would catch him with a woman in their house with their daughter in the other room. But instead she saw clothes on the couch and plates on the dining table. It was an eyesore!
She walked into the kitchen, which was a little worse than the living room, and took out a large bottle of mildly cold water from the fridge. She filled a glass with water and drank it down in a rush. She went two more rounds before she was satisfied. She cleaned her mouth with the back of her hand after which she set to work on cleaning the house and preparing dinner with whatever was available.
As she cleaned she prayed to God; the same prayer she had been praying for a while now, asking Him to help her marriage. She was asking for His forgiveness for trying to interfere with His plans for her life, as well as Daniel’s. She prayed to remain faithful to God no matter what.
An hour later she was done and could breathe easy. The apartment looked way better than before, and smelled of sweet potato pottage. She took her bags into the bedroom, had a quick shower and collapsed on the bed with just a t-shirt on and the fan cooling her. Then a thought hit her.
Did they do it on the bed?
She jumped off and went to lie down on the floor in the living room; thinking they could also have done it on the couch as well. The hollow feeling returned. The feeling of sadness and betrayal by Daniel’s actions. She looked around the apartment. Our wedding pictures aren’t even hung up.
“Do I hate him God? Do I keep loving him after everything he’s doing to me?”
What about what you did? Should he hate you? Forgive as I have forgiven you.
She shook her head in disbelief as the thoughts and the scripture dropped on her heart. And it so happened that Zainab, her step-sister, was Adesewa’s best-friend and she was never going to welcome Efe as her family.
Efe was in a mess!
“God it’s not fair!” She screamed out-loud as tears ran down her cheeks in an orderly manner. “It’s not!” She hit her hands on the floor. “It’s not fair . . . It’s not fair.” She chanted on as she laid in a fetal position on the floor and stared at the emptiness of the room.
Girlish chattering and glee filled the cold room. The atmosphere was heavy with excitement and the mother of the bride kept checking to see the progress. So far, the older woman was satisfied.
Zainab was grateful she dressed warmer than usual for work. Her Burberry scarf and jeans trouser helped a little. But she wished she had a jacket as well. Instead of focusing on the problem, she distracted herself with the work at hand. She shaped and carved the eyebrows as quickly as she could. Her baggy and bloodshot eyes were shielded a little with a fashionable eye-glass She had been up since three in the morning; insomnia and her job being the compelling reason.
The hot coffee she had brought with her in a Thermos and conversation between the bride-maids kept her awake at the moment.
“And so Makinde was salivating over me and trying to make a move. I almost slapped him!” A fair woman with multiple pimples on her face said to everyone who cared to listen to her.
Another woman clapped her hands together and hissed.
“That guy is just too raw. Behaves as if no woman on earth can resist him, maybe that’s why his wife left.”
“Actually, I heard the wife was the one who cheated first with his brother,” the bride said; disrupting Zainab from applying the red lip-stick on. Zainab felt like hitting her head with it.
Helen, one of the bride’s friends who had not stopped eyeing Zainab’s work since she came in, walked towards the bride. She claimed to be a make-up artist as well.
“Zainab could you apply a little more eye-liner.”
Zainab applied the lipstick first and stepped back to see what the ‘make-up artist’ was saying. She looked at the bride and then back at her friend. Zainab shook her head.
“If I apply more there it’s going to be too dark. Gloria said she wanted it natural and beautiful. Applying more eye-liner would make it look a little Gothic.”
Helen folded her hands and eyed her.
“You don’t want to take advice? You think you know it all?”
I’m so not in the mood for this . . .
Zainab shook her head. “I’m just following what the bride wants. Or Gloria would you like more black there? If I added more your natural look wouldn’t be too natural. It’s up to you.”
The bride looked bewildered. The other ladies had stopped talking and got up to see the bride’s face.
“Helen I think I like it like this. Thanks for your concern. I really appreciate it.”
Zainab didn’t say anything. She checked the time on her watch. Quarter past ten. She resumed her work while Helen stomped away and the others quietly went back to their seat and resumed their discussion. Zainab guessed everyone was already used to Helen and her attitude when no one bothered saying anything about what had happened.
She was fagged out when she drove her car into the compound. I.K was busy with the club so she was going to have to hold on to her aching muscles until he could give her a massage. The saddening thought made her want to call him up and beg him to come over. But she decided on taking pain-killers and sleeping it out till he came over later on in the evening.
Zainab threw her sneakers off as soon as she entered her apartment and dropped her make-up kit on the nearest table. She moved he head from one side to another when her eyes caught something on the table. A red envelope.
She frowned. She picked it up and and opened it.
Meet me at the Studio.
The frown on her face deepened. “Meet me at the studio?” She hadn’t seen I.K’s car in the compound or outside the gate. The security guard didn’t tell her anyone had come looking for her.
What if it’s a thief?
She swallowed hard and picked the candle holder on the table in the living room. Then she sought out a pocket knife she kept on the book-shelve; hidden in-between books she never read. She took slow steps to the studio. She held her two weapons in one hand and used the other to ping Adesewa that there was an intruder in her house and if she didn’t hear from her in the next five minutes she should alert the police.
Isn’t it silly not to call the police now? But what if it’s a false alarm?
She kept her phone back in her front pocket and put the knife in her back pocket. She opened the door and darkness greeted her. She wasn’t going to shout to alert whoever was there. She searched for the light-switch even in the darkness, but someone beat her to it.
The room shone in a corner and Zainab saw bouquets of Roses in a circle on the floor and a candle lit in the middle. She moved towards it, wondering what was going on. When she was close enough, she gasped when she saw another red envelope there. This was beginning to feel like one of those silly movies Audrey probably watched. She grabbed it and read the contents.
The full lights came on and Zainab spun around to find I.K few inches from her and going on his knees. Her hand flew to her chest. Her legs were weak.
“Zainab.” He took a deep breath. “You are a breath of fresh air to my congested and polluted world. You are the one that makes my heart beat. You show yourself as more woman than most women I’ve met these days. . .”
“Juts go straight to the point I.K. All this mushy stuff is not for me.”
He chuckled and muttered that he just wanted to be sure.
“Sure that what?”
“That if I proposed to you the way I thought you would want, you wouldn’t tell me to do it the usual way all guys do . . . So I went with that first.”
Her lips curled to a smile.
“Zainab, will you marry me?”
“Let me think about it.”
He raised his brow. “For real?”
She chuckled and dropped to her knees as well. “No. Not for real. I would love to marry you.”
He smiled and opened the box in his hands to reveal what looked like a twisted, silver engagement ring with an emerald stone in place of the usual diamonds. It was beautiful.
“I.K you really outdid yourself. Clap for yourself.”
He pulled her close and wrapped his hands around her slim body. All of a sudden music she hadn’t heard before began to play in the back-ground. It was an old-school love song.
Zainab felt her phone vibrate in her pocket repeatedly. Remembering her message to Adesewa she withdrew from his embrace briefly and checked it out.
Babe I’ve been pinging you since. What’s up? What happened???
Sorry, I.K came over . . . False alarm.
Ade: LOL. Hope you said yes.
Zainab: So you knew about it abi? You couldn’t give me a heads up?
Ade: LOL. Then it wouldn’t be a surprise again.
Zainab: Hmm. How’s you and the whole Daniel ish? What’s the latest?
Ade: Long story.
Don’t wanna talk right now.
Would tell you much l8r.
Say hi to I.K for me.
Zainab: Hmm. Okay. Ttyl.
Zainab made a mental note to call her up later on. She looked at I.K and shook her head. “Be feeling like a master planner now, involving Ade in your plans.”
He chuckled and pulled her into his arms once more, planting a kiss on her forehead. “Don’t be proud to admit that I am.”
She sighed and rested her head on his chest. All her fatigue lessened with the turn of the day. She smiled. But there was still the thing she had hidden from I.K all this while. She pushed the thought aside and relaxed in his arms; breathing in the scent of his cologne.
He wondered at Adesewa’s sudden change earlier on. There had to be something wrong. He had called her on different occasions but she never picked. That was two hours ago. He checked on Ulunma through the rare-view mirror; she was fast asleep in her car-seat. She looks so much like Efe.
Daniel hadn’t spoken to Efe in the last twenty-four hours. She was busy with rounding-off her project-work and he didn’t want to disturb her. She told him she would be home tomorrow, so he was going to wait till then. How was he going to sneak around with Adesewa when Efe got back?
He tapped on the steering-wheel while he waited for the traffic light to turn green. His phone buzzed and he grabbed his phone in his pocket. He took his eyes off the road for briefly and check his messages. To his disappointment there was nothing from Adesewa. He starting to get worried. He changed his mind like he had done all those months ago and drove over to Adesewa’s place.
Ulunma in his arms, he knocked on Adesewa’s door. He didn’t get an answer immediately and he kept knocking. He raised his hand to the door again when he heard footsteps approaching the door.
“Ade, it’s me. Open the door.”
The door pulled open and Daniel looked down at Adesewa’s small frame. Her eyes red. Her eyes shifted to Ulunma and she moved to the side to let him in.
She still doesn’t want to see her? “Baby, what’s wrong?”
He reached out his hand to touch her but she stepped away from him. Daniel was hurt by her actions but he dropped his daughter on a couch and Adesewa led him to the kitchen. She leaned on the counter and folded her arms. He waited for her to talk.
“Daniel this isn’t working out.”
He felt his heart literally drop.
“I can’t continue with this any-more. You are a married man now -”
“But baby it doesn’t matter.”
She gazed into his eyes and the tears he saw there broke his heart.
“Please let me finish Daniel.”
He nodded. “Okay, I’m sorry. Say what you have to say.”
“We started out fine. We enjoyed each-other’s company and fell in love. But Daniel that love isn’t there any-more. I realize now that I’m fooling myself. I’m sorry I led you on . . . I wanted revenge, but I got hit. I never expected to get pregnant.”
Daniel’s mouth dropped.
She sniffed and wiped the tears from her eyes. He yearned to pull her into his arms and take away her sorrows. “I don’t want the baby. I’m not ready. I wanted to have an abortion. I went to the hospital-”
Another baby? But this time it was with Adesewa. His love. God, please don’t let her say she had an abortion.
“The test I took first was positive, but the test at the hospital was negative. It was an eye-opener. It was like God was trying to get my attention.” She looked at him; snort was running down her nose down to her lips. Her face bare of any make-up. Irrespective of that Daniel felt she looked beautiful.
“This is over Daniel.”
“Ade I made a mistake with-”
“No, Daniel don’t say that! Mistakes like that don’t happen. It’s not like you were drugged when you slept with her. You clearly don’t have it within you to be faithful, or maybe you don’t know what faithfulness means. Marriage is an important thing and I’ve been sinning against God and your wife by sl- sleeping with you. You don’t know what it means ‘cause even when you’re married . . . You were still sleeping with me.”
The words hit him on his chest and he swallowed hard.
“I’m not trying to insult you, but it’s time we both open our eyes and see the truth. How long do we want to keep this going? We aren’t doing ourselves any good. I want to move on.”
He nodded. “Is there another guy already?”
She looked away from him and folded her arms. She shrugged. “I’m not sure yet. But there’s someone who cares. I need to clear my head first. I don’t think we should see each other any-more.”
He moved towards her but she raised her hand at him.
“Please Daniel. Please, leave now.”
“You say all you want and you expect me to stay quiet?”
“Yes. Because there is nothing we have to say again.”
He looked at her one last time and walked back to the living-room. He picked his daughter up and he heard Adesewa say something. It was barely a whisper.
“What did you say?”
She came to his side. “I said your daughter is beautiful.”
As he walked out of the apartment he felt he was walking out of her life forever. He was walking away from the woman he loved. Tears stung his eyes. He got to the the stairs and there was Efe standing before him. . .