SEAMS S2: Homecoming

———–

———–

“Please bear with us as we perform final checks and await clearing for take-off. In the meantime please check that your seatbelt is properly secured and all electronic devices switched off. Thank you.”

The flight attendant smiled curtly before securing the receiver for the plane’s PA system. She disappeared behind the curtain that separated the economy class from the business class. Saanyol groaned, looking up from his phone as the woman next to him tried to settle in, apologising profusely as her massive thighs pushed against him. He ignored her and spread his legs defiantly, thankful he’d bothered to charge his iPod and tablet. The flight was shaping out to be long and uncomfortable. His phone rang, Kike.

“Saan?” Her voice trembled.

“Hey, you couldn’t have called at a better time, my flight’s about to start give or take ten to fifteen minutes. What time is it over there?”
“About five am. I just wanted to ask what time you think you’ll get here. It’s not really safe for me to moving about in my current situation.”

Something about the way Kike said ‘current situation’ lit up warning flares in Saanyol’s brain but he dismissed them. She’d said they had things to talk about, things that couldn’t be discussed over the phone. There was no point getting worked up prematurely over things he would eventually get to hear in a few hours.

“Depends, but I think late afternoon, from 2pm would be a good time to get to the airport.”

“Oh, okay. See you soon.” Her voice trembled again. “I love you.”

“Err.. okay, bye.”

Saanyol ended the call by pressing down the phone’s power button till the screen blanked. He’s slid it into the front pocket of his jacket and took a deep breath to calm his racing heart, zoning out as the intercom came back on and the engines spun to life. He hated that about Kike, how easily she unsettled him; their conversation had lasted barely and minute and yet here he was, filled with dread. She was very much like his father in that respect, the only difference was that they evoked in him very different emotions. His father’s actions were deliberate, perpetrated with all the malice in the world, like making him travel back to Nigeria via Arik economy, as if he had personally taken a knife and plunged it into his father’s mother’s chest.

His ears were suddenly assaulted with the rustle of praying lips as the airplane began to speed up the runway and a collective gasp escaped the cabin as the tyres left the ground. Saanyol shook his head in disgust, everyone in the plane had fallen into a deathly silence as it ascended. Even the woman beside him; the formidable slab of fat wearing a ratty brown weave seemed to shrink and give him momentarily relief, only for her to rudely wrestle it away, literally expanding in relief as the plane levelled. Saanyol violently widened his thighs and pushed at her, thoughts of Kike and his father pushed aside by the more present need to make the flight as uncomfortable for his seat mate as she had for him.

————

Where are you guys now?

———–

Kike fired another IM to Farhad and waited for a response, jiggling her foot to rid herself of the cramp that was beginning to form in her calf. Xhiz sat beside her, watching with a mix of apprehension and concern as though the slightest exertion would send her into premature labour. She shot him a very annoyed glance and he averted his eyes. In the beginning, the new docile Xhiz had appealed to her; the bleeding heart and the lack of sly comments was something she’d appreciated, a relief from the old Xhiz who would have used every opportunity to slip in snarky remarks about her getting ‘knocked up’, but right now she couldn’t deal. It was like he didn’t have any bones in him, constantly breaking into a panic if she so much as winced. It was almost 3 pm and she and Xhiz had been waiting here for nearly an hour. All thanks to her brilliant idea of coming to the airport early to beat traffic that never seemed to cease at airport road. She just hadn’t expected the place to be devoid of any real entertainment, and even worse she couldn’t even use her phone properly, lest the battery die before Saanyol arrived. Xhiz had laughed when she’d complained.

“Everyone knows all the drama happens at the departure lounge.” He’d said.

Her phone buzzed.

———-

Just got into the car park, come and wait for us by the entrance.

———

“Farhad just got here with the aides.” She announced to Xhiz. “Stay here and help me find seats for the other guys far away from us while I go get them, I’ll be impossible to miss now that I look like a whale.”

Xhiz just nodded, her self-effacing joke flying right over his head. She sighed and trudged over to the entrance to wait.

The older of Farhad’s father’s aides spotted Kike first among the small crowd gathered by the transparent glass of the arrival lounge’s doors. Her stance was off, shoulders pushed back, arms dangling at her sides; the front of her maxi dress was raised by her distended abdomen as she fidgeted, facing the wrong direction.

“Oga, no be your papa sister pikin be that?” The man said, pointing at her.

Farhad rolled his eyes when he saw her. He’d told her to dress responsibly, seeing as his father was going to arrive a full hour before Saanyol did and he’d badgered her into agreeing to see him. Then he shrugged and laughed, the less responsible she looked, the easier it was going to be for her to take the heat off him. He quickened his pace and tapped her on the shoulder.

“Na wa oh!” he exclaimed theatrically. “We’re breathing the same air the second time this week, if this happens one more time you might actually start to like me again.”

Kike rolled her eyes. “Oh fuck off. What the hell kept you? We were supposed to all meet here by two.”

Farhad shrugged apologetically. “Not my fault oh, I had to go back home and pick up the Prius. Popsie has a meeting to attend as soon as he lands, and he didn’t want to do that public transport runs.”

Kike turned and started for the waiting area, Farhad fell in step beside her. “You could have just told me, instead of leaving me with Xhiz. God, the last hour has been torture. The boy literally has his period every time I move. How do you deal with that?”

“It’s not that bad. Stop exaggerating.”

“No Tomiwa, you have no fucking idea. He kept asking if I was okay and if I needed anything like every five minutes. It was fucking annoying. Like I can fucking walk, just because I’m pregnant doesn’t mean I’m a cripple. Why did he even agree to come with us sef? He says he wants to see Saanyol, but I don’t believe him.”

Farhad gave a throaty laugh, lowering his voice as they approached the row of metal chairs where Xhiz was waiting. “His anonymous bestie tweeted about coming to pick an uncle up today so he came along to see if he’d spot him. So very Romeo and Juliet.”

Xhiz turned to them at that very moment and Farhad lit up in an innocent smile. Xhiz scooted over so they could sit, before directing the guards over to the row in front of him. Now that they were at the airport, Farhad’s apprehension returned like a flood. All the psyching he had put himself through earlier in the day just melted in the face of the reality of facing Alhaji. Everything that had happened in the last six months he’d convinced his mother to keep from his father, but this new development at school had forced her to call him and give a detailed explanation of why his presence was needed so badly. The man had been furious, ending the phone call with his mother abruptly only to call him on his own phone and verbally berate him for the better part of two hours. Thankfully, his mother had obliged his pleas to slip Kike’s pregnancy into the story and his father had asked him to make sure Kike was at the airport as well when he arrived. He looked at her, glancing occasionally at her phone and then at the board that announced arrivals. She looked even more miserable than he was.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, sidling over to her.

She raised her face to him. “I still haven’t told him. It just hit me that he’s coming in two hours and I still haven’t told him.”

“Oh…”

“Yeah.”

“But I thought his family knew.”

“Just his grandmother and I made her promise not to tell him or his parents. Not until the baby was born at least.”

“Jeez Kike! Walahi that was stupid.”

Kike glared at him. “Yeah, tell me something I don’t know.”

“My mom told popsie about this.” Farhad added succinctly, gesturing at her belly as he said ‘this’. Kike gave him a pointed look. He ignored her and spoke over her shoulder at Xhiz who was turned away from them, staring intently at a light skinned Igbo boy standing by one of the concession stores.

“Seen mystery boy yet?”

Xhiz suddenly found his fingers very interesting. “I wasn’t exactly looking for him but no.”

“Eyah! Maybe you people aren’t just destined to mee-“

Just that minute the overhead PA system crackled with static, quickly dispersed by a disembodied voice with a crisp British accent that filled Farhad with dread.

“Qatar Air flight from Dubai to Lagos has arrived. Please remain seated, passengers will exit shortly.”

————— ­

Alhaji stood out almost immediately, apart from the fact that he stood a full foot taller than almost everyone exiting the plane, he bore the same striking looks as Kike’s mother; perfectly complemented by his pristine white kaftan and his Arab Keffiyeh held in place by a lopsided agal. The aides who’d been lax while they waited sprung to alertness as they spotted him, one running forward to take his hand luggage and the other taking the tags for his bigger bags and heading for the carousel. Xhiz stood a respectable distance apart from Kike and Farhad, partly out of deference for the situation and partly because he didn’t want to miss spotting the reason he’d bothered with coming along. Farhad’s father whispered something to the guard and finally walked over to Farhad and Kike.

“Sannu da Zu-“Farhad started, but the rest of the greeting was silenced by his father surprising him with an unexpectedly vicious slap to the cheek.

Farhad’s hands flew to his face and Kike took an instinctive step back, certain Alhaji’s next action would be a complimentary slap directed at her. The man didn’t seem to even notice she was there.

“I warned you, you Dan Iska! Do I look like ina da lokacin ka? You want me to start running around behind you, fixing your messes like Kaduna?”

“I swear baba, all of this was not my doi-“ Farhad tried to interject, his cheek had started to swell.

“Ka yi mun shuru Dan banza. Keep your bloody mouth shut.  This was the same nonsense you said in Kaduna and I warned you. I warned you to not let this repeat itself, yet ga mu nan, doing the same nonsense all over again. I am going to that police station as soon as I finish my meeting this evening, Allah ya tsine ma, they say something contrary to all the lies you’ve been feeding your mother. I will send you so far into the Sahara, vultures picking the flesh off your withered bones will be the least of your problems. Tashi ka ba ni wuri.”

Farhad stepped aside in humiliation, ignoring the eyes that had trained on them as his father turned to Kike. She cowered in front of him, completely horrified by the spectacle that had just played out in front of her. To her surprise, his ugly visage softened into a rueful smile.

“Baby girl, it’s been a while.”

It took Kike a few seconds to gather her wits enough to form a reply. “Good evening uncle. How was the trip?”

He sighed and stepped forward, gently placing a hand on her belly. “Thankfully uneventful. This your baby is growing really fast oh. How many months along are you?”

“Just entered my third trimester sir.” She replied quietly.

“Ah, that’s good, before you know it, you’ll be in the labour room giving Farhad and his brothers their first nephew abi niece.” He grew serious. “What about your mother? Has she been around to visit you?”

“She came once.” Kike replied vaguely, unwilling to recount the disastrous visit.

“I see. That one doesn’t know she’s no longer a child. Don’t worry baby girl, I’ll give her a call as soon as I get a chance to sit in one place for more than an hour.”

The second aide joined them, dragging two suitcases and a massive knapsack on a trolley. Alhaji glared at Farhad and gestured towards the exit. He sullenly turned and started in that direction tailed by the aides. Alhaji turned back to Kike.

“You’re not coming with?”

“No sir.” Kike replied. “I was just waiting with Farhad; I’m here to pick someone else up.”

“Oh.” The man took Kike’s hand and pressed a couple thousand naira notes into them. “For your transportation. Baby girl, please don’t let the small one come before you introduce him to his small uncles. My house is always open to you.”

“Thank you sir.” Kike grinned with tears in her eyes. With a final glance, Alhaji left to join his posse, his kaftan swirling around him like a spectral cloak.

“Wow! Your uncle is all kinds of intense.” came Xhiz’s voice beside her ear. She swivelled to him and shrugged his hand off her shoulder, an eyebrow raised as high as it would go.

“Is that why you refused to come over and introduce yourself?”

Xhiz smiled guiltily. “You people seemed to be having a family moment, the opportunity just never presented itself.

“Right.”

The intercom crackled to life again, this time announcing the arrival of the JFK – LOS flight. Kike felt her legs go wobbly, her mind flashing to how disastrously things had turned out for Farhad mere moments before. She clasped Xhiz’s hand for support, a long forgotten prayer imprinting itself on her consciousness.

————–

Saanyol blanched as he caught sight of himself in one of the stainless steel panels of the baggage carousel. There was dried drool on his left shoulder from where the fat mami had tried to use his shoulder as a pillow. His hair was a mess and his shirt was wrinkled. Kind of apt for how his life felt right now. He was just a bundle of loose ends and unfinished pieces. He had no idea what he was going to do with himself now that he was back in the country. He was almost sure his father wouldn’t send him back, not with his grandmother gone and all the unfortunate events that had led him to this very moment. He spotted his single travel box and pulled it off the rotating ramp, pushing his way through the crowd at the carousel and making for the corridor that led to the arrival lounge.

Kike was waiting as he hoped, as beautiful as he remembered. Xhiz was beside her, that one he hadn’t expected. He noticed her wrest her hand free of Xhiz’s and wondered what that was about, were they a couple now or something? As he drew closer, he noticed there was something off about Kike; it was as if she’d gained weight but not really. The fat was in her cheeks and her arms and her belly. It seemed concentrated in her belly but that meant? His eyes widened as he exited the corridor and the realisation hit him. Kike was pregnant, heavily.

Kike looked into his eyes, and smiled sadly.

“Hey.”

—————

SEAMS S2: Collusions

——————

—————–

Farhad sent the last message and powered down his iPhone’s screen, tossing it aside. He stretched on the bed and froze when he felt freshly shaved legs rub against his calf. He glanced over and a smile split his lips when he saw the face and remembered the girl; one of his newer conquests. He’d totally forgotten about her.

He rolled out from under the duvet and sat up, pulling on his briefs and wool slacks and stuffing his wallet, keys and mobile into the corresponding pockets before reaching over and tapping the other occupant of the bed. She stirred a little and turned away from him, snuggling with her pillow. He tapped again more insistently.

“Sary Hai, get up. Sary Hai!”

Her head shot up from the pillow and trained on him. He cringed inside when he realised he had addressed her with her twitter name, again. Wasn’t really his fault, he was meeting so many people these days that having to remember real and twitter names was becoming a bit of a struggle. He leant over and gave her a peck on the cheek and felt the hint of her name sift to the surface when he noticed her very prominent lips, Last night they’d looked positively Jolie-esque, this morning not so much.

“S…Sar… Salome.” He sounded out the syllables, using her facial expressions as a guide.  “Salome dear, we need to get dressed. It’s almost 9am and I have classes.”

She nodded quietly, gathered her stuff and slowly swayed her pert behind into the adjoining bathroom. Farhad decided just that instant to not point out the irony. It would probably lead to a discussion he wasn’t quite ready to have. Unrequited relationship drama and all that was decidedly Xhiz’s area of expertise. He pulled on his shirt and shoes while she dressed and trashed the empty cans of Kiss Mix. She came out of the bathroom slightly wrinkled but not as bad as he’d anticipated. He slipped past her to flush the used condom and led her out of the self contained apartment, stopping at the door to give her a side hug.

She frowned. “You’re not seeing me off?”

“Farhad shrugged. “The roommate called when you were getting dressed. He forgot his key in the room so I need to wait for him. I hope you understand.”

Salome’s frown turned into a betrayed scowl as she fastened the top buttons of her shirt dress, suddenly realising her triumphant seeing off into school with her new ‘squeeze’ had just degenerated into a very solitary walk of shame. She hissed and started off, withholding her goodbye. Farhad made no move to follow and even waved when she stole a backward glance as she turned the bend that led back into school. Once she was out of sight Farhad pulled out his phone and dialled.

“Hey bro, thanks for letting me use your room for the night, I dropped the key under the welcome mat like you said. Wish everyone on twitter was as cool as you.”

“Sure bro, anytime you need a favour, just call me, I’ll be glad to help. After all isn’t that what friends are for?”

Farhad gave a hollow chuckle in response, topped with a sarcasm drenched ‘Of course’ and ended the call. Maybe it’s because of this blasted early morning shower, he thought to himself, but everyone is acting hyper clingy this morning.

­­——————

The police station was thankfully scant as Farhad traversed the squelchy wet sand. He crossed the road with difficulty after waiting almost ten minutes for a break in the traffic and pulled himself together before entering the Lekki Expressway Police ‘precinct’. He wove through the small army of painters and daubing at the walls of the DPO’s office and shook his head. They ignored the dilapidated front buildings to ‘renovate’ the only office in actual good shape. Atypical. He knocked on the front door to announce himself, pushed inside and froze when he was met by an unfamiliar face.

“Heysss! Stop there!” The policewoman shouted, scrambling to her feet and reaching for her service rifle.

Farhad threw himself forward and trapped the woman’s hand on the table. “AH! Madam what is it now? What do you want to use your gun for?”

The woman glared at him. “You dey crase? You waka enter my office with ya boko haram face and ya bag wey be like say bomb dey inside, you no even get fear sef you con dey hold my hand on top. E be like say you wan sleep for cell this night. Oya, bifor I kant tiri, Leave my hand! Wan!”

Realisation hit Farhad in the face like a ton of bricks and he slowly backed away. “Madam, I came to see corporal Festus. I’m supposed to sign some ledger with him. He hates having to come open the door so he said I should just announce myself and come in.”

“Na wetin you for fes talk na.” the woman beamed. “Dem don transfer Festus go Yaba. E no sabi type letter. E no even sabi anytin. Na me dey here now.”

She gestured to a seat and reclined in hers.

Farhad took the seat and took extra care to put his satchel in her line of sight so she didn’t think he was up to any foul play. Every now and then, things like this happened to remind him that not everyone was enamoured with his ‘exotic looks’. He waited quietly as the policewoman fished out the ledger from the stack of hard cover books on her table and leafed through it with peculiar interest. She closed it abruptly after ten minutes and sat up.

“Ehn? Kidnap?!!!”

Farhad rolled his eyes. “It wasn’t kidnapping. That was the original accusation but it was dropped eventually on the condition that I presented myself once a week for a period of time.”

“So you don dey come here for nearly five months now com sign this register? For this statement they say una be seven wey involved inside the case. Where all the other people? Why them no dey follow you come?” She asked, her eyes glinting at the prospect of unexpected gossip.

Farhad sighed and rubbed his temples. He really didn’t relish having to tell this story all over again. He looked up at the corporal, practically slobbering in anticipation and sighed a second time.

“Madam please, nobody kidnapped anybody. See me, I be like person wey fit kidnap somebody?”

The policewoman gave him a sarcastic smirk. “Dem never tell you say crase be like AIDS? That kain tin no dey show for face.”

Farhad huffed, feeling his anger bubble. “Walahi, this is what happened. One of our friends found a new boyfriend. She met him online and they grew close very fast. But she didn’t know that he was one of those crazy people they show on television, those types that become obsessed with people. He sha found a way to convince her to leave and go yawo with him without telling her parents or anybody. We were the people closest to her, her only ‘friends’. So when her parents reported her missing to the police, they went to meet her friend Panlam who gave them our names as her friends and possible suspects in her disappearance.”

The woman leaned forward, enamoured with his story. He thought it a good sign and began exaggerating details. 

“Because of all the wahala with Boko Haram in the north and because I am half-Hausa and the newest of her friends, your incompetent nincompoop colleagues named me the prime suspect in the case and put me in detention. I slept here three days before that idiot girl came back home without her boyfriend. Apparently he didn’t let her call home and she got scared and left while he was asleep. She didn’t know anything else about him other than his name, apparently. So your people asked me to keep coming to report myself because they think she’s still lying to protect me even though the boy is obviously very real. Thankfully my father was not in the country; otherwise this thing would have been blown out of proportion.”

The police woman scrunched her nose and handed the ledger over to Farhad. “Na wa for this una children of nowadays oh. I don tell my sister tire say this Facebook and 2go tin go soon put her pikin for trouble she no dey hear. Where the girl dey now?”

“Louise? She’s in one of these private universities. I think her parents think she’ll be safe from boys there or something. If only they knew.”

Farhad he flipped through the pages and found the latest entry, ignoring her ‘Facebook’ comment. Another discussion spiral he wasn’t ready to initiate.

“If only they knew wetin? Wait, you this boy, you sure say you no follow that girl do anything?”

Farhad’s lips widened into a positively filthy smile. “Not yet.”

The woman surveyed him and made a face of disgust before snatching the ledger out of his hands. She’d obviously gotten the sinister undertone in his reply. Not that he cared; he had so many plans for Louise, none of them particularly noble. If he had to go through all this nonsense because she had bad taste in men, then he was going to make her make it up to him, his way. The policewoman frowned and tapped at the ledger, drawing his attention.

“For here e say e remain three weeks for you before them go clear you.” She caught his eye and nodded at the door suggestively. “But as Festus no dey again, I fit reduce am for you to one week provided say you rub body.”

Farhad’s shoulder’s sagged as she rubbed her thumb and forefinger. He dipped his hand into his back pocket and counted seven crisp five hundred Naira notes, wadded them into a ball and placed it gently in the woman’s outstretched palm. She lifted herself off the chair and stuffed the ball into her back pocket. At that moment his phone came to life, blaring Wande Coal’s ‘The Kick’. He gestured to his pocket and she waved him off, grinning widely as she marvelled to herself how she had almost missed noticing just how handsome Farhad was as he exited the office and shut the door behind him.

———————

——————–

Farhad cursed as he left the dryness of the cab and entered the light drizzle, breaking into a run towards the Eco Bank building. He turned the corner sharply and ran past the bank building and the school shop and darted into the third building, the block that housed Unilag’s guidance and counseling centre. He headed straight for the felt notice board set flush in the middle of the corridor that doubled as a waiting room for students and started to scan the squares of paper attached to it with all sorts of adhesives.

“Your name’s on the bottom left corner.” A tired voice came from behind him.

He swiveled in apprehension and groaned when he saw Kike sprawled on the bench set out for waiting students, her legs stretched in front of her. She stood up and walked up to him, staring back with no remorse.

“It’s almost four pm and I called you since one. Where the hell were you?”

“Today’s Thursday remember?” he replied. “I had to go and mark present at that police station in Lekki. What are you doing here?”

At the exact moment, a yellowed face with red chemical burned cheeks poked out from the office at the end of the corridor. It belonged to a woman in her thirties with a scowl that added at least a decade to her wrinkly face. Her eyes roved from Kike’s protruding belly to Farhad and back.

“Kikelomo Olasinde?” it was half question, half insult.

“That’s me.”

“Is he the one responsible for your pregnancy?” she asked, gesturing with her upturned nose at Farhad.

Kike suppressed an amused laugh. “No ma, he’s my cousin Farhad Usman. He’s here to see the Guidance Counselor as well.”

“In that case, oya you two come and pass, Ms. Forson will only be here for thirty minutes, you might as well see her at the same time.”

Ms Forson’s office was everything and nothing Farhad expected. Of course there were the dusty shelves full of books and the token CAC calendar hanging on the wall, not to talk of the musty smell, the overflowing table and the walls with peeling paint. But Ms Forson herself didn’t fit at all inside her office. She was very young, couldn’t have been much over thirty with perfectly coifed hair, a pink lipstick smile, Nirvana T-shirt and a plaid over shirt. When she offered them the seats on their end of the table and sternly warned her bleach burned secretary to close the door properly behind her, her American accent was quite pronounced.

“I’m sorry for bundling you both in like this after making you both wait so long.” She apologized with a shy smile. “I have a meeting in about thirty minutes and I absolutely have to see you both today.”

“Is there any problem ma?”

“Call me Ella, everyone does. Can I call you Kike?”

“Sure.”

“Kike, I have received several complaints from your lecturers and your course advisor concerning your present situation. The general consensus is that your academics are suffering thanks to your pregnancy and they have asked that I advise you on how to proceed.”

“I see.” Kike said warily. “So what ‘advice’ do you have for me?”

Ms Forson gave a rueful smile. “Well, I think you’re lucky that your third trimester coincides with the beginning of a new session. I would suggest that you leave school, not drop out, just defer the session so you can have your baby in peace, get enough time to wean him or her and arrange alternative care before you return to school, next year. Fresh and ready.”

Farhad looked at her incredulously. “Are you serious? You want her to lose a year of her life just because she’s pregnant. In the North pregnant mothers go to school all the time. It’s not that big a deal.”

Ms. Forson’s jovial demeanor darkened for a second as she turned to Farhad. “I was addressing Ms. Kike and not you.”

Kike put a hand on Farhad’s shoulder and dragged herself to her feet. “Farhad please don’t bother trying to convince her of anything. I’m not deferring anything, being pregnant is not against any of Unilag’s rules. Trust me MISS Forson, I checked. So unless you people are going to kick me out, I suggest you not call me here again, cause I won’t come.”

She turned on her heels and left made for the exit with as much dignity as she could muster, pushing the door open suddenly to the surprise of the secretary who stood guiltily in full view of the office. Kike shook her head and pushed past the older woman, heading for the corridor.

“What did I say about your eavesdropping?” Ms Forson growled. The secretary burst into a litany of apologies and closed the door firmly this time.

“That was eventful.”

“Please can we just get to the point?” Farhad retorted, obviously irritated.

“If that’s how you want it, Farhad Usman.” She replied, dragging the syllables to emphasize their Arabic origins. “I have recently received a seemingly legitimate tip by someone anonymous that you were a part of the notorious Pirates confraternity in your former school ABU Zaria and that while you were never formally affiliated to this confraternity, you are somehow involved in the events that led to the assassinations of three lecturers there in 2011 and that this is the reason you changed schools.”

Farhad gawped at her in utter shock, his mouth moving but unable to form words. Ms. Forson noticed and decided to push the angle.

“I didn’t quite believe the tip at first, until I was informed of recent events involving a suspected kidnapping and you getting detained by the police. I do not know what is going on with you Mr. Usman and I’d like to think this is all a misunderstanding but such claims need to be investigated. But first I need to have a meeting with your parents as soon as possible to get their perspective on this whole incident.”

At the mention of parents, Farhad’s word drought immediately ceased. “My mother is a housewife and is out of her depth at these kinds of things and my father’s been out of the country for most of the year. But he’ll be back next week Thursday.”

The guidance counsellor nodded and scribbled something into one of the books on her table. “Sure, but I have to warn you. The longer this issue stays unaddressed, the less likely it will be resolved quietly. And you should be aware by now that Unilag has a zero tolerance policy to cultism. My doors are open whenever you’re ready.”

Farhad thanked her profusely and backed out of the office as fast as his legs would carry him. He was so distracted he almost bumped into Kike in the corridor.

“What happened? Your face is a fucking mess.” she asked.

He shrugged. “Nothing much, just academic wahala. Were you waiting for me?”

“Yeah, I just got an email from Saanyol. He’s coming back for his grandmother’s funeral next Thursday; he wants me to come pick him up. What do you think I should do?”

Farhad smiled, a sinister thought suddenly occurring to him. “You definitely should, my father’s coming next Thursday sef, I’m sure he’ll be pleasantly surprised to see you.”

———————-

SEAMS S2: Janus

————

Fishing out a tube of Ruby Woo from her purse, Panlam pursed her lips and coloured in her pout in time to W4’s Kontrol pouring from the speakers set into the ceiling. She fluffed her hair and checked her teeth for lipstick stains, all the while stealing glances at her phone. She sighed as her phone dinged for the third time and one of the names on her Whatsapp icon appeared at the top of the chat list. Dr. Kolupo, no way in hell she was going to reply his messages; he was the type who insisted on long drawn out conversations about nothing in particular. She picked up her Nokia Lumia and pushed her makeup purse into her handbag. It was probably time to give up and stop hiding out in the bathroom; her date wasn’t going to show.

She straightened her dress and gave herself one last perfunctory glance in the mirror and exited the restroom.  She passed the security guards back into the haze filled lounge of Jade Palace and riveted as she noticed the handsome middle aged man seated beside the entrance. He slowly raised his eyes in her direction, cocked his head to the side and gave a lopsided smile. Panlam felt her disappointment melt into a puddle of excitement. He looked exactly like Tariebi had described and unlike the last three she’d sent her way, this one really did have the body of a twenty five year old. She couldn’t quite place it but there was something very familiar about him. He signalled for her to stay where she was and walked over to the bar.

Panlam contemplated waiting and then decided against it.

‘Start in the way you mean to go.’ She said to herself and navigated the tables scattered around the floor till she was standing behind him.

‘After an hour of waiting with no apologies or explanations, I don’t do very well with being ordered around.’ She purred.

The guy turned around in surprise and flashed another of his lopsided smiles. He gestured to the bar stool beside him and helped her climb onto it.

‘It’s a good thing you came anyways; you’d be surprised at how hard it is to guess the favourite cocktail of a girl as exotic as you.’

Panlam acknowledged his subtle flirting with an irreverent smile. He wasn’t the type to apologise which meant she’d taken the right approach by not playing the ingénue with him; it was time to cement that image. She asked the waiter for a shot of scotch on the rocks, matching his order and downing her glass in one gulp while he was still on his first sip, his wedding band catching the strobe lights that lined the bar.

‘Meks, we should find a proper table and get down to the meat of why we’re here.’ She said casually, trapping five one thousand naira notes under her glass and pushing it to the barman and gesturing to both their drinks. Emeka Anyanwu, son of oil magnate Fidelis Anyanwu raised an eyebrow, unsure whether to be amused or insulted by Panlam’s antics. Panlam started for the only free table on the other side of the room, not bothering to check if he was on her heels. He picked his glass and followed, decidedly amused.

Panlam heaved an inward sigh of relief, watching Meks follow her through the mirrored bar, she wasn’t in the mood to grovel to anyone. She manoeuvred her seat so that her back was to the entrance doors of the Jade Palace but could still steal glances, that way she would have to entertain any sudden surprises. Meks reached the table and dropped into the other seat and lit up a cigarette.

‘I asked the barman to send waiters with drinks every twenty minutes, that way our meeting will be well greased. I also put it on my tab; I don’t like being upstaged by teenagers.’ He waited to see if Panlam would try to correct him about her age, and barely hid his increasing amusement when she didn’t. ‘So why did you ask to meet me baby girl.’

‘Panlam,’ she corrected, irritated by the pet name. ‘My name’s Panlam. I’ve heard a lot about you and your interest in dabbling in the entertainment industry, particularly the Nollywood new school. So I asked for this meeting so I could sell you on my ideas.’

He sloshed around the ice cubes in his glass. ‘And here I was thinking you didn’t want my money. Pitch, I’m listening.’

Panlam sighed in relief and fished out a manila envelope from her handbag and put it on the table. Meks picked it and shook out the bound document inside and began to thumb through it.

‘My partner and I have been working on the script in your hands for almost a year. It’s our idea for a medium budget short film with heavy potential to gain attention in the international film festival circuit. It’s a contemporary story about a group of friends in the different creative industries in Nigeria struggling to make it to the zenith of their respective fields and how their lives intersect. Set across Nigeria and with absolutely no need for any fancy graphics or CGI, just good, clean innovative, gritty story telling. The exact kind of thing you’d want to be associated with as your hobby or side project, philanthropic gesture, whatever your PR people decide to spin your financing as…’

‘So, this partner. Is it a he or a she?’ Meks cut in, eyes still trained on the script in his hands.

‘What?!’ Panlam replied, completely thrown by his lateral question. He started to repeat himself and she stopped him with a flurry of words.

‘Oh, my partner. It’s a he, He’s the one who wrote most of the script and will consult through most of the pre-production and filming process. I will be taking administrative head and doing most of the directing.’

Meks gave her a funny look. ‘I’m really impressed. Your script is surprisingly good plus you and this partner have clearly figured out who does what, and he’s letting you pitch your idea alone. That’s the kind of girl I like, a girl with balls.’

‘Thank you?’ Panlam ventured.

He wagged a finger. ‘I have reserved a room at the Eko. I really hate the smell of places like this, can’t really think.  We should retreat there and finish this discussion and then maybe we’ll see about me writing you a cheque.’

‘Oh, my manager and agent Fidipo Lawal feels it’s better for me to meet possible sponsors personally so they know who they’re giving their money to.’ Panlam replied almost immediately. She hid her satisfaction watching Meks Anyanwu blanch as she mentioned her agent’s name. ‘Fidipo handles the actual business side. She’s on her way to meet us. In fact she should already be here by now but she’s probably giving us time to get ‘acquainted’. Can we just give her like ten more minutes or should I just message her to meet us there?’

Meks stared blankly at Panlam for a few seconds and then took his phone out of his pocket and fiddled with it before turning to Panlam and fishing out a couple thousand naira notes and thrusting it into Panlam’s hands.

‘Regina, it was nice meeting you, but I have another meeting in a couple of minutes. I’ll keep your script so I can read it properly. Have your agent call my office on Monday.’

Panlam’s eyes widened in mock surprise, she’d been expecting this. She rounded the table to Meks and planted a kiss on his cheek in full view of everyone.

‘Thank you so much.’ She whispered sweetly in his ear and walked out of the lounge, hailing a cab outside.

‘Where to Madam?’ The cab man asked.

‘Just head for Ikoyi, I’ll tell you where to stop.’

————

————

Tariebi spotted Panlam as she sauntered into Terra Kulture’s restaurant and waved her over. She’d never seen Panlam so put together, with her black Louboutin heels, high-waist pencil skirt and cap-sleeved blouse she looked like she’d walked right out of a Tumblr post. Panlam tottered over and settled herself into the adjacent seat, completely ignoring pleasantries and the Caesar salad Tariebi had already ordered for her before she launched into a diatribe.

‘Tari, is this what we fucking agreed on? This is the fourth guy you’ve set me up to meet who has literally tried to drag me into his bed. Like jeez, I’m not averse to fucking for what I want but at least I wouldn’t mind being treated like little more than a heifer in the interim. Besides you know I don’t fuck married men.’

Tariebi didn’t even know when she startled to cackle.

Panlam gave a pained look. ‘Stop it jor. Even people who fuck their friend’s boyfriends have to draw the line somewhere. Principles and what not.’

‘Thank God you brought that up yourself. I don’t know what you want oh, Panlam. You can’t go and meet these hot blood millionaires wasting away in unhappy marriages looking like fucking Marilyn Monroe and then act surprised when they try to taste your box. Like I don’t even understand.’

Panlam rolled her eyes. ‘Please all these fuckers are perverts. I took your advice with that Kolupo guy and dressed deeper life. Till today that nigga hasn’t stopped calling me talking about how he likes my ‘innocence’ and wants to be the one to ‘show me the world’. ‘

Tariebi shuddered. ‘Ugh! That sounds filthy no matter how I try to spin it in my head. So what happened with Meks?’

Panlam hissed. ‘That one, He didn’t even listen to a fucking word I said, just kept turning the whisky in his shot glass and licking his ridiculously hot lips. When he got tired of me trying to keep things professional, the nigga just asked out right that I follow him back to Eko hotel. I sha, sprung Fidipo Lawal on him and he literally kicked me out with his tail between his legs.’

‘Who is Fidipo Lawal again?’ Tari asked.

It was Panlam’s turn to cackle. ‘You don’t know who she is and you’re a model? Just think Linda Ikeji but much more discreet. She owns a law firm and handles celebrity divorces and entertainment law. She helped some mobile phone millionaire’s wife get one hundred and fifty million Naira in a divorce settlement last year, got a hefty commission too. Her nose is always on the ground, looking for the next cheating millionaire.’

‘AHHHHHH! Father be a Fidipo Lawal, so I can rest from this modelling gig.’

‘Hahaha! Me I don’t want all that stress, God should just give me an Olu Kanye. See as that Iyawo chick is flexing. Babe is twitpic’ed two thousand dollars loun loun that bros gave her just because and tensioned every single girl on twitter.’

Tariebi clucked her tongue. ‘Na wa sha. So what are you going to do about Meks?’

Panlam sighed and stuffed a forkful of salad into her mouth. ‘I don’t know oh. I was actually starting to crush on him before he pulled that stunt. He already has my Whatsapp. So I’ll call him on Monday and see if I can arrange another meeting. I just really don’t want to have to ask my parents for money.’

Tariebi suddenly got serious. ‘Don’t fuck it up this time Panlam. I’m running out rich millionaires to set you up on meetings with who’ll even bother to meet without sex in the equation.’

‘I know.’ Panlam replied, the realisation of how futile it was to succeed without having to compromise with sex heavy in those two syllables.

­­­­­­­­­­————-

BUZZ! BUZZ!

Tariebi reached groggily for the source of the sound intruding on her sleep. She tapped around to her left and felt for the slim curves of her Blackberry Torch. She jerked awake and looked around in the darkness, suddenly aware she wasn’t in her room or her bed. She pressed her phone to light up the screen and used it as a wand and felt her anxiety ease as the light rested on the curly hair and almost yellow skin of the man lying next to her. Jeremiah Lawson. He’d wined and dined her then invited her to sleep over. Her phone vibrated in her hands and she slipped out of bed and tiptoed to the bathroom en suite and locked the door behind her.

—————

————-

Tariebi clacked out the last message with her nails and put off her phone. She felt drained after the conversation and a little remorseful for being so cold to Xhiz. He used to be her charismatic wing man once, but now he was just a whiny apologetic little bitch that hung on to Farhad’s coat tails for validation and pissed her off. She opened the door and gave a little shriek when she saw Jeremiah standing outside the door in nothing but his tented boxer shorts.

‘I woke up with my little man very excited by the prospect you in bed with us but you seemed busy.’

‘Yeah, I had to attend to a friend in crisis, didn’t want to wake you up.’

He reached forward and pulled her to himself, cradling her in his arms. ‘Lord, you smell amazing even this early.’

Tariebi responded with a gentle kiss to his chest.

‘So I received a call from Meks late last night. He wasn’t very happy.’

Tariebi buried her face in Jeremiah Lawson’s chest and gave a muffled reply. ‘I’m trying my best. But it’s taking forever to soften her up. She’s stubborn.’

Jeremiah sighed and put a hand into Tariebi’s hair. ‘I know she is. Just like her father. Stubbornness is a quality they both share. And if I can’t break him, I will break his precious only daughter.’

His grip suddenly turned firm and he pulled Tariebi’s head back till her eyes met his. ‘You promised me you’d make her amenable to an affair with me or one of my friends. That she is desperate enough. I hope for your sake you were right.’

SEAMS S2: Weave and Weft

———–

———–

———–

Xhiz stood in the corridor, resting his back on one of the many poles that supported the flat roofing above the corridor. It was still twilight, dark enough that the corridor was hidden in shadow, perfectly obscuring him from view as he waited. He’d left school at five thirty and endured an hour of morning traffic so he wouldn’t arrive too late and now here he was, almost two hours later, kept waiting by Kike. He glanced at his phone’s screen again and fought to tweet another rant.

He watched the LUTH maternity ward from his vantage point, surprised at the sheer number of women waddling in from the hospital’s parking lot, their arms steadied by doting husbands, sisters, mothers and other familial relatives and he felt a small pang of guilt. He knew he should have gone to Kike’s house to pick her up instead of taking the easy route and coming to wait for her here like she’d suggested. She said she knew how Nigerians never knew how to keep their mouths shut and she didn’t want anyone falsely assuming he was the idiot who knocked her up.

‘That honour is exclusively for Saanyol.’ she’d joked bitterly.

He was such a coward for letting her convince him it was for the best.

I’m better than this’ he thought to himself and made his way to towards the maternity ward. As he drew closer he noticed a woman hunched forward on one of the benches, breathing heavily. There was something familiar about her, something he couldn’t quite place his hands on even though most of her face was obscured by her loosely draped head scarf. He walked over.

“Kike?”

Kike raised her head and spotted Xhiz. She took a deep breath and tried raise herself but pain lanced through her leg and up her spine and she winced. She instead extended an arm towards him. Xhiz took it and lifted her up as gently as he could. He led her through the ward into the loud waiting room filled with heaving and sighing women.

“By the way, what the hell is this getup and why are you wearing a wedding ring? I barely even recognised you. You look like one of those haggard wives from Fuji house of commotion.” Xhiz whispered at her.

She rolled her eyes. “I have a size 46 waist now, it’s not as if I can just reach into my wardrobe and pick out a random pair of skinny jeans and put them on. Besides, these nurses don’t roll their eyes as much when they think you’re an unfortunate underage bride instead of a stupid teenager with an unwanted pregnancy.”

“What happened to you?” Xhiz asked.

Kike sighed. “Slept on my foot last night. Now it’s swollen. Pregnancy woes.”

“Why didn’t your dad bring you?”

Kike pretended not to hear him, instead turning her eyes towards the overhead clock. It was a little over seven thirty which meant she still had some time to wait before her name was called, a little time to catch up.

“How was moving into the hostel finally?” she asked.

“Good good. Farhad’s clothes are always all over the place and he never seems to remember where he kept something after using it but other than that it’s not nearly as bad as I feared.”

Xhiz took out his phone and tapped it diligently, his brief but regular chuckles interjecting the silence between them. Kike felt her curiosity rise under a current of annoyance. He was supposed to be here to keep her company; she didn’t take too well to someone else taking his attention from her. She reached over and snatched his phone out of his hands and held it away as he lunged and tried to steal it back.

“Kai! Kai! settle down jor, can’t you see I’m pregnant?”

“Kike, please give me back my phone.” Xhiz begged.

“Not until you tell me what is making you giggle like a vagina.”

Xhiz scowled at her and lunged for the phone again. She ducked out of his path at the last second and Xhiz fell forward, onto the very pregnant woman sitting next to Kike. The woman turned and glared at the both of them and they immediately took their seats, chastened. The woman’s withering gaze settled on Kike and she clucked loudly before turning away.

“Shebi you see what you caused.” Kike hissed, “Oya, I promise I won’t look at your phone if you tell me what you’re hiding.”

“Hand over the phone and I’ll tell you.” Xhiz bargained.

“No.”

Xhiz sighed. It was worth the try. “Okay,” he began, “Remember all those people that flooded my DMs fishing for information after that whole Luminous nonsense?”

Kike nodded. “Well, There was one of them that I started DMing regularly. I won’t tell you what his handle is, but sha when everyone else finally got bored, he didn’t. He said he’d known about everything before it blew up and had been looking for a way to talk to me.”

“Is he a faggot?” Kike quipped. Xhiz raised an eyebrow and she rolled her eyes. “Ugh. Don’t start with your politically correct nonsense, you know what I mean.”

“No, he is not Gay. At least that’s what he said.  Like his third DM after we started talking, ‘No I am not gay, and no I’m not interested in sleeping with you’ were his exact words. He says he wants to be my friend and so far he’s been quite interesting. Even though every now and then he goes creepy on me.”

“Creepy? How?” Kike interjected.

Xhiz squirmed. “He kind of is intense with a lot of things, asks what I’m doing, talks to me a lot, asks me to send pictures of myself every now and then, not nudes sha. And well, he brings random handles of people of twitter and asks about their sexuality and wants me to use my ‘gay contacts’ or whatever that means to find out about them and stuff. I’ve asked why before and he said he’s just curious.”

Kike gawked at Xhiz, letting everything he’d just said sink in. Eventually she sighed and handed his phone back to him.

“So all this has been happening in your DMs. You must have a lot of time on your hands.”

Xhiz gave a guilty chuckle. “Well, he’s on my Whatsapp now. Been for a while. You know, with everything happening with us, it’s good to have someone I can just talk to. He’s a relief from all the drama.’

‘Oh?’ Kike cocked her head. ‘Do you know what he looks like?’

‘No.’

‘So why do you trust him?’

‘I don’t.’

‘Then Chibuzor, why are you letting this continue? I know I’m no model for good decisions, I mean look at me in my mother’s clothes pretending to be married so people won’t question my pregnancy but make e no be like say I no tell you; this ‘thing’ wey you dey do with this ‘guy’ no go end well.’

‘KIKELOMO OLASINDE?!’

Kike turned to the sound and raised herself up so the nurse who’d shouted her name would see her. The nurse’s face lit up with recognition and she beckoned.

“Just think about what I said.” Kike said, before turning away and limping over to the consultation room.

He watched her go, his nerves all a tingle with a sense of foreboding. He couldn’t shake the feeling that Kike was right but he wanted to give Larry the benefit of the doubt, it was only fair.

————

————

————

The chatter began immediately she entered her department and followed her as she took her time navigating the stairs up to her class. It was as though they all forgot she was pregnant when classes ended for the day and had to reenact the whole charade of gasping in surprise when they saw her, staring at her as she passed and gossiping afterwards. She did her best to ignore them, focusing instead on her hurting leg and favoring it as much as possible. Having to go back home and change into age appropriate clothing had taken more time than she had anticipated, a risk she would have gladly taken if it wasn’t Mrs Arigbede class.

She finally reached the floor and took a moment to catch her breath and ready herself. She went to the door at the far end of the lecture theatre, cringing as it gave a screech when she pushed it open. Heads swiveled, looking for the source of the distraction and widened when they settled on her. She lowered her head and shuffled to the nearest person with a chair.

“Please can I share?” she asked under her breath.

“OLASINDE!”

Kike froze in her half crouch as Mrs Arigbede’s scratchy voice reached her. She straightened slowly and faced the woman’s sly smile.

“Come forward, I asked them to keep a seat for you in front so that you don’t have to stress yourself squinting to see the board or straining to hear what I say all the way from over there. Pregnancy doesn’t deserve any more stress than necessary.”

Kike gave a grim smile and headed for the front of the class. The only thing that could be heard in the deathly silence that took over the hall was the slap-slap of her sandals as she took her time coming down the path between the columns of seats. She knew they were all waiting to see if she would slip or something more embarrassing would befall her and she was determined to disappoint them. She got to the front of the class without event and thankfully sank into the plush chair usually reserved for visiting lecturers. Mrs Arigbede gave her a smile and turned back to the board and began to write.

“See, I like Olasinde’s determination.” She remarked loud enough for the entire class to hear as she copied out the day’s notes. “Normally girls just disappear to their villages when they allow one stupid boy trick them into getting pregnant. But not Olasinde, she’s such a strong girl. When I was pregnant, leaving my bed to go to the fridge was torture. But then again, unlike her I was sensible enough to get pregnant in my husband’s house.”

The class erupted with snide laughter. Mrs Arigbede who usually never tolerated any disturbance in her class faced her board squarely and pretended not to notice. Kike shriveled in her seat, kept eyes firmly on the board and copied, unexpected tears brimming under her lashes.

————

————

————-

————-

————-

————-

—————

It took all of Kike’s strength to drag herself up her street, through her gate and down to her front door. She fumbled in her bags for her keys and let herself in, stopping by the door to pull off her sandals and rub her swollen foot. She reached down and froze when she noticed the beautiful pair of black patent platform heels with vibrant red soles. Surprise shook her as she realised it was size 29. There was only one woman she knew who had feet that small. Anger surged through her and flushed her cheeks and she trampled her way past the foyer and into the moderately sized living room.

‘LINDA! What the fuck are you doing here?’ She spat at the woman sitting on the couch furthest from her, her youngest brother on her lap.

The woman smiled and dropped the boy, squeezing a one thousand naira note into his grubby palm and whispering that he go play inside. She stood up, ran a hand through her expensive Brazilian weave before addressing Kike.

’I came to offer my condolences. Your father called me.’

She felt the baby move and her hand instinctively flew to her swollen abdomen. The nurse had told her to avoid getting unnecessarily agitated. She took a menacing step forward and growled.

‘Thank you for coming. But I don’t why the hell you presume coming back is a good idea. I thought you said you wanted nothing to do with us.’

Kike’s mother blanched. ‘I said I wanted nothing to do with your father, not you. You’re my baby, and I will always be here for you. Your father called me and told me you need my help.’

Kike cocked an eyebrow. ‘Me?!!! Need anything from you?’

Linda replied, unfazed. ‘He told me your child’s grandmother had offered to raise the child for you and you refused. I’m quite comfortable with your step father and we have no children. I can help you with the baby when it comes, and care for it until you’re ready to take over…”

‘Yeah! Like I’ll believe anything that comes out of your selfish, self-serving mouth. You think you’ll just reappear after five years in your Brazilian weave and your Louboutins looking a unilag whore and expect me to put my child’s life in your hands?

‘Do I look like a fucking idiot to you? You think I’ll let you fuck with my child’s head like you fucked with mine? You cheap-‘

‘SHUT UP YOUR DIRTY MOUTH THERE!’ Mr Olasinde bellowed, suddenly appearing from inside the house. Kike grew quiet, her anger ebbing just as quickly as it had risen. She realized she’d actually been screaming.

Kike’s dad turned to her mom. ‘Linda, I thought I told you to not come and agitate my daughter. What is this nonsense?’ he turned to Kike. ‘And you Kike, I have told you, no child of mine will have an abortion, neither will I raise anyone’s bastard in my house. I married one whore and raised another; I have done more than my quota of goodwill for humanity. So you better decide what you’re going to do.’

Kike looked from her father, to her mother and suddenly felt alienated from the both of them. She dropped her head and fled to her room, locking the door behind her. She heard heated words from beyond her door and wondered if it wasn’t better that her parents had divorced. She banished the tears that were threatening to fall and stiffened her upper lip. Nobody was going to force her into doing anything. Those days were gone. Plus it was Saanyol’s baby too. Just because he was in rehab didn’t give her any right to do with his child as she wished. She sighed, it was time. She picked her phone and dialled the only American number she had stored on her phone but had never called. The phone rang twice and was put through to a switch board.

“I’d like to speak to a patient, Saanyol Terwase please.”

“…”

“Hello, who’s this?”

“Saan, its Kike. Please don’t cut the call, I have something important to tell you.”

———-

SEAMS S2: Duplicity

The massive cathedral was lit from above, industrial power fluorescent lights set into the expansive ceilings. Louise sat in the back, wedged between two female choristers and zoned out, turning her attention away from the smart-suited girl who addressed the choir meeting to the Cathedral’s glorious architecture. It felt a little bourgeois to her when compared to the extravagance of the Sistine in Rome where her parents her dragged her to four years ago. She wondered why they even called an edifice this massive a chapel. It kind of defeated the purpose of all the fancy architecture.

“Papa might be coming to worship with us this Sunday, so our praise must be excellent…”

Her attention was rudely drawn back to her surroundings when she felt someone tap her brusquely. She turned to glare and hastily stood up, mumbling apologies when she realised everyone else was on their feet. The girl beside her rolled her eyes and Louise fought the urge to say something nasty. The singing started in earnest, the formerly quiet hall suddenly enveloped in overwrought melisma and consummate gesturing. Louise cringed and wondered how she’d gotten herself into this, joining the choir and the drama and ushering groups in Covenant all for some penis. She went through the motions of the first run of the song, and then the second, glancing over to see if her roommates were watching her. During the third run she turned over to the girl on her right and whispered to her.

“I think my period just started.”

Her eyes widened. “Oh shit! Did you bring a pad?”

“I always carry a pad, the irregular flow thing.” Louise replied grimly. “I need to go deal with this thing, but I can’t do it in the chapel toilets in case I have already stained myself and need to change my panties, can you cover for me?”

The girl nodded effusively and stepped away so Louise could pass. Louise scrunched her face as though in pain and picked her bag and the girl on her other side muttered condolences. She limped her way through the throng of singers and exited the chapel through her favourite side entrance. She heard one of the excos ask where she was going and both girls respond simultaneously, rushing to be the first to ‘explain’ to everyone that she was having another painful period, the relish in their voices unmistakable as they practically embellished the morself of information she’d let slip to their hearing. Louise shook her head and broke into a self satisfied smile. That was the thing her parents had factored in when they had sent her to a place filled with tattlers, with a little nudging she could use their need for gossip to her advantage.

Louise abandoned the limp once she was out of view of the chapel and picked up speed, crossing the distance between the chapel and the college of development Sciences as fast as her perfectly tailored pencil skirt would allow. She headed for the closest toilet block, switching off the lights as she passed the entrance and ducked into the last stall. She left the door slightly ajar and stood in the silence and tried to still the nervousness that was making her hands shake. Self doubt flooded her and she wondered if she wasn’t just being stupid, if any of this was worth it in the end. She closed her eyes and bunched her hands into fists at her sides and tried to calm herself. Then she felt a hand clamp over her mouth and went rigid.

She felt dampness mist behind her ear, shallow breathing on her neck, the expelled air smelt like mint and menthol. She sighed into the hand over her mouth and felt her body loosen. She had worried when he didn’t find a way to contact her but her worries had been baseless.

‘I almost didn’t come today.’ He whispered into her ear as he pressed himself into her back. She felt his erection through the soft cashmere of his slacks meld against her thigh and flushed from inside out.

‘Why?’ she asked in a faltering voice.

His left hand moved from her mouth into her box braids and pulled back with a practiced ferocity. ‘You keep testing my limits, pushing to see how vindictive I can become. That Farhad boy, I thought I told you to stop fucking around with him.’

She arched her back, pressing herself into his erection and swirled her hips slowly. Her reply was a breathy whisper. ‘I told you I used to have a crush on him, but I don’t anymore. He still wants me and I’m flattered by it all, but that’s about it. I can’t be a bitch to him, but there’s nothing more than friendship.’

His other hand tickled the hem of her skirt and peeled it up an inch to reveal soft plush thigh. He stroked down the outer thigh and up the inner thigh. She shuddered as his cold fingers left trails of moisture and bit her inner lip to keep a moan trapped inside her chest.

‘L.J, I know you and I don’t believe you. You’re just waiting for an opportunity to whore around.’

She reached down and stopped his hand. ‘I defied my parents and came to Fox River because of you. I followed the great Luminous into this hellhole. If that doesn’t tell you that I’m loyal to you, then I don’t know what will.’

His lips puckered on her earlobe and his tongue flicked out and teased a whimper out of her. He worked his down up to her neck and he slathered her with kisses before grazing her gently at the precise spot where her shoulders lined with her neck, eliciting a gasp of pleasant surprise. Her free hand found its way to the back of his head and pressed him down on her neck and the other took his fingers and guided them up very slowly up her thigh, dragging the hem of her skirt up with them. She shifted her foot to give way into the inner recesses of her thigh, his fingers curving up and in, shifting her lace panties to the side. He cupped a supple breast through her white shirt and worked her with his fingers and his lips, turning her into an incoherent tangle of tingling nerves and shuddering sensations, held on her feet by his hands. His fingers always felt so cold and this time was worse or better, her extra sensitivity amplified each random twist of his wrist guiding the tempo of his long slender fingers.

The chapel’s loud speakers crackled to life in rapturous song at the perfect time to mask the uncontrolled mewling that came from their stall as Louise lost it entirely. The kissing, the fingers and his hands feeling her up through her blouse and the added awareness from the risk of someone walking in on them was all too much for Louise to handle. She pushed off his body and leaned into the wall for support, her legs wobbling under her as she turned in time to see him leave the stall and walk away. She frowned in disappointment as his shadow lengthened and disappeared in the square of light from the main door. She reluctantly dragged her skirt down and straightened out her hair before fishing out the small white pill she’d kept in her pocket and lobbing it into the toilet bowl.

‘Not getting laid after all.’ She muttered to herself as she flushed the morning after pill.

—————

—————

The Kia MDX was a microcosm of vibrant life as it crossed the first Lekki toll bridge, loud trance music bursting from the speakers of the SUV as it manoeuvred into a lane and slowed to pay the toll. Tariebi reached over to the car stereo and turned down the volume for her ‘date’, the creative muscle behind the new but highly praised Vince Eko bespoke label. He paid the toll attendant and asked her to keep the change. He turned over and frowned when he saw she’d taken off her seat belt again and had her bare legs pulled to her chest in the shotgun seat. She gave a coy smile and returned her attention back to the Blackberry in her hands.

The car ate up the free highway, crossing and overtaking other cars. Tariebi shook her head and dug up her Louboutin platforms from under the car seat, pulling them on before stacking her legs on the dashboard and admiring how much longer they looked with her heels on. That drew another frown from the guy in the driver’s seat, this one she didn’t even bother acknowledging. They got to Admiralty way and had to park about four buildings down from the Grey Velvet building because of the sheer number of vehicles already parked in Centro Mall’s parking lot.

‘That’s what we get for wanting to make an entrance.’ Her date said with a rueful smile.

Tari swung her feet on to the road, stepped out of the MDX. She fixed her romper and boyfriend blazer before sashaying over to her date, already on the Bailey’s red carpet and taking his arm. The Bella Naija photographer lined them up for his shot and took a couple, asking Tariebi to angle herself so the guy’s arm tightly wrapped around her waist would be visible in the shot. He smiled to indicate that he was done with them and turned to the next couple standing aside pretending to be disinterested by the whole process and beckoned them over.

‘Shall we?’ she asked.

Grey Velvet was half full and almost every hand held a glass tumbler sloshing with ice and Irish cream. Tariebi stayed at her date’s side as he and his posse of friends worked the room, stylists and makeup artists whom he’d grown close to after his debut collection showed at LFDW and practically sold out. He was the glue that held them together, the reason they were playing nice with each other. She distracted herself with alcohol, downing a starter glass and snatching another from the hired waiters as they passed the makeshift bars scattered around the atelier. It was the only way she was able to tolerate their nasal laughs and inside jokes which she didn’t understand. She hadn’t planned to come but the designer guy wanted his ‘muse’ here with him wearing one of his designs since his clothes were going to be adorning the Grey Velvet’s shelves. She zoned out of the current conversation with a fashion journalist and scanned the room, cringing when she spotted the tell-tale wavy mop of hair that could only belong to one person adjacent to her.

Farhad was dressed immaculately in an embellished calf length jallabiya and his hair teased as a curly afro. He cocked a tapered eyebrow when he noticed her watching him. She also recognised the girl around whose shoulder he had his arm. She was one of those popular twitter girls, ruthless as she was beautiful, eager to throw someone under the bus for a few laughs. Tariebi did a double take when she recognised the girl and wondered what she was doing here with Farhad. She groaned, remembering Farhad was one of them now, a cool kid. Farhad waved at her and made his way towards her. She rolled her eyes and turned away, deliberately turning and feigning surprise when he finally reached her and tapped her on the shoulder.

“Long time no see.” He said.

Tariebi shrugged. “You could have found me if you really wanted.”

“Not on twitter at least.’ He replied casually, his girl perking at the first hint of drama. ‘What was it you tweeted when you were deactivating your account, ‘I’ve outgrown this childishness’?’

Tariebi tried to contain herself. ‘Yeah, which isn’t exactly surprising if anyone would take anything you tweet seriously.’

The fat personal shopper and newest entrant to her date’s entourage squealed when she realised who Tariebi was talking to and waddled over to Farhad, literally pouncing on him while his girl looked away, suddenly disinterested. She only had eyes for Tariebi’s date, obviously star struck.

“Would you like me to introduce you?” Tariebi asked, anything to shift attention to someone else.

The girl’s eyes widened and she nodded effusively, afraid to open her mouth and embarrass her by blubbering. Tariebi felt second hand embarrassment for the girl. She tugged gently at Vincent’s shirt to get his attention. He excused himself from the conversation with the journalist and turned to her. She gestured to Farhad’s date and smiled.

“So Vincent, I think she’s one of your rabid groupies.’

Vincent broke into the megawatt smile that had earned him magazine covers and had Farhad’s date giggling in no time. Farhad didn’t even notice, all his attention commandeered by the personal shopper who giggled and not so subtly pushed her breasts in his face as she delved into a largely boring story about some client of hers. Tariebi slipped away from Vincent and his new interest and stalked over to the nearest bar, picked up a fresh glass of Irish cream and a cupcake and walked the room alone, deliberately avoiding anyone she knew, perusing the clothes instead. It was nearly twenty minutes past seven, she hadn’t even realised they’d been here for nearly four hours. She did one last round and ended up picking a clan dress and an exquisite Eki Orleans skirt. She walked over to the counter, paid for the dress and surreptitiously scanned the room while the attendant rung up her bill. She couldn’t find Farhad or his ‘date’ and Vincent was at the centre of a three inch deep circle of shoppers involved in a hearty debate.

She took her purchase and snuck out of store and paused just inside the gate as she spotted Farhad plant a kiss on his date’s lips and help her open the door to a red cab. She got in and he shut the door behind her and waved as the cab started and turned into the road. He turned unexpectedly and caught her eye and smiled. She rolled her eyes, with the neon green playsuit she was wearing; she could probably get spotted from the moon. She reluctantly walked over to him.

‘Ditching the crew this early?’ he asked.

‘They’re going to Orchid bistro when they leave here, and then on to some swanky strip club on Thomas street in Ikeja. I have a casting tomorrow morning and I didn’t bring my car, so I’ll just bow out while I’m ahead.’ She replied. ‘What happened to your date?’

He chuckled. ‘She wasn’t going to put out, so I cut my losses.’

She couldn’t tell if he’d just made a joke and she didn’t really want to find out.

‘We’re both going to Yaba. Why don’t we just share a cab and split the fare?’ he suggested. She thought about it and gave a non-committal nod. They flagged the next cab that came and after negotiating and giving the driver directions, she crawled into the backseat and he followed, blatantly disregarding the empty shotgun seat. She rolled her eyes.

‘You still talk to Louise?’ she ventured after they had ridden in silence for nearly twenty minutes.

‘Yeah she’s fine. I haven’t confirmed but I think that her luminous boyfriend is in Covenant with her. Don’t even want to imagine the shit they’re getting down to in there.’ He watched Tariebi’s face scrunch in disgust and remembered there was something he’d wanted to ask her earlier but it hadn’t seemed the appropriate time.

‘How is Panlam sef? Wallahi, I’ve been hearing rumours about her, all kinds of ‘stories’. That she’s been frequenting Blu Radisson and Four Points nowadays and not in the company of her parents, if you know what I mean.’

Tariebi turned to Farhad and looked him in the eye. ‘You have Panlam’s number, why don’t you just pick your phone up and call her. But I will say this: Panlam has moved up in the world, she’s left gossipy boys and girls who embarrass themselves and grovel because of some B-list upcoming fashion designer.  And trust me for once, fuck what you’ve heard about her, it is NOTHING like you imagine. Not even remotely like you…’

‘Hey! Calm down, I’m not the enemy here.’

Tariebi peeled her eyes off Farhad’s face and moved them down to her bare thigh which had been empty a second before, and was now a resting place for Farhad’s palm. She raised her eyes back to Farhad’s and he gave his most disarming smile before leaning over to kiss her.

Tari felt her head swim, she’d totally forgotten how good a kisser Farhad was and her lids involuntarily lowered as he deepened the kiss. She let him draw close and nudge her lips apart, and his tongue dart in to tickle her palate. As the cab slowed and jerked to a halt outside her block and she pushed him off her, exiting the car in a flurry of legs. She closed the door and leant in through the open window and smiled coquettishly.

‘In case you were still nurturing hope, take my word for it, I will never put out for you Farhad.’

————

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————–

Louise got off her bunk and stalked over to the light switch in the room. She looked to make sure Florence and Jennifer were fast asleep before switching the lights off. She walked back to her bunk and climbed in, putting her Blackberry on vibrate and sending a PING to the only pin she had on her BBM. She slipped the Blackberry into the waistband of her pyjama pants and lay on her belly, whimpering into the microphone of the iPhone as her phone began to vibrate under her in response to the continuous pings that flooded it. A particularly breathy gasp escaped her and she giggled. Yes, this was definitely better than sexting.

————–

Farhad’s iPhone dinged and he dropped his mother’s Blackberry, not bothering to clear the chat, it was just pings anyway, nothing incriminating. It was a Whatsapp message from an unknown number. Farhad opened the message and felt his blood bubble with rage. He read the message aloud to himself to be sure he wasn’t misreading the any sentence.

SEAMS S2: Reintroductions.

Chibuzor ducked as he got into the Unilag shuttle bus and took a corner seat. He was used to corner seats now, anything to not get noticed. He took out his phone and opened his Twitter client, his heart fluttering slightly when he saw the tell-tale bird icon on his notification bar. He clicked on the icon and waited with bated breath as the app fired up and filled the screen with its fluorescent green template. He bypassed his timeline and went straight to his mentions. He’d grown tired of seeing subliminal tweets directed at him, the ones that had ‘FuckmeImstupid’ strategically placed where it would give the tweet maximum sting.

His twitter was blissfully sparse today, none of the dozens of ‘LMAO’s’ and ‘LMFAOs’ in response to someone’s cheap jab that usually clogged his mentions. Today there were only seven tweets, all copying him on to a tweet about Tariebi by some twitter girl. Relief washed over him, he knew it was selfish but better her than him. They reminded him of vultures, the way they swarmed and picked at people they considered weak. It disgusted him to think that he used to be one of them.

He sighed as the bus drove past the traffic and turned into University Road. He kept one eye on the road as he tweeted the songs shuffling on his phone to pass the time. He’d never been one of those ‘now playing’ addicts but so much had changed in the last six months that now every obscure song title felt like a subliminal message. The bus pulled into the car park and everyone descended. He pocketed his phone, ignoring the ding of a new mention, slid on his oversized aviators and pulled his hoodie up over his head. It was probably another person retweeting the tweet about Tariebi. He dragged his luggage out of the bus’s trunk and headed towards Jaja hall, keeping his head down so he wouldn’t meet anyone’s eyes. He got to the gate, pulled out his phone and dialled a number. A gruff voice came through the speaker.

“Hey, Mr. I’m keeping a low profile. Wa’agwan?”

Xhiz tried to hide his irritation. “I’m downstairs with my luggage. Come get me.”

“Haha. Hope I didn’t piss you off? Give me two minutes.”

Xhiz stood with his luggage and scrolled through his timeline, trying to distract himself from the seconds ticking away as he was kept waiting under the merciless Lagos sun. He could feel himself getting angry, more at the situation than the person keeping him waiting. This was all his fault. If he hadn’t been such a coward and had come to pursue hostel accommodation with everyone else instead of trying to avoid the process all together, he wouldn’t have had to spend almost fifty grand to buy a bed space just so he could share a room with someone he didn’t even want to see right…

“DUDE!”

Xhiz looked up and glared. “Ugh! Don’t fucking ‘dude’ me. Is this your two minutes? Is that how much you hate me that you leave me out to burn in this bloody sun?”

Farhad took one look at him and broke into laughter before tackling him into a bear hug. He resisted at first, then gave in and hugged Farhad back, trying not cringe as Farhad’s sweaty chest stained the front of his sweat shirt. Even though he was genuinely livid that Farhad had taken his merry time coming to get him, he couldn’t deny that he had missed his friend. A lot had changed in the last six months but one thing he was grateful for was how close they had grown. Becoming roommates was going to help them become even closer.

Farhad detached from him and raised an eyebrow when he spotted his luggage.

“Is this all you’re bringing? Just two boxes?”

Xhiz shrugged. “I’m travelling light now.”

“You sha took your merry time resuming, Lectures started last Monday.”

“It’s just one week of class, I don’t think it will hurt my GPA that much.”

Farhad gasped. “Who the hell are you and what have you done with Xhiz?”

Xhiz rolled his eyes. “Xhiz the parry boy has died, so Chibuzor the nerd can thrive.”

“That sucks man. I was planning to use his superior fashion sense to hook some fashion girls. But whatever,” Farhad grabbed the handle of the bigger box. “Might as well get you settled in.”

Xhiz grinned as he grabbed the second bag and followed Farhad’s lead. This was his final year, and for the first time in a long while he was excited to change and make something out of himself before he was thrust into the real world. Last year had given him his first taste of how unforgiving that world was and he was determined to tread carefully. 

————————————————————

Kike spotted Farhad first. His hair had grown since she last saw him and now it rounded his head like a shiny black halo. He was dressed dapper, Charlatans polo and Orange culture signature shorts, svelte in comparison to Xhiz’s understated blue tee and black pants. They were huddled over the table chatting away as they tore into the heap of pancakes in front of them. Kike instinctively smoothed the front of her maxi dress and sucked in her belly, gathering the strength to face her cousin. Xhiz spotted her first as she rounded the corner and stood to hold the door open for her. She rolled her eyes but let him. They shared a long hug and Xhiz led her to his table and pulled out a chair for her. She eased herself into the chair and acknowledged Farhad’s presence with a curt nod.

“Long time no see.” He said.

She gave him a flat look. “Yeah, that was deliberate.”

Farhad groaned. “Don’t tell me you’re still pissed that I twitpic’ed that picture of us at the pool last month. I said I was sorry. Wallahi you’re just too much.”

Kike blanched. “Me? Just too much?!!! One of your twitter groupies said I looked like a fucking whale and all you did was RT with ‘L.M.A.O!’ Like, who the fuck does that?”

“In my defense, it was very funny.” Farhad replied and popped a slice of pancake into his mouth.

Kike glared at him and opened her mouth to say something very unpleasant but Xhiz’s pleading expression held her hand. She looked at him and followed his gaze to the other end of the room. All the occupied tables were covertly watching their table, fingers poised over devices.

“Please.” Xhiz begged.

Kike ignored him and turned back to Farhad, looking him square in the eye.

“You think those idiots are your friends abi? You think they won’t throw you under the bus too? I’ve been watching you use everything that has happened as your launching pad into the Twitter big leagues. You’re so lost in the sauce, you can’t even see how cruel it is to tell shit stories about my dad and your mom just so you can get a few laughs and Retweets. Pele oh, Mr. Twitter funnyman. I will be here when they sacrifice you for twitter table topics and God knows I will laugh my ass off.”

Farhad burst into loud derisive laughter. “Who is taking twitter seriously now? See forget everything you think you know. I KNOW these people are not my friends. It’s all just bants and I’m not deceived for one moment that they have my back. I’m not stupid  kin ji ko, I am not you.”

It suddenly felt like the air had been sucked out of the room. Xhiz’s grip on Kike’s hand tightened, willing her not to respond.  To his surprise she didn’t flare up. Instead, she drew in a breath and exhaled deeply before dragging herself to her feet.

“It was nice seeing you Xhiz. Call me when you want to hang out, alone.”

The boys watched her as she made her way out of the eatery and headed for the car park, her once proud shoulders sagging as her spine bent to accommodate her now protruding belly, drawing stares from every corner.


“You still talk to that skrep?” Tariebi said, leaning over to peer at Panlam’s screen.

Panlam snatched away her phone and exited her Twitter app. “Not that it’s any of your business but yes. I don’t abandon my friends.”

Tariebi laughed. “As if you know what the word ‘friend’ means.”

Panlam glared at her, eager to reply. But she decided against it, instead focusing on the beautiful vista from the balcony of the roof terrace of the Sheraton Four Points. This was her first time here and it was even more beautiful than she had imagined. She didn’t see any point in agitating Tariebi when there was still so much she could gain from their ‘association’, like access to her clientele.

She straightened and pulled down the hem of her Clan mini dress as the elevators dinged and opened out spilled two very handsome men suited in black tuxedos. They stalked over to the girls, taking time to size them up, the sheer width of their smiles affirming they liked what they saw. The older of the two men walked over to her and took her hand.

“Tari, I presume.”

Panlam smiled and threw Tariebi a sideways gloating glance. Tariebi faltered, her plastic smile cracking to reveal a murderous stare before she composed herself and gently took the man’s arm.

“I’m Tariebi.”

The man gave an apologetic smile and leaned over to give her a kiss on the cheek. “Shall we?

_________________________________________

The three adults squashed together on the small couch in Dr. Dinkle’s office still managed to ensure their bodies didn’t touch. The youngest of the three sat forward, twiddling his thumbs and trying to distract himself from the itching in his neck. The other two, man and wife sat back, their expensive agbada and iro and buba swirling around them. The psychiatrist, Dr. Dinkle watched all three, calculating how best to navigate the situation, aware of how volatile they all were around each other.

“Mr and Mrs Terwase…”she began and was immediately interrupted by the man.

“That’s Chief and Chief Mrs Terwase to you.”

“How could I ever forget?” Dr. Dinkle muttered under her breath.

“What?”

She coughed and spoke up. “I said I’m glad you didn’t forget… that today’s your son Saanyol’s group therapy session.”

Chief Mrs. Terwase gave a tight lipped smile. “Yes, you said it was necessary for his recovery.”

The doctor gave a conciliatory smile, at least she had an ally.

“Yes, it is. You see many young people who take this route usually indicate long term disassociation with their parents and it usually is helpful that they are able to air their grievances in a safe space.”

Chief Terwase grabbed his son by the scruff of his shirt and pushed him forward. “This scallywag has never had any problems ‘airing’ his grievances to me or his mother and throwing everything we have done for him in our faces. Hell, he’s even thrown us bringing him abroad to be treated in our faces.”

Dr. Dinkle’s hands flew to her mouth in alarm. “Sir, physical violence is not allowed in my office. This is tantamount to abuse.”

The chief devolved into fits of laughter. “Abuse? My dear, this boy is above 21 so unless you want to find someone to arrest me you better shut it there. I didn’t come here to hear from you on how to train my child. I just came to tell you that you better speed up your treatment program if you really want to help this rascal. We’re withdrawing him in a month, rehabilitated or not. His paternal grandmother’s burial is exactly two months from now and as the first grandchild of his grandparents and future patriarch of our dynasty he must be present at the burial.”

The chief rose to his feet and left for the door, his wife meekly mirroring his actions. At the door he stopped and turned to Saanyol, his eyes filled with malice.

“You broke the poor woman’s heart, killed her with all your nonsense. Call me bastard if I don’t make you come home and bury her.”

SEAMS S1: Epilogue (Green Streak)

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Twitter profile: @Lvminovs

11:10pm

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“Dexter, done yet so we can go?”

The girl in the car pushed her head out of the passenger window and puckered up. Dexter turned from the ATM with a full wallet and ran a hand through his green streaked hair before  planting a sloppy kiss on the waiting girl’s lips. He rounded his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, got in the driver’s seat and started the engine.

“Don’t worry Louise, where we’re going will change your life forever.

SEAMS S1: Vendetta


“Farhad I’m almost there.” Tari cooed into her mobile, making an amusing attempt at running in heels towards the Unilag main gate where Farhad was waiting in exasperation.

Her Carina had developed a flat tire the morning before and she’d been forced to resort to public transportation. She’d dressed down in a plain tee and jeans but wore her five inch stilettos to add some edge, no point looking like a mannequin in a molue. She paused to pull off a spent pure water sachet that’d been spiked by the tip of her heel and waved as she caught sight of Farhad shaking his head as he walked down to meet her. He wore his hair straight nowadays, since the Laundromat shoot he’d begun to bother with his hair a lot more. They shared a hug and he hailed a red cab, the driver checking his clock and starting the meter before he asked where they wanted to go.

3:01pm.

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Kike turned on her phone and cleaned off the thin film of dust on the tiny screen. She grinned as she turned on the internet and booted up her Twitter and Facebook clients. Her father looked at her sternly, his fingers and the front of his rolled up jeans stained with the lacquer paints he was using on his latest commission. The phone began to whine as a flurry of delayed messages from different platforms poured in and she looked at her father in panic. His forehead creased even more as she frantically tried to silence the phone. Eventually she pulled out the battery and palmed it in case her father suddenly changed his mind again about returning her Blackberry to her.

Mr. Olasinde pulled a slim paint brush out of his halo of salt and pepper hair and poked Kike in the chest with repeatedly, speaking in a slow enunciated growl.

“Young lady, you are the first of four children, minus your two young cousins. You are as much a mother to those ones as you are my child. I don’t appreciate seeing you glued to that piece of plastic these capitalists have used to brainwash your generation. I will confiscate it for a month if you force my hand Kike.”

He poked her one final time to ensure the message sunk and ambled back to his studio, his wiry back glistening with sweat in the sun lit backyard. Kike hissed and put her battery back into her phone. In that moment, she couldn’t blame her mom for leaving her father, she didn’t see how anyone could stand this man who had sired her. White digits announced the time as she plugged her phone up to charge in the small bedroom that she’d ‘inherited’ from her mother. She hit redial and called up the first number on her call log.

 3:44pm.

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The black leather seats felt uncomfortably warm against her back as Panlam drove. Saanyol had parked the car outside her house again and let his seats bake. She had the visor pulled down against the yellow light of the evening sun but the rays still managed to obscure her vision. She sighed. Apart from the music from Cool FM blaring from the stereo the car was unusually quiet. She stole a glimpse into the rear view mirror and chuckled. Saanyol’s face was buried in his phone and he was doing an excellent job of ignoring Xhiz, who was leaning in and whispering while his hand surreptitiously inched its way towards Saanyol’s thigh. Xhiz looked so forlorn, his pupils wide as saucers, like he was about to cry. She wondered what Xhiz had done to Saanyol to make him withdraw into his another of his mostly annoying sulking fits.

Well, she thought, I’m not having any of this rubbish and hit the brakes suddenly, causing the car to jerk as it chassis responded to the sudden command to stop. Xhiz flailed, grasping for support, falling into Saanyol’s crotch.

“Oops!” Panlam said and continued to drive, pretending not see Saanyol push Xhiz away and Xhiz’s face scrunch as he tried to hold back a sniffle.

Just a couple of streets down was the mall  and she could buy herself a bottle of vodka and not have to pretend not to see Xhiz embarrass himself so thoroughly. If only he’d trusted her enough, she’d have told him Saanyol didn’t need to be seduced when he could be taken. They pulled into the lot of the Mall and Panlam sighed in anticipation. She glanced at the bright green dashboard display as she turned off the ignition.

4:12pm

————————————————————

Tariebi’s phone rang as she waited outside the Ouch! studio where Uche Nnaji was holding impromptu auditions for two male and two female models for his new capsule collection. There were about thirty of them who’d received the summons, a healthy mix of veterans and amateurs. Uche wanted a fresh face with an old hand so the fifteen veteran models had brought a fledgling along. The boys were having test shots separately, she and the other girls were already done.

“Hello?”

“Hey bitch girl, its Xhiz.”

Tariebi rolled her eyes. “I thought I told you to stop calling me that.”

“Whatever. I just called to make sure you were still coming.”

“Yeah I am, and I’m bringing Farhad as you asked.”

“Thank you! thank you!! thank you!!!You never let me down.”

“Ugh! Chibuzor, just stop with the grovelling.”

“What?”

“Your grovelling is even worse than when you call me bitch.”

“Oh sorry, Miss feminist gangster nigress!” came the snotty reply. Tariebi couldn’t help her grin.

“See you later bitch boy. Saanyol’s place right?”

“Yup, bye.”

Tariebi cut the call and frowned. She respected Xhiz’s bravery but she couldn’t help but worry that he was doing the wrong thing. The doors slid open and Farhad popped out, flushed from the heat of the studio lights. Tari looked at her watch to see how much time had passed.

“You’re ready to go?”

 4:39pm

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“The tits on the Jamaican chick gave me trips for days, Definitely, cheers to that!”

Saanyol raised his glass to join Panlam’s and Xhiz in a tipsy toast. They had worked their way through two thirds of the first bottle of Grey Goose, sharing a hookah pipe as Saanyol regaled them with stories of the previous summer he’d stayed back in New York. Panlam had mixed her glass with tonic same as Saanyol while Xhiz guzzled down cranberry juice with his between bouts of frantic texting. Panlam looked over and shook her head. Xhiz was scrolling through Louise’s instagram. The boy was nothing if not relentless.

They all sat on the carpet, surrounded by a cove of throw pillows, Saanyol’s ‘Morrocan’ experience. She wanted to smack Xhiz, he wouldn’t give the girl a break either. Everyone had noticed she’d been out of it the last few days, her tweet count had reduced drastically and she only surfaced to tweet her playlist and give the occasional reply. Usually that happened when people acquired new DM buddies. Who knew, she might be moving on.

They all paused when they heard a key click as it was slid into the front door. The lock jiggled for a little while before the the door yawned open and Kike stepped in, wearing an incredibly tight dress. She walked over to Saanyol and kissed him full on the lips.

“Hey baby.”

5:10pm 

——————————————————–

Farhad slouched to hide his awe of the decadent luxury as they climbed the stairs to Saanyol’s apartment, Tari was disinterested, she’d been there many times. Farhad knocked and got his first surprise as Kike opened the door for them.

“I thought you were in hiding?” He asked as he took in Kike’s borderline slutty dress.

Kike shrugged. “Saanyol asked me to come over.”

Farhad slid past her into the living room of the apartment and smiled as he noticed the absence of furniture and the hookah sitting in the middle of a semi-circle of throw pillows on the carpet.

“Finally, fun that isn’t Haram.”

The three seated in the semi-circle turned to glare at him before turning back to nurse their drinks. Farhad and Tariebi joined in and began to pass the hookah pipe around, blowing smoke circles as they ribbed each other gently for their sartorial and relationship choices. Kike sat outside the circle, watching but not indulging. They played a couple of drinking games with Farhad having to take two extra long drags of the pipe in place of a shot, each person bringing a game and everyone else having to play for at least one round. Eventually it got to Xhiz’s turn to bring up a game  and in spite of Saanyol’s reluctance to play they agreed on ‘Darkest Secret’. Everyone had to guess what the player’s secret was and if they got it wrong they drank a shot.

“I’ll go first.” Xhiz offered. “My is secret is this, I am….”

Tari smirked. “A slut?”

Xhiz threw her a side eye in response. The guesses that followed grew wilder and wilder as the fact that they were all starting to get buzzed became more obvious.

“No you guys!” Xhiz exclaimed in exasperation. “I’m not an astronaut, I’m bisexual!”

The room went silent as everyone waited for Xhiz to laugh and joke it off. He didn’t. Instead he said it again, more seriously this time.

“I’m bisexual. I like both boys and girls.”

Kike snorted and burst into full out laughter, everyone else but Farhad quickly joining in.

“My guy, is that your ‘secret’? Hahahahaha! Abegi! With the exception of Farhad and Louise who brushed us off, everyone else knows you like dick.”

Farhad spoke up. “Actually I knew. I saw him at Tari’s last party making out with someone who looked like…”

“My turn!” Saanyol cut in. He took Kike’s hand and glared at Farhad. Point made, Farhad shook his almost imperceptibly.

Saanyol stood up and urged everyone else up. He circled around the cushion to join Kike, put his hand on Kike’s belly and beamed.

“You guys should be the first to know. This beauty here is giving me a baby.”

Panlam squealed in delight and hugged the couple, everyone else began to mill around shaking and smiling. Tariebi gave Saanyol and Kike hugs and slipped out for a smoke. She couldn’t stand the deception.

She was half way through her second stick when she felt her phone ring and she pulled out the phone and answered the call. The voice on the other end of the line was frantic and started chattering the minute she said hello.

“Oh My God! That your Louise friend. Some green streak person just flushed her reputation down the toilet.”

“Wait, what? Who’s this?” Tariebi asked, a scowl on her face.

“Mzz Jeanae, Insured Legs’ friend?”

“Oh! I see your handle every now and then. What did you say happen?”

“Your friend; this dude just tweeted the most embarrassing stuff about her. That she’s a cheap needy slut.”

Tariebi rolled her eyes. “How do you know its her that was being talked about?”

The response was gleeful, too gleeful. “He insulted Kike and the rest of you people too.”

“The fuck? Did he call my name?”

“No, he didn’t but anyone who knows you people will know immediately the story on his TL is about your crew, He even called you an ‘illiterate model’ or something.”

Tariebi spat out the cigarette stub from between her lips.

“Thanks for the heads up.”

“Anytime.”  

6:03pm

———————————————————–

 The room was silent as death as Tariebi read out the TL she’d just opened to her friends, each person cringing as they heard their private issues presented in the most derogatory, demeaning manner. Xhiz cringed more than most as they read out a tweet about him hooking up with Saanyol. He turned to plead with Kike who was standing next to him, and froze as she slapped him flush across the face.

“And you, this fucking bitch!” She screamed, lunging at Panlam. It took Farhad and Saanyol physically restraining her to keep her from hurting Panlam.

“Tariebi? Where the fuck did you find this rubbish?” Saanyol bellowed, veins popping out on his arm from the exertion of holding his girlfriend in check.

“Please redirect your tool shed bile away me. I’m obviously as much a ‘semi-literate’ victim as you are.”

Kike snatched Tari’s phone from her and slunk off to a corner to reread the tweets herself.

“Dude, that isn’t the point. Who the fuck is this? And why is he doing this? How does this benefit him?” Saanyol asked.

“I obviously didn’t do it and Farhad’s been at a model casting with me all afternoon. No way he had time to create this thing. Ask your ‘fuck friends’ if they have any idea about what’s going on?”

Panlam bristled. “Next time, address me directly before you accuse of knowing anything. If I have a problem with a person I tell them to their faces. I’d at least thought you were smart enough not to believe stuff you read off the internet, especially when its clearly malicious like this.”

“Which part?” Tariebi said, as she laughed in Panlam’s face. “That you’re fucking Saanyol or that Xhiz gave Louise an STD? Or the part where he accuses Xhiz and Saanyol of hooking up?  Which part, I want to hear.”

Xhiz sighed from his corner, his palm over his now swollen cheek. He had just come out to them, there was little he could say in his own defense. Panlam had no such remorse.

“And you wonder when people call you ‘semi-literate’. You’re more stupid than they give you credit for.”

Kike gasped and pushed Tariebi’s phone in Saanyol’s face. “Oh God, I just recognised that handle. Remember, I told you I was freaked out cos he kept following and unfollowing me. Did any of you check his favorites?”

Tariebi snatched her phone off Kike and started to scroll the page that was on the screen, her eyes growing wider with every swipe of her track pad.

“What the fuck? Like seriously, the entire favorites in that account are our tweets, all of us are there, as far back as two years ago. Where the fuck is Louise?”

“I’m trying Louise’s number to tell her what’s happening but I can’t reach her phone or her iMessage.” Farhad replied. Saanyol fished out his phone from under one of the pillows on the floor and tried her number himself a couple of times all to no avail.

“That fuckeress. I tried her numbers already too, both her phones are off. I will fucking strangle that girl when I see her, what fucking joke is this?”

“Just tried following the @Lvminovs account with my profile but I’ve been blocked. I think its all of us.” Xhiz said in worry.

“Me too, me too, me too.” Came the chorus as everyone in the room tried to follow as well. The fear tinged worry was now very palpable in every voice.

“Search for the handle and see. The person only follows thirteen people and he follows Louise and she follows back.” Tari said.

Panlam picked Saanyol’s keys off the rack near the door and stepped out.

“Is this a frigging joke? Nah, B. This idiot cannot be reached and all of a sudden, this happens?   Fuck this abeg, I can treat fuck ups better than this.” She poked her head back into the house.

“What the fuck are you all waiting for? Fuck out! Louise has got some answering to do!”

7:20pm

——————————————————–

Panlam floored the accelerator along the normally busy Lekki – Epe express way, manoeuvring lanes as she sped towards VGC. The entire car was dark and quiet save for the pockets of plasma illuminating the four faces intensely focused on their phone screens. Thankfully that night was somewhat uneventful and the wide roads were empty bar the occasional private vehicle. Saanyol rode shotgun, fiddling with his phone fielding the barrage of bad jokes and snide accusations that were pouring into his notifications.

It was barely 8pm and Louise and Xhiz’s handles had already trended as more and more people found and retweeted the account that had turned their private lives into feed for some Saturday night drama. He was beginning to consider a change of handle to shut up the unwanted comments but decided against it, doing that would mean he was involved and he wasn’t ready to give up sitting on the fence on this one.

              Xhiz rested on the back door, slightly inebriated. His phone was off and with Kike so he couldn’t start a drunken tweet spree. They breezed past the checkpoint as the guard recognised Panlam and saluted her, letting the car pass unchecked. They made a bee-line for Louise’s house; taking a minute to park the car a street down and walking up to Louise’s house in the very off-chance that her parents had gone to visit Louise’s parents. Saanyol and the crew followed Panlam’s lead into the compound and stopped in his tracks when he noticed two Toyota 2011 SUV’s parked. From what he knew, Louise’s parents were never ever  around during working hours. He felt a pang of worry in his chest and dismissed it promptly. They needed to get to the bottom of this person that slandered them and Louise was the closest lead to an answer.

Saanyol rapped on the glass doors.

The door was quietly opened and a svelte, regal looking woman in native attire slid the door open. Her eyes were bloodshot from crying.

“Can I help you?” She asked in a hoarse whisper.

Panlam stepped out from behind Xhiz and drew out a tiny half smile from the obviously distraught woman.

“Ma, my friends and I came to say to hi to Louise, is she in?’

In response, Mrs. Adegoke slid the door closed behind her and held Panlam’s outstretched hand.

“Thank you for caring,” she said. ” but we haven’t seen Louise for more than 24 hours now.  She went out to meet a friend and hasn’t come back.” her voice began to quiver.

“Louise is missing.”

SEAMS S1: House of Cards

CHAT HISTORY

Arab Money

Hey I just got to E-centre. Saw your car. Where are you?

Saanyol ¯\..(•͡.̮ •͡ )../¯

I’m at the cinema floor, been waiting here for the last 30 minutes

Arab Money

So sorry, so should I come up?

Saanyol ¯\..(•͡.̮ •͡ )../¯

Nope, just stay at the lobby. I’ll come down to meet you. We’re not here to hang out.

————————————————————

Farhad used a hand to lift his pristine white Jellabiya off the floor as he fiddled with his phone with the other. He really didn’t like these malls. People stared at him, made him uncomfortable. He heard the elevator ding and came out Saanyol, looking very disinterested in his linen shirt, cargo pants and driving shoes. He shuffled over to Farhad and shook him strongly.

“I know you don’t drink but personally today has been all sorts of shitty for me. There’s a bar opposite the Crusader building. We can walk there. I really, really need a beer.”

Farhad really didn’t comfortable hanging out in a bar but he agreed on the off-chance that Saanyol would be a little more relaxed and receptive to what he had to tell him. They left the E-centre complex and turned left, walking down the busy street to a tiny bar on the opposite street constructed with welded metal sheets. Saanyol took the corner table and ordered a bottle of Heineken for himself and a bottle of malt for Farhad. The drinks were quickly provided and both boys drank in silence, measuring each other up.

Saanyol already knew Farhad had come to worry him about Kike. There was no other common ground they shared, nothing that would have necessitated this one on one talk. He sipped his frothy beer and waited as Farhad pretended to check notifications on his phone. The silence persisted through Saanyol’s first beer and halfway into his second. By that time, he was sufficiently mellowed and his whimsy saw no point in dragging out whatever issue Farhad had.

“Dude, are you going stay silent all night?”

Farhad peeled his eyes off his glass of malt. He straightened up and looked Saanyol straight in the eye.

“Look man, personally I don’t like you. You are arrogant and privileged and you use it as an excuse to be an asshole to everyone around you. Dan Iska is what my people would call someone like you.”

Saanyol smirked at derogatory name.

Farhad felt the urge to lean over and punch him square in the jaw but that wasn’t why he’d agreed to come meet with him. He took a deep breath and continued as Saanyol watched him over the top of his glass.

“You’ve been very unfair especially to my cousin. You have even hit her in public and humiliated her in front of her friends. I would have broken your nose that night, but I was brought up to abhor violence. Violence outside the law is Haram. And I was going to break the law for someone like you.”

Saanyol sighed. “Summary, you think I’m a prick and you want to punch me for slapping Kike. Since you’ll act on neither ‘revelation’, can you get to the point?”

Farhad grimaced. “I don’t feel comfortable talking about it here. Can we go to your car?”

The smirk returned to Saanyol’s face as he took the glass and poured the rest of his bottle into it. Farhad felt instantly repulsed when he realised that the unintentional sexual undertone of his statement was the reason for Saanyol’s smirk. Saanyol paid the tab and added extra for the glass and led the way to his car, drinking glass nestled in his hand. He opened the driver’s door and perched on the seat.

“We’re at my car. You don’t have to sit in it to talk, do you?”

“Fine, in haka ne ka na so. Kikelomo is pregnant and its yours.”

Saanyol sputtered into his drink. “What the fuck are you saying?”

“Kike is pregnant, ta samu ciki, idiot! When you were busy sleeping with her without a condom you forgot girls get pregnant? She tried to contact you to tell you and you deleted her off your BBM and refused to pick her calls.”

“Who knows about this?” Saanyol demanded.

“Apart from me, Tariebi. But nobody else. Tariebi and I were talking about it and she’s suggested Kike do something decisive about it because…”

Saanyol shot out of the car and snarled in Farhad’s face. “Nobody is going to touch fucking that baby, Nobody! What the fuck gives you people the right to even think of harming my child?.”

The urge to throw something hard at Saanyol rose in Farhad again.

“Are you stupid Saanyol? Kike tried to reach you through every fucking way she knew and you told her to fuck off, and now you’re here making noise about owning a child. It’s her fucking body, if she decides to remove it, well fuck you.”

Farhad grabbed the front of Saanyol’s shirt and pulled him in until they were nose to nose.

“You better do right by my cousin. If you don’t, you’ll learn how vengeful I really am.”

He pushed Saanyol into his car and stalked off in the direction of the bus stop bristling with righteous anger.


The consultation room of the aTIVE reproductive health center was twice as big as the one at the hospital her parents used. She looked at the metal bed frame behind her that held the pallet covered in a plastic bed sheet dyed in that sickly hospital green that she hated so much. A clunky white machine stood beside it, a blank screen about six inches wide set flush in the middle of the construct giving it away as an ultrasound machine. She looked past the desk in front of her to the door behind that most likely led to the wards and the theatres where they delivered babies and most likely did abortions on the side and shuddered. Tariebi patted her hand gently and tried to calm her.

The Doctor walked in from the door that led to the wards and took a seat beside them. He was holding a test sheet in his hands.

“Well, the hCG test has come back positive. And from the levels of hCG in your urine suggests you have been pregnant in excess of 6 weeks. Though I am worried, you say you have shown no other signs of pregnancy save for not seeing your period for two months now?”

Kike nodded.

“Ah. This is quite abnormal. I’d like to suggest an ultrasound to ensure that everything is alright with the foetus.” 

He asked Kike to raise the loose blouse she wore and she did reluctantly. She never felt comfortable taking off her clothes around strangers. The doctor frowned when he saw how flat her belly was and Kike felt her heart jump. Tariebi held her hand and helped her onto the pallet and she immediately felt thankful Tari had tagged along, ignoring her pleas that she tried to dissuade her from coming. The doctor pulled the ultrasound machine over to them and slathered her belly with a gel so cold it made her gasp. Just then, Kike’s phone buzzed in her pocket.

“Your phone can’t be on during the scan!” The Doctor reprimanded.

She muttered apologies and climbed off the pallet and pulled out the phone, it was Saanyol.

Her heart was in her mouth as she pressed the answer key and put the phone to her ear.

“Hello?”

“Kike, please don’t hang up.” Saanyol sounded sombre, more sombre than she’d heard in a very long time.

“I won’t.” She replied quietly.

He sighed. “Your cousin had a talk with me yesterday. He told me about the pregnancy. I’ve been a total asshole to you of recent and I’m really sorry I let my anger get the best of me. I apologise for hitting you and cutting you off. Please I want another try. I don’t want you to go through this alone. Please Kike, will you take me back. Or at least give us a chance to talk through this?”

Kike felt her cheeks go wet. She whispered a ‘yes’ before her will failed and disconnected the call. Tariebi started to ask who was on the line when she saw the tears instantly knew.

“What did he say?” She asked, twiddling with her hands.

Kike climbed back on to the pallet and switched off her phone.”He wants to us get back together, for the baby.”

Tari flashed a shallow smile; she wasn’t an advocate of people staying together because they shared something in common. Those unions never stayed happy. The doctor applied more cold gel and switched on the ultrasound machine.

“So what exactly are you guys now?” Tari asked over the gentle hum of the machine.

Kike turned her head over, beaming. “He didn’t say, he wants us to talk first but he was so eager. He’s never been that eager.”

“Please stop moving.” The doctor interrupted.

Both girls mumbled apologies and watched the tiny screen with the doctor. The more he moved the wand across her belly, the deeper his frown became. After five minutes, he reattached the wand to its rest and switched off the machine. He helped Kike sit up and handed her a towel.

“Were you on any form of contraceptives in the last six months?” He asked.

Kike looked down. “Yes, I took Postinor a couple of times after me and my boyfriend had sex but nothing else.” 

He made her lie back down, reapplying the gel. She endured its sting as he retrieved the wand. He moved it around a bit and settled on the lower half of Kike’s belly. There was a stationary fleck of greyish white in the black of the screen.

“That is the foetus.” he said. “Normally, there’d be some activity but I can’t find a heartbeat.”

“I don’t understand,” Kike said, even though she’d seen enough Grey’s Anatomy to know exactly what he meant. 

I’m sorry but the pregnancy did not take. Your body will reabsorb that back into self. You needn’t worry about removal.”

He pushed the machine away and removed the latex gloves from his hands, walking towards the doorway that led to the wards beyond.

“I’ll let you dress up.”

“Thank God! Thank God! You’re so lucky, Kike, so frigging lucky.” Tariebi all but screamed the moment the door was out of earshot.

Kike started laugh but quickly devolved into sobs.

Tariebi gathered Kike into her arms and held her.

“Promise me something.” She said between sobs.

“Anything!” Tari replied.

“Promise you won’t tell Farhad or Saanyol the baby’s gone?”

“Why?”

There was so much naiveté in Kike’s voice. “I can’t lose Saan again. He’ll leave me and go back to being an asshole if he knows. Promise, Tari?”

Tari sighed. “I promise.”

SEAMS S1: Guile

DirectMessage to InsuredLegs

Just talked to Farhad. He told me what happened. Are you a hundred percent sure you’re pregnant?

Direct Message from InsuredLegs

Tari, I’m so worried. I’ve used like three PT strips and one of those expensive ones and all are positive. And Saanyol’s told me to fuck off. :'(

DirectMessage to InsuredLegs

Oh wow! This is not good. Have you found a good D&C yet? My model friends flush them out all the time. I could help you ask.

DirectMessage to InsuredLegs

Oh God! What are you suggesting? I can’t get an abortion! I’d never ever do that! God! :'(

DirectMessage to InsuredLegs

Err… Was just being practical, no need to go psycho. In that case, when are you telling your parents? You should go see your exam officer…

DirectMessage to InsuredLegs

…And probably defer your education for a year. And probably get a new wardrobe. How far along are you?

DirectMessage from InsuredLegs

I have no idea. Just found out a few days ago. I can’t go and see our family doctor he’ll just tell my dad. And my dad will kill me. :'(

DirectMessage to InsuredLegs

Are you free later today? We can go see my gynaecologist. I got an IUD recently, so I still have his number.

DirectMessage from InsuredLegs

I’ll skip my classes tomorrow instead. Is 12pm good? My dad knows I don’t have classes before then so I can’t leave earlier than 10.

DirectMessage to InsuredLegs

Okay, I’ll call him now.

————————————————————–

The bus to Yaba was half full as Farhad climbed in and took a corner seat in the back. A rotund woman with little sprigs of hair lining her chin climbed in after him and shimmied her way down to the wooden seat, squishing him into the exposed metal frame of the bus and the two other passengers into each other.

“Ema binu omo mi.” She mumbled and began to pat the intricate braiding on her head. Definitely Yoruba. He half regretted deciding to use public transportation, but even regretted getting talked into confronting Saanyol by Tariebi. He needed this trip to be as long as possible so he could think. The bus lagged as they waited for passengers and the intermittent slowing down and revving up as they dropped off and picked up passengers on their way to Yaba provided a background din to his thoughts. Saanyol would probably not listen to him, after all he’d known him for barely a month and they hadn’t exactly become best buddies. That was Xhiz’s job and that one took it extra serious. In that moment, he felt really sorry for Kike. She would have to raise a child with someone like Saanyol.

“Sabo!!!” The conductor yelled as they approached the overhead bridge at the T-junction that was the landmark of the area.

“Sabo, Owa!” Farhad said in his nasal fulani voice and got a couple of chuckles. People always laughed when he tried to speak yoruba. He alighted the bus and walked down the slightly bustling street towards the E-Centre complex. He immediately spotted Saanyol’s SUV parked on the adjacent street. Farhad dug out his phone again and checked the time. He was already thirty minutes late.

“Fack!”

———————————————————

Xhiz gave himself a once over in the massive reflective sliding doors that ushered visitors into the Adegoke mansion. He’d spotted the house with its faux spire the moment he turned into their street. The cylindrical protusion from the roof gave it away. Louise had told him about it once, called it her skylight room. The uniformed guard at the gate had let him in on Louise’s instruction and now he was waiting in the cobbled courtyard, eyeing the massive cages beside the generator shed that held the family’s slobbering pet rottweilers. Louise came out to the balcony and looked down at Xhiz checking himself out in the foyer’s sliding doors and her heart skipped a beat. He looked so good in his porkpie hat pushed onto the back of his head framing his mountain of hair. His plaid shirt and skinny jeans perfectly complemented him body perfectly. She watched him a few more seconds before reluctantly calling out to him.

“Hey! I’ll be down soon.”

Xhiz started when he heard Louise from above him. He straightened up and peered at her in her minnie mouse pj’s and her long hair surprisingly straight, falling down to her back and smiled. He felt for his wallet and checked the pouch that held his condoms. Two Durex condoms and one gold circle remained. Thank God he was ever ready. He’d thought she wanted him to meet her parents but this might end up much much better.

After a few minutes later, the sliding doors opened and Louise came out in cargo pants, an oversized tee and minimal make up. Xhiz couldn’t keep his eyes off her hair. She’d straightened it out and it just framed her face like a halo of black lushness. They went into the grand living room and he hugged her, gently stroking her hair. She breathed deeply. He wore strange mixture of cologne that had him smelling of earth and flowers. It always grounded her, like nature. She reluctantly stepped away and smiled.

“You should come up to my room.”

Xhiz’s eyes widened. “Are you sure?”

She nodded and took his hand. They walked up the two flights of stairs that led to her floor of the house. He was led past the guest bedroom and enjoining bathroom to the second door at the end of the corridor painted a muted blue. Louise opened the door and ushered him into a ridiculously large room awash with multiple shades of blue. It was like an assault on his eyes. Every single thing in the room was a shade of blue, even the four poster bed straight out of a fairytale complete with navy blue chiffon draperies. Louise parted the curtains and they sat on the bed together. He leaned in to kiss her and she hesitated for a second before kissing him back for a few minutes. He’d begun to get into a rhythm when she abruptly pulled back and shuffled off the bed. She was doing that thing where she timed her kisses on the ridiculous theory that once a kiss exceed a certain number of minutes it awakened the lust inside. She went to the small fridge at the corner of the room and fished out a coke, putting it on the stack of photo albums atop the fridge and carrying everything over to the bed. She pushed it all him and beamed.

“Don’t you want to see pictures of me as a child?”

“Sure, sure.” Xhiz replied woodenly.

She was doing that thing again when she went from his almost lover to a polite stranger. But he didn’t let it annoy him, she eventually let him get do whatever he wanted provided he took charge. They went through the pictures together, she pointing out souvenirs from trips to Dubai and England and New York and her cousins from the extended family, most of whom she kept calling brother or sister before having to clarify for him. He felt a little sorry for her, he could never understand how lonely growing up an only child was. Despite how much his elder brother and sister went out of their way to annoy him, he couldn’t imagine his life without them around. It took them almost an hour to the go through the three bulky photo albums. He actually laughed through the last one, which was filled with pictures of her friends, many of which she’d printed from her phones. Funny as it was, being so close to her in such privacy was doing things to his head. He set the albums aside, closed the space between them and nuzzled her neck, whispering his most inappropriate intentions. She shivered, almost leaning into him before shaking her head as if to clear her thoughts and drew away from him for the second time.

“Xhiz, we need to talk.”

Xhiz straightened. ‘Talks’ never ended well.

“What about?”

“Us?”

She’d never referred to them as an ‘us’ before.

“Okay, I’m listening.”

Louise began to wring her hands. “Well, a few days ago, I’d decided I was never going to be with you like that again.”

“Huh?”

“I mean I’d decided I was never going to get intimate with you again. Because you aren’t mine and as much as I like you Xhiz, I can’t continue. But then I realised it wouldn’t be fair to you. It would be fair to just end things when we could be more…”

“Louise, what are you talking about?” Xhiz asked in utter bewilderment.

Louise’s voice became even more tinier than it usually was. “Well a couple of days ago, I found out I had Gonorrhoea. And you’re the only person I could have gotten it from. I haven’t been with anyone else…”

Xhiz tried to cut in but Louise put a finger to his lips.

“Xhiz, I’m not blaming you or anything. I’m not even angry with you, not anymore at least. I realise it’s not your fault. We were just friends with benefits and I didn’t ask to be exclusive so you probably got it from someone else who didn’t tell you. I’ve started antibiotics to kill it off and I got you prescriptions too. This could be a new start for us. We could become exclusive, a proper couple.”

“Wait, what?” Xhiz’s head was reeling.  He had Gonorrhoea? And he’d gotten Louise infected? How did he even get it?

“Yeah, I talked to Saanyol and he told me…”

“You talked to Saanyol?!!” Xhiz exclaimed.

“Yeah, I did.” She replied, her voice tinged with disgust.

“What did he say?”

“Well he told me the truth about you.”

Xhiz drew uncomfortably close and held Louise’s hand in his.

“Louise, you have to believe me. Forget whatever he told you, Saanyol and I have only made out a couple of times and all the times it happened I was drunk. I don’t know why he would paint things otherw…”

Louise froze. The look of shock on her face told Xhiz all he needed to know. She’d had no idea about him and Saanyol. She began to mumble, more to herself than to him.

“So that’s why you both are so close, Saanyol said you were seeing other people. I wondered when he said ‘people’ and how he knew you and I had gone to third base.”

She began to cry. “Oh my God! Oh my God! And I let him take me to his doctor friend. They must have been laughing at me the whole time!”

Xhiz tried to hug her and she pushed him away like he had the plague and stalked off the bed to the door. Her voice was quivering with the weight of unshed tears.

“Chibuzor Anagor, please leave my house.”

Xhiz picked up his porkpie hat and placed it back on his head and shuffled out, eyes pleading her to understand.

“Xhiz!” She called from her doorway. He turned, almost at the top of the stairwell. She threw something at him and slammed her door shut. He caught it in mid-air and opened the brown envelope packet. Two boxes of antibiotic pills sat at the bottom.

2:42pm @JunieThePoet: Fuck men! Every single one of them. Just when you think you’ve found a prince, he turns into a pig! Ugh!

Sent via Echofon

2:45pm JunieThePoet: I feel so stupid right now. And I even wanted to take things seriously with him.

Sent via Echofon

2:51pm JunieThePoet: @EntertainMe, you were right, @FuckMeImStupid gives the most ‘surprising’ gifts. Fucking Idiot!

Sent via Echofon

DirectMessage from EntertainMe

Xhiz, do pray tell why your fuck buddy is building a fort in my mentions?

DirectMessage to EntertainMe

Dude, I mistakenly told Louise that you and I were messing around.

DirectMessage from EntertainMe

WTF?!!! Please tell me this is a joke. How do you ‘mistakenly’ tell someone something like that?

DirectMessage to EntertainMe

I’m still slapping myself for it. It was a missunderstanding. I’ll explain when we see.

DirectMessage from EntertainMe

I don’t need you to tell me anything. I need you to fix this bullshit. Chibuzo, don’t fucking play with me. Fix this shit!