Nigerian author, Tolulope Popoola, shares with us a flash fiction piece written specially for Brittle Paper readers. Enjoy.
I sensed something was wrong. All week, I’d had a bad feeling following me around like an ominous shadow. I started to lose my appetite. I became restless. I couldn’t put my finger on it, because everything still looked the same. My husband was still out of a job, like he’d been for the past ten months. I was still the breadwinner. The only thing that had changed there was the fact that I was putting in extra hours at work to make some more money. My best friend and neighbour, Jumoke had been a big help in the past few months, helping me with cooking and freezing some food, so that Lanre could have something to eat on those evenings I was working late.
Then I remembered. It was our tenth wedding anniversary next Friday. I groaned as I got off the bed. It was Saturday today; I didn’t have to go to work so I’d switched off my alarm last night. I went to the bathroom to wash my face and clean my teeth. Lanre was already up, probably downstairs in the garden, I thought. Apart from job-hunting, gardening was the only activity keeping him busy. I shook my head at the thought of him, just a year ago, a powerful corporate lawyer, now pottering in the garden, weeding and planting. I could sense him withdrawing slowly, deeper into his shell. He talked to me less and less. He often looked ashamed, maybe even guilty.
I didn’t feel much like celebrating our anniversary but I decided to make an effort. Maybe that would cheer us both up. At least, we were still together, and we were not totally unhappy, I told myself. Even though my mother had predicted that we would not last. Well, dear mother, I’ve proved you wrong these past ten years.
I came downstairs to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. I started making plans in my head. We could have dinner at the swankiest restaurant in town, the one with a balcony that overlooked the city. Or go and see a musical in the West End… I would need Jumoke to help me plan it so that it would be a surprise. I decided to pay her a quick visit to ask for her help. I grabbed my coat and slipped out of the door without telling Lanre I was popping out briefly.
Jumoke hadn’t locked the door to her back garden. I went into her kitchen, but it was strangely quiet. Where was she? I opened the door to the living room. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I stifled a scream and suddenly felt nauseous.
Jumoke spoke first.
“Shade, I’m very sorry. You weren’t supposed to find out this way.”
My husband and my best friend! That was the last thought in my head before I turned around and fled the house.
Post image by Nigerian artist, Boloebi Okah.
Feature image: Flash Fiction World