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love-story2The thought of seeing Tina the next day made Alex restless. He was anxious and angry but was secretly happy. He’d had little or no sleep the past week since he got a call from her—a year after she broke up with him.

Tina had been his lover for two years. They were never far from each other. He knew her like the back of his palm or so he thought. She was a final year student at UNILAG at the time. Her weekends were spent over at his place. She sure knew how to please her man, stomach-wise and in bed. He just never could get bored around her.

She graduated and was posted to Delta for the NYSC scheme. Alex was distraught with the news. But she consoled him that she’d come visit him every month. Alex cheered up.

She visited after camp and said she’d been deployed to an oil company in Warri and was asked to resume the following week. They ate, gisted, and made sweet love.

She left on that fateful Sunday and promised to call when she got to Warri. Alex waited for her call, but it never came. So he called.

“Sorry, the number you’re trying to call is switched off”

“Flat battery perhaps,” he thought and dialed later that night. It connected, but she didn’t pick her call. After several calls she finally picked.

“I’m sorry Alex, it’s over between us. Don’t try finding me”

Those words hit Alex like lightning. He called her name to be certain she’d been the one at the other end but instead of a response, the line went dead.

After ten months of trying to reach her without success, he gave up. But in September, she called. It was a long one.

“Hi Alex… ”

“Tina?”

“Yes”

Sigh. Silence.

“Yes?” Alex said impatiently.

“How are you?” she had asked, her voice sounding so calm one would think their last conversation had been a few hours earlier.

“Is that why you called? To know how I’m doing? Okay, I’m just returning from a help-me-find-Tina rally organized by friends on my behalf.”

She chuckled. “you don’t have to be sarcastic like that”

She paused and continued “Okay, I know you have every right to be angry with me, but you have to know that there is a reason for the decision I took…”

“What stupid decision did you have to take, eh? That you had to treat me like a toilet paper? Is that what I’m worth to you?” he was literally almost reaching out for her through the phone.

“Calm down Alex, I didn’t call to quarrel on the phone…”

“You called to open up a wound healing up nicely!” he interjected

” Maybe I should call again some other time. I’m not sure I called at the right time.” Her voice trailed off.

“You still haven’t told me why you called,” he said.

“Calm down, Alex”

“Okay, I’m calm”

“I’ll be coming to Lagos next weekend for a meeting. I don’t know if we could see?” she asked

“What do you want to talk about?”

“Don’t you want to see me?” she teased

“It depends”

She cleared her throat “Or are you seeing someone already?”

“Why do you care? I could as well ask about the rich, innocent oil worker ”

A long pause from her end.

“Are we seeing or not?” she finally asked

“What time and where?”

” I’ll be wrapping up the meeting on Friday by 5 PM and will be free from then on. As for the venue, anywhere you decide, your place, a bar, on the road… Just pick.”

“My place” he said with a tone of finality.

“Ok. I’ll be there.”

“Bye” Alex said

“Alex”

“Yes?”

“You know I didn’t stop thinking about you?”

“Thank you. I’ll hold my phone to my chest when you end the call,” he said with a heavy tone of sarcasm.

She giggled and then ended the call.

Thursday

Alex came home with a bag of groceries he’d picked up on his way from work. He arranged every item properly and cleaned out his room. He topped his generator with more petrol. He bought Tina’s favorite food items and stocked them in his small refrigerator and also remembered to get a new air freshener. Before sleeping, he made a mental note to replace the sheets on his medium sized bed with a fresh one the next morning.

Friday

At exactly four o’ clock, Alex hurriedly left his office in a bid to beat the heavy traffic on the Third Mainland bridge.

In the bus, he kept thinking of how the evening would play out.

“She’ll knock and instead of opening, I’ll tell her the door is not locked. I’ll ignore her and glue my eyes to the TV. She’d kneel in front of me and apologize and give me all possible reasons on this earth why she left me. I’ll reluctantly accept. We’ll then have brutal sex, and she’ll prepare us dinner afterwards. More explanation and then more brutal sex.”

He got off at his bus stop, crossed to the other side of the road and strolled home.

6 PM

“She’ll be here any moment,” Alex thought to himself.

He went out to put on the generator. When he entered his apartment, he adjusted the window curtain. Soon, Usher’s “moving mountains” began to play in the background. He went into the bedroom to await her arrival.

6.30 PM

“The meeting was extended perhaps.” He decided to call her.

She didn’t pick.

He dialed again

She didn’t pick

“Perhaps she’s close by,” he thought.

7 PM

He dialed her number. This time, her number was engaged. He waited a few minutes and then dialed again. It was still engaged. Alex was becoming irritated but tried to maintain a positive disposition, hoping she’d call back.

8 PM

Alex called again. This time it was not reachable. Alex silently cursed the network service provider. He dressed up and went out to the backyard to turn off the Generator. He decided to stroll towards the bus stop to wait for her.

9 PM

Buses came, dropped off passengers and left, but she was not among the ones that had alighted. He counted forty buses within the hour but none brought his beloved Tina. He’d become furious by now. He began to walk back home, fuming and cursing under his breath.

He slammed the door behind him and brought out his phone. There was a message from Tina. It simply read:

“Alex, sorry, something came up. I had to return in a hurry. I’ll see you some other time.”

Alex was sweating by now. He was livid with anger. He replied in two words:

“Don’t bother”

He decided to tell her as well. He dialed her number

“Sorry, the number you are trying to call is switched…”

He smashed the phone against the wall and lay on the bed, hoping sleep would come immediately.

***************

 

Image by Fabiano Campos via Flickr.

About the Author:

Portrait - Tope AdeTope James – Ade is a Technologist, Writer and Lover based in Lagos, Nigeria. He blogs at Jamieade.wordpress.com. Twitter:  @topmaseis

 

 

 

 

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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