Can you stop the rain?
September 22nd | Lekki Phase One
Slowly, surely, Eddie regained consciousness.
The TV set was still on; the sound shut off completely. Vincent, he thought. He could tell it was nighttime; the chef had also drawn the curtains together and left a single bulb glowing in the dining area.
He rolled to his side and the ottoman squeaked beneath his weight. Unconsciously, he bonded with the piece of furniture since Esohe’s preference for it when she visited. For the last couple of weeks, he’d found himself drawn to it as well; frequently lounging on it, laying on it for a snooze, hoping to become closer to her telepathically.
Esohe! He sat up abruptly, rubbing his face with both hands as though clarity of the situation with her would appear from that single action.
He’d returned home at 1pm the previous day, feeling like a log of wood which had been battered from place to place while in transition during the lumbering process, and she’d dominated his every thought as he collapsed on the ottoman, did justice to a spread Vincent had provided and remained as he replayed her visit over and again with his body gradually shutting down from feet up.
No doubt, he had deep feelings for her. Feelings which wouldn’t disappear overnight. He wasn’t certain he wanted them to either. But the fact remained that she’d unwittingly put him through unavoidable heartache. With good reason too. What most mothers would do. He’d be the last one to fault that decision of hers. It meant she’d go to any lengths for her boy, put her happiness, life on hold to guarantee his safety.
It didn’t help either that the timing collided with the damning call from Adesuwa; he’d felt like all the walls around him were closing in all at once.
Perhaps he had overreacted earlier on at the office. Had his anger been unfounded? He didn’t think so. They’d been a team poised to weather any storm of life. She’d created a wedge between that combined force; she’d chosen Osayu. He’d have preferred she chose both Osayu and him. Be it far from him that he’d ever put her in a position to make such a decision.
So, would he hold that one flaw against her and walk away from what they had? Was that error in judgement reason enough to move on without her? Did she still feature prominently in his future? Was she still his Esohe?
Those questions were still swirling around in his mind and he was tackling them one after the other when his body shut down completely to exhaustion.
He’d meant to call her, after duly considering her position, his position and their position but the combined force of jetlag and a replete stomach were stronger than any good intention.
Was it too late now? He straightened and rose from the ottoman, squinting at the clock above the TV: 3am.
Between Itsehme and Esohe, Jennifer must have slept for a total of three and a half hours.
She yawned widely as she ambled into her spacious sitting room the next morning just before the half hour mark of seven. The T-shirt she had on, with a pair of joggers, riding upwards in reaction. Saturdays were normally lazy, sleep-in days for her, and she began them with a hot cup of milky Milo which she nursed for minutes. Not today though; these were special circumstances, and she needed a strong mug of coffee to keep alert to deal with whatever this day would throw at her.
She’d catered to two babies during the night – one crying for attention and food; the other for a love lost by her own making. The only person who had slept soundly, like the baby he wasn’t, had been her son.
After midnight, it became glaring that no call from Eddie was making its appearance. And Jennifer stopped herself from sounding like a scratched disc with her: “He’ll call, if he said he was going to.”
It never did come last night, and Esohe’s wails morphed from loud to medium to pitiful sniffs and heavy sighs; sometimes interspersed with derogatory statements about herself, her attitude.
The feeling of déjà vu remained with Jennifer, alongside the natural pull of somnolence which plagued every nursing mother, as she consoled her friend as best she could. In spite of that, all she could dwell on was the fact that Esohe couldn’t embark on this cycle again. Not again. Wetin?! She was one woman, for goodness sake! How unlucky in love could one woman get! No, it wasn’t fair!
Finally at 3am, having found a comfortable t-shirt she could sleep in, Esohe drifted off into, no doubt, a dreamless sleep. Nevertheless, she’d rest and restore herself from the drain which accompanied weeping and depressing talk and thoughts. They’d move on with life in the morning. Somehow, Jennifer thought. Tomorrow was another day. She flicked off the lights in the guest room and hobbled to hers to snatch any amount of snooze before it was Itsehme’s turn on the night shift.
Now, she pulled apart the curtains nearest to the front door and peered outside idly. It looked like rain, she thought, and did she have a visitor? This early on a Saturday? An unfamiliar, silver-coloured car was parked neatly behind Esohe’s, right in front of her house, just beyond the hedge of greenery. The driver’s door was open but that was as far as she could see. There was an occupant all right, but she couldn’t make out who it was – man or woman. Thankful for her decent sleeping gear, she began to unlock the wrought-iron protectors positioned before the door. Who was it? What did the person want? How long had the person been parked out there? Who gave them access into the estate?
When she eventually swung the door open ready to confront whoever, her hands stayed on the frame involuntarily, her body restrained as well. For the sight she beheld, walking around the cars, was indeed one for her sore, sleep-deprived eyes.
In a pair of fitted, black jeans, a plain black t-shirt, a long sleeved, blue-denim shirt completely unbuttoned and worn with ease, looking totally refreshed like a new day, and giving her a small, apologetic smile was the last person she’d expected to see.
“Good morning ma’am.” Smoky tones greeted even before he reached her. “Please forgive this early intrusion; I couldn’t reach Esohe. She wasn’t at her apartment either.”
The relief which flooded Jennifer was like the Nile at full tide. She didn’t realize when her lips widened into a smile entirely of their own.
“Please call me Jennifer.” She told him, stepping backwards, indicating her invitation into the house.
“Only if you’ll reciprocate with Eddie.” He grinned, taking hold of the door and sliding it shut gently. “You look like I did yesterday.” He commented. “Itsehme?”
She nodded, smiling. “Yes.” And Esohe, she didn’t add. “How long have you been camped outside?” She asked instead.
He shrugged. “An hour or more. I planned to ask for her mum’s address from you since the gateman at her place said she didn’t return last night.” He replied. “But when I saw her car out front…”
“You’ve been to her place this morning already?”
He nodded. “I didn’t call like I said I would last night. Got home and was out like a light.” He said. “By the time I came to, it was 3am. Started calling from 6.30am. No luck. So I got on the road.”
“Hmm.” Was all Jennifer could say before waving to the furniture. “Please, have a seat. Would you like something to drink? Tea? Coffee? Water?”
He shook his head. “No thanks. Is she up yet? Do you…?”
“Jeje, did you see my ‘pho…?” Esohe’s voice, still dulled by sleep, reached them from a door leading to the siting room and trailed to a stop as they both turned towards the sound.
Immediately, Eddie began walking towards her as she rubbed her eyes in disbelief.
“Good morning Esohe.” The smoky tones spoke first, stopping a few yards away from her.
By now, she was sure she wasn’t hallucinating. She nodded. “Eddie.” And mentally braced herself for bad news. After all he never did call last night; probably wanted to tell it to her face and watch her crumble. She wasn’t going to give him that satisfaction; she’d apologised sincerely to him. If this was their end…
“I’m sorry I didn’t call like I said I would. I slept off.” He said. “It was purely unintentional.” He stepped closer. “And…” He paused, raising a hand. “And love is a gamble I want to take with you, Esohe.” He closed the gap between them, spreading out his arms. “And I want to win with you too.”
It took a moment for his words to sink in, for her to notice his arms because she had been prepared for something else entirely. But when realization hit, she simply eased into his waiting embrace with tremendous relief and annoying stinging tears at the corners of her eyes.
He held her close. “But if you don’t even let me play, then there’ll be problems. Like the last time.” He continued.
She nodded into his chest. “I know, and I’m sorry.”
He pulled away a bit. “Are you crying?” Looking down at her face, one hand stroking her ruffled hair.
She shook her head. “Happy tears.” She mumbled.
“So are we going to do this right this time around?” He wanted to know.
“No more games? No more secrets?”
She shook her head again. “I promise.”
“Would you let a man like me love a woman like you the way he wants to? With everything he’s got?” He tipped her face upwards with one of his hands.
“Yes.” She whispered as the other hand began to wipe tears from the corners of her eyes. “Yes, Edosa. I will…” The rest of her words were lost as he lowered his lips onto hers in a gentle, caressing kiss.
“Gosh, I’ve missed you!” He murmured against her lips. “And I’m also starving!”
She giggled, her first delightful sound in many days; she pulled away but one of his hands stayed on her waist.
“I know this great place. Join me for breakfast? Let’s start all over again?” He offered.
“I’d like that very much.”
“Hi. I’m Eddie.” He moved two steps backwards, thrusting out a hand.
She chuckled and played along, placing one of hers in it. “Hello, I’m Es…” She began.
“Esohe Eweka. I know. I googled you.” He told her not unlike their first meeting.
She chuckled again, raising her eyebrows in mock surprise. “I don’t have anything to wear except yesterday’s clothes. “ She digressed. “Too formal.”
He shrugged. “We’ll work something out later. Just go get ready.”
He watched her until she disappeared behind the door she’d emerged from earlier before spinning around to discover he was all alone in the sitting room.
Minimal sounds emanating from an enclosure on the right told him Jennifer was close by but had left in the middle of their reunion.
In the kitchen, a steaming cup of Milo was waiting on the counter for Jennifer, and she couldn’t wait to drain it in several gulps. All that hugging, and crying, and snuggling and cajoling just went on to remind her how much she missed Harry when he wasn’t around, and sometimes used food to console herself.
Less than an hour later, she was seeing the pair of lovebirds off at the front door. Eddie now had on just a black t-shirt and jeans sans his denim shirt which presently contrasted brightly with Esohe’s orange camisole and her scandalous, front slit, black skirt. One of Jennifer’s hand-woven, intricately designed, flat slippers adorned her feet to complete her hastily thrown together outfit for an impromptu breakfast and make up date.
“Thank you.” Esohe whispered into her friend’s ear as she gave her a quick, warm hug. “See you later.” Then linked her hand with Eddie’s waiting one.