That was her third time of standing up. She was on pins and needles since Grandma was taken to the emergency ward. The sun had taken its rightful place in the sky already and the road was busy. She knew even if she’d have to leave the Hospital that moment, it’d still take her much time before getting to her place of work. Of course, she was already very late! She sighed as she walked back to her sit again and plopped down the black fuzzy chair. That would be the second time that month that she would be getting late to her office.
She fickle her wrist and checked what the time was. It was past nine already. Her eyes darted towards the ward again to see if the Doctor would come out that minute. At least, he had been attending to her for over thirteen minutes already. As much as she was breathless to know how her grandma was fairing, she also wanted to leave the Hospital badly. She was to follow her boss out for a meeting in the next one hour and she couldn’t see any possibility of herself making it there within one hour.
She peeped outside the Hospital again and saw that the traffic was already building up. She sprung to her feet again and attuned her collar properly. Her hope was still up, praying that the Doctor would just come out that minute and give her news that would give her the courage to leave. But it was twenty minutes again, no news yet.
Her phone buzzed. As she hurriedly reached for it, the door to the ward was opened. The screeching noise of the door caught her attention and she just grabbed her phone and turned around. It was the Doctor. “How is she, Doctor?” She hardly let him walk near her before she approached him.
The Doctor nodded. “She’s getting better. But can I see you in my office for few minutes?”
The question raised her brows instantly. Her mind flooded with questions that the Doctor might want to ask her or perhaps a bad news. She picked up her handbag and followed him. She was unable to pick her call. It was her boss.
** ** **
Vanessa wiped her sweat as she stepped into the secretary’s office. She wished she could just turn the hand of the clock back to her normal resumption time, but it was like putting toothpaste back into a tube. She didn’t know how the Director would feel at that moment, but she hoped he would not be mad with her. Her eyes were dark pools of fear as she approached the secretary and asked if the Director had already asked her if she had come. Just as the secretary was about to reply her, the door flung open.
Vanessa was shocked. She focused on the empty space between herself and her boss. She really hated getting to work late, she knew her Boss really liked her and wouldn’t want it to look as if she was being unserious because she knew. “I’m sorry sir, I had to rush..”
She didn’t finish her phrase before her Boss cut in. “It’s alright, Vanessa. You’ve told me about your grandma before and I believe you. See me in my office, right away.” He told her and turned back.
Vanessa took a deep breath and beamed like a full moon.
** ** **
Daniel clenched his fist as he dropped down into the sofa. He had a tepid smile, gazing at his mother who was coming out the room. “Welcome, Mum.” He brushed to his feet as he saw her.
“Daniel, I hope you have not forgotten your promise to me?” His sister willed her excitement out of her voice. He turned back and looked at her. “Sure, dear.” He replied and returned the gaze back to his mother.
“Happy Birthday, Son.” His Mum walked towards him and gave him a warm hug.
It seemed the hug brightened his face. His teeth shone like the rising of a mercury in a thermometer. “Thanks, Mum.” He replied and sat down.
His sister was standing behind him, smiling. “I told Mum this morning that I would be the first to wish you happy birthday, Daniel. And I was.” She pulled out her tongue at her mother.
“And how has that changed the fact that I have also wished him. Will you give us space?” She gave a breathy explosion of words.
Daniel just tittered. “Lola, I will see you before I leave. It seems Mum wants to discuss something powerful with me.” Daniel addressed his sister.
She shrugged. “Okay. I think you should talk to Mum about her sudden change in mood, Daniel. Why did she lash me with words now?” She nagged as she left the living room.
“Naughty girl.” Her mother remarked. She drifted herself to the front as Lola left them. “I hope you were not in a location when I called you, my dear?”
Daniel shook his head in response to the question.
His Mother removed her thick-lens glasses and placed it on the small stool before her. Daniel knew he was done for serious talk that morning. He wished he was not even around, perhaps in a location, working. She had started talking to him and he knew what would be the subject of discussion.
Is it your work or your life?
That had always been what his mother would use to conclude any discussion even whenever she called him. When his mother called him that morning and told him to come over to see her, he already told his friends and they all made fun out of it before he came. He was looking very serious before her because any venture to take her words with triviality might get her annoyed.
“So, what’s the plan for this new year journey?” She said in calm, unhurried voice.
Daniel pulled his shirt over his wrist watch. “Work more and get more money.” He said rather too rapidly.
She looked at him with grimace. “Daniel, is this what you will say this time again?” Her voice walked in the line of incredulity.
“Mum..” He just called as he scratched his head.
Anger crept into his mother’s voice. “I already said it, this is what you will say again. I knew it.” She repeated, looking away from him.
Daniel sighed. His voice trailed off. He already knew the eventuality was ineluctable. But what would he do? He was not obsessed like everybody was, he knew his mother’s call would still end at that stage of reality. “Mum..” He called again, this time drawling.
She spoke in a hoarse whisper as she sprung to her feet. “I want to sleep. I still have some things to do. When you are ready to answer my question, see me.” She started walking away.
Just as she left, Daniel was lost in thought as he bowed his head. The faint sound of the door caught his attention again. It was his sister this time. His fists were balled tightly, eyes staring blankly.
** ** **
Vanessa shut the door to the office and stopped before her boss like a kid waiting to collect her classwork from his teacher. “I’m really sorry, Sir.” She repeated.
The old man, stood up. He should be in his late fifties and was six feet tall. His lips curved into a smile as he stared at her for a moment. “Why are you behaving this way, Vanessa? You are rather getting too respectful to what I prefer you to be.”
She shrugged. “That’s how it’s meant to be, Sir.”
He shot a look over the top of his glasses and snickered. “I am giving you a day off, Vanessa. Go and stay with your grandma.”
Vanessa jacked her head up with surprise. She never expected that. Mr. Williams had been more caring since he approached her. She felt uneasy with it, but wouldn’t want to reject it likewise. “But what about your meetings, Sir?” She tried to show concern.
He waved it off. “Those ones are not necessary for now. It is only one who is alive and in a right state that can think of meeting. So, feel free.” He smiled.
“Thanks, Sir. God bless you.”
“God? Oh, Almighty God.” She heard his frail voice again.
“Don’t be brusque, Sir.”
It’s not like that, he said feeling defensive.
Vanessa had a throat-clear: a nonverbal indication of doubt. There was a brief silence before Williams just dismissed her to go. He didn’t want to start talking to her about his belief again. They had spoken on the subject several times and it seemed Williams was always controversial.
** ** **
Daniel drove into the compound. He picked up the things he bought for his friends to celebrate his birthday his own little way and alighted, smiling. He knew his friends would be happy that he also bought them snacks to celebrate.
It was already six pm, and David should be back from his own place work by that time, he concluded as he walked the corridor and knocked. He brought out his phone to check the messages he had received again while he waited for the door to be opened. After some minutes, he knocked again.
He opened the door slowly when he heard no response and met the living room well arranged with flowers and some gifts. He saw a big cake sitting on the center table and the beautiful frame beside the table. He could not see what was on the frame properly till he live closer and he saw it was a drawing of himself.
He just dropped the things he was holding, already grinning as his eyes scanned through the living room. “Surprise!” He suddenly heard from the dinning and he quickly turned. He was stunned.
The eyes and mouth opened wide, the eyebrows raised. “Guys!” An intoxicating brew of fear, awe and ecstasy. His skin tangled as he opened his arms wide to hug them. He could see his two friends and housemates and each one with his fiance. He never expected such thing as he drove back home. He was planning to surprise his friends, at the end, he was surprised.
“My Actor.” Chioma remarked as she hugged him. His cheeks flushed as she pecked him softly. “Happy Birthday, dear.” She winked.
He smiled. “I appreciate this, Chioma.” He hugged Oyin too. “You guys really surprised me.” He remarked.
“So, we are too small to be hugged?” Mike said from behind.
He chuckled. He knew Mike was going to talk because he hugged Chioma. “You guys should know, I will definitely hug you.” He hugged Michael and David too. “I’m really short of words, guys. I never saw this coming.” He said, still smiling.
Nodding like a bobble-head doll, Mike took a step forward. “Wouldn’t have told you there would be a surprise, got it?”
Daniel nodded. It took him a while before he found his voice again. “I just don’t know what to say, guys.”
“You have said that before, actor.” Chioma cut in. Can you sit down now?” She stretched her hand to the seat. Daniel sat down. His friends also moved to his side and sat down while the ladies got the deal done.
“So, how was hospital today, David?” Daniel asked.
David looked left towards the ladies before he spoke, lowering his voice. “I met a lady today.” He winked.
Daniel retorted. “I never asked you the person you met today. I only asked how your day went.” He faced Mike and asked him he same question.
“I met with my editor today and he’s still working on the project. Then, I was able to type almost eight thousand words today. I will be updating tomorrow.” He replied. “And, who did you see today, David?” Mike asked.
As David was about to reply, Oyin turned to serve Daniel his food. “Here it is, Mr. gun them down.” She said. She had been calling Daniel the name since she saw the movie where Daniel played the role of a kidnapper. That was not new to Daniel, even his fans had been wishing him happy birthday on his timeline since midnight and have been ending it with gun them down.
He grinned. “You are not serious. When will you stop calling me the name?”
“Who told you to start the slang?” She pulled out her tongue and glimpsed at David.
“You guys can’t imagine that’s what everyone has been calling on social media since morning. What would I have done when that was the role I was given in the movie.” He chuckled
“Don’t mind them.” Chioma said. “At least you killed the movie.” She added, bringing Mike his food.
“Killer ni. You don’t praise me like this when you read my works online, Chioma. But when it comes to Daniel’s movies, you hail him like there is no tomorrow.” He tried to make her feel he was jealous, squinting his eyes and pressed his lips together.
Chioma laughed. “If you like, close your eyes. How many times have I praised you, Mike. When will you even be contented?” She pulled his cheek playfully.
David stood up and got the remote control for the home theatre and played Daniel’s favourite song – Okaka by Frank Edwards. He hardly sat down when Oyin talked. “Don’t you have confirm songs? I don’t do Christian songs, guy.”
David shook his head. “I knew it, you are just a sinner. Anyways, this is Daniel’s favourite song in this house. Daniel does not do those songs you wish.” He pulled out his tongue too.
“Really? Daniel, is that true?” Oyin questioned, raising her shoulders.
“Sure. They don’t edify the spirit.” He chuckled as he spoke. He knew she would castigate him. Even his friends always abused him whenever he played spiritual songs, telling him how boring they were. He knew none of them would like to hear songs like that. “Or which type of songs do you want?” He asked deliberately, he wanted to know what she would say.
“Seriously? I never noticed that Daniel is also a Pastor.” She laughed.
“The day I heard too, I was shocked.” Chioma added.
The two of them sat down. They had already served the guys and were eating too. There were still more snacks and drinks on the table for them to take after their meal.
“I think I prefer Olamide’s songs.” Oyin said.
“What! Daniel made a side-to-side head-shakes. With his nose drawn up and wrinkled. It was as though he was disgusted. “You too? Oh, I’ve forgotten that David also listen to them.” He concluded.
“But the guy is talented.” Mike said.
“And he has won several awards.” Chioma supported, taking a bite of her meat.
“Oh, Mike and Chioma too.” He nodded consecutively. “Remind me of that song he sang recently that was baned by NBC.” He faced Chioma.
“Story for the gods.” She replied almost instantaneously.
Daniel just hissed. “I don’t have time for that sef.”
David laughed. “Spiritual brother.”
** ** **
A heaviness, a cloud of depression and weariness, seemed to draw all of Vanessa’s features downward as she entered into the house. She was very tired and fed up. “Hey, Debbie.” She yawned.
It was really a busy day. She had finally taken her grandma home and it was as if she was beaten up, she was feeling body pains. She thought maybe because she sat down for too long. But she had no option, who else would do that for her if not herself. She knew if she called her friend- Debbie, she would come over to keep her company, but the last time such thing happened, she also called her. She really hated to be a burden.
She glared at the wall clock. Since she left the office till 6pm? She muttered and gazed at Debbie. She seemed to be buried in her phone. Was it that she didn’t hear that she was greeted or she wouldn’t answer? “Debbie!” Vanessa called out, anger steaming behind her like coal smoke from a power plant.
Debbie raised her shoulders. “I replied you, Vanessa. What’s wrong, why are you looking this way?”
“My day was indescribable. I think I need a massage.”
Debbie chuckled. “Keep joking around.”
Vanessa wished she knew she wasn’t joking. That had been Debbie’s behaviour, she wouldn’t take things serious. Who knows what is getting her engrossed in her phone, she had thought, staring at her. “It seems you said you’d be going to location tomorrow, right?” She asked.
“Yes. Did I tell you Temitope Daniel is also coming? He’s playing the lead.” She replied. “And I’m his wife.” She added.
Vanessa shrugged. “So? Are you just being a wife of someone in a movie? Who’s even the producer?” She enquired, yawning again.
“It’s Mary Johnson.” She replied, lifting her head from her phone. “I really don’t know how it’s going to look yet. Don’t worry, I will be back soon.”
“Who’s worrying?” Vanessa snifled.
“Really? So you aren’t going to worry about me?” She beamed. “You haven’t told me how your day went, you look worn out.”
“Grandma again.” She paused slightly. “She slumped.” She added.
“Really? And you didn’t call me to come, Vanessa!” She emphasised.
Vanessa stared at her for some seconds, trying to figure out the best reply she could give. “I didn’t want to disturb you, moreover, I called you the last time.”
Debbie hissed. “How’s she?”
“Good. I’ve dropped her off at her place. Will check her tomorrow after work.” She arched an eyebrow. “You can’t believe that Williams told me to go and meet her in the Hospital, he gave me a day off.”
Debbie winked. “He knows what he’s doing, girl. After that day that he spoke to you about his feelings, has he spoken to you again?”
Vanessa shook her head. “I already told him I was not interested, not expecting him to ask again.”
Debbie laughed. “So, what’s your plan?”
Vanessa shrugged. “Plan? Concerning what?”
“What else? If you are not interested in him, is there another guy somewhere? I think he’s been really nice.”
Frown or wrinkle beneath her lower eyelids, staring with a strangled expression. “No guy anywhere, and don’t want any. And not even Williams if there will be any.” She retorted. “The Doctor that attended to me today was even annoying too. I think he called himself Doctor David, who cares? How can someone meet me today and start telling me stories about himself?” She raised her brows.
Debbie laughed. “I don’t have that time today. Just go and shower, I’ve prepared the food.”
“Thanks, Madam Williams.” She smiled and stood up. Off to her room.
** ** **
Daniel was fulfilled. When he woke up the morning of that day, he never knew it’d be that interesting for him. Chioma and Oyindamola had already left their place at the time he was at the balcony, just surfing through the net and checking the birthday wishes.
Just then, David walked into the corridor and picked a chair beside him. He glanced at what Daniel was doing and brought out his own phone too, to check his BlackBerry Messenger if he had any message.
“Sincerely, I appreciate you guys today, David.” Daniel remarked.
“It’s nothing, man.” David smiled.
“But what about the lady you were talking about the other time?” His brows puckered.
David chuckled. “Are you suddenly getting interested in ladies?” He winked. “Anyways, she brought her grandmother to the clinic and I attended to the woman. She is suffering from hypertension, but this girl was so beautiful. Daniel, you won’t want to imagine her beauty.” He said, staring sightlessly into darkness. He was trying to remember how she looked.
“Really? What’s her name?”
“She told me Ann.” David grinned. “I asked her for her mobile number but she didn’t answer me. I later got the file of the woman and saw her number as next of kin. I’m gonna call… ”
Daniel didn’t let him finish his statement before he cut him short. He felt his stomach tightened, looking as though he was angry. He was smiling with David some seconds back, now frowning as if he committed a crime. “I can’t believe you are speaking this way, Dave. After having Oyindamola to your side, what else do you want? You can still recognize another girl, David?”
Playfulness fell off from David’s face like a discarded look. He was tight-lipped as he dropped down his head.
Daniel continued. “You are following Ann where Oyin is there, Dave. I thought we have spoken about this before. Aren’t you interested in Oyindamola again?” He questioned.
“It’s not like that, David. But can’t I see someone I like again because I’m in a relationship with another person?” He folded his arms across his chest as though he was getting livid.
Daniel sighed. “See, David. It’s normal to see someone who’s beautiful, but the actual beauty of it is not to be carried away by it. You are devoted to someone already. Wait, what’s your plan before? Deserting Oyindamola, right?” His eyes widened, eager to hear his response.
He shook his head. “I just want this Ann to be my friend too, just like..” he paused for a moment, he knew what to say but didn’t want to use the word that dropped in his mind, or else, Daniel would blast him. After some seconds that he couldn’t find another word, he changed his look like leaf changes colour. “Just like playing her, sha”
Daniel shook his head. “That’s rubbish.” He splattered, cupping his fist in the other hand.
** ** **