Phone rings. *Click!*
Jade: So, are you going to tell me who it was or do I have to figure it out?
Charles: Huh? Who? What are you talking about?
Jade: Oh come on Charles. I’m a woman. I know there was someone at your place before I got there today. I couldn’t miss that Liz Arden.
Silence… Loud yet eerie silence.
Charles: So nothing, Jade.
Jade: Oh wow. I can’t believe you’re actually going to make me push you for this.
Charles: Don’t push me Jade. It’s nothing.
Jade: Same way you and Kemi were ‘nothing’ back then.
Jade: Come on Charles. I’ve been your best friend for well over ten years. I guess I know you more than you think I do.
Charles: What do you know about Kemi and I?
Jade: That really doesn’t matter now. I’m just worried about you and this decision to get married. I know how much pressure your parents failed marriage has put on you but please, please, please don’t bottle this in. You asked us to help you so let us REALLY help.
Charles: And you guys have been wonderful.
Jade: Well, if you say so. I have to go. I’ll talk to you later then.
Charles: Alright. Bye.
I walked into the room painted all white and the blandness immediately got to me. “So much for an office,” I turned and said to Darlene.
“Oh please shut up jo. This is still a hospital, remember? Mr. Creative Director.” We both laughed and then sat down beside each other on a set of beige twin sofas mechanically arranged in a corner of the office.
“Charles Charles. The one and only Cha-cha. Wow. It is so good to see you again. Gosh, I’ve actually missed you…”
“Hey, that’s totally your fault. You’re the one who chose to go to nursing school to learn to save everyone else’s life but mine.” I chastised.
“I followed my dream Charles. That’s one thing I’m happy to say I learnt from you.” Darlene looked into space, memories flooding her mind. Her blue eyes still caused my skin to tingle. Born a half-caste, but it seemed the European blood in her totally over-shadowed the Nigerian bit. “So how is everyone: your mom, your sister?” Darlene brought me back to the present.
“Well, everyone is good. Thank God my sister ‘dreamt another dream’ and changed her mind about going down the nursing line like you…” I was being self-righteous on purpose. No reason. Just me being the occasional douche.
“And what do you mean by that? I’m sure you bullied the poor girl. Someday you’ll publicly accept and perhaps come to terms with the fact that your fear of injections is what drives your seeming dislike for medical practitioners.” Darlene always teased me about that.
“Oh my, you know, sometimes I really wish you hadn’t given me that injection,” I replied. “How can you say that. How then would I have felt that your ridiculously soft behind and subsequently fallen for you?”
“Oh, so NOW, you admit it was my ass that got you!” We both laughed together. “And how about your other sisters?” Darlene questioned.
“What other sisters?”
“Oh come off it. Kemi and Jade. Is Jade still in love with you?” Her words cut right through me. Darlene had always alluded to this but this was the first time she had said it to my face. “Why are you all quiet like you never knew. Well, knowing you, I’m sure you did and I do hope y’all did or are doing something about it.” It was obvious Darlene was ready to be completely expressive about the subject. Too many people had accused Jade and I. How ironic.
“Did you get Charles’ email?” Kemi asked.
“No, what email?” Jade said.
“He said he was trying to call you but the network was acting up. He had to rush to Abuja today.”
“Abuja eh? Hmm.. and I heard from the grapevine that Chioma might just be in Abuja.”
“Oh is that so?.. Anyways, he won’t be meeting us but he sent me his Darlene review and asked us to pick the next victim.”
“Wait, let me guess.. it’s probably a no and it had to do with the way she smells?” Jade’s sarcasm made Kemi wail with laughter. Once her mirth-high had receded:
“You know your friend too well. Let me read you his words: ‘You know I have mad love for that girl. She’s awesome. It’s just that I hate hospitals and I can’t have one living with me.’”
“Yup. That’s Cha-cha alright…” Jade spat,
“…the man we’ve come to accept and love the way he is.” Kemi finished. Jade’s countenance at once became grim as she inquired: “Kemi, are you in a tell-all mood? I need to ask you something…” Kemi cocked her head to one side as she mulled over what Jade could possibly want to know. “Sure. Wasap?” “I just want to know what happened with you and Charles that night… the night before your wedding…”
“Oh dear.” Kemi exhaled. She lowered her eyes the mood became grim instantly.
“Don’t ask me how I knew,” Jade continued, “Charles didn’t tell me either. I just want to hear it from you.”
Kemi wore a how-do-I-tackle-this-without-coming-off-as-the-devil smile before offering: “I really don’t know… It was that his stupid charming, affable nature. The charming bastard got to me, Jade. As you know, Charles more or less got me interested in the Captain and for almost 9 months, I didn’t see any other person. That’s so unlike me.” She raised her eyes to meet Jade’s before resuming:
“And then he proposed. I was scared. I didn’t know if I could stay committed in a marriage for so long. I had always flirted with Charles. From the day we met. I had a crush on him for so long and then we just connected and became friends. He was the only one who could understand my confusion. I went to him that night so we could talk. So I could let out my fears.” She paused, trying to gauge what effect her words would have.
“How do they say it? One thing led to another…” Kemi exhaled again “…and we were kissing furiously…” Kemi stopped as the memories seemed a bit too much to talk more of. But Jade, slightly crestfallen already, wanted to hear it all.
“Then what happened?”
“Oh nothing much after. Charles is decent after all. He couldn’t go through with it. I cried that night and he held me. I found the answers to my question and I think it’s time you also found yours, Jade.”
Jade had welled up with emotion now. Part relief, part uncertainty. But Kemi was now certain. Defiant even.
“In fact,” Kemi said, “I think I know what to do.”