Jide was miserable for the rest of the night after his near accident.
Coupled with the fact that his body ached in places where he seemed to have strained some muscles- as a result of the tension of his car accident- he also had to contend with the fact that his wife had lied about her whereabouts that same day.
He tossed and turned in his matrimonial bed throughout the early hours of the morning, eyes twinkling in the dim room as he warily watched his sleeping wife. Patricia slept soundly, face innocent and peaceful, while her husband watched her as the events of the day ran through his head.
He had managed to eat half of his dinner, although he had lost the greater part of his appetite the moment he realized Patricia had lied to him. rather than interrupt her inane banter to ask why the security man would say she had gone out if she hadn’t, Jide held his peace and quietly swallowed balls of pounded yam smothered in egusi soup, keeping his eyes on his plate till he felt he could stop eating without arousing any suspicion.
He quickly thanked her and left the dining table, careful not to let her look in his eyes. He was afraid she would see his fear.
Now, he lay on his side of the bed, with as much space between them as he could create without falling off, watching his wife breath gently as the rising sun slowly lightened the sky outside the windows. He recalled her violent attack on him when she found out about his affair with Anita Bankole, her taciturn, surly behavior for days after that, and then her sudden change. It was almost as though an angry, spiky caterpillar had suddenly blossomed into a beautiful, friendly butterfly.
No, people just don’t shrug off that kind of anger like that. Something is up with Patricia.
Just before his unusual early morning alarm went off, Jide staggered out of bed, eyes burning with lack of sleep and body still aching, and he wondered if the analogy he had used earlier was wrong. Maybe his wife had transformed into something a lot more sinister than a butterfly.
Maybe the caterpillar had become a deadly moth.
“Good morning, Sister Florence! How body na?”
Florence looked up, jarred from her thoughts. She was walking along the street that led to the legal chambers where she worked, her left arm burdened by the bag that held her stewed meat and snacks. She had been operating on autopilot since she stepped out of her home, placing one foot in front of the other on the familiar route as she mused over her problems, before the voice cut through the mental fog she was in.
She looked up to see a short, thin man in a long robe waving at her, a big friendly grin topping the scraggly beard on his chin.
“Ehn? Oh. Good morning, mallam. How body?” Her responding smile was distracted but genuine. The man was a friendly Hausa cobbler, a permanent fixture on the street. He was skilled and patient and very friendly.
“I dey pine o.” The man shouted to her from where he was standing. “I just say make I greet you. I see as you dey fass, dey think, so I say make I remind you say gutter dey por pront o! Too much thinking for Lagos e no good o.”
Florence swallowed a laugh, less amused by the man’s comic warning than by his penchant for substituting the ‘p’ sound for the ‘f’ sound and vice versa. She could already feel her spirits lifting as he twinkled his snuff-stained teeth in her direction.
“Na true you talk o. Thank you mallam, I no go think too much before I fall inside nyama-nyama.”
She returned his wave and continued on her way to her workplace, a smile lingering on her lips. Thoughts about Jide Babalola and how awkward working near him had become tried to dampen her mood again, but she pushed them away. She had decided to endure the situation until enough time had passed to enable her apply for transfer to another floor herself. She had no intention of talking to Jide Babalola anymore than she had to, and she definitely had no intention of asking for his help again.
Still, when he arrived at work a few minutes after her and strode past her table, muttering a response to her soft greeting, her heart still skipped at how tall and handsome he looked. He was at his office door when he stopped and looked at her, his eyes growing wide. Florence looked away at once, hoping he could not read her secrets through her eyes, hoping against all hope that he would continue on into his office, but as she heard his footfalls returning to her direction, she knew her wish was a futile one. When she looked up, she was startled to see a suspicious expression on his face.
“Tell me, Florence.” Jide Babalola suddenly thundered, leaning his arms on her desk. “What do you know about cars?”
Florence stared up at Jide, her heart hammering. This was the last thing she wanted to happen.
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