Queen had just touched up her
make up again and stared at herself for the last time while twirling before the
mirror in glee. ‘Today is the day’, she thought to herself and smiled. She was
going to pay Tunde a visit, they had chatted earlier about her coming and he
had expressed his delight over the phone.
“Baby, I can’t wait to see
you.” Tunde had whispered in a deep voice over the phone.
Queen could feel the thrill
roll through her body as she remembered his pet word for her, “Baby” such a
sweet name, she sighed. They had been constantly chatting on phone since the
day she visited his home and Queen was over the moon in ecstasy.  She had just slipped one on her left foot when
she heard her mother’s voice.
“Queenie, are you in there?”
“Yes…Mummy.” Queen mumbled.
Her mother opened the door and
stepped into her room, as usual her eyes darted round, from left to right and
top to bottom.
“Queenie, your room is in a
mess, hope you haven’t forgotten that this room once belonged to your older
sister, what do you think she would say when she comes to visit?”
“Aww…Mom, the room is clean,
I was just searching for my shoes when the room got a little untidy, I promise
to clean up later.”
“Where are you off to, this
Saturday morning? I hope you are aware that it’s the sanitation day, I wouldn’t
want you to get caught, loitering the streets.”
“Mom? It’s almost eleven thirty
am and way past the environmental time, cars are moving on the streets. Can’t
you hear the sound of the engines?”
“Well…it may have skipped my
mind, time flies terribly, besides I came to inform you that a little girl is
waiting for you in the sitting room, she says she’s your friend.”
“A little girl? Who can that
be? I am not ready to entertain visitors; I am on my way out.”
“Where to, if I may ask?”
“I have Jamb lessons?”
“Did you enroll for it? I
thought your Daddy said, he will hire a private tutor for that.”
“Well…till then Mom, I am not
ready to lie and wait while my mates study their brains off, I will not be left
behind again, I must gain admission next year.”
“I love your spirit dear.” Said
her mother, but after a while she spoke again, “Queenie, isn’t that shoe too
high for a tutorial class, wear something with smaller heels, you look like
your off to a party.”
“Mom? Please!” Queen exclaimed
rolling her eyes.
“Okay…okay, I understand, just
go and meet your friend and explain to her that you have a tutorial class to
attend, maybe she could visit you another time.”
Queen nodded and stepped out of
her room, quite wary of the fact that her mother wasn’t behind her. ‘What does
she want this time?’ she asked herself, knowing well that her mother
intentionally stayed back in her room to snoop through her things and perhaps
see if she could find something implicating. Thank God she had nothing to hide
for now, she thought, besides there’s nothing to see, it’s not like she had any
guy’s picture hidden in her drawer or something, ‘mothers could be unbearable
sometimes’ she thought.
Stepping into the sitting room
to see Chioma seated patiently on the sofa and flipping through an old family
album was surprising and disturbing.
“Chyiomah!” She exclaimed,
using the familiar vibe she had added to her little friend’s name.
Chioma greeted her with a
smile.
“Hello Queen, I am sorry that I
didn’t call before coming but, I just needed to see you.”
“Wrong timing babe, I’m on my
way out.”
“Where are you going to?”
Chioma asked.
“Does your father know you are
not at home?”
“I asked you a question first.”
“Does it matter? I am older
than you are.”
“But you are the last child of
your parents, I just went through your albums, your siblings are all grown up.”
“And what does that have to do
with the fact that I am your senior? I asked you a question, answer it!”
“Okay…you win, Daddy has a very
important meeting at work today, I left my brothers alone for a while, just
wanted to see you and head back home.”
“You have to come another day,
I am on my way out.”
“You know I can’t make it any
other day, my freedom today is a miracle and I really need to talk to you.”
Queen startled as soon as she
heard her father’s room door bang shut, placing a finger to her lips, she held
Chioma’s hand and dragged her as they hurriedly tiptoed out of the house. When
they had left the house, Queen spoke.
“That was close, didn’t want
daddy to see me or I might have more explaining to do.”
“Where are you going to?”
“To see my boyfriend.”
“Ohh…”
“What’s oh about it? Haven’t
you heard the word boyfriend before? Didn’t I mention it to you?”
“Yes you did. Don’t mind me, I
just felt em….”
“I am running late, I have to
go.”
“Can I come with you?”
Queen drew in a deep breath and
stared at the young girl before her, she sighed and said.
“It’s fine. You can come, but
you’d better behave, I am taking you with me because I don’t want to go alone.”
Chioma smiled as they both
headed towards the road in search of a taxi.
They arrived at Tunde’s house
in a short while, Queen knocked at the door while Chioma stood and stared at
the building, the music coming from the flat was deafening, she doubted that
anyone occupying the flat had ears. Tunde proved her wrong by opening the door
and raining smiles at them, in a matter of minutes he was hugging Queen and
shaking Chioma’s hand. She was too nervous as his presence scared her,
something in his demeanor stated that they were entering the lion’s den or the
devil’s cave. Shoving her fears aside, she smiled and entered the flat with
Queen. The small sitting room was loitered with cigarettes and small empty
bottles. Chioma sat down quietly and stared at the television feigning interest
in the drama on screen when in truth, she felt like bolting out of the door.
Tunde kept on singing Queen’s praises as she smiled and blushed.
“Did she ever tell you how much
she used to fight me as a child?” Tunde asked Chioma teasingly.
Chioma shook her head and
gulped in the knot of fear in her throat.
“Queen, you never stop amazing
me, I can’t believe you never told your friend, how you used to climb my
shoulders and scream loudly.”
Queen smiled shyly. Tunde rose
and walked towards the small fridge near the television set and produced a
bottle of coke. He opened it and gave it to Chioma who almost refused to accept
it, but collected it with thanks when Queen gave her a firm look. Tunde turned
to Queen and said;
“What do you say about us going
into my room to talk about old times? I guess your friend here is too young to
understand the discussions of grownups.”
Chioma’s eyes widened as she
realized that he was asking Queen to leave her alone in the sitting room and
retreat to his room with him.  Glancing
alarmingly at Queen who was apparently lost in Tunde’s charm, she pleaded
silently with her eyes, Queen who was desperate to show Tunde how much she has
grown, ignored Chioma and rose from her seat.
“I would be delighted to talk about
the past, it holds no small memories for me. I hope I didn’t do wrong by
bringing her here.”
“Of course not, she looks like
a good girl, unless she proves otherwise.”
Tunde gave Queen his arm, while
looking at Chioma with a laughing gaze which she considered rather spooky.
Queen did not even turn back to look at her, as she giggled at Tunde’s light joke
and followed him into his room.
 It was the heavy shut of the door that jolted
Chioma to the fact that she had left her house without enough money, the only
change from her pocket money had been enough to take her to Queen’s home. On
leaving her house she had nursed the hope that Queen would give her transport
fare which would take her home. Checking her jeans to see if she had enough
change to bolt out of Tunde’s house proved fruitless as the only money in her
pocket was just fifty naira, at that point Chioma realized that she was
stranded.

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