Ashanti used the tube of lipstick her mother had gotten her a month ago and smacked her lips before the full length mirror. She was dressed in dungarees shorts and a white tank top. She wore a pair of sneaker shoes and her shiny backpack was at her back.

She heard a knock at her bedroom door and knew it was her mom.

“Come in mom…”

Her mother walked in and gave her a wary look. Her eyes were still swollen and quite sore.

“Going somewhere?”

“Yes, I need to see a friend from school.” Ashanti said.

“Do you have enough money for transport?” She asked.

“Yes, I do.” Ashanti said.

Her mother gave her a long look.

“Where does your friend live?”

“On the Island.”

Her mother’s eyes seemed to brighten.

“The Island? That’s good…I’m glad that you’re associating with people of your social strata. Don’t mind where we live right now because some day, we will be dining with those in the Island and they will be our neighbours.” Her mother smiled.

Ashanti winced as she looked at her mother’s swollen face.

“Okay, I’d better get going.”

“Go to Jubril’s compound and see if he’s around. Tell him to take you to your destination and wait for you. I’ll settle him when you get back.” Her mother said.

Ashanti nodded, Jubril was a part-time driver who lazed about during the day and went driving during the nights. He normally drove her mother around town whenever she needed him to.

As she left the house, she hoped with all her heart that Jeff was playing a fast one on her. If truly, her carbon-copy exists in his estate, then, she might as well say good bye to her boyfriend because he might fall in love with her carbon copy instead of the original version. She hurried out into the streets and made her way to Jubril’s compound.

******

Lois was in her swimwear and swimming in the pool. She had been in there for over forty miniutes and her mother had sent the new maid to tell her that she was going to catch a cold. Lois didn’t care. She read that swimming burned calories and she wanted to swim some more. Even though she was as skinny as a stick, Lois didn’t want to add an extra pound, she loved herself the way she was, hence her excercises.

She stepped out of the pool and made her way into the house, wrapping her favourite Swan Queen towel around her chest. She entered through the kitchen and found her mother, baking as usual.

“Yay! Breadrolls.” She exclaimed as she made her way to the kitchen counter to take some.

“I told you to come in some minutes ago and you disobeyed me so no bread rolls for you.” Her mother said, trying to keep a stern face.

“C’mon mom, you know that I didn’t jog this morning and I need to burn the calories that I gain from eating all your pastries.” She whined.

“You are growing stubborn, Lois. You always obey me and your dad.”

“I am not stubborn mom, I told the maid that I’d stay in the pool for a little longer.”

“Isn’t that the same as being disobedient?” Her mother said to her.

Lois looked at her mother and nodded, she dropped the bread roll she had picked.

“Go and read your book…I’ll give you some breadrolls in two hours. Since you decided to delay in the swimming pool, then, I’ll delay in giving you a snack.”

Lois nodded and made her way to her bedroom, she was used to her mother’s method of discipline. Her mother never spanked her or beat her but she punished her with different methods that she’d have preferred to be spanked. Her father spanked her from time to time especially when she became too stubborn or threw a tantrum but in all, she knew they loved her and wanted the best for her.

She stepped into her bedroom and walked to her newly arranged shelf to pick up a good book. She proceeded to enter the bathroom for a bath so that she could feel refreshed when it was time to read.

*******

Jeff stood by his sister’s door in plea, he had been there for the past ten minutes, pleading with her.

“No way!” Amelia screamed. “I am not leaving my room to make friends with a new neighbour all because you want your new girlfriend to see her.”

“Please…. come on…please…” Jeff begged.

“No!”

“I promise to give you my pocket money for two weeks.” He said, wincing in pain as he said that.

His sister’s door opened and his chubby five foot nine, sixteen-year-old sister spied at him through the door.

“Wait…are you serious?” She asked.

“Anything to make you do as I ask.” He said.

“This new girlfriend of yours must be spiff.” She said stepping out of her bedroom and shutting the door behind her.

Jeff had to strain his neck to look at his sister and he hated it. He was the man, shouldn’t he be the taller one? When they had hit puberty and his sister began to grow like a giant, his mother had assured him that she would stop and he’d take the reigns and grow taller than his sister but he was already fifteen and she was still so much taller than he was.

“Okay, I’ll go and pretend to be nice to the new neighbour.” Amelia said.

“And invite her over to our house for lunch.” He added.

“Why do I have to do that? What if she doesn’t want to come?” She asked.

“You need to work hard in order to earn my pocket money for two weeks, don’t you think?”

“Great!” She sighed and made her way out of her room and down the stairs.

Just as she sped past him, his phone beeped and he opened it to read the text message from Ashanti, she was already nearing his estate. His heart skipped a beat.

******

Ashanti stared in awe at the houses in Jeff’s estate, she couldn’t believe that there existed such rich and wealthy people in Nigeria and she’s been wallowing in poverty for such a long time. What she would give to live here even for a week? She imagined the lives that the kids in the estate were living on a daily basis. She could tell that they had servants, cooks and the like and she could tell that they had drivers at their beck and call. What a life! This was what her mother was trying so hard to get for her but all her boyfriends kept disappointing her at the short run. It was obvious that her mother might end up losing her life one of these days if she still persisted in getting the life that might not be meant for her.

As Jubril drove her further into the estate, Ashanti made a wish.

She wished to live in this estate for at least a week.

“If wishes were horses, Ashanti, beggars would ride…” She sighed.

******

Lois had been surprised to hear that a neighbour wanted to see her and she was more surprised to see the very tall and big girl standing in her living room with a wide smile on her face.

“Hey, I’m Amelia…I live next door.” She said.

“Hi…it’s nice to meet you.” Lois said.

“I love the way you speak…you speak a bit differently.”

“I lived in Ghana before moving here…” Lois said.

“Oh…wow…I’ve never been to any African country but I go to Europe and America from time to time.”

Lois didn’t know what to say.

“Please have a seat.” She said.

The girl sat down and Lois sat on the chair facing hers. Her mother stepped into the sitting room with a smile on her face.

“Good afternoon ma…” The girl greeted, standing up in respect.

“Oh hello, how are you?” Her mother said with a smile.

“I am fine ma, you have a lovely house.”

“Thank you so much.” Lois’s mother said.

“I came to see your daughter, I hope you don’t mind.”

“Of course not, I am glad that you came. She’s been having a hard time, fitting in.”

“Oh, that’s why I’m here…I actually came to see if she’s free to hang out with me and my brother at our place. You see, it’s really boring during the summer holidays when we don’t travel abroad.”

Lois mother seemed to hesistate a little and she said.

“Okay…sure…why not? But I expect her back during lunch.”

“Thank you so much ma’am…” Amelia said.

“I forgot to ask your name.”

“My name is Amelia ma…”

“Okay, you girls should have fun and Lois, don’t forget to be home by lunch time.”

Lois nodded and followed Amelia out of the house.

*****

Jeff threw the door of his house wide open as soon as he heard the doorbell. Ashanti stood there, smiling at him.

“Thank you for coming…I can’t believe that I waited for ages for you to come.”

“Hey…it’s been just two weeks.” Ashanti said.

“Two weeks seems like an eternity.” Jeff said as she ushered her into the house.

Ashanti looked at the house, she felt so intimidated by everything inside.

“Welcome, I’d have introduced you to my sister but she’s on an assignment as we speak.”

Ashanti sat on the sofa in the sitting room and crossed her legs, Jeff called out to a maid and asked her to bring them some biscuits and a glass of juice.

“Your house is similar to mine.” She lied.

“Really? How so?”

“Well, I mean…it has servants and fancy things just like yours.” She said.

“I bet it does.” He said in reply.

The door to the house opened and Amelia entered, alone. Jeff looked at her wondering why she wasn’t coming in with the new next door neighbour. Amelia walked up to him and smiled.

“Mission accomplished.” She said. She turned to stare at Ashanti and she froze. “What…I thought you…said you had to go get your phone? How come you got here before me?”

Ashanti looked at Amelia in confusion.

“Me?” She echoed.

“Yes…you…I mean…aren’t you Lois?” Amelia asked.

“Do you see what I was telling you? This is Ashanti, my girlfriend.” Jeff said, obviously pleased with himself for solving a mystery.

“Wait…I don’t understand…you guys are splitting images of each other…my God!” Amelia half-screamed.

Ashanti was nervous, she desperately wanted to see the girl that looked so much like her.

At that moment, the door to the house opened and Lois stepped in.

“I got my phone…” She said.

She walked up to them still staring at her phone and when she reached them, she stopped and looked up.

Lois and Ashanti’s eyes locked and held.

Amelia and Jeff gawked.

The two girls were mirror images of eachother.

 

To be continued next week…

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