Palm lines - Episode 16
"Haba Miss Erika! You didn't used to be like this" the principal complained about my recent skipping of school activities. That was the first thing I heard when I got to school that Tuesday morning.
"Nowadays, if you don't go out during break time, you won't even show up in school at all"
"I'm sorry Sir"
"Please save your apology. If Mr . Winston comes back from his long summer holiday, he will definitely have you fired for incompetence"
"Sir, I'm sorry. None of it is intentional"
"What if you didn't have an assistant teacher? Miss Erika you would have been replaced. Just let me know if you need the job"
"I do Sir!"
"Then prove it!"
As I walked through the halls, I had an incoming call from Vera. "Are you okay?" She asked and I rolled my eyes. I was getting tired of the question.
"Why is everyone asking that?"
"I know how badly you wanted the abortion" she answered and I rolled my eyes again. "Good morning Miss Erika" two girls greeted me and I faked a smile at them.
"Good morning dearies" I answered.
"You're in school already?" She asked and I nodded. "Yes" "Shouldn't you be giving yourself breathing space?" She asked and I scoffed.
If only she knew the drill I had to go through from the Principal
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. "Come over, I'm having a compulsory off day and I made Ofe Nsala" "I would have jumped to the offer if you were a fair cook" I snapped playfully and she laughed.
"In your mind now, I cannot cook"
"Maybe you should stick to rice and stew. Your stew tastes great by the way" I commented and she laughed again this time I laughed too.
"I miss you and I'm worried about you Erika. Maybe you should move in with me"
"Ah-han, what happened to my own house?" I asked, "I'll advise you register quickly for anti-natals" "I will, on Saturday. I can't afford to skip school again." "Why?"
"My Principal said I shouldn't do it again, he won't give me a chance well, except on my day of delivery" I whispered and she laughed.
"You told him?"
"No" i answered.
"I'm not sure if I can tell anyone yet" I answered walking into my staff room. Miss Oloche was talking to another teacher.
"These questions are hard oh" The teacher complained while looking at a foolscap sheet.
"Shea someone leaked my test question? Let me punish them with this one" she answered then she looked at me.
"Miss Erika, good morning oh" she greeted along with the other teacher and I responded to their greetings.
"Miss Erika, you're looking fresh oh. See how your cheek is coming out, is it because of my village you went to?" She asked and I laughed.
"Just three days in Benue and you're like this, imagine if you stay a year. You had better marry a Benue man" she answered and I raised my nose in disbelief.
"Benue kor, Edo ni" I answered using a handkerchief to clean my seat before I sat on it.
I went to Odogwu construction where Feso was still working late. I learnt he was in a room with his team brainstorming.
"Maybe I'll come back later" I told the secretary and she widened her eyes.
"Engr. Feso's won't be happy with me if he finds out you came and I didn't inform him. He doesn't like being disturbed while brainstorming either but for you, he will want anything" she answered then I laughed.
I felt special.
She left my presence then she came back with Feso behind her.
"Hey love" he smiled and I walked towards him then I gave him a quick kiss on the lips. "Good evening dear"
"Good evening" he answered then we walked towards his office. Immediately we got in, he gave me a proper longbkiss on the lips.
Then he slipped his arms around my waist. "I've missed you" he confessed and I sighed breath-takeningly.
Then he kissed me on my neck and I shut my eyes, biting on my lower lip.Then he resumed kissing me on my lips.
I had to pull back when I remembered my reason for being there.
"I have something I want to say to you" i began and he quietly examined me. "I um...." I paused, 'I'm pregnant' That was the word straight from my mind but I couldn't say it, in reality, it only came out as "I miss you too"
"You should spend the weekends with me or how about you stay with me and sometimes go to school from my house"
"Sounds like a lovely idea" I faked a smile, "I really don't want to bother you"
"It's no bother"
"Well, it's.." I thought of what to say. "The church would frown against it" I answered. I finally found an excuse, I had to build on it.
"Mom doesn't like it when girls live with their boyfriends before marriage"
"Oh. Apart from it not being Christian-like. I'm sorry if I sound like a deeper life member right now" I appealed earnestly and he nodded.
"It okay, I totally understand. I'm sorry I suggested it"
"It's fine" I wrapped my hands around his neck then we kissed and he smiled.
"I missed your lips" he confessed.
I couldn't go ahead with my plans. I felt defeated. I went back home feeling weak and cold from the weather.
"I have a brilliant idea" Kechi suggested, Dorcas and i paid attention to her.
"Why not sleep with Feso and pin the pregnancy on him"
"Are you crazy?" I asked busting out in anger.
"I can't do that"
"Madam it's just a suggestion, you don't have to kill me for it. You could have just said no"
"No? Kechi that's the most stupid idea ever! I don't want my life turning into something from one soap opera. I'm not going to pin my baby on any man"
"What are you going to do then?" She asked and I sighed.
"I don't know" I cried.
On Monday, I specifically shifted all early morning meeting because I wanted to drop Sharon off at school. I wasn't going because of anything, I was going because I felt the need to just see Miss Erika; even if it just a glance at her.
When we got to the school, she wasn't around even after school hours. I wanted to call her but I withheld myself from doing so.
"Are you crazy?" I asked myself. "David what are you doing?" I added. "She has a boyfriend and you're obviously smitten by her. You can't do this anymore. It's not healthy" I added.
My secretary, Imaobong walked into the office, "Sir, Chief Akpan called" she chipped in and I rolled my eyes. "Tell I'm not in the office"
"And what about the 8'o clock meeting you rescheduled for nine. "Reschedule again by 8"
"I don't think I'll be busy doing anything" I answered and she nodded. "Is that your final answer?" She asked and I chuckled.
"Do I have any lifelines?" I asked and she laughed. It was our joke. She walked out and i made a decision not to drop Sharon at school again.
I needed to avoid seeing her for sometime, I really needed it; but I knew I had to let Sharon know and I did that evening after I got back from work.
"I won't be dropping you off at school or picking you up" I began and she scoffed.
"Why? Were you only pretending to Miss Erika?"
"You were! You're still the same careless father"
"I do care Sharon! I do" I paused, "I'm doing this for myself" "What's going on"
"You asked me if I like Miss Erika," i paused, "I do. I realize I like her and it's wrong, it's very wrong because I'm a married man"
"So you don't want to see her"
"Yes I don't but in the real sense, I want to, I really want to. That's why I need this break," I paused, "Some time away from her should help me heal. Today I woke up happy because of the thought of seeing her. It's not a healthy thing to do, I don't know if you understand"
"I do, staying away would help you forget her or curb those feelings"
"Smart girl" I commented and she laughed.
"Are we cool?" I asked and she nodded.
A while ago, it was October, before I opened and closed my eyes, it was already December. I was three months gone, I still haven't said a word to anyone.
Frankly, I had no plans to. I planned on waiting till everyone see it with their own eyes. "Feso would hate you" Dorcas assumed, "How do you want me to tell him? With which mouth? How will I even start?"
"Very soon it's going to be obvious"
"How would he feel?"
"Right I don't know." "You could have taken my suggestion to pin it on him" Kechi reminded me again and I glared at her.
"Can you both just leave me alone to just rest, I'm so tired." I requested and they both left the room.
I dragged my phone close to me, I needed some sort of joy so I went through my videos and I played the one with Mr. Savage crying.
"I thought you said old men don't cry" he said on phone and I laughed.
"Are you kidding me?" He added this was the scene he hid his face on camera, that cracked up again.
The video ended and I smiled. Then I remembered how fun it was in Benue. Suddenly I started to ask myself why Mr Savage has been refusing to come pick Sharon up.
My phone rang and I picked up the call. It was one of my colleague in the University, Denise. She was definitely calling to find out if I would be coming for the get together organized for 2009 graduates the following week.
"Evening Denise" i greeted, "Evening. I called concerning the get together I spoke to you about. We've been saying it on WhatsApp group chat and you haven't even said anything"
"I've been thinking"
"Are you coming or not? We're trying to make reservations and we want to know those that will come"
"Okay ....I'll be there" I finally agreed.
"Great then." She chipped in then ended the call.
After closing period on this particular Friday, I walked out of the school compound and I saw Sharon talking with Tuni and Ade. "Aren't you guys going yet?" I asked and Sharon turned towards me, "We're in the middle of an argument" she replied.
"Ade here thinks I'm a feminist. Do i look and act like a feminist"
"Mam she looks like a potential feminist," he answered, "All feminist are damn sentimental and scarred"
"I'm a feminist" I replied and he paused while the two girls stared at him waiting for him to say something.
"Can we all pretend I didn't say a word? Good bye Miss Erika" Ade ran off afterwards and we all laughed.
"Are you going to go with Tuni's mom or you'll wait for your Dad's driver or Uncle Lawrence" "I don't know" she answered.
"What's up with your Dad" I cleared my throat.
"I haven't seen him in a month, more than a month. Has he gone back to not caring about you" I asked and Tuni said her goodbyes then walked away.
"But?" I asked and she hesitated. I knew she was hiding something. "What is it?" I asked and she shrugged.
"He's been busy with work"
"Oh suddenly you agree with him being busy... Sharon Savage, is there something you're not telling me?" I asked and she laughed.
Do you miss him?" She asked and I scoffed, "Why would I miss your father? I'm just being concerned that he has withdrawn from dropping you off and picking you up."
"I've reevaluated Dad and I've finally realized his job is really demanding"
"What did he tell you to have you convinced?" I asked and she shook her head. "Nothing Ma"
"Is he still at work?" I asked and she nodded.
"Why don't we pay him a surprise visit?" I asked and Sharon kept mute. "I don't think that's a good idea" she answered and I became even more suspicious.
"What happened to your dad?" I asked, "Was he involved in an accident? Or is there something I should know that you're not telling me"
"It's fine we can go to his office when IK comes to pick me up." She answered and suddenly a guy waved at her. "There he is" she added.
I just couldn't help but feel strange like there's something she wasn't telling me.
"Why doesn't he want to see me?" I asked once again in the car. "Because he doesn't want to see you" she answered and I wondered why.
"Why don't you ask him, I mean that was what he said. I didn't really get his reasons for saying so"
We got to an organization with the inscription Savage Realtors and then proceeded inside. "Have you been here?" I asked Sharon and she smiled.
"He brought me here last month"
"And you didn't tell me because..." I asked and she felt bad. "It's just that I was avoiding a lot of things"
"And me too?" I askes determined to know what she's keeping. "No Ma, don't make me feel bad"
Suddenly I heard Mr. Savage's voice. "Chief Akpan I don't care if the land belongs to you, which I know it doesn't. I already bought it from your brother. You were there when we signed the settlement, heck! You also signed it"
"I've been cheated for too long by him"
"I don't care if you've been cheated, don't make me get more angry than I am already about that land. If you don't take off that juju or whatever you placed on that land and return those workers back to normal, I'll have you arrested and I'm not bluffing" he threatened.
"Ohh, dad is angry" Sharon chipped in and I chuckled and he turned towards us.
"I never knew he had that in his bones"
"Not when he's dealing with crazy clients" someone answered and I turned my back to see Richard, Ugo's husband.
He was smiling at me.
"Richard?" I called out in surprise and he pressed a hug against me. "What are you doing here?" I found myself asking in Ibo language.
"I should be asking you that question, I work here" he answered and I raised my brow in shock, "I heard you were a consultant in one estate whatever like that"
"Well I work here" he answered and it finally made sense.
"Wow" I said unconsciously then I realized Sharon was there, "I just came here with Sharon, she's"
"The boss's daughter. I saw her when she came with Mr. Lawrence the other day" he answered.
"Who's he?" She asked, "He's my brother-in-law" I answered and Mr. Savage finally walked to where we were.
"Miss Erika?" He called out and I turned to him indifferently, like I wasn't happy to see his big head!
"Good day Sir" Richard greeted, "Good day Richard, It looks as though you both know yourselves" he answered and Richard nodded. "Erika is my sister-in-law" he answered.
"What are you doing here?" He asked me and i folded her hands still putting up with my angry act. "I came to see you but I would like to talk to my brother-in-law right now" i requested and He left along with Sharon.
"Are you angry at the boss?" He asked and I scoffed.
"Not exactly" I answered. "He has a lot of explaining to do" I added. "He's a good man, Mr Savage; the best I've ever come across" he answered.
"Why did you say so?" I asked and he smiled.
"Mr. Savage single-handedly sponsored my wedding; from the venue to the drinks to the food. All him!" He answered and I opened my eyes in shock.
"Why would he do that?" I asked and he hesitated.
"Cause he found out my love for Ugo and he knew I didn't have the capacity to fund the wedding. This man helped me. I wouldn't have had a good wedding if not for him" he confessed and I sighed.
That was really revealing. "You're looking fresh oh" he commented and I laughed. "That Kain fresh. Where's his office?" I asked and he directed me to it.
A case came to my hearing that some workers that were working on a land I sold had been hospitalized; something about a spiritual injunction that has been positioned on the land.
I was angry about it so I had to request a meeting with the . Akpan I've been avoiding.
I was escorting a client out when he saw me. "Mr Savage, let's talk now" he interrupted us and I almost rolled my eyes.
"Mam, I hope you can get to the exit yourself now?"
"I can, thank you Mr. Savge" she left and I turned over to Chief Akpan. "Let's go the office"
"This one no be matter of office. If you called me because you want to talk about that land matter," he clapped his hands.
"Count me out!"
"Chief Akpan, it's as if you haven't seen me angry before that's why"
"That land belongs to my brother and I" "In what way? He bought the land and he started the foundation"
"Ask him if I didn't carry the sand on my head, ask that my stupid brother who filled those sand there."
"He paid you for it"
"How much did he pay? 200 naira in 1999. Can imagine that cheat?"
I rolled my eyes, this discussion wasn't going anywhere. "I will not leave the land" "There are six workers lying in the hospital right now because of your spiritual injunction"
"I wanted to warn you but each time I try coming, you'll just ignore me out you'll tell your Secretary to lie. Tell those people to stay clear from that land"he warned.
"Chief Akpan I don't care if the land belongs to you, which I know it doesn't.
Read " Without Bridges " by the same author ( Essien Eno )
. I already bought it from your brother. You were there when we signed the settlement, heck! You also signed it" I raised my voice.
"I've been cheated for too long by him"
"I don't care if you've been cheated, don't make me get more angry than I am already about that land. If you don't take off that juju or whatever you placed on that land and return those workers back to normal, I'll have you arrested and I'm not bluffing" i threatened and he mellowed.
Suddenly I noticed Miss Erika and Sharon. My heart suddenly started racing amidst my anger.
"Don't bring the police in this matter" "I'm not bluffing Chief, maybe ten days in prison will make you okay"
"It's not the land ehn, it's my brother i have issuea with" "It's none of my business" I answered firmly.
"Can't you just convince him to give me more money from"
"You have until today to do it or I'll have the police round up your entire family" "It hasn't gotten to that"
"Oh Sir it has. You have until the end of today and don't even think of running" I warned and he walked away.
I sighed looking towards Miss Erika. She was now talking to Richard one of my consultants in the firm.
My heart beats continuously as I approached them. I had this excitement and disappointing feeling because it just ruined my plans of not seeing her face but boy was I happy to see her.
"Miss Erika" I called out and she turned towards me with a blank look on her face, it seemed as though she was angry at me about something. She looked different, more chubby, her cheeks were plumpy than they were the last time we spoke.
"Good day Sir" Richard greeted me for the fifth time that day. "Good day Richard, It looks as though you both know yourselves" I added and he nodded. "Erika is my sister-in-law" he answered then it all came coming to me.
I totally forgot for that little information a moment.
"What are you doing here?" I asked her and she folded her hands. "I came to see you but I would like to talk to my brother-in-law right now, alone." she requested.
Sharon and I excused them.
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