Curse of the Rose (Episode 6)

"Life is like a rose, sometimes it comforts you with lovely scents, other times it pricks you with thorns"
- Kanayo Aniegboka (Kani)

It was someone’s birthday at the office, a new girl that was recently transferred from one of the branches. Nnadi stood in the back as the staff gathered to sing her a happy birthday song. The guys sang a little louder, each of them holding wrapped gifts with hopes that they would finally be the ones to score the new girl. Since the first day she walked into the front office, clutching one of those oversized bags that seemed to be going around with the ladies these days, in fact, just last week his girlfriend had kept him sleepless until he had had to buy her the fake-Gucci version of the bag off one of those online retail shops popping up all over his computer screen. He had since begun to watch his girlfriend closely, who knew, she might just tuck his flat screen TV in the bag if he looked away and take off. Anyway back to office birthday girl, since she arrived, the guys had tripped over each other for who will show her around the office or give her a ride home or help her with that assignment, which is her job by the way, that the boss threw to her. It disgusted him, that whole charade that went on with the guys every time a new babe arrived. It reminded him of the guys upstairs in his building that had no respect for girls, they changed girlfriends as one would TV channels and pushed them out the door when they were bored. It’s not like he had never wanted to sleep with any new girl, he had slept with a couple in his past days, but he wouldn’t behave so shamelessly.

The girl bent over and blew out the candle on her cake, the guys oohed, Nnadi was sure, at the flash of her cleavage. He shook his head and strolled back to his office, he didn’t wait to receive a portion of the cake or a glass of the wine from the bottles he heard them popping excitedly. He had a slide to edit for his presentation the next day, his boss and the top board members of the company would be present, he had to be at his best. He would eat cake later, when he was done with the presentation and the bosses approved the project his department had been working on the past year, he would eat a whole cake alone. Right now his heart was in his belly and he wanted to be anything but a Cooperate Manager. He had a plan anyway, first thing in the morning, he would pack his bags and take off to one off those islands missing from the map, where nobody knew him, he’ll return after two weeks and his boss would congratulate him on his promotion, he had nothing to worry about, angels had come down from the heavens and done the presentation for him. He sighed. Dreams. Someone knocked on his see-through door. It was birthday girl, carrying a plate of cake and a glass of wine.

  •           You left before we could share the cake. She said sweetly

She dropped the items on the table. The flash of cleavage again. He spun his chair and looked out his window to the ocean below. He turned back around and was surprised to see her still standing there. He raised his brow at her.

  •           Sir I was wondering… She cleared her throat I was wondering…

He urged her on with his eyes. He knew he was making her uncomfortable, he eased up and smiled.

  •           My friends are throwing me a party tonight, I was wondering if you would like to come.

What was her name? He batted his eye lids, he couldn’t remember. He looked at his mirror ceiling, his eyes fell on her cleavage up there in the mirror. What the hell was her name?

  •           Erm, I don’t think I would be able to, I would be leaving here quite late and I have an early day tomorrow, so…

She nodded awkwardly and smiled stiffly.

  •           It’s ok sir, I understand. Maybe next time.

She walked to the door swiftly. She was embarrassed. He swallowed the saliva in his mouth. No don’t say it. Don’t say it.

  •           Maybe I’ll just pop in before I head home.

She beamed. Fool, you have a girlfriend. She dashed over and scribbled her address on a sticky note and stuck it on his arm.

  •           Thank you sir. She sang as she left.

The security men at the gate waved at Nnadi as he drove past. It was 10 pm and he had done all he could to the slide. He had edited and edited, stolen pictures off the internet, edited some more, flipped his dictionary to the very last page, asked google every question on earth, read till his eyes popped, he was sure he would nail the presentation tomorrow, well except he was swarmed by google tonight and arrested for plagiarizing. He drove slowly down the street, there was no hurry, Afoma was home and he was sure she and his girlfriend had set the house on fire by now. Afoma had promised to be of best behaviour and to be even nice but he knew his cousin better than anyone, her niceness wouldn’t last a minute if she didn’t like the receiver of this her rare commodity. He looked at the sticky note in his ash tray, maybe he would drive over quickly and make a birthday girl happy before heading home. But he didn’t have a gift for her. He sighed. Fool. Go home. He shook the voice off his head.

Strangely, the party was already over by the time he got there. It must have been an early party. The girl breezily opened the front door and fell into his arms.

  •           You came! She screeched

She was wearing a skimpy black dress that looked like it was held by a thread to her body. She kept him on her couch and dashed to the kitchen, flashing fair long legs as she went. She returned and shoved a wine glass in his hand, then popped a bottle of chardonnay. She was prepared for him. She knew he would come. He sipped the wine and looked around her house. It was obvious she had just moved in; she didn’t have a TV yet and her couch smelled like a Carpenter’s workshop. She sat beside him on the couch. Closely. Too closely.

  •           Everyone just left. It was a wonderful party

The twitch in her eyes told Nnadi she was lying. He rose to his feet.

  •           I have to leave he announced

She jumped to her feet and looked like she was going to cry

  •           But you just got here
  •           I know. I have to go. It’s late. Told you I would just pop in

She sank bank into the couch and started crying. Oh come on, not another crying girl. He reluctantly sat beside her and touched her arm.

  •           What’s wrong? Is everything alright?

She fell into his arms and started sobbing.

  •          Please don’t leave me. I lied! I have no friends. It’s my birthday and I’m all alone. I just wanted you to come because I didn’t have anybody else. Please don’t go.
  •          Come on… Darn he still couldn’t remember her name. You don’t have to cry girl. You’ll make friends in no time. You just moved here, it’ll get better.

She sobbed louder and he rubbed her back.

Nnadi opened his eyes to the first rays of the morning light. He didn’t recognise the painting of a desert field at twilight hanging on the wall, there was a black underwear on a blue hanger hanging on a nail beside the painting. He sprang up. The birthday office girl was lying beside him.

  •           Shit! He cursed

He jumped out of the bed and hurried into his clothes

  •          Why are you in a hurry? The girl said sleepily from the bed

Why was he in a hurry? He wanted to punch her in the face. Why was he in a hurry? His job was at stake, his relationship with his girlfriend was at stake. He checked his pockets for his phone. Darn, he had left it in the car. He was just supposed to pop in, remember? He cursed again. He dashed to the car, he couldn’t make it to the house and back to the office in time for the presentation. What would he do? Fool. Fool. Fool. He kicked at his tire angrily and got into the car.

"Our actions tend to be more loyal to our emotions than our rationale"
- Kanayo Aniegboka (Kani)

Story written by +Nnedinma Jane Kalu 
Nnedinma studied Biology but works as a freelance scriptwriter. She lives in Enugu from where she sees the world in the pages of books. She is a co-writer at the Radio drama series Purple produced by Flint Productions. She participated in the Writivism writing program 2014 and is an Alumini of the Farafina Creative Writing Workshop.

Kanayo Aniegboka

Kani is a Nigerian born and based minister, public speaker, entrepreneur and life coach. His keen and unique perspective to life issues makes him a refreshing voice to listen to. He currently serves as the Executive Coordinator of House on the Rock - Word House and sits on the board of a number of companies.

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