Curse of the Rose (Episode 7)


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

Kayode was all chatty as they drove to their first date since she returned. She’d avoided him until she was out of excuses. She looked out the window and counted the poles holding up the street lights as they swung past, she counted to hundred and started counting the cars, she lost count again and took a deep breath.

-          Are you alright?

No, I’m not alright, I’m going to break up with you and I’m wondering how best to do it. She looked at him and smiled nervously and he returned his gaze to the road. She noticed his yellow DKNY T-shirt for the first time since he picked her up, it clung to his muscles and his hands puffed out from inside them, he flashed her a smile briefly and put his eyes back on the road, she thought how his teeth was so white, a sharp contrast from his shiny black skin. When they arrived the Chinese restaurant, he stepped out of the car and held the door open for her, towering over her despite her 5-inches bebe shoes. Her breath caught in her throat and she rubbed her neck.

-          Are you alright?

Not trusting her voice, Nkoli nodded and went ahead of him into the restaurant. She would let him have the night, then she’ll tell him when he dropped her off.

***

Nnadi couldn’t swallow one more ball of the garri, he washed his hand in the water set before him in frustration. He pushed back his chair noisily and rose from the chair.

-          Are you alright?

He marched out, leaving his mother and girlfriend to stare at him in surprise. He heard his mother telling his girlfriend to go find out what was wrong. He entered his room and banged the door. His girlfriend came in just as he lay on the bed.

-          What’s going on? You’ve been acting strangely
-          I’m fine. I just want to be alone
-          Was it the food? I can warm up rice from the freezer
-          I said I want to be alone. Are you deaf?

He held his breath. He had never shouted on her. He waited for her to explode as women do, when he didn’t hear anything, he turned around and saw her crying. His irritation crumbled to his feet and he sprang up to his feet and held her.

-          I’m sorry baby. I didn’t mean to shout. Just that…
-          What?
-          I don’t know… but I need you to just give me a little time to deal with this
-          How can you deal with it if you don’t know what it is?
-          That’s what I’m trying to figure out. Ok?

She nodded and he exhaled. His phone buzzed on the bed. They broke apart and he walked over to the bed. He looked at the phone, it was the new girl from his office. He checked from the corner of his eye and saw that his girlfriend was still standing there. He pressed the end call button.

-         What’s that? Is it work?
-          No… Just someone I don’t want to talk to.

He jumped into the bed and buried his face in the pillow praying his girlfriend would take a hint and leave.

-          Is something going on?
-          Jesus! Can’t you take a hint? I really don’t need this right now.
-          Don’t need what? You’ve been acting strangely since your mother came, it’s almost as if you didn’t want me to meet her. Is that it? Is that what this is all about?

Nnadi jumped out of the bed and grabbed his keys from the bedside table. He heard his mother singing happily in the kitchen as he walked past the sitting room. When he opened the front door he heard his mother shouting. ‘Nna where are you going to this night? Nna!’ His phone rang again as he descended the stairs.

-          What? What is your problem? Didn’t you hear that I have a girlfriend. Stop calling me.

***

Nkoli tried to force a smile on her lips. Somebody hugged her, another person took her hand, Salam pecked her, kayoed stood in the corner smiling sheepishly. The rock he put on her finger felt too heavy. She reached to pull if off and Salam took her hand. Her parents hugged her, she looked around but her sister wasn’t there. She shook her head at Salam and excused herself for the toilet. She placed her hands on the washing sink to steady the trembling of her hands, she slipped the ring off just as Salam walked in.

-          You knew? She asked flinging the ring at her

Salam looked at her confused. She bent down and picked the ring off the tiled floor

-          Why didn’t you warn me about this? Why didn’t you tell me?
-          Because I know you, you would have bailed
-          And you had him do it in public? It’ll be all over the internet tonight.
-          And that is a bad thing because?
-          Because now, the breakup will be public too
-          What break up?
-          Can’t you see? I can’t marry him.
-          Why not?

Nkoli and Salam stare at each other, Nkoli weepy, Salam angry.

-          That’s right you don’t know. Just like you don’t know anything about anything you have.

Nkoli spun around and wept into her hands. Salam walked over and placed the ring on the sink.
-          You will slip the ring back in your finger and you will return to the restaurant and smile and make your parents proud.

Nkoli looked up when she heard the door close shut. She washed her face in the sink, stared at the ring, then snatched it up and left the bathroom.

***

Nnadi was on Nasal street when he saw her. She was walking, her head bowed. He knew it was her, he knew her even in his dreams. He marched his breaks just as he passed her. She kept walking and he flashed his lights but she kept walking. He blared his horn, nothing. He rolled his car and passed her again. He stuck his head out the window and called her. She glanced at him and walked faster. He got out of his car and approached her.

-          It’s me. We met the other day.

She glanced back briefly and kept walking. Then she turned sharply in recognition.

-          I remember you.

He smiled and his heart beat easier.

-          Where are you headed? I could take you.


She looked at the road ahead, then at him. She smiled and walked back to the car with him.





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 Tinz 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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