The sudden roar that erupted from the living room made Dumebi jump. Then she rolled her eyes. Now, why didn’t I shut the door? She tucked her feet under her as the voices lashed out.

“The guy nor get sense o.”

“Is he blind? What the f—”

“Please, Mafo.” Obi’s voice. “Language. Or I might have to reconsider our friendship.”

Mafo hooted. “Chei, see forming.”

“No, madame is nearby.” The first guy’s voice. What was his name again? Goodhead? Largeheart? Definitely one of those Bayelsa names concocted by parents with too much time and zero subtlety.

“Your head is there,” Obi laughed.

“Lol,” Mafo said, and Dumebi chuckled. Lol, like it was a word in its own right. “Oya, make we waka.”

“With the way the boys are playing, why bother with the second half?”

“Udeh dey Express o. Make we chop him money for once na,” Mafo said.

“I go block una outside,” said Obi. There was some mumbling which she couldn’t make out followed by the shuffle of feet, the thunk of glasses. The front door closed as Obi walked into the room.

“Having fun?” he asked.

She could barely follow the convoluted plot of the telenovella. Having fun? Words left her lips before she could censor them.

“Stop trying to make yourself feel better.”

When Obi’s eyes flared, she looked away.

“I’m—”

“Going out with your friends,” she said. “I heard.”

Obi expelled a huge breath before walking towards her. She remained still as he pressed his lips to hers.

“Dum, I’ll be back soon.”

“Of course.”

He shook his head, straightened and walked out. When the front door closed this time, her shoulders slumped.

“Clap for yourself,” Dumebi told herself. You could have handled that better.

She wasn’t crazy about Obi’s friends or their knack for inhaling her egusi soup, but their presence at least guaranteed Obi’s. It also meant less time to ruminate, again, over her decision to uproot herself from Lagos. The disappointment of not having her contract with Sterling Bank renewed had provided the impetus to finally take Obi up on his offer. Although she didn’t miss the hitherto long distance relationship, she often craved her own space, the clarity time apart afforded. Dammit, she missed her friends.

She stopped short at the mild chaos that greeted her in the living room. How could just three people, adults no less, make such a mess? There were smudges on the previously pristine floor, bread crumbs on the leather seats and pools of moisture underneath the empty cans of 33 Export Lager Beer. She almost expected to see a turd in a potty somewhere.

After tidying up, Dumebi retrieved a can of 33 from the refrigerator, savouring a cool mouthful before swallowing. Obi’s influence. The soft drinks she used to love remained untouched these days. They didn’t bring her quite the same comfort.

The doorbell rang. Startled but grateful for a diversion, she hurried to the door and swung it open. And gaped.

“Dumebi, speechless?”  Faith, dressed in some corset-like Ankara top and jeans, smirked.  “Let’s record this for posterity’s sake.”

“Stop. Come here, babe.” Emem folded a frozen Dumebi into her arms. “We missed you.”

This was no mirage. Emem’s ample arms were tight around her and Faith’s purple lips curved smugly. Behind them stood Obi’s friend with the Bayelsa name, travel bags at his feet.

“What—” She stopped, tried again. “How—“

“We took leave from work,” Emem said, “got our cash together, liaised with Obi—because you don’t just land on someone’s doorstep— et cetera, et cetera.”

Her two best friends here, in Yenagoa? She blinked back tears. “Wow.”

Faith hugged Dumebi. “Yep. And everything just gelled, sho mo. We’ve got about a week to plan the bulk of this wedding, so—”

“Wedding? Whose wedding? Who is wedding?”

Emem shot Faith a withering look. “Choor-choor-choor. Your mouth just dey leak anyhow.”

“Abeg, wasn’t that always the plan?” And to the man behind them, “Thanks for carrying our stuff.” Then Faith sailed past, tailed by an exasperated Emem, as Dumebi dove for her phone. Obi picked up immediately.

“Hey, babe.”

“You were in on this.”

He chuckled. “I assume they’ve arrived.”

“Yes.”

“Your friends hounded me like… They’re actually kind of scary.”

She laughed. “They’re the best.” She held her breath and waited.

Obi cleared his throat. “I know I’m not the easiest man to deal with—”

“An understatement.”

“—and you’re trying to adjust to Yenagoa—”

“And no Coldstone.”

“—to being without a job—”

“For now.”

“Dumebi.”

“Sorry. Go on.”

“Anyway, I do love you and—”

Dumebi ditched patience. “Are we finally deciding on a date?”

“What—how—?” Then he groaned in realization. “Who—?”

“Faith.”

“Na wa o.”

“Well?”

Obi sighed. “How’s October 1?”

“My birthday.”

“Any better ideas?”

Lumping a wedding anniversary and birthday together was bad business, but Dumebi wouldn’t say so. Yet.

“We’ll see. I love you, too, by the way.”

“You should,” he said.

She disconnected and with a full heart followed the trail of perfume to find her friends inspecting the refrigerator. Emem guzzled a can of 33 and burped. “I needed that.”

Faith cocked her head at the sound of footsteps returning from the guest room. “Who’s the hottie?”

“Obi’s friend?” Emem replied in a who-else tone.

“Yeah, but… single, married?” Faith whispered.

Before Dumebi could respond he appeared in the doorway.

“Join us.” Faith handed him a can of 33, then said, “Sorry, what’s your name?”

“Bravehead.”

Faith blinked rapidly. “Interesting.”

Ehen! Dumebi thought, then said, “Thanks for delivering my friends safely.”

He shrugged. “What are friends for?”

“Old and new,” Faith added suggestively.

At Bravehead’s smitten look, Dumebi almost groaned. Faith hadn’t earned the title ‘Barracuda’ for nothing. Well, true friendship always survived, and maybe Obi’s friends could be hers too.

Dumebi picked up her now-warm can of 33 and smiled. “Well, I’ll drink to friendship.”

And they touched cans.

 

 

About the Author:

Hannah Onoguwe is from Delta State. She was born in Ibadan, grew up in Jos, had her National Youth Service Corps teaching in a school in Bauchi, and currently lives in Yenagoa with her family. Given her background, it’s no surprise that she writes stories set in different parts of Nigeria.

Hannah started writing at age 8; her first piece was part of classwork. She has published a number of short stories, a few of which are: Ibadan, Eyes Wide Open, Old Photographs and A Girl Full Grown. She enjoys watching movies and trying new recipes when she is not reading or writing. She is also an online owl!

Her first published book, a collection of short stories, is Cupid’s Catapult.

 

Photo Credit: thewallpaper.co

 

 

 

 

Written by : Michael Afenfia

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