I published this very short piece in writersanonymous.com.ng, a sizzling website that gathers a mouth-watering lineup of sheer talent. From the outrageously good emerging writers to the calm established lot. You should find time and browse through the site. Find time because one click and it will take up your day. I published this there as Cyber Romance, here I chose a more direct title, nothing to hide.
Today’s Eid Mubarak. Happy Sallah to the Muslim Umar.
Having debated for days with her mind and failed to arrive at a resolution, Rita took the matter to Priscilla. The demerit of discussing crucial secrets with her officemate was that, in few days’ time, the secret was no longer secret, or, at best, became a top secret shared among the Inner Circle of Gossips, as she mockingly referred to Priscilla’s clique behind their back. But Priscilla, despite a betraying vocal cord, was the best pair of ears to hear her problem. Priscilla’s cold reasoning and unemotional cunning were what Rita most needed.
She was pregnant, she needed Priscilla to advise her. To soften the ground, Rita came back from lunch with a queen-sized fruit juice. She placed it on Priscilla’s desk. ‘Just for you.’
‘You don’t mean it!’ Priscilla squealed. She rounded the desk and hugged Rita. ‘You are such a darling.’
As Priscilla’s hand touched the cold cork of the drink, she looked up, Rita’s brown beautiful forehead was thoughtful and faraway. Priscilla lifted her enormous bulk from her chair. The piece of furniture made a small noise, like a sigh of relief. Priscilla walked to and placed her heavy bottom on Rita’s desk. The desk made a small noise, like a cry for help. ‘You have something on your mind.’
Rita looked at her colleague with tearful eyes, reluctant to abuse officialdom and allow her rain fall here.
Priscilla extended a heavily bangled hand and placed it the other’s shoulder. ‘You can talk to me, babe.’
‘I am pregnant.’
A moment pause. ‘For whom?’
‘Henry.’ The name gave her a fake momentary bliss, making him appear like a man, with means and dependable. Behind this name was a twitter profile: Jesus boy, team #MUFC, I will retweet only what I endorse. I don’t follow trolls. Behind this twitter handle was a boy who still depended on his uncles for data subscription.
‘Who is he?’ Priscilla’s question jolted Rita back to the office. Rita sighed. ‘I met him on twitter.’
It was a month after Bayo called to break up their engagement. His mother said over her dead body that he married non-Yoruba. ‘Sorry love.’ And a relationship of four years came tumbling down, cut by two clinical sentences. She suspected he had found someone better because his mother had been saying this for ages, he had stood up to her, till now.
If grief killed instantly, she would have died there with her cell phone still in her hand. But to remain alive she began to spend judicious time on her work and on Korean movies, on the social media. It was here that she met Henry. It was during the elections and he tweeted extremely funny things, lampooning the major players in the system. She couldn’t help retweeting, in fact she began to look forward to his tweets, and always checked his timeline for something to retweet.
He noticed her. He sent her a direct message. With thumbing heart and excited fingers she typed his reply. They graduated to Facebook, then BBM, then Whatsapp. Finally, phone calls. He became very important to her and she spent hours every day on the phone with him. She still hurt over Bayo but Henry was a worthy pain absorber, she held him tight.
Three weeks back, he told her he would be visiting an Uncle in Kaduna but would like to branch off Abuja and see her. She was ecstatic, although she made negative noises but permitted him to persuade her. ‘I am not cheap,’ she told herself.
He brought along condoms. She was slightly embarrassed by this but it would save her a lot of headache, she convinced herself. He planned to spend a night but ended up spending two nights. There were four condoms in a pack, they soon ran short of them. They damned the consequence and continued to have fun.
‘He’s a student?’ Priscilla asked.
‘Yes.’ There was tears in her voice. ‘200 level, UniIlorin.’
‘How old is he?’
‘Twenty-three.’ A tear rolled down Rita’s cheek. This meant he was eight years younger than Rita, Priscilla calculated.
‘Have you told the boy?’ Rita shook her head. Priscilla sighed. ‘I will give you the number of the doctor who fixed Jumai when she got into trouble.’
‘You mean I should have an…’ Rita moaned. She couldn’t bring herself to say abortion. Priscilla nodded, ‘What other options do you have? You can’t afford to keep the baby, think of your career. Remember you pay your brother’s fees, remember the cost of your father’s drugs. No, Ritty, you have to do the needful.’
Rita, her make up now ruined with tears, had no words. Priscilla returned to her seat, like an expatriate that had just finished the day’s business under the sun, she uncorked her juicy reward.
Rita tried to argue herself out of her colleague’s brutal truth but she was distracted by the fading golden rays of three weeks old memories. She saw Henry withdrawing behind her; ‘Let’s try another style.’ She saw herself obeying.
Her phone beeped. She picked it up then looked at Priscilla. ‘That’s the doctor’s number. Jumai just sent it on Whatsapp, so I passed it.’
Rita said thank you. ‘I may see him tomorrow.’ Priscilla took a sip, then permitted an indifferent shrug. ‘Should I tell him?’ Rita said.
‘The boy? Tell him what, that you are pregnant? For what? For him to tweet it abi? Haha, please girlfriend, don’t make me laugh.’
Rita sighed hard and long. Priscilla must be right, she would tell no one and quietly have her abortion.
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