Her Dreams (Part I)

She looked at herself in the mirror. Everything she wanted could be hers with just a phone call. She looked at herself again. Could she go through with it? The only thing she had to lose was her dream after all. Her dream or her dignity. Dignity would not feed her nor give her the life she wanted. But her mother had told her once, that her dignity would be all she had left when everything was gone.
She couldn’t pick out a top to wear – not like the decision mattered, all she had were the few tops she came to Lagos with and so she sat in front of the mirror in just her bra and the one black skirt she wore every time.
She was staying with one of the girls she knew who had left home years ago with her dream, in her one room apartment. She had never told her what she did but it wasn’t much seeing from the state of her life. She told herself every day that this was temporary.
Her friend – Sade – walked into the room then, with a man in tow. The guy gave her the once over with his eyes and she saw approval which disgusted her but still gave her a sense of pride. She hadn’t been the village beauty for nothing. Sade on the other hand had always envied her but she liked being known as the friend of ‘Arewa’
‘Arewa’ wasn’t her given name but it had stuck. She had been named Abiola and that was the name she used everywhere. She wasn’t only blessed with beauty, she had brains also. She had aced every one of those village classes and had always craved knowledge. She was literate and always practiced how to talk like the ‘City People’.
Sade’s voice snapped her back to the present.
“Rewa, Abeg I get customer.”
The look of recognition came into Abiola’s eyes. This was what her friend did for a living.
“I never bring customer since you don come here but I need the money.” Sade’s voice rang again.
“But Sade where will I go? I have no where else to go.”
“That one consign me? But you gan sef e never do?” She eyed her as she said it. “You don dey here for weeks I never collect one kobo from you, I never even ask you to commot house rent but still I dey tell you may you gimme one night make I do my work but you dey refuse, you be wicked friend”
And with that Sade bundled her out of the room, still in just her bra and her only black skirt. She locked the door behind her and threw a wrapper through the window.
She could hear her “customer” through the thin walls saying that she could have joined them and that he was willing to pay extra but Sade bluntly refused. Abiola sensed that it was the jealousy talking – not like she wanted to join them – as she laid herself down on the cold concrete in front of her room and covered herself with the flimsy wrapper that was thrown at her.
She made up her mind there and then that she would do whatever she could to achieve her dreams and that included saying yes in the morning. But first she had to make it through the night.

Read the next part here Her Dreams (Part II)

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The First

I was cleaning out my wardrobe. I had just gone out and acquired a whole lot of clothes from my trip. One of the compromises I had had to make with my husband was that every time I bought new stuff I would clean out my wardrobe and decide what I wanted to keep and what I would give out, it gave me something to do and at the same time kept our rooms and home sane.

I started with the drawers at the bottom of my wardrobe. I hadn’t worn anything in the drawer for five years now. Five years since I got married. Five years better than what I deserved. I pulled out all the clothes in the drawers and dumped them in the away pile. They would surely fit someone with a huge frame.

As I arranged my new clothes in the drawer my hand hit the bottom of the drawer and I remembered that I had a false bottom made for that drawer. I opened it up and pulled out my diaries I had hidden there; they were diaries I had kept up until the year I got married.

One in particular caught my eye. It was a pearl blue leather bound diary I had received on my 21st birthday, the last diary I kept. A tear slid down my face as I opened the book and felt the pages, crisp from lack of use and age.

It happened five years ago. I had been dating my husband for 3 years at the time and the only reason we were together was because my best friend pushed me and he pushed harder for a relationship with me, and because there was no other person in the picture; my best friend said it was because I was a lot intimidating.

Frankly I didn’t see what was intimidating about me, I was tall but I had a petite frame. Maybe it was because of the way I moved like someone on a mission, but then I just couldn’t stand to be still for too long, or maybe it was the intensity of which I looked into people with my dark eyes, I could never really tell.

I was headed home from work. I had been having one of the worst days of my life. I had woken up late, gotten to work late and missed an important meeting to which my boss sanctioned me, someone had tripped and spilled a bottle of coke on me – which is what you’d get when you try to drink and walk at the same time – and worst of all the heel of my favorite pair of shoes had broken and I had fallen face flat in the office, simply put – or according to my horoscope – I was out of sync with the universe but something would pull me back to my orbit.

Whatever it was had better find its way soon. I decided to branch for some comfort food on my way home – maybe that was what I needed to pull me back to my universe and my number one comfort food was ice cream and pizza – so I headed out for ice cream and pizza and I went in and out without any incidence and I was grateful for that.

Balancing the box of pizza on my left hand and holding onto the nylon containing my ice cream I fished for my car keys from my pocket with my right hand. I was trying to open my car door but I kept missing the key hole and the key fell out of my tired sweaty hand, I tried catching it in mid-air but then I let go of my ice-cream.

I managed to catch my ice cream before it hit the ground – without letting go of my pizza – but my key hit the ground and bounced a few feet in front of me, landing in front of someone’s shoe.

He picked it up and walked over to hand it to me. And I saw the most handsome man ever. He was dressed in black leather – motorcycle gear- holding his helmet in the other hand. He was sporting a few days’ growth of beards but it was perfect on his tall frame with dark eyes that matched my intense stare. His wavy hair was just perfect and all I wanted to do was kiss his pink lips and fall into his muscular arms and lay my head on his perfect chest – the leather didn’t leave anything to the imagination.

We stood there for a while and then we went in and talked for hours. My parents asked if anything came up when I got home because I was never home that late. We exchanged contact details and no day went by without a funny, flirty conversation with him. I told him everything, about the boyfriend but he then told me he was willing to fight for me.

I would sneak around to hang with him and leave work at my earliest chance to spend extra time with him. My boyfriend was the last thing on my mind. He asked if we were okay once in a while but I told him we were fine. He called and we talked but it was always awkward and boring and I knew deep down that it was over but I couldn’t bring myself to tell him those words knowing my family wouldn’t want to hear them too – My mother had already started planning our wedding in her mind.

Two months after we met, we were having dinner in a romantic restaurant on the island. The atmosphere was charged and I smiled every time I looked at him and I blushed every time he “mistakenly” touched my leg under the table. He looked into my eyes and asked me to marry him. He told me to leave everything and run off with him to some other country where we would start over without all the drama. I said yes and rushed to kiss him; I didn’t care if anyone was looking at us.

We pulled apart – after what seemed like moments – and he looked me straight in the eyes and I felt it too and he pulled out his wallet and dropped a whole bunch of notes on the table and we sped off to his house on his bike. We couldn’t get home any slower. We weren’t through the door when I ripped off his shirt and witnessed the body of a god on a man. I knew at that point I’m totally and wholeheartedly in love with him.

That night was – is still – the best night of my life. I gave myself wholly to him and he gave himself to me. It was the first time I had sex. The first time I had sex with a man. The first time I had sex with the first man I had ever loved. There were no barriers between us and no distance, we were one and one was us, everything was beautiful at that time and there was no curbing his enthusiasm and mine too.

We decided in the morning that I would go to work and we’d meet up after and we would go to the airport together. We were going to start afresh somewhere – he wouldn’t tell me where. He was paying for everything. I ran home to get my passport and I hugged my mom goodbye. She had no idea what was happening but if she did she would have stopped me.

I peeked at my horoscope before I stepped out for work – your old life ends today and you will start your life anew was what it said – and I thought to myself that the universe was finally smiling upon me. I was giddy and happy throughout the day. Everybody kept asking why I was so happy but I couldn’t tell a single soul why and it was the hardest thing I had to do. Work ended and I was so excited but there was no sign of my husband to be. 2 hours later I was a wreck and I started to think that all he wanted was to get into my box, and that maybe I was a fool. I was crazy with worry because his phone wasn’t going through and I couldn’t reach him.

I headed into my car with a broken heart and I turned on the radio and I stopped at a news flash. There had been an accident on the bridge over 2 hours ago involving a fuel tanker, a motorcycle and some other cars and among the causalities that had died on the sport was the rider of a blue motorcycle. I heard the news and my heart broke even further. I was all tears as I drove to the accident site, which was still being evacuated and I moved as close as I could get without getting burned by the flames. I saw his body mangled and burnt beyond recognition, with pieces of his jacket burnt to his skin. I knelt down and cried at the life that I would never have now. In a sense my old life had ended.

Two weeks later, I crawled out of isolation, took my bath for the first time in weeks and headed out to see my former boyfriend – even though we never broke up. I told him I was sorry for my behavior for the past few weeks and I told him I wanted us to get married. It wasn’t too hard to convince him with the offer of sex on the table, even though all I thought about was how I was betraying the memory of the only man I would ever love as deep. I got a letter two weeks later saying I had inherited a ton of money and I kept it in a trust.

My five year old daughter walks into the room and asks why her mother is crying. I look at my watch and realize I spent the day reminiscing. I tell her it’s nothing and that grown-ups cry sometimes and she asks what I’m holding. It’s the diary I was saving for her but I don’t tell her that, instead I walk to the kitchen and set the diary on fire with a lighter. I dump what’s left in the bin and air the kitchen out. I look at her and smile. She looks just like her father; my first everything.