Hello Yarners, trust your week was great – “The Bridge” by Daniel Bamidele, shortlisted last week for the PEN2SCREEN Africa writing competition will be up this Thursday, 13th of November 2015. It is an exclusive session for our followers and will not be published on the blog.
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And to another delicious meal of #LMD – enjoy!
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Work is hard. Distractions are plentiful. And time is short ~ Adam Hochschild
Stella’s sweet voice rose like a floating wave of joy as she serenaded the kitchen with her singing.
I sing because I’m happy
I sing because I’m free
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me
She had woken up with the song playing in her head and she couldn’t help but sing it aloud as she felt sweet tickling sensations on her inside.
She had stayed up on the phone with Daniel till two o’ clock in the morning and had expected to wake up with a hangover but was pleasantly surprised to have woken up light headed.
Her face bore a smile as she remembered the events of the past night. How it took almost an hour to say goodnight, and when they finally did manage that and ended the call, they had spent an extra forty five minutes pinging.
She couldn’t remember the last time she had so much fun with a phone, except of course when Arthur her twin brother called in from the U.S, and usually his calls were not longer than ten minutes as against the five hours she had spent gisting with Daniel.
Daniel was a listener. He even got her to sing to him over the phone and afterwards wouldn’t stop gushing over her voice. Geez you can sing! I won’t compare your voice to a nightingale’s cos’ they’re both not on the same level at all. Your voice sounds like credit alerts on my bank account. It’s sweet.
She was not one to take flattery seriously but there was something about the way Daniel used his words that made them so real and believable. It didn’t sound like flattery coming out of his lips.
‘Someone is in the love zone this morning,’ Mrs. Foluke Haastrup’s voice cut into her daughter’ thoughts. ‘It’s been a long time I heard you sing that song, reminds me of when you were in the choir,’ she continued, her eyes searching her daughter’s fingers for some imaginary ring. ‘Has Ebuka proposed?’
‘Ah ah!’ Stella gasped.
‘Don’t act like I said something bad, you should see how happy you look.’
‘So you mean to say I’m usually a sadist right,’ Stella asked with a pretence sulk as she placed a plate on the rack.
‘You’re far from being a sadist,’ Mrs. Haastrup said smiling, pinching her daughters’ cheeks softly, ‘but you should see yourself in the mirror right now. You’re actually blooming. This must be Ebuka’s handiwork, I’m sure he gave you a Friday night special yesterday cos I can’t remember the last time you did the dishes.’ She continued, pouring herself a cup of tea from the flask.
Stella smiled, checking out her reflection on the plate she had just picked up, to see the bloom that her mother was talking about. ‘I’m sure it’s the sun mum, this has nothing to do with Ebuka,’ she chuckled, dropping the plate back on the rack.
‘Sun?’ Her mother asked with a teasing smile. ‘Since when did you become a sunflower?’
‘Since when you became a thorn in my flesh,’ Stella joked, wiping her hands with the napkin on the counter top. If only her mum knew that a guy named Daniel was responsible for her bloom she definitely would not be smiling as she regularly had fantasies of when she would become in-laws with her best friend, Ebuka’s mother.
‘So now I’ve become a thorn in your flesh?’
Stella ignored the question as she tied her arms around her mum for a hug, her face wearing a big smirk. ‘You’re only a thorn when the issue is about marriage mum and you know it, plus the fact that Desola is getting married soon is not helping matters.’
Mrs. Haastrup smiled. Her daughter was spot on. It bothered her that her children were not thinking of getting married talk less of giving her grand children, whereas her younger sister already had a grandchild from her first daughter, while the youngest daughter Desola, was set for the altar in a couple of months.
‘Desola tells me you’re getting the wedding planner.’
‘Yes mum, I am. It’s the same planner that did Onyinye’s wedding,’ Stella replied in a tone that revealed this was not her best topic, even though the smirk was still plastered on her face. ‘I think my phone is ringing mum,’ Stella noted, releasing her mum from her grasp.
‘I think you’re trying to run away child,’ the mother replied with a smile as she watched her daughter giggle and waltz out of the kitchen.
Enitan twirled in front of the mirror, completely pleased with the image staring back at her. She was absolutely certain that she had broken her personal record for time spent dressing up for an outing. She had never been this concerned about her look to a meeting in a long while, like she was concerned today.
This was a prospective client and not an ordinary one at that. She was a Haastrup and the beautiful daughter of the telecoms mogul.
Some questions gnawed at her heart but the worry lines it brought on her face made her quickly push them to the recycle bin of her mind. She didn’t need anything distorting the fine contours on her beautiful face, especially not on this morning.
Onyinye’s wedding had changed the class of her clients, from the rich to the super rich, and in eight months, three guests from the wedding had become clients while she recently got featured on an OVATION special, Faces Behind Nigeria’s Porsche Weddings.
She dreamt of the day when she’d leave the inside pages and have her picture splashed on the cover page of the magazine. A devious smile played around her lips as she imagined the pose she’d strike on that epic edition she was sure, was not too far into the future.
Saturday was a very busy day for an average event planner and usually not one to schedule meetings on, but this was not a meeting she could afford to miss for reasons she could not even allow herself to think about, for fear of having the thoughts seep out of her mind. Her assistants were more than capable of handling the wedding lined up for the day as the clients were just some middle class family pretending to be in the rich league. She regarded such jobs as fillers, some sort of CSR to the rich poor folks who lied to themselves of being in a middle class that did not exist.
Enitan smacked her lips lightly together as she smoothened her lipstick. She grabbed her bag from the bed, stylishly slinging it on her wrist as she picked up her car keys sitting on the edge of the mirror stand. Her biggest catch yet as fallout of handling Onyinye Obi’s wedding was within her grasp and this meeting was important to making that catch a reality. She couldn’t wait to sit across the table and stare into the eyes of Stella Haastrup, and watch as she’d speak on the idea of her event while she engaged in her usual customer profiling exercise, only this time, she would not be profiling Miss Haastrup as a customer but as a competitor who was holding onto her most prized target client -Ebuka, Onyinye’s elder brother.
The thought of him made her head swoon as she turned the key in the ignition. She knew she was going to tick off Ebuka like every other accomplished goal in her goals’ book, but she wanted to stare into the eyes of the girl whose man she was scheming to get -she needed to know who she was coming up against.
‘Know your enemy,’ she breathed, as she steered the car into the long stretch of road in front of her, her fingers tapping on the steering pad, to the beat of the music playing out from the radio, and her head bopping to the sound. It was an Eva song she wasn’t familiar with, but she liked it immediately she heard the words, I see a war coming.
‘Damn!’ Daniel hissed in frustration, closing his face up in his left palm. His eyes roved from the blank page on the tablet’s screen; down to the keypad staring idly back at him. He had five weeks to complete a thirteen episode serial with each episode no less than two thousand words and all he could do was stare at the blank page in front of him when he should be typing away.
He wanted to type but he couldn’t find the right words to create that perfect first scene that would enrapture the reader and pave the way for a prize winning work.
The fact that he barely made the shortlist did not help as it left him a little short on confidence.
‘Daniel, is the analysis ready?’ A voice called out from the entrance.
‘No ma’am,’ Daniel answered, his eyes turning from the blank page on the screen, to his Manager who was standing like a soldier in the doorway with a file in hand. She always had this edginess about her that forced you to leave whatever it is you were doing at the time, to give her your full attention.
‘Idea 2 has been approved and so we’re developing that,’ Ms. Nkiru continued her voice clear and urgent. Her eyes scanned the office, stopping briefly at the empty desks. ‘I’d like to meet with the team in thirty minutes and please I’d like the analysis ready by then. Our time-line counts down to next week Thursday.’
‘No problem ma’am,’ Daniel replied as he watched the retreating figure of his boss. ‘Fffuck…’ He groaned, his cheekbone stiffening as he clenched his teeth. His boss was the pictorial depiction of a slave driver. She always wore this glazed look that made it impossible to read her thoughts. The gossip around the department to show how bossy she could get was that her marriage failed because she wanted to boss her husband and the father of her only child.
‘Argh,’ Daniel growled, visibly exasperated. If he believed in superstition, he would have sworn he had been hit with the curse of the blank page.
He paused as his hands made to close up his tablet, instead pushing up the lid of the device to stare at the now familiar blank page. He placed his pinky on the letter Z and pressed the button on the keypad down, filling up the blank space with Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz up to the third row.
A smile of satisfaction replaced the scowl on his face as he pushed the tablet aside to concentrate on completing the analysis that was open on the page of his desktop. He had less than twenty minutes to submit the work at the meeting, or face the wrath of his boss, Ms. Nkiru Onuoha.
‘I wish I was a Muslim,’ Ebuka said as soon as he separated the glass from his lips. The taste of the wine colouring his words with a longing feeling.
‘Why?’ Raheem asked, the sober tone of his friend’s voice catching his attention. Why would an Ibo boy want to be a Muslim?
‘So I can marry four wives,’ Ebuka replied with a completely deadpan expression on his face.
‘Kai, now I know you’re a stupid boy,’ Raheem scuffed, shaking his head as he laughed. ‘What do you want to do with four wives? I’m Muslim and I have just one,’ He added, his eyes catching the grin on Ebuka’s face.
‘That’s your choice,’ Ebuka countered. ‘Just imagine my life if I could blend Stella and Gold…gawd! That would be the life.’
Raheem watched his friend in amusement as he placed his glass back on the stool. ‘What if Gold gets pregnant?’ He asked with a curious stare.
Ebuka paused, his eyes searching his friends’, ‘it’s not possible,’ he muttered almost quietly, like he was talking to himself. ‘Besides I always use a rubber,’ He continued, uncomfortable with the continuous stare from his friend.
‘If you say so,’ Raheem sighed, unconvinced as usual with his friend’s answers.
‘I love Stella b..ut I love what Gold does to me,’ Ebuka started, his eyes fixed on his friend. ‘Stella wants to abstain till we’re married…’
‘Then marry her.’
‘Of course I will,’ Ebuka smiled. ‘I will,’ he repeated almost in soliloquy.
‘And what happens to Gold then?’ Raheem asked. ‘I know you say she’s a side chick but…’
‘I never said that,’ Ebuka interrupted. ‘It’s why I’m wishing to be a Muslim,’ He added with a mischievous glint in his eyes.
Raheem shook his head almost pitifully. He’d known his friend to be a womanizer for a long time, but there was something about Gold that he wasn’t comfortable with. He had met the girl just once and she didn’t look to him like someone who’d be content with being just a side chick. That girl had ambition nestling in her veins. As much as he tried to wish it away, something told him his friend’s latest escapade, was not going to end like an happily ever after story.
Daniel had stayed back in the office to work on the modified IDEA 2 that he was supposed to submit to his boss by eleven in the morning, and had only finished the work by ten minutes past seven pm, by which time there was a long stretch of cars snaking their way out of Victoria Island from the view in his office, as workers rushed back home on the return journey. He shut down his system, picked up his back pack, and made for the Creative Room as he decided to remain in the office till nine pm, so as to avoid the torture of the traffic.
He rested his head on the lower rack of the book shelf, with his hands placed on his propped up knees. This was his favourite spot in the office, a cut out corner behind the book shelves in the Creative Room; a quiet place for both resource and idea creation in the department.
He faced the wall in the semi-lit room but his eyes were closed, as he let his mind plot the outline of the serial he was still struggling to begin. His mind was skewed towards writing a love story but he wanted something different, something special. And as he worked on the outline for episode four, he knew it was time to take the thrill a notch higher. He worked his mind, sculpting his thoughts to find the best way to introduce a twist to the story, and just then the creaking sound of the door opening, made him pause.
The light flickered on and off in the room, with the corresponding click click sound of the switch. And then the subdued voices of both a male and female reached him, quickening his heartbeat.
Why do you always do that? The female voice asked with a slight giggle.
I dunno, maybe because I expect someone to be hiding in here, the male voice thick with emotion, replied.
He knew that voice.
Daniel adjusted himself to a kneeling position as he turned backwards towards the sound of the voices. He peeped through the books in the rack and his eyes caught the frame of Emmanuel, as his hands encircled the waistline of the female, with his palms resting comfortably on the curves of her bum.
He still couldn’t make out who the female was, as she was tucked away from the lighted area in the room, but he could see clearly every move of the figures as they locked lips passionately, with Emmanuel’s fingers combing the hair of the mystery lady.
She pushed him towards a chair in the room and like a predator on a prey, she straddled him. Her palms cupped his face, as Emmanuel’s hands traced the lines of her laps as he pushed her skirt upwards.
Daniel ran his hand over his head as he sat back on the floor, the grunts and moans of the busy couple a few feet away from him, filling the room and taking over his mind, as his already sculpted thoughts of episode four, scattered in different directions, like gas molecules in a jar.
He stealthily activated the silent mode on his phone like an experienced voyeur, and lifted up his head just in time to see the usually calm Emmanuel, ravenously exploring the body of the mystery lady as his hands closed up on her breasts.
His eyes strayed from the sparring couple, as his fingers clutched to form a fist, a heaviness forming in his chest as he tried to breathe as quietly as he could to avoid being noticed. As his curious eye returned to the couple, the face of the mystery lady was thrown into the light as she arched her neck backwards, with her lips pursed in pleasure.
Daniel’s eyes opened up in shock as the mystery of the lady disappeared with the light, the heaviness in his chest shifting to his head as he stared on in disbelief.
She giggled as Emmanuel’s lips nestled around her neck area, pushing him back against the chair as she threw her hair backwards with a deft swing of her neck.
She looked fierce in that instant as the light revealed her unbuttoned shirt but with the fine details of her curves hidden in the darkness, and with a tone of voice that was barely recognizable, her words filled the room. Shut up and drive!
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A! Surprise: The short story, “The Bridge” by Daniel Bamidele, shortlisted for the PEN2SCREEN Africa writing competition will be mailed to all our followers for an exclusive reading on Thursday, 13th of November by 10am, please fill out the form below, CLICK on the follow button to follow the blog and receive “The Bridge” [It is an exclusive reading and will not be published on the blog].