#5DaysToVals Contest Entry – Submitted by Samuel Ifeanyi
Royalty Bar and kitchen.
You don’t know if she knows, that at the mall today, you sighted her before she saw you, but you did not call her. You turned away and prematurely ended your shopping. Unfortunately she stopped you at the parking lot before you could enter your Highlander. Your breath got caught in your throat and you struggled to gulp in air.
Anita is breathtaking, stunning. Even in her simple blue sleeveless top, black jeans and suede shoes she made you gape. She has that kind of beauty that never fails to make jaws drop and heads turn. That is why on that first day you had your first and not-nice encounter with her, during that English language period, you couldn’t bring yourself to scold her for reading James Hadley chase’s ‘one bright summer morning’ while you were blabbing about grammatical structures and functions. You confiscated the book anyway, then she came to the staff room later, after school for it.
That day, you could have given Anita back her novel right away, after she apologized, however, you chose to make her talk, tease her, play with her head, amuse yourself with her girly shyness. But she turned out to be a mistress of the art of conversation. By the time you finished grading the scripts that had kept you back and sent her away with her book, you knew you had to talk with Anita again, be with her, watch her rose red lips move while she talked, the mischievous glint in her mesmeric eyes. You had become addicted to her voice, that deep, rich sensual vibration that should have belonged to a nubile temptress of an exotic origin. Her outspoken nature and fearlessness would never cease to amaze you.
You try not to believe in fate; you believe that there is nothing like a higher power that controls the affairs of us mortals. However the events of that day still make you wonder if you’re leaving the comfort of your big Ikoyi mansion to take a teaching job in that small private school in Enugu town was not caused by some goddess of love. You called it a sabbatical, your employees called it madness; they said that having too much money had robbed you of your senses.
But then you left the school abruptly, in the middle of the term, flew away from Enugu and returned to your Palace in Ikoyi. Your twentieth floor corner office became your refuge where you literally worked yourself to the bone, like you were a junior worker desperate to gain promotion. All to forget. To bury every memory of Anita. You embraced those silly parties you formerly detested whenever you couldn’t find an excuse to slave away in your office. You clubbed with your spoilt-sons-of-rich-men friends to make the weekends less boring and empty. Then you met MaryAnn.
Ah, MaryAnn. She was supposed to make you forget Anita, to give you that thing that you craved but could not have.
A son and four years of marriage may wipe some things off one’s mind. But Anita? She isn’t one of those things.
You know that tonight you will lie to MaryAnn, your faithful wife. You will tell her that you ran into an old friend who just flew in from South Africa. That you had a lot of catching up to do. That you switched off your cell phones because this catching up was so important that it couldn’t be disrupted by phone calls.
You are sitting opposite Anita in your favorite booth, in the Royalty bar and kitchen, catching up. She knows now who you really are, that your surname ‘Johnson’ belongs to the man who is the king of the oil sector in the country. She doesn’t understand why you took that teaching job at her school, now her alma mater. She is disappointed that you left without telling her. She tells you that she suffered an emotional breakdown in your absence; that you were her first love.
Suddenly you wish that Anita was a grown woman, when you first stepped into her classroom five years ago. You wish she was not that precocious sixteen year old kid who made you lose your head even though you were thirty five and was supposed to be matured. You wish that you had the right then to woo her, to explain to her that she was the one whose laughter never failed to melt your heart.
You wish that you did not have to fear what you felt for her; to go away and kill the feeling.
You wish that you were not married, that you were without a son.
Even though love has gotten you much more drunk than drink can, your head is still strong enough to resist the obfuscation of its intoxication.
You know that Anita cannot be yours.