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The vibration on my phone jostled me from my sleepful state, it always does. New follower on twitter, comments from a Facebook post, a new friend request and a series of missed calls, but the one from an unknown number picks my interest more. I open my true caller app to search for the I.D “Preston Priest” was what came up. I felt my chest squeeze and I sat upright to dial the number but it wasn’t it voice at the other end of the line, it was the sweet tongued robot from MTN… his number was unreachable. I didn’t expect he was going to call.
A knock comes on my door, it was mother. She let herself in.
“Mum, I didn’t ask you to come in”
“Good morning to you too”
“Good morning mom”
“Your dad says he has been calling and you aren’t picking. What’s the problem? You’ve been strange since last confession.”
“I’m fine mum, I’ll call dad back right away and there’s no problem”
“ Mum, please”
“OK, come and help me in the kitchen”
“I’ll join you mum, let me brush my teeth.”
She stares at me wryly and leaves. I walk sluggishly to the bathroom and stare at the mirror, I look like shit. I hate myself for sleeping off and missing his call. I brush quickly, put on a jacket and go to meet mum in the kitchen but before then I send him a message.
“I missed your call, please beep when you get this.”
A text message comes in minutes later, my heart skips but it’s not him. It’s a credit alert from a client for a job I executed months back, it’s supposed to get me excited but I delete as I do with all my credit alerts.
I put the phone on “loud” and head to the kitchen.
Mum is peeling a tuber of yam, I offer to help but she bounces me.
“You that peels yam and take out the meat of it”
“Would you rather I scrape the yam instead?”
“I see you inherited your father’s sarcasm.” I pout.
“Help me get eggs from the fridge instead, blend the tomatoes and pepper as well.”
The sound from the blender fills the room but I still manage to hear my phone ring, I quickly turn off the switch and run to the room. “Incoming call, Preston Priest”
“Hii!!!!” I was trying to hide the excitement but my voice gave me away.
“Hey, Rita, are you fine?”
He sounded human, there wasn’t priesthood in his phone voice.
“How’s your mother?”
“ Are you doing OK? “
“ Great, just wanted to know you are fine. I have a couple of visitations later, and if you want to come along with me.”
“ Oh! Yes, I am.. Yea!” I stammer my responses
“Just give me a time”
“Will you be ready within the next two hours?”
“I’ll pick you at Murtala way then?”
The call ends. I jump to where the blender is sitting, it suddenly looks beautiful.
Mom notices a change in my countenance.
“What is this? Why are you suddenly happy?
“When I’m sad, you complain, I’m happy now and you’re still complaining.”
“ What’s going on Rita?”
“Mummy… I… There’s nothing
“Are you in love with Fr. Preston?”
“ Mum!!!’ it was the last thing I was expecting her to say, how in the world did she even notice?”
“You came out of me, I know you.”
I open my mouth to speak but the words stay stuck in my throat. She continues.
“ I know I sound judgemental many times but you’re my child and I won’t kill you if you tell me how you feel. But you must understand that man is sworn to celibacy.”
“Mummy I know.”
“ Then why are you pushing? I asked you to bring a husband not a priest.”
“I can’t help it.”
“You think you’re the only girl who wants him? I see all those girls flocking around him in church.”
“ But none has had the courage to tell him.”
“Rita you have to be careful.”
“i know mum, I just want to be his friend. I’m not looking to defile and he can’t swear he’s never had sex…”
“Shut up there and fry those eggs.
Have you called your father?
“I will before I go out.”
“Go out to where?
“Fr. Preston says I should see him off to some private business.”
She stares at me blankly and returns to peeling her yam
“Leave that man of God alone.”
‘I’m not holding him”
I chose to wear a black gown that flows as if sweeping the streets, I carry a scrinkle scarf from the lot dad bought on his pilgrimage to Mecca and wrap it around my neck.
“First time you are wearing anything modest since you came“ mum comments as I leave.
“That is not a compliment. “
“Say hello to him”
I’m standing in front of a choice mall on Murtala way, I call to tell him, he says he’ll be there in seconds. A Venza with tinted glasses emerges from a bend and winks at me. It’s him, he parks at a safe side of the road and I cross over to meet him.
The white of his dress makes mine darker than it usually would look. The cross on his neck glitters as he smiles at me.
“Good to see you Rita”
“Yes, Father. Good to see you too.” I say
“Preston, just call me Preston when it’s me and you.”
“OK, Preston where are we visiting?“ it felt natural, like I had always said his name in that way.
“A prison, where they lock people.”
I wear my seat belt as he starts the car, a mischievous smile etched on his face.
“It’s alright” he says, as he places one of his hands on mine.
I felt blood rush from my head to my toe and then back.