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Dubem’s room had a back door and I had a spare key, I checked my purse for the spare key. I got in successfully and took the lap top. I stood to take a look at the room before I left. I touched the bed as if I could feel Dubem. Mason came in and took me by the hand “we have to leave.” He said; by the time we got to the gate, we saw Dr. Charles, he was drunk and he was crying, “she’s gone, had I known, I wouldn’t have…” he didn’t finish his statement.
On our way to my house, my mom called, I didn’t want to answer the call but after about five missed calls, I decided to answer.
“Hi honey, I need you to come to the office to help out. How is Dubem? I hope she’s getting better?” She asked.
“Dubem is dead.” I replied, sobbing.
“Where are you honey? I am coming over there. Please don’t do anything stupid.”
“I am almost home, don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.”
“Okay but I’ll send Tare.”
“Mom if you love me, make sure Tare arrives home late because I have no strength for her tantrums.”
“Anything you say. I’ll hurry up and come home, you should not be alone.”
I hung up because I began to cry again, “stop the car!” I screamed and Mason obliged. He came down and went over to the passenger’s seat and cuddled me. I felt a little relieved in Mason’s arms. “Oh mine, you are boiling looks like you have a fever.”
“My head hurts.” I replied.
“Don’t worry you’ll soon be home.”
When we got to my house, the security man was just interrogating Mason. He thought Mason had harmed me, “he is my friend.” I managed to say. Immediately, he kept quiet and began to thank Mason, he ran to open the gate. No one was home, I told him where the key to the house was, and he checked my purse and found it.
I was burning up and he was worried, he finally opened the door and carried me in. He asked for my room, “upstairs, the third room by your right.” I was surprised it was open. I remembered how the day had started. I concluded that I forgot to lock my door. He carried me and made me sit on my bed. He touched my fore head and I wasn’t getting better.
He removed my jacket and he removed my sandals. He rushed to the bathroom to get water, he brought out a clean handkerchief and dipped it into the bowl containing water, squeezed it and used it to rub my forehead.
“Why are you doing this?” I asked
“Because you need it, I can’t leave you all alone like this. A lot has happened today, just save your questions for another day.” he replied.
That was the last thing I could remember, I never knew I slept off, when I woke up, Mason was still around.
“For how long have I slept?” I asked.
“Exactly seven minutes.”
“It seemed like eternity, I had a dream, I saw Dubem, she was at one end of the road, and I was at the other end. I wanted to cross the road to meet her and just when I got there, she disappeared.”
All of a sudden I started hallucinating I started calling Mason Dubem. Mason had to act along until mom, Jayde and Tare got back. I was rushed to the hospital and I was admitted. The next day, Jayde came to see me and told me that Dubem was going to be buried in a few hours; she gave me the address of the venue. I told Jayde to help me escape from the hospital. Jayde disagreed; she was scared of incurring mom’s wrath.
Tare came in to see me, apparently she had put our differences aside. “Tare I need you to help me escape. I have to go for Dubem’s burial.” She didn’t object, mom had gone over to see Dubem’s mom. I got home on time to change what I was wearing. I changed into a pair of skinny black jeans, a black armless top and a black blazer. My hair was not tied in a ponytail fashion, I let it fall, and my phone rang.
It was Mason, I picked it up. He called to know how I was doing. “I am getting better, I sneaked out of the hospital. I have to bid Dubem goodbye, her interment is today.” Tare and Jayde offered to accompany me; Jayde had never attended a burial so I didn’t want to her to go. I feared that she may have nightmares so I begged Tare to stay with Jayde.
When I opened the door, I saw Mason. He was about knocking “thanks for coming, it’s like you read my mind.” I said. He removed the hair that was covering my left eye and he could see the sadness in my eyes “your eyes.” he said. I smiled and brought out my dark shades. We got to the venue on time and it was a very sorrowful scene. The press was there, I tried to compose myself.
Immediately they saw me, they recognized me as Dubem’s best friend. It was easy to recognize me because I had removed my shades. They started asking me questions and I was mute after a while I summoned up courage and began to speak. “Dubem was my sister, she was humble, patient, kind, selfless, I could go on. Death snatches good people; I can’t say the same about the bad people. Dubem was a rare gem. Dubem I know you are listening wherever you are, I just want to tell you that I love you.”
Mason told the reporters to leave politely; they all left except for one man and he asked, “don’t you think it’s an irony that a man such as Charles Adigwe, a prestigious doctor had a sickle cell patient as a daughter?”
“That question should be directed to Dr. Charles Adigwe.” I replied.
I moved forward, Mason followed behind. I looked to my right and I saw Dreyson, I ran to meet him. Obviously, he was saddened by the loss of Dubem. When I hugged him, I tried not to cry. “She said she’ll never stop loving you. I am sorry I didn’t tell you earlier, I was rushed to the hospital. I left the hospital this morning.” I said. Dreyson nodded his head in acknowledgement.
“What in God’s name are you doing here? You are sick.” it was mom’s voice, I was mute. I just stood staring at her; I finally asked her where Dubem’s mom was. I saw Dubem’s mom near the coffin, wailing. I ran towards her and hugged her and said to her, “Dubem begged me for a favour, she said I should be your daughter and I am going to honour that request.” I paused a little and added “henceforth I shall refer to you as mom.”
She wept bitterly and nodded. I looked up and I saw Dubem’s dad. He was sad, I didn’t say anything to him because the previous day’s revelation startled me, I managed to say to him “please sir, she needs you.” I walked away.
Althrough the burial ceremony, I wept and Mason’s arms became my haven. After Dubem’s burial, Prof Nanya travelled to France for two weeks. The fashion show that was scheduled to take place in the next two weeks was postponed. Mom did it in honour of Dubem Adigwe. Ever since the death of Dubem, I forgot all about the laptop. Mason and I became closer; he was always there when I needed him
“Don’t you work?” I asked
“Of course I do, I work with Neon computers. I manage the Lagos branch. I have been on vacation for the past two months.”
“Vacation? Why?” I asked
He didn’t reply, I understood that he did not want to talk about it, “I barely know anything about you.” I said.
“So what do you want to know?” he asked, smiling
“How about I tell you over lunch?” he asked
“I don’t want to go out!”
He begged me and I didn’t have the strength to turn him down. I had to go change my clothes, I was done in no time. By the time I got downstairs, Mason was on the phone. He hung up immediately.
“Where are we going?” I asked
“It is a surprise.”
“Oh Mason I am not a huge fan of surprises. Dubem surprised me by leaving.”
“You’ll love this one.” he replied, his smile was the most beautiful smile I had seen in a while.
We got to a mansion and my jaw almost dropped. I looked at Mason.
“Nikos mansion.” he muttered.
“Why are we here Mason? You said lunch.”
“I figured that you wanted privacy so I came up with this.” he replied, gesturing to the Mansion.
“It is crazy but I love it.” I replied, giggling like a kid.
Wealthy Mason, the fact he never showed it impressed the hell out of me. There was no one when we got in.
“Where is everyone?” I asked.
“Dad’s in Athens, mom does not live here. Iris is in Glasgow. Technically no one except the staff.”
“So where are they? The staff I mean.”
“That’s not important. Come with me.” He said, taking me by the hand.
He led me to a dimly lit room, there were flowers everywhere. I was so happy and I smiled like a 3 year old that has just been offered candy. There was a table for two.
“You like?” he asked
“I like.” I replied, I could not stop smiling.
A lady walked in, she greeted me and I wondered who she was because she was speaking to Mason in a foreign language that I could barely understand. She walked out again, Mason pulled one of the chairs backward and gestured to me to sit “thank you.” I murmured. The lady came back with a trolley loaded with food, she left immediately.
“I cannot possibly finish this.”
“Try please.” he replied.
“You are crazy. I will just die.” I replied, laughing.
“I’ll select what you’ll eat then. I want you to try Galopoula Yemisti and Spanakorizo.”
“Stuffed turkey and spinach rice, one of my favourite Greek cuisines. You’ll enjoy it I promise.”
He told me about his family as we ate.
“My mom is a British Nigerian, dad is a Greek American. I have one sister, Iris. I am the first child; I just came back to Nigeria. I have lived in Britain all my life. My mom and dad are separated.”
I really had fun, I forgot about Dubem. I smiled for the first time in two weeks, I felt peaceful. My phone rang, it was mom. She just wanted to know how I was faring. She made it a habit to call every hour since Dubem’s demise. When I hung up I caught Mason staring at me, I was not comfortable with it, “stop staring, you are making me nervous.” He smiled, “tell that to my eyes not me. I am having a hard time controlling them.”
I stood up from my seat and went to Mason’s side and touched his hair, it was tied in a ponytail, and I loosened it and ruffled it. He stood up and drew me back; he looked nervous.
“I want to be more than a friend.” He managed to say.
“I don’t want to talk about this. We are better off as friends. Take me home!”
I walked out on Mason. He was so hurt; he did not say a word to me on our way back. When I got home, I realized that I treated Mason wrongly. I wanted to call Mason to apologize for pushing him away but I decided against it. But after a while, I called him and he told me he was outside my house. I was so delighted.
I ran out to meet him, “I am ready to take a risk, and life is all about risks. Living is a risk, eating is a risk. The list goes on, Doyin pestered me for two years so I thought he would be incapable of cheating, and I thought he loved me.”
“You really hurt me this afternoon and now you are telling me that you want to be my girl? Are you sure of this? I don’t want to pressure you.”
To prove to him that I wasn’t kidding, I tip toed and gave him a slight brush on his lips. I was about to pull away when he pulled me closer, his forehead was on mine, he was staring into my eyes. Those grey eyes could see my soul. “I have always wanted your lips on mine, I have always wondered how those full lips of yours tasted.” Mason’s voice was unusually husky.
“Now you know.” I managed to say.
“I want more, that kiss didn’t quench my hunger.”
He cupped my face and kissed me and excitment shot through my whole body. His phone rang, he didn’t want to pick, and I took his phone. It was his dad, I pressed the green button and he had no choice than to take the phone from me. He didn’t sound happy; when he hung up, he told me he had to go “I’ll give you a call later.” He said.
I bit my tongue and hugged him, “I will be waiting.” I was so excited, when I got home, I started searching for the videos Dubem had told me about on the day she died. That dark day death snatched her from her. I searched and searched but I did not find anything. I saw some dance videos we made. I laughed and started crying, memories flashed and I wished I could go back in time. I wondered how I was going to cope without Dubem “I miss you like crazy Dubem Adigwe, I am lost.”
I searched the folders where she kept her videos and all efforts proved futile. I tossed away the laptop in anger. I wondered why she didn’t tell me the location of the videos. I was bored; I just lay on my bed staring at the darkness. I turned on the side lamp because it was a bit creepy.
I resumed my search for the videos in Dubem’s laptop and I was fed up because all efforts proved futile. It then dawned on me that I had to check folders that were unlikely to contain videos. I checked documents; the folders indicated the absence of videos. I took pains to check each folder, I had almost given up. There were five folders left unchecked, I picked at random. I checked the third to the last folder. I saw VLC media player icons, they were about fifty.
Written by Kezi Angela Patrick
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