Violet trudged out of the school. She was mentally and physically exhausted. The school was mostly cleared out and she was grateful for that. An hour and half ago, the bell signaling the end of school hours had been rung. After she sent off the last student that had come in for counseling, she’d placed her head on her table and had a long nap. She woke up a few minutes ago, feeling even more tired and groggy with a severe headache. How she would drive home, she didn’t know. The sun wasn’t as harsh as it usually was and there was a light breeze blowing. It would have worsened her feeling if the weather was any hotter than it was.

As she entered her car, the smell of the air freshener in front of the car sent a spike through her nose. She used her handkerchief to cover it. She sat on the driver’s seat, moping at the steering wheel. She couldn’t bring herself to insert the key into the keyhole or to even close the door. Tears threatened their downfall behind her eyelids. She blinked hard, trying to disperse them. 

Was this how weak she’d become? She was certain that her body was breaking down. It couldn’t handle all that she’d thrown at it the past days—the food choices, the stress, and the depression were taking a toll on her. She needed medical aid, she understood this very well. But she couldn’t bring herself to move or lift her hand to search for her phone in her bag.

As she was debating her choices, trying hard to conjure any remnant strength in her body, a familiar voice called out from a distance away. “Mrs. Violet?” 

She turned to see C-Jay stepping down from his car. Her heart pounded. She wasn’t sure where the strength came from, but she closed the door of the car and put on her seatbelt. She was about to put the key into the keyhole when he got to her car. 

He knocked two times on the window. When she made no sign of acknowledging him, he forcefully opened the door, almost pulling off its handle. Without waiting for her to say anything, the back of his hand touched her forehead. “You’re burning,” he stated.

She slapped his hand away weakly. “I know. I have taken drugs for it.” Her hands fell away limply after she completed the task of putting the key where it belonged.

“What did you take? Even if you have taken drugs, it doesn’t mean that you can drive. I wouldn’t advise you to drive in this condition. Your eyes are so red, I don’t think you can even see properly.” He had leaned down to peer into her face.

She turned her face away avoiding his inquisitive eyes. “I’m okay, seriously. I can handle it.”

He took a deep breath and straightened up. “I see,” he said then turned away. 

Violet didn’t need to look to know that he was walking back to his car. She let out a breath she didn’t know she had been holding. He was one of the reasons that made her like this and now he was pretending to be concerned about her. Like she would fall for it again. 

With a little renewed strength, she searched her bag for her phone. She had no other option but to call Oyim. C-Jay was right. She was in no condition to drive. She about to dial the number when C-Jay’s gruff voice came beside her, startling her. 

“I’m going to drive you to the hospital. You can tell him to pick you up there.” 

Violet quickly pressed the red button on her phone, halting the call’s progress. When did he return? “You don’t need to.” Her lips pressed into a thin line. “Oyim will pick me up.”

“How long till he gets here? The call didn’t go through,” he gestured at the phone in her hand. “How will he know? Abi he is a psychic?”

She unlocked her phone, hating the fact that being around him made her feel more nervous than uncomfortable. 

He placed a hand on her shoulder. “Look, I cannot leave you here. I know why you are behaving like this. I’ve kept my distance, haven’t I? I will just take you to the hospital and when your husband comes, I will leave. I can even leave before he arrives so I won’t cause any problem for you.”

Violet sighed. She returned the phone to her bag. “Okay. I’m really grateful.” She made to leave the car. 

He reached out a hand to help her. She pushed it away gently. “It’s okay. I can handle it.” She smiled weakly.

She tried to walk the distance to the passenger side of the car quickly. By the time she sat down in the car, another wave of dizziness hit her. She rubbed her temples and leaned back on the seat. 

C-Jay settled into the driver’s seat, adjusting the seat to accommodate his stature. He looked over at her. “Are you feeling-”

“I’m okay, C-Jay. Just drive.” Violet fumbled around with the handle of her bag. 

C-Jay nodded and started the car. 

“I hope you don’t mind me asking, but what happened? Last week you were okay and then this week…” he trailed off looking at her to see her expression.

“I can’t help it if I fall ill. I’m not made of metal,” she quipped. 

“I didn’t mean it like that.” He made a right turn. “Which hospital do you want me to take you to?”

“There is a private hospital not far from our estate. I’ll give you the directions after we get to the roundabout.” She opened the glove compartment and brought out a roll of tissue. She cut off some and blew her nose into it.

“Are you having catarrh too?” 

She shook her head. 

The rest of the ride was made in silence. For Violet, it was an awkward silence. All signs of dizziness had disappeared as soon as they left school. Even the pounding in her head had reduced, making her wonder if feeling sick had just been a figment of her imagination. 

The car slowed to a stop behind another car. “There is a little hold-up,” C-Jay explained as though Violet didn’t understand why there was a line of cars in front of them.

“Hmm,” Violet said absentmindedly. She was thinking of how to open a conversation with C-Jay. “Nma was asking about you the other day,” she blurted out. 

He smiled. “I only saw her once. I’m surprised she still remembers me. How are they? Chike, Sochinma?” He looked to confirm if he got their names right.

Violet nodded invigoratingly. “They’re fine. Sochi is going to write the common entrance exam next week.”

“She is a brilliant girl. She will do well. Do you plan on enrolling her in our school?” 

“Yes. My husband wants to send her to a boarding school, but I think it’s best she goes to a day school. That way I can be more assured that she is getting the best training.”

“I understand.” The cars in their front started moving. The silence continued. This time, Violet made no attempt to break it.

C-Jay accompanied Violet as she went through the procedures at the hospital. When she went in to see the doctor, he waited for her in the waiting room. By the time she was done with the consultation, walking out of the hospital with a paper bag filled with drugs, it was almost six.

“Your husband is not yet here?” C-Jay looked around the parking lot of the hospital. 

It was at this time that Violet remembered that she hadn’t called Oyim after C-Jay returned. “Oh, my God!” She fished out her phone from her bag. “I forgot to send him a message. And the kids?” She pressed furiously. In the next few minutes, she had called Oyim. He was still a far way from home and wouldn’t be able to pick her up.

“I didn’t think he would be able to make it.” Violet grimaced. Her heart was heavy. She turned to C-Jay with a forced smile. “It’s alright. The distance to my house is not far. I think I can drive myself home.”

C-Jay looked at the sky. It was already getting dark. “I still don’t think it’s advisable. And by the way, since I’ve started the work, let me just finish it. I don’t think I can still go back to school for my car. And maybe I can have dinner at your place?” 

“Shit!” Violet rubbed a hand on her forehead. “How will you get home now? I’m sure the gate is already closed. And where did you say you stay?”

“Temp Site. It’s just hundred naira from the roundabout. If you’re that worried, just give me food. Honestly, I’m really hungry. I’ve not had anything since breakfast.” He rubbed his stomach.

Violet didn’t have the heart to refuse him, not after what he had done for her. “Okay.” She walked to the car. “Let’s go.”

A small smile played on C-Jay’s lips as he entered the car and drove out of the hospital.