“What were you thinking of?” Apham’s voice brought her out of her reverie.
She looked up with a slight shiver and saw him. He was gulping down a bottle of water, trails of sweat running down his forehead to his neck, disappearing into his green shirt. She shook her head with a toothy smile. “Nothing serious. Are you done?”
He nodded. “Yes. Are you ready to go back?”
“Mm. Lilian is not back yet. I have to let her come home now,” she said.
“What about the prayers? What do you think?” Apham reached to adjust her shawl over shoulders as she stood up.
“I don’t know. I don’t want to impose anything on her, but I can’t be making her leave the house when we are having the prayers. I can’t let her stay in a hotel as well.”
They started walking back to the house. “Well, you could just tell her everything as it is. Maybe she can make her choice. During the prayers, she may decide to go out on her own, or we’ll try not to be so loud,” Apham said though he had a look of doubt on his face.
“We would be loud,” she stated. “Let’s just tell her as it is. We may be surprised at her reply.”
“Alright, if you say so.”
Lilian hummed as she went about her nightly routine. Face scrub, cleanser, oil. She looked at her face in the mirror sighing with satisfaction when she only saw a small bump in the spot a pimple had appeared days earlier. She stretched out her cheeks, looking for any growing heads. After closing the cosmetic tubes and containers, she switched off the light and hopped on the bed, groaning in relief as her tired limbs touched the soft, cotton sheets of the beds. She reached for her phone, a whisper of anticipation caressed her ears. The beep on the phone stopped as a grumpy voice took its place.
“Hey, babe!” She laid face down on the bed, clutching her pillow to her and her legs swung in the air.
“What’s up?” He yawned.
“Did I wake up?” Her legs came down, her head shot up with worry.
“No, don’t worry. I have been sleeping for a while now.”
“Oh. You did not go to work today?” She threaded carefully.
“They sacked me.” The words came with no remorse.
“Jesus! Why? How? Which kind of thing is this again?” She sat up on the bed, switching on the bedside light.
“Just leave those people.” He yawned again. Lilian could hear him scratching his hairy chest as he continued, “They said they don’t need a lot of security men now. And just last week, they were employing four of them.”
“Anha! Which kind of wahala is this na?” Lilian hit her hand rapidly on her head, wishing she had come with a wig instead of fixing a weave-on on her head. “What about the other men? How many of you did they sack?”
“Just me o. Can you imagine? Only me.”
Lilian frowned. “Only you?”
“Yes. I think-”
“Wait, Peter, what did you do again? Why will they sack you?”
“I did not do anything, I swear. I was just on my own-”
“No, I don’t believe it,” she said firmly. “How will you be doing your work well and they will just sack you? Tell me, did you harass their customers again?” She was beginning to feel lightheaded.
“No! It’s not my fault, I’m telling you. The woman-”
“She just came and asked you to sleep with her, eh? Is that what happened again? She came and asked you to sleep with her, when you refused she now reported you to the manager, Mm?”
“Yes. I told her politely o. I told her ‘Madam, I have a wife at home. I cannot do that’. And she just started raking, her voice was so loud and then the workers now came. That is what happened.”
“Peter, you are a liar.” She wanted too shout but her words came out helplessly weak.
“What? Lilian, how dare you call me a liar?” he growled.
“Ehen, that is what you are. Just listen to yourself now. You think I will believe you again? That was what you said last three times. Every time the women are proposing you. Proposal my foot! I was willing to ignore the previous times, but what is it with you-”
“See, Lilian better mind your mouth there. If you talk any rubbish now, I will slap you there. Don’t insult me with that ugly mouth.”
“Slap me kwa? Because I said the truth, eh? Wait first, have you ever looked at yourself before you started lying that women are proposing you? Have you just looked at yourself before? You don’t have muscle, you’re so ugly, your teeth keep flying in different directions, even that thing-”
“God punish you there, Lilian! Serious thunder go strike you there if you talk nonsense.” His voice was sharp.
“Really?” She laughed hysterically. “I really loved you o, even with all these your yeye behavior. I loved you o. But you will go and be looking for married women to sleep with you. It will not work, you know. It will never work. The thing you are looking for with them, go and work for it. This is the fourth work you are changing in two years, are you not ashamed of yourself? How do you think we will get married-”
“Married ke? You and who dey talk marriage?”
“Eh?” She was dumbfounded.
“Baby,” his voice reduced to a deceptively sweet that sounded weird coming from his mouth. “As we dey on top this matter now, make we just clear somethings. Me and you, no marriage.” Simple words that sent countless arrows through her heart.
“Jesus Christ! Peter?”
“You hear me well ehn? I no dey ready to marry you. If you dey look for husband, go another place look for am. No be me.”
“Peter…” The other line went dead. “Hello? Peter?”
Lilian’s hand dropped to the bed, still clutching the phone. In a daze, she switched off the light and laid down on the bed. In the darkness, a tear slid down her cheeks as she slipped into unconsciousness.