It was the long school holiday and the part of the school compound he was at hadn’t been tended to in a while, so there was grass up to his ankles where he stood. Crickets made chirping noises every now and then, but got quiet any time Andrew moved around. A light went on in the upstairs apartment of the building opposite the school and Andrew turned around. A naked female silhouette from behind a curtain caught his attention. He took another drag from his stick of cigarette and focused on the figure. Just then he heard footsteps behind him and instinctively threw away the cigarette.
He turned around and saw a curvaceous lady approaching him. He didn’t know if he was more ashamed that someone caught him smoking outside a wake keeping service, or that he was seen staring at a naked lady.
It was dark and all he could make out was that the person had own a black gown with a silver belt around her midsection. He wondered why she was walking towards him. And then he heard her familiar voice say, “Andrew.”
“Wow!” That was all he could say for the first few seconds as he came into view.
“Sorry I made you throw away your cigarette.” She said and smiled up at him, which was slowly replaced by a sorrowful look.
“Wow! Anita, you look…” He was saying and stopped when he saw tears roll down her eyes. He took her in his arms and she cried.
“Why? Why did he do it?” She said between sobs.
An awkward silence lingered in the air on the drive to her place. He had remembered seeing her wedding pictures on Facebook a couple of years back, but he hadn’t kept in touch with her for years now. She had been Tunde’s only other friend back in school. They had even dated at some point, but their relationship had ended as abruptly as it started, and they remained good friends afterwards.
He had gotten close to her in their final year at the University when the hostels were closed, and everyone had to come from home. He already had a car back then and the three of them would ride back home in his car, sometimes with a couple of their other friends. He usually dropped Anita off last as her house was closer to his.
“Should I reduce the Air Conditioner?” He asked, with his hand on the AC controller on the car dashboard when he saw her body shake.
“Umm! Maybe a little bit.” She said and laughed.
The inside of the Lexus ES 300 got quiet again. They had talked a little about general things before leaving the wake keeping venue, but it just felt strange having chit chat when their friend had killed himself just a week ago.
“Oops! You missed the turning.” She said and Andrew slowed down the car. “I’m sorry. I was totally lost in thought.” She added.
“It’s okay.” He said as he looked into the rear view mirror. There were no cars approaching, so he quickly reversed the Lexus.
“You can park under that coconut tree.” She said as he drove into the street.
“Oh, I didn’t know this was where we were headed.” Andrew said as he brought the car to a halt.
“I’m staying at my parents’ for now.”
“Okay.” He said and turned off the engine.
“Thanks for the ride. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She said and got out of the car. He did the same.
He leaned on the roof of the car and smiled at her.
“What?” She said, with raised eyebrows.
“You used to be super skinny.”
“Oh! Yea, people say I changed a lot.” She said and leaned on the tree. “What about you. You…”
“I’ve always been big Anita.”
“No. You were just tall and a bit chubby. Now you look like Fat Joe.” She said and Andrew laughed.
“Actually, Fat Joe has lost weight.” He said between laughs.
‘Okay. You look like the old Fat Joe.” She said and Andrew laughed some more.
There was silence but neither of them moved. Anita was leaning on the tree and Andrew was leaning on the car’s top.
“It’s been what? 9 years?” Andrew said, breaking the silence.
“Actually, 11 years.”
“Wow! Time sure does fly.”
“Yup!” She said and got off the tree. “See you tomorrow Andrew.” She said and headed towards the yellow painted building with no fence.
“I’ll pick you up at…9 am?”
“Okay.” She responded without turning around.
To be continued