Sacrilege – Episode 6
© Adeola Nissi
Catherine replaced the plaster with the calm expertise of a doctor. She gave a few soothing massages. “How do you feel?”
Laura withdrew her fist from Catherine’s hold, giving her plastered wrist a blank look. “I feel stupid”
A small sympathetic smile touched Catherine’s face as she stood from the bed. “Don’t be too hard on yourself, girl. You were hurt” she sat on a chair.
“And I hurt myself” Laura added.
Cat smiled. “But… it wasn’t intentional”
Laura turned to give Catherine a direct look. “What makes you so sure?”
A deep brown creezed Cat’s face. “You are not suicidal, are you?”
The door opened and Tito walked in. “You would be if you were in her shoes.”
Catherine shook her head. “It is stupidity to maim yourself for a man” she mouthed.
Tito slanted her an odd look. “And if it is a pregnant woman? Can you maim yourself then?”
“It’s complicated, I know. Personally, I would rather maim the woman” she assured.
Laura swallowed as she listened to the ladies squabble on about her. She didn’t think she was ready for the conversation they were headed. She pushed herself to a lying position. “It was an accident” she finally said.
“I knew it was” Catherine said and and Tito grunted. “What are you going to do, Laura?” Catherine finally mouthed what they had desisted from saying for the past four days. “About Deolu”
Laura felt her heart skip at the mention of Deolu. She closed her eyes briefly.
“I don’t think we should talk about this” Tito said, looking at Laura.
“It’s been four days, we can’t avoid this forever. The situation grows with each passing day”
Laura didn’t need to ask to know she was referring to the unborn child. She closed her eyes. “So, what do you think I should do?”
“Fight” Catherine said without a second thought. “I personally would not leave my matrimonial home and my husband for another woman”
“So, basically, you want her to stay with her husband and the baby mama under the same roof?” Tito snapped.
“Wait… You don’t expect her to leave her husband for Teju, do you?” Cat seemed appalled. “She can’t just abandon her husband because of a slut who couldn’t close her legs. She has the ring and I bet, she has Deolu’s heart in totality”
“Hello ooo, the slut is pregnant. Do you honestly want Laura to endure all the pain, fighting for a man who broke his vows?” Tito had never believed in marriage, seeing her cousin go through the pain that came with it made her exceedingly angry. She was probably angrier because she had actually harboured the hope that Laura’s family would work out.
Catherine faced Tito fully. “You can’t want her to accept defeat, Tito. That is not the Tito I know, the Tito I know is a fighter” she mouthed. “Now, yes, Deolu might have made a stupid mistake but he loves her, he loves Laura, we all know that.”
Tito rolled her eyes. “I don’t know that. Besides, his feelings stopped mattering the moment he cheated on Laura”
Laura shook her head continuously, wishing she could close her ears against the voices. They were both defending her, both trying to make sense of the situation at hand but they were only making things worse. If only she knew what to do… If only there was a sensible solution to all this. If only it wasn’t so painful…
She swallowed, massaging her temples with her thumb. The voices of the ladies rang in her ears until she thought she might go crazy. If only she didn’t love Deolu so much, maybe the pain wouldn’t be this emphasized.
The pain increased in her wrist as tension overtook her but it wouldn’t rival the pain numbing her heart. Her eyes watered but she blinked back the tears. She was tired of the tears, it wasn’t washing away her pain.
The voices fell silent. “Are you okay?” Tito finally said in a low tone. “I knew we shouldn’t talk about this yet”
Laura exhaled deeply. “I can never be okay.”
Chris ran his right fingers over his head as he held his phone to his ear with his other hand. “Mum, how many times am I gonna say this?” he said in exasperation. “I am not getting married to Barbie, simple”
“Her name is Tricia, and yes, you are getting married to her. Just so you know, she is in Nigeria already”
Chris forgot the name the second he heard it, all he could think of was ending his call. “Good for her. I have work to do mum, I’ve got to go”
“Don’t you hang up on me, Chris”
Just then, the intercom rang. “Bye mum” without giving a second to protest, Chris hung up. He moved to the table and picked up the intercom.
“Anita is here”
He smiled. “Send her in”
Seconds later, the door pushed open and a stunning tomboyish lady bounced in. “Hey workaholic”
Chris smiled. “Hey”
Anita moved in quick strides to Chris, planting a chaste kiss on his cheek before moving to a chair. Chris grinned. “Careful with the child”
Anita smiled as she sat. She gave her swollen tummy a gentle pat. “I’m always extra careful, if for nothing but for the heavenly massages my honeypie gives me”
Chris chuckled. It had been a while he saw Anita’s husband. “How’s he?”
“He’s so happy we’re having a girl after two boys” she grinned at Chris. “But how are you?” Her smile faded. “Is something wrong?”
Chris stared at her. “No”
She rolled her eyes. “Something is always wrong whenever I find you out of your chair”
Chris had even forgotten that he was on his feet. He sighed, pushing back his seat and sitting.
“It has to be a woman” she said, looking amazed. It wasn’t everyday her flirty friend got hung up over a woman. “When was the last time you got worked up over a woman”
“Don’t go there” Chris growled, running his fingers over his half bald head.
“Wait, that was several years ago…” she snapped her fingers. “The night after Deolu got married”
Chris shrugged out of the chair again. He wasn’t ready for this. Anita was a close friend of his, he always avoided her most times because she had a microscopic gaze. She knew so much about him. She had got married and he had giving her a bit of space, not wanting to do anything to jeopardize her happiness.
“Tell me, who is it” Anita asked grinned.
Chris shrugged, turning to look at her. She looked at him, her smile slowly slipping from her face. “No” she gasped. “You can’t be serious”
“I haven’t said anything”
“You don’t need to.” she said, standing. “It’s been years, Chris”
“I know. And that’s why it’s so stupid that I still feel this way about her.” Chris paced gently.
Anita nodded gently as she moved to stand in front of Chris. “I heard Deolu and Laura are having issues, I don’t know the details, and right now, I don’t care.” she whispered. “So, let me guess; you think it’s fate?”
Chris swallowed. He took a deep breath. “I don’t know what I think”
“Let me tell you what I know. I know Laura loves Deolu, and you deserve someone who loves you and only you. I know you are sorely tempted to pursue Laura but I also know you won’t because you would never betray your friend.”
Chris turned away, staring out of the window. “I think you have too much faith in me, Anita.”
Tito watched Laura in silence. If she didn’t know any better, she would have said her cousin was perfectly alright. But no! Even as Laura sat in front of the mirror, dressed in office clothes, retouching her makeup, Tito could see her pain. Her reflection in the mirror and the irrelevant foundation Laura applied on her face could not begin to mask the pain she tried hard to conceal. She could see the tears bottled up beneath that calm indifferent display. Another woman would be screaming and raving, crying endlessly, but since Laura’s hand had been stitched and she started recovering her lost strength, she had been going around, saying next to nothing, and now, Laura was preparing for work like nothing had happened just six days ago. “You know you are not fit to go to work now, right?”
Laura brushed her lips with nude lipstick, glancing briefly at Tito’s reflection in the mirror. “Why ever not?”
Tito sighed. “C’mon Laura, you’ve been acting like a robot for days, behaving as though your world did not just come crashing six days ago.”
Laura replaced the nude lipstick with a lip liner. “It came crashing, and I gathered the bits and pieces and molded my world right back. You don’t expect me to mope all week long, do you? I’ve got work to do”
“You are your own CEO, no one would flog your hide if you stay home all month”
“No one has ever become successful by moping in bed, crying over spilled milk” she jumped to her feet. Laura was dressed in Tito’s clothes but it fit like it was made for her. When you are the perfect size, you don’t worry about things like clothing. “I’m late. Can I use your car”
Tito hesitated then shrugged resignedly. “You might need to refill the fuel though”
Laura grinned. “Thank you. Some goodies do come with heartbreak, don’t they”
Tito watched her cousin. Laura had never been so animated. It was like watching a rehearsed movie actress. “I’m not sure” frankly, it would be better if she were crying and raving. That would be more understandable.
Laura grabbed her handbag. The only thing she took out of her matrimonial home four days ago. It is true what they say – a woman’s bag always has all her necessities. “I’m off.”
Tito grunted. “Don’t forget to eat, Laura, you haven’t been doing much of that”
“Yes mum” Laura paused at the entrance and hesitated. “Tit” she called hesitantly, Tito looked up. “Could you possibly help me… get my car from…” she wondered what the correct term should be. ‘my house’? ‘my husband’s house’? Nothing seemed right anymore.
Tito understood and smiled. She saw the struggle for what it was. A cry for help. “Of course” besides, she did have some business to take care of in that house anyways.
Laura smiled shakily and for a second, the facade was off, revealing the vulnerable girl, still shaken by the event of the past few days. “Thank you”
Laura made for the door and her wounded hand hit the backrest of a chair. She winced, gasping slightly as pain overtook her.
“Are you okay?” Tito jumped forward to help her.
“No” she blocked Tito’s advance. “I mean… yes… yes, I’m fine”. Laura swallowed the lump in her throat and forced a smile as she walked out of the apartment.
Laura walked the small compound of Laurigs Productions, her head held high and her heels clicking metallically to her rhythmic steps. From the weird sympathetic look on the security guard’s face to the nervous stares she got from her staff, she could see just how fast and wild gossips could spread. Especially with the way her disgrace was washed over her in public glare like a bucket of cold urine, her destroyed marriage was probably the hottest gist of every wagging lips. Tito was right. She wasn’t ready for this. She wasn’t ready to go back to work. But if she had to wait till she was ready, she would have to sleep in bed for centuries because never would she get over the ravaging pain she was feeling.
Dragging on the air of courage, Laura squared her shoulders and bounced into the building, not bothering to adorn her face with a pretentious smile, no doubt it would look faker than Barbie’s cartoon beauty. Her staff showed surprise at seeing her as they greeted her somewhat awkwardly.
Like a boss, she walked briskly towards her office, knowing fully well that her staff, loyal as they supposedly were, would have munched on her shattered marriage like a pack of tasty plantain chips. She returned their uncertain looks with glares enough to make them squirm. Gathering all her wits, Laura approached her secretary, who stood awkwardly, unable to meet her gaze.
“Welcome ma, erm, Mrs Rigs” Sola had always called her Mrs Rigs before now but why did it sound exaggerated now? It was certainly her askew mind. She really shouldn’t be at work today.
“I want details of all that I’ve missed for the past five days in my office in ten minutes.” she snapped, not bothering to respond to the greeting. Her temper seemed to be on the rise since she stepped into her company. “Is the design for D&G’s ad ready?”
Sola shook her head, a bit jittery. “They are still working on it, ma”
“For how long?” she barked. “How long does it take to develop a simple concept? I want the creative director in my office in thirty minutes” she marched towards her office, stopping fractionally. “One more thing. If you make the mistake of letting Deolu into my office, I’d be letting you into the unemployment cycle. Do you understand?”
Sola had never looked so pale as she bobbed her head awkwardly. “Y… yes ma”
Laura entered her office and slammed the door against its hinges.
Teju stared unseeing at the movie being displayed on the large sitting room television. Her mind remained locked on the situation she was in. Each day that passed by made it seem less precarious, but every time her eyes strayed to the romantic pictures of Laura and Deolu hanging in strategic places in the house, she couldn’t but feel like a total home wrecker.
Thanks to God, Deolu’s mother finally gave Teju a breathing space by going out to visit a friend. Teju could totally use the silence without having the woman fuss over her unnecessarily. But still, as odd and unbearable as the situation was, it was still better than going back to her apartment. Her apartment always had a way of making her feel depressed, but more to the fact, she couldn’t stand seeing the mattress where it all went down. Seeing the mattress where she had shattered what was left of her dignity would surely drive her closer to insanity than she already was.
Her hand strayed to her flat tummy. Was it her imagination or did her tummy feel bigger than normal? She swallowed as her eyes watered. Not withstanding the drama, she felt a small thrill. Finally, she would have someone she could call her own; someone she could shower her love on without being scared that the love would not be reciprocated. How perfect would it be… to also have a husband… To build a family and have all the happiness she never had? Her friend had told her to seduce Deolu, and as terrible as that sounded, how could she even do that when Deolu hadn’t shown up for days?
A knock jolted Teju out of her reverie and she frowned. Mrs Aderigbe would definitely not knock it she was the one. She pushed to her feet, pasted a small welcoming smile on her face as she walked over to the door and pushed it open.
Her smile vanished immediately she saw the person at the door.
“Thought so” Tito said dryly, brushing past Teju into the apartment that she always knew to be Laura’s matrimonial home.
Teju closed the door quietly behind her. She felt tongue-tied as she stared at Laura’s cousin. Being under the same roof with Tito had never been something she fancied. “Laura is not here”
Tito slanted her a bored look. “Of course, she isn’t. You made certain of that, didn’t you, slut?”
“Don’t call me that”
“I’d call you whatever I want, slut” Tito snapped, snarling at Teju.
Teju swallowed, blinking rapidly. “Tito, I know we have never gotten along… but believe me, it wasn’t my intention to-”
“Oh shut up and spare me the drama” Tito boomed, approaching Teju with her eyes flashing angrily. “Don’t think you can fool me with your watery eyes and shaky voice, I’m not an idiot. I have never been a fan of marriage but I loved Deolu and Laura together. I was beginning to think I was wrong but you ruined it all”
Teju blinked, still, the tears rolled down her cheeks, hot colourless balls making a wet patch on the top of her blouse. “It was a mistake”
Tito hissed. “Tell that to the blind, you pretentious snake. I always told Laura you couldn’t be trusted but she was nonethewise. She also fell for your innocent face and too-nice-to-be-true attitude. Well babe, newsflash; you don’t fool me, I’ve always seen through you. You messed with my cousin, now, you are going to have to face me. I don’t care about you and I don’t give a damn about whatever it is you are carrying. No one tampers with what’s mine and goes scot free.”
Teju froze. “Are you threatening me?”
Tito smiled. “Threat?” she chuckled. “Threats are for kids, my darling, I make promises”. She said, marching into the masters bedroom and returning a few seconds later holding Laura’s car keys. She glared at Teju as she made for the door. “Watch your back”
Laura sat behind her office table, achieving absolutely nothing. She never should have come. Her brain just couldn’t concentrate on anything. She had yelled at her innocent staff over and over till her throat got sore. She felt bad, really bad that she was transferring her pain and aggression in innocent people.
Noise drifted to her ears until suddenly, the door to her office flew open. Her heart skipped several beats as she saw the last person she wanted to see.
“Please ma” her secretary pleaded tearfully. “I told him not to come in, but… but”
Deolu filled the office entrance as Laura’s secretary shook uncontrollably. “Please ma… Please don’t sack me”
“Leave us” Deolu ordered, his eyes not wavering from Laura’s.
Laura felt glued to her seat as Deolu stepped further into the room. Her secretary refused to leave as she stared at her, pleading continuously. “Leave” she finally mouthed.
Her eyes drifted to her system as she tried to assumed a nonchalant attitude. It wasn’t working. Her fingers were shaking and try as she may, she could not ignore the compelling of her husband in the office. She heard the door close and felt rather than heard Deolu move closer. His scent drifted to her and her fingers twitched. As painful as it was, she missed him. Maybe the betrayal wouldn’t be so painful if she didn’t love him so much. She had been avoiding him for days, with Tito acting as her defense but she couldn’t avoid him forever.
“Hi” Deolu’s deep voice resonated.
Laura raised her eyes, staring wordlessly at Deolu. He looked slightly leaner than before. His eyes looked disturbed, as they roamed over her face. “I’ve been worried about you”
Laura nodded. “What do you want?”
“I…” his throat worked as he swallowed. “You got wounded. I just want to know you’re okay”. Deolu pulled closer, moving around the table.
“Stay away” Laura jumped up, moving behind her seat and holding it as a shield. She was scared… She was scared she wouldn’t be able to resist him. Scared he would beg for forgiveness and she would give it to him.
Deolu paused. Laura could see that her retreat hurt him but she didn’t care anymore. “Please Laura… I just want to see your wrist.”
“Why?” she snapped. “Would you make it better? Even if you can, can you reduce the pain I feel inside?” she yelled. “You can’t right? Because you did this. You hurt me.” she bellowed and try as she may, her tears rolled down her cheeks. “I gave you all I have… I gave you all of me… and you betrayed me. How could you?” she yelled. “How… How…” she sobbed, crouching as pain weakened her legs.
Tears fell from Deolu’s eyes as he moved closer to Laura. “I’m sorry, Laura… please… please forgive me”
Laura shook her head as Deolu crouched before her. “I can’t, don’t you understand? I can’t” she swallowed as she looked at Deolu through her tears.
“I love you, Laura… I love only you… It was all a stupid mistake. Please believe me” tears fell from Deolu’s eyes as he pleaded.
Laura jumped to her feet. “How can you do this to me if you truly love me” she looked incredulously at Deolu. “Is it because… because I don’t have a child? Because I’m barren”
Deolu grew pale as he straightened. “No… you’re not. Please don’t say that”
Laura shook her head. “So how come Teju is pregnant and I’m not?” she asked as tears fell from her eyes. “How come a supposed mistake got her pregnant when I haven’t had a miscarriage for six years, uhn?” it hurt to voice out her pain. It hurt beyond measure to state the obvious. She had always envisaged a complete family with children that looked just like Deolu, but the harsh reality was that Deolu was about to have a child, only the child wasn’t coming from her. Laura felt her heart crush all over again as she stared at Deolu. She knew what she had to do but it was the hardest thing to do. She shook her head, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath before opening them. She stared through her tears at Deolu. “I want a divorce.” she dropped.
To be continued