We Live Together V

“I’ll definitely show.”

“It’s a firmed up deal then.”

“It is.”

Judith said with a smile filling her face.

She showed her set of little teeth with a dimple forming in both cheeks. She stepped out of the car, backed away a few feet and waved as Derrick drove off.

Janet’s face came up through the glass door as Judith turned towards the Salon. She had her Senegalese braids loosely held, hanging at her side. She was two shades lighter in complexion than Judith and a bit over an inch taller than her. Judith’s face fell on hers. She smiled. She’d have something to discuss with her today, something different too.

Who would have thought she’d enjoy the ride and consequently cancel all her appointments. Not just today’s but also tomorrow’s.
The pastor was having an effect on her. And whatever it was, she’s enjoying it scared.

Janet Akrobea opened the door and let her in. She had a smirk planted on her face. Judith smiled back and sat in the nearest chair to the nail section.

“The place is empty.”

Judith said, swiveling around.

“Weekdays don’t get too lucky now.”

“You mean since after the dollar rose?”

Judith laughed. Janet poked her. Judith lifted both hands.

“I’m not lying. You would have said that right after weekdays don’t get too lucky now.”

“And you would have said, Jane, let Mr. President have a breather. He’s trying all he can in your fake British accent.”

Janet laughed harder, made a serious face and sat up.

Living apart after SHS didn’t end their friendship. Neither has living two different social lives done that. Mutual friends call them Jane and Jude. Of course in Judith’s absence. Besides Janet, her best friend, she’s kept contact with no one.

I don’t appreciate the hassle explaining who I am now comes with.

Jane will get no more than that whenever she brought contacting old friends up. And she understood.

“That must have been Mr. Asamoah.” Jane said, clearing her throat. “And you missed your hair appointment because of him. If I may ask, is he married?”

“If you didn’t bring that up, I’d be shocked. I’m sad I know you too well sometimes.”

Jane smiled, she put on the pedicure machine, slid Judith’s shoes off, and put them inside the bowls.

“A good massage will get all the answers out.”

She winked, Judith laughed and sat back.

“What do you want to know?”

“I asked a question.”

Judith shut her eyes and yawned. This thing was already making her wish she could get a good afternoon nap.

“You are not sleeping on me.”

“I could. This feels good ” She pointed to the machine.” But I’m not.”

“My question is very pending ma’am.”

Judith yawned a second time and sat quiet a few seconds. This question should be answered in a heartbeat. And that’s the problem, her heart was already beating, like it did when she was dating that Korean guy from Adisco in SHS.

“He’s not married. Judith you should know that. You attend his church. And I missed my salon appointment because I slept in too long.”

“Pastors don’t say their statuses in their sermons.”

“And you haven’t been to that church after the old pastor left.”

“You know me. After that scandal about him and that Children’s class teacher and the way I didn’t see any mercy shown, I signed up at a smaller church 5 minutes away from home.”

“I can understand.”

She could. Her dad’s biggest reason for wanting a good daughter out of her has always been to maintain an unstained reputation.

I’ll have no dots on my hard earned linen Honey. I’ll have none because of her.

Those words particularly stood out for her the day she packed out. She’d earned a first class in mathematics from UG, drove herself all the way to Takoradi just to be called a dot, an unwanted stain.

Janet put off the machine and placed two folded clean towels on the tiles. She lifted Judith’s feet unto them.

“I hope I haven’t lost you to your big house in Takoradi.”

Janet said and started cutting off some overgrown nails off Judith’s toe.

“Not yet.”

“So he’s interested in you?”

Judith shook her head in disbelief.

“He is but not that way. Derrick is clean. To speak in your language, he’s interested in my soul.”

Jane sat up.

“And you?”

She’s known Judith well enough to say something was brewing. The way she smiled and waved till the car was disappearing around the corner was a hint. Even if she wasn’t in love, she’d be feeling some butterflies.

“What about me?”

Judith played with her toes on the towel, cringing them and using them to drag parts of the towel in between her toes.

“Do you like him?”

“I do. And very much. He’s a perfect gentleman. He’s funny. He understands a lot of things. And when he looks at me, it’s just pure. Not lust, not judgement.”

“That’s all?”

“Should be.”

“Shouldn’t be.”

Jane made a face. It was full of care. Care that says you’re afraid in a way for someone.

“There is more going on. You’re beginning to love him.”

Judith shook her head, playing more with her toes, nervously.

Janet could be right. She allowed herself get convinced by Derrick to go on a ride through the few low trafficked roads. They chatted, laughed and she read the Bible. She read to the hearing of two and it wasn’t dreadful. It didn’t make too much sense. A bit perhaps. Derrick took time to explain and give the background. And they talked more about why she chose to sleep with men though she held a degree respected by men. Derrick said that. He apologised just about when he finished saying it. She, for the first time in three years allowed someone pray with her.

But all this didn’t add up to love yet. And let’s say she was in love, it’d have to remain a secret. It won’t be reciprocated. She wouldn’t put that on her wishlist even.

The thought saddened her. It also renewed some confidence in her to answer Janet.

Love isn’t possible between herself and Derrick of all men.

“It’s not love.”

Jane looked straight at her. She wasn’t buying it.

“If anything, I’m taking in too much of the care he’s showing.”

Judith added quickly. She walked and pushed down the cold water tap on the dispenser. She filled her cup and took a gulp. Almost as if the conversation was choking her.

“Mrs. Benjamin and Asaabea Croffet will dash that hope anyways. That’s supposed it ever crossed my mind. They were right on us this morning, claiming to be preparing breakfast or brunch.”

“Mmhm”

Janet said.

“You know how they say if you’ve not been taken care of a while, you take in too much when someone shows any hint of it.”

“Mmhm”

“I believe that’s it. Besides you, until Derrick, no one has treated me worth more than a one night stand before. My dad certainly hasn’t since I left home. A long time before that even.”

“I get you.”

Jane didn’t want to push any further. Judith will fall into the whole prodigal daughter speech. She didn’t like it. It made her sad.

A phone started to beep.

“It’s yours.”

Janet picked the phone and stood still, eyes on the phone screen.

“What’s the matter?”

Judith put the disposable cup in the bin and started walking towards the phone.

“It’s your dad.”

Janet whispered. They both froze in their tracks. Why would he call and why now?

© 2016 M’afua Awo Twumwaah

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