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As she lay in bed that night, she could not help but think of him. She logged on to Facebook and looked through his pictures. Each ti...

As she lay in bed that night, she could not help but think of him. She logged on to Facebook and looked through his pictures. Each time she came upon a picture of Roland with either Emelda or Toyin, she looked at them keenly, looking for anything to suggest more than the eyes could see at first. Roland as well could hardly sleep. He tossed and turned all night, thinking of her. The next Saturday, he went to the photo lab and printed pictures of her from her Facebook page. He placed the pictures beside his bed and looked at them each night until sleep finally conquered his eyes. In the morning, he would grab them yet again and peer at them with excitement. Slowly, they grew into enjoying their chats at night. Friday night was their big night, as Roland did not have to worry about going to work the next morning. He hardly went to bed without calling her. One evening, he was so tired that he forgot to call. He dropped into bed and sleep descended on him soon afterwards like a raging inferno. Mary glanced at her phone and then at the clock. It had gone forty five minutes past the time he normally called and there was no sign of his call. She picked up her phone to call him four times, only to put it down each time.

By 1:30AM, she could no longer wait. She dialed him. At first there was no answer. She kicked the chair in front of her furiously. She logged on to Facebook to see if he was online, but he was nowhere to be found online. She dialed him yet again. This time, Roland managed to hear his phone ring. He groggily picked up. “Hello honey,” he said tiredly into the mouthpiece. Quickly, Mary took a deep breath and managed to talk as though she was not frustrated. “Hi Roland,” she said with feigned excitement. After weeks of constant communication between them, Roland had begun to call her ‘honey’ and ‘sweetheart’, but she made sure not to use either word or anything remotely similar when addressing him. “I am sorry darling. I passed out. I was very tired. I had a hectic day at the office today.” “Have you eaten? I wish I were there to fix you dinner,” she answered, revealing a slight attachment to him for the first time. “That would be wonderful honey. Hearing that from you puts a smile on my face.” “Don’t be too fast lover boy!” She replied jokingly. “So can I visit you this weekend? Monday is public holiday and I have taken Tuesday and Wednesday off. Can I come see you please?” Everything in her wanted to say yes. The more they talked, the more she grew attached to him, but she had been careful not to show it to him.

“Not yet Roland.” “You have been saying that for months now, you know. Maybe you are trying to get rid of your boyfriend first.” “Hahahaha!!!” Mary laughed. “So that is funny, right? That is how I feel when you talk about Emelda or Toyin and I.” “Your own is different. I caught you red-handed smooching both girls in those pictures. By the way, I noticed you have taken those pictures down. Are you making plans to dump them for me?” “Yes. That is my plan. You are smart. I am glad you figured that out.” “I am glad you have finally accepted the truth. What if I say no?” “Then I will go back to them,” Roland answered with a hint of sarcasm. “I knew you were a playboy all along.” “Now that I have told you what you wanted to hear, can I come and see you this weekend?” “After you have told me that you still have both girls on the sidelines in case I say no? I don’t share my dear. It is either me (and no other girl at all), or nothing whatsoever. You have to commit wholly to me if you want me to do the same,” she teased. “Okay, I will not go back to them. If you say no to me, then I will keep asking until you and I are ninety years old.” “Hahaha!!!” Mary laughed.  “I am glad I can make you laugh, tough girl.” “Well, I will think about it.” “The weekend is only days away. I have to make travel plans. You need to tell me now.” She was looking at his picture on her iPad. She ran her finger across the screen, wanting to touch his face. “Let’s leave it for another month, Roland,” she answered him. She wanted to kick herself after saying that.

“If you say so,” he answered. On Saturday, Mary was helping her mother with chores at home. She mopped the floor, did some cooking and began to fill some gallons in the kitchen with water from the tank outside. Suddenly, the gate to the compound where they lived in opened. She stood with her mouth hanging wide open. Roland entered the compound. He was sure that the girl standing at the end of the building was Mary, and Mary was sure that it was him. She had a gallon on her head. She had not showered all morning, let alone apply any makeup. Her hands shook, and her throat went suddenly dry. “Mary?” He called to her. “What are you doing here Roland?” “I came on my own to see you, Mary. I could no longer wait.” “But I stay with my parents. You…” She stopped. She was pleased to see him, yet embarrassed a little that she had been caught off guard. “I am doing some chores at home. I have not even showered all day. It is unfair that you should walk in on me like this.” “You are just as beautiful as the morning flower that glows and dilates at the crack of sunlight in the morning,” Roland answered poetically. She blushed for a moment. “And your smile is like the rainbow painting a picturesque mosaic across the sky. Let me help you with that gallon, sweetheart,” he added. “It is okay. I don’t want you to mess up your clothes,” Mary refused. Roland ignored her and grabbed the gallon off her head. “Thank you,” she said, succumbing to him. “I would carry a thousand gallons on my tiny head for you…if need be I would even lift the weight of the earth upon my shoulders for your sake,” he replied.

“Follow me and stop being poetic! By the way who told you that you have a small head? Come to think of it, your head is much bigger than I could tell from your pictures,” she teased him. “It is big enough for me to carry my burdens and yours as well.” “Hahaha!!!” Mary laughed. “You seem to have an answer for everything. “My mind works faster when I am around you.” “And you just found out after meeting me for the first time a few minutes ago?” “Yes.” “Well this is our apartment,” she announced when they reached the entrance to their apartment on the second floor. “I don’t even know what to tell my parents about you.” “Should I wait for you outside?” “No, come in.”

“Good day sir. Good day ma,” Roland greeted Mary’s parents. “Good day young man, how are you?” “I am fine thank you.” “Mom and dad, this is my friend Roland. He just arrived from Lagos and wanted to see me for a while,” Mary said. “All the way from Lagos? And you are already putting him to work by handing him the gallon?” Mary’s father asked. “Just like I put you to work back in the day when you were following me around the village by handing you my stash of firewood from the farm,” Mary’s mother teased. “Like mother like daughter,” she added. Mary blushed and took the gallon from Roland and entered the kitchen. “Sit down my son. So where are you from?” “I am from Abia State.” Mary entered her room and called Ifeoma. “Did you give Roland our address?” “I am sorry, Mary. He wanted to surprise you. The poor chap is madly in love with you,” Ifeoma answered. “But you could have told me at least.” “Then it would no longer be a surprise.” “He walked in on me fetching water at home. I look very ragged.” “That is the best. If he still wants you after this, then he truly loves you.” “I guess you are right, but I would still have liked to look my best the first time.” “You always look your best my friend. This is the best situation you could ask for. I am sorry I did not tell you, but if he is not put off after seeing you without makeup and in your best dress, then he is the real deal!”

Mary quickly dashed into the bathroom and had a shower. She tried five clothes on before choosing one. She applied makeup and stared at her in the mirror for what seemed like eternity. She sprayed perfume on herself, and then a bit more. “Come on, stop…you are not spraying mosquitoes with an insecticide. That is enough,” her younger sister, Chinelo teased. They shared the same room. “Shut up,” Mary shouted at her. “If he likes you, it does not matter how much perfume you pour on your body,” Chinelo added, refusing to let go. “What do you know about love?” Mary asked her. “I know you are doing this for the guy in the living room. You have tried twenty clothes on already. I heard him tell papa that he arrived from Lagos last night. If he came all the way from Lagos, then he must love you. Nobody travels that far for any girl unless they really like them.” Mary smiled gently. Chinelo made a good point.

Roland could barely breathe when Mary re-appeared in the living room. She looked ‘stunning’ in a red skirt and a blue top with red dots and as red pair of shoes to match. She clutched a glistening red purse too. “We have to walk to the next street to find a taxi. I will take you to my favorite restaurant,” Mary announced as soon as they reached ground floor. “I could barely manage to keep myself from hugging you when you returned to the living room. I thought you looked immaculately beautiful with that gallon delicately balanced on your head the moment I met you, but when you returned to the living room, I could hear my heart singing the national anthem,” Roland pointed out. “Hahaha!” Mary laughed. “I like the fact that you make me laugh,” she replied. “I am glad that I can make you laugh Mary.” He stopped and took her hand as soon as they were outside the compound. He looked in her eyes and said, “You are the most beautiful girl I have ever set my eyes on. You are truly attractive, especially with a gallon dangling on your head. I wish I had taken a picture of that.” She laughed again. “I am glad you did not take a picture. Thanks for the kind things you said about me.” “They are not kind things. They are true things.”

“Thank you!” Mary said. “You are welcome. I rented a car in Enugu, so we don’t have to take a taxi,” Roland announced. “And I am taking you to your favorite restaurant…Richies Restaurant.” “I can see that you have been talking to Ifeoma.” “Yes, I did my homework.” “Thank you. You are so sweet!” He opened the door for her and held it. She entered the passenger’s side majestically. They chatted as Roland drove to the restaurant. They laughed and talked for nearly five hours after their meal. “You are so easy to talk to. Over the phone and on Facebook, you sounded like an iron lady. I knew that you were a ‘softy’ underneath,” Roland said. “You may be jumping to conclusion too quickly,” she said with a smile. “You may not want to admit it, but I can see that you are a soft and gentle soul. Is that why you talked and acted so tough toward me? You thought I was out for a fling? You were protecting yourself. I really like you Mary. I don’t know how I got here after stumbling upon you on Facebook.” “I wonder how many girls you have stumbled upon,” she teased. “Just you my dear. Just you!”

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FRIEND REQUEST - Episode 2 An African Literary Blog
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