Excerpt From Episode 13:
“Everything is just fine! We are okay.” Chioma snapped and turned on her heels, slamming the door behind her. Mrs. Ugochukwu frowned and stood up from the bed, following her daughter to her room,
“Okay, tell me, what’s going on with you girls?” Mrs. Ugochukwu said addressing Chioma and Maryam.
“I said nothing, Maryam let’s go,” Chioma snatched her bag from the dresser and beckoned to Maryam to follow her.
To read episode 13: CLICK HERE
Mrs. Ugochukwu stared in puzzlement as Chioma and Maryam left the house in stony silence. It was obvious Chioma was no longer a little girl she used to know and this worried her as much as it pleased her.
“Just when I was going to talk to her about bridal stuffs…” Chioma had been too defensive when she asked if there was a problem. Something was definitely not right with the girls but since they were not going to confide her, all she could was wait till they thought it. Her mind was soon off the matter as her phone beeped and another client from Abuja requested her presence.
The journey from Edmund Crescent to Mrs. Ugochukwu’s fashion house was a thirty minutes’ drive and during the drive, Chioma and Maryama were silent. One could tell the anxiety in Chioma’s eyes and fear seemed to be oozing out of every pore in Maryam’s body. Both girls were lost in their own thoughts as to what Gift and Grace could be up to. Maryam contemplated telling Chioma about the one night stand with David but thought better of it as Chioma finally broke the silence.
“I saw Matthew last night in a dream but it felt much more than just a dream.” Maryam stared at her friend with an expression that made Chioma feel like she was a deranged woman talking gibberish.
“He was there,” she defended before continuing, “and we sort of made out a little.” A hint of a smile crossed her face at the memory.
“You made out with the dead in a dream? That’s a bad thing oh. Really bad!” Maryam said with criticism in her voice.
“Leave those stupid superstitions babe,” Chioma said with a larger smile.
Maryam’s phone beeped to signal a text message and Maryam’s face clouded over as her eyes scanned the wording.
Chioma noticed the change. “What’s up?” Chioma asked. Maryam placed the phone in Chioma’s laps and stared out the window.
“The truth will not set you free, the truth will haunt you to the grave. Maryam Kosoko.”Chioma’s smile was replaced by a frown as she read the wordings. The text was aimed directly at Maryam.
“Who do you think that is?” Maryam shrugged without looking at Chioma concentrating on the scenery outside as if there was something fascinating there. Chioma knew better than to push and kept quiet as they both lapsed into silence again.
Mrs. Ugochukwu walked around the house in a tight shorts and slightly loosed tank top. For someone her age, she was a stunner and the frown on her face as she wondered what to make for breakfast only seemed to highlight her beauty further. She had just made up her mind and about to head for the kitchen when he phone rang and hoping that it was Chioma, she dashed to it. It was. It was Mrs. Beebs calling to ask about Chioma.
“Chioma is not home, she left some couple of minutes ago. Okay, I will inform her when she is back.” As she rang off, she wondered why Mrs. Beebs was asking to see Chioma. She had not bothered to ask. She made for the kitchen and her movement was stopped a second time by the sound of the doorbell. She sighed exasperatedly and went towards the door with annoyance.
“Good morning Mrs. Ugochukwu,” it was detective Chidi from the police.
The young policeman was handsome in his uniform but Mrs. Ugochukwu was not seeing the bright smile on his face as he asked after Chioma.
“She is not home? Hope nothing is the problem?”
“We are simply investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a Mr. Matthews whom we believed she was close to. I just wanted to talk to her about some things. We have had cause to reopen the case.”
“What circumstances?” she asked suspiciously.
“That is classified information ma but we have reason to suspect foul play in his death.” Mrs Ugochukwu studied him thoughtfully and finally said,
“This must be serious, I will inform Chioma you stopped by and get her to come around to the station for your questions.”
“There would be no need for that ma, I will simply check in on her again. She is not a suspect if that is your fear ma.”
“Of course she is not a suspect, she loved that boy. She is still grieving as a matter of fact.”
“Sorry about the loss. I will be on my way now, thank you for your time.”
It was around 11:00am when Chioma and Maryam arrived the fashion house. Some of the staff greeted her with a smile. She was a regular visitor here and with Maryam by her side, she headed towards Gift’s office. Gift’s office was next to Mrs. Ugochukwu’s former space for tested designs, it was large and filled with fabrics and mannequins. Gift was not at her desk.
“Why’s your mom calling me?” Maryam asked in puzzlement.
“How should I know, we left the house together didn’t we? Pick and find out!” Chioma answered irritably. The business of meeting Gift was making her edgy and she wanted to get it over and done with.
“Hello ma,” Gift said just as Gift walked into the room. Maryam passed the other lady by the door, nodding her head in greeting.
“You are saying she left? But we just got here” Maryam had returned to the room a couple of minutes later to find Chioma gone and Gift working away at her work desk.
“She received a call and said she had to dash out. She said to tell you she would catch up with you later.”
“Chioma would have come to me. That is uncharacteristic of her.”
“I don’t know. Like I said, she received a call and dashed out in a hurry before we could even begin talking. How am I to know whether she came to you or not?”
Something didn’t seem right with Gift’s story. Chioma couldn’t have left. Where was she? Had Gift done something to her? Calm down, you are being paranoid. Maryam chided herself. The place was filled with people, there was no way Gift could have done anything to Chioma.
“Why don’t you call her on phone?”
“She left her phone at the house this morning.” Maryam snapped and walked out for the room.
Read episode 15: CLICK HERE
Twenty is co-written with Akinwale Poshkid Akinyoade
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