‘You are alone’
‘No, I am not.’
She does her signature nightmarish laugh. The type from the witch pretend mother of Rapunzel in Tangled.
I ignore her. I am not alone. I don’t have to argue with anyone about something I know.
It is Friday morning, and I am on my way to the office. The traffic is light but the bus is very uncomfortable. I try for some pleasant memory or someone’s face to ease the unease in me, but I can’t find one.
‘you are alone.’ she voices again.
I ignore her still.
‘Onipanu wa o!’ I quickly yell, more in a bid to shun the voice in my head than to call the driver to a stop. The young man beside me eyes me rudely. I cannot be bothered. I squeeze past him and make it out of the bus. Half walking- half jogging, I make it to the office 5 minutes before eight. Whew! Thank God.
‘Good morning.’ I call out to whoever cares to listen. And they all respond. Well, almost all. See, I told you I am not alone.
Quickly, I set my bag down and get to work on my laptop. We have a presentation to do by 9:00am, each of us new recruits. One IFRS standard per person. Bosun, the newest of us all, comes over so I can put him through on some things. I explain quickly, and get on with my business.
Hours later, presentation is done, and we are working on a clients file. We settle in the office on the upper floor. Myself, Tochukwu, Linda, Bosun, Tope, and Leonard. We eat in today because we have a lot of work to do before COB, plus there’s an important meeting our team would have to attend at Abuja on Monday morning, so there’s so much preparations to be done. We work, eat, talk, discuss, analyse, tease and work again. It is fun, and I am laughing my heart out more often than I normally would. Thank God it’s Friday today.
My tension is almost palpable as the clocks ticks towards 5pm, that I am super excited when Mr Yinka, our team leader and Engagement Partner informs us that we have to work into the night. ‘The files need finalising, and redressing. All final corrections must be made no later than today’ he calls, ‘… Plus we would be travelling on Sunday, because the meeting is by 8:00am on Monday morning, and we can’t take any chances.. So fellas, mark your calenders!’ he finishes. The rest of the team chatter in hushed tones, as if to say some Friday night party plans just got crushed.
Who cares? Not me.
I maintain a straight face as I absorb Mr Yinka’s every detail with suppressed glee. I am not alone, I reassure myself, and I almost jump up when my head’s voice is nowhere around to taunt me. Guess she has finally succumbed to the truth.
Work’s work, but I am enjoying the chatter around. Sadly, there’s very little more miracles I can wish for by the time it clocks 8pm and Mr Yinka dismisses everyone as he is satisfied with the new state of work. Everyone says their goodbyes and goodnights. Those with cars hop into their cars, asking one or two other friends to join them so they can drop them off somewhere along their route. In twos, fours, and sixes… they all leave. But no one calls out to ask if i’ll take a ride with them. I shudder beneath my skin, hoping my head is nowhere around to taunt me with that dreadful voice.
Thankfully, she isn’t.
I think she is tired and asleep already. I tiptoe and take my good care with each step. And when I am about to enter the bus, I say a silent prayer that it would harbour some ambience so I don’t wake my head.
Traffic is light again, and so in less than an hour, I am home. I put off my shoes, leave the door open, but leave the lights off. Why torture silence with a glow? I sit in the darkness for five minutes, and I feel it coming. The mood. Oh no! Not now, please.
I search my bag for my phone, hoping to see something that will at least amuse me and send the awful mood back to hell. Maybe a missed call, or a text message, or a ping, or a whatsapp chat, or a facebook notification or a… *sigh, there’s nothing. The phone is just as it was this morning. Just then, I feel a drop of tear teasing my eye. Maybe I am truly alone, but I hate that my head has to be right again.
Just as soon, my phone vibrates. I jump for it even though it is just lying beside me. It is Linda.
Maybe I am not alone after all.
‘Hello Tope. Sure you’re home already?’
‘Yes, I am. Just got in. Too tired to even turn on the lights.’
‘Gee, I can imagine. Work was stressful today. Do get some rest, okay?’
‘I will. Thanks. I..’
‘Lest, I forget. Oh sorry I cut you off. You were saying?’
‘No never mind. So, what’s up?’
‘Mr Yinka said to inform you the meeting has been postponed till Tuesday. So no more Sunday travel. You have your full weekend to yourself! Yayy!!’
Omg! That’s no good news. Why so yayy-y?
‘Hello…’ she callls out. ‘Hello, shit network! Hello..’
‘Hey, sorry I lost you there for a minute. Okay, thanks! Got the information. Such a relief, no?’
‘I know right! Alright then, sleep well. Cheers.’
Tum.. tum.. tum.. the disconnecting tone rings off in my head, and I think it just awoke the devil.
‘You are alone’ she calls again. Now, the tears pour forth like rainfall in June.
Maybe I really am alone. And no one cares. And maybe, no one ever will. Because I always push them away when they try.
‘You are alone’
‘I know’ I surrender finally.
She does her signature laugh again, and this time she goes mute for real. Guess now is bed time, or maybe there’s just no case anymore. I have admitted the sore fact, and she is right again. It’s a game of the mind, and it only ceases when she takes the trophy home.
Yes, I am alone. Merry, but don’t die of glee! I spit at her, my head.
© The Short Black Girl, 2014.