Episode 1: Everyone has secrets... what's yours?

Three friends are reunited after 10 years of graduating from the university. They're all happily married and doing well. A shameful secret from the past surfaces unexpectedly is threatening their rekindled friendship and their individual homes. (A Life Past Perfect is a novel by Oke Peter)

CHAPTER ONE

“You won’t believe who I ran into at the supermarket this evening dear!” Florence began with a grin, as she dumped the grocery bags on the kitchen table and then suddenly grimaced, when she saw her husband making coffee.

“I thought we both agreed you’ll only have one cup of coffee per day? You are putting too much caffeine into your system, Jimi. You are going to become an addict.”

“No I’m not,” Jimi replied with a broad smile, and then sighed, “Okay, okay, I promise not to exceed one cup ever again.”

“You promised before!”

“We’ll I’m promising again. Cross my heart,” he said, crossing his chest with his fingers.

Florence shrugged helplessly. Jimi Omotayo, her adorable husband of six years, was a tall, lean and handsome man. She remembered how they had met, eight years before, at the bank where he worked. She’d been hurrying to the Teller’s office to make some deposit, when she’d bumped into him, knocking down the files he was carrying.

Then, there was that awkward moment, when both of them reached for the files at the same time and haplessly bumped their heads together in the process. In spite of the obvious pain the head-butt had caused, they had both burst into a fit of giggles, while apologizing at the same time.

It wasn’t until they had both gotten to their feet- after picking up the files- that she noticed she was staring into the face of the most handsome man she’d ever met. She always remembered that day fondly. It was the first time she had ever fallen in love with a man on first sight.

“Mummy!” her four year old son squealed, running into the kitchen with outstretched arms.

“Pumpkin Tolu…!” Florence said with a warm smile, as her son hugged her fiercely around the waist and then suddenly pulled his head back and looked up at her.

”No mummy…it’s Pumpkin-Tee, that’s what my teacher calls me.” He said, correcting her.

“Err, right. Pumpkin Tee,” She smiled down at him.

Jimi chuckled and continued sipping his coffee. Six year-old Aramide strolled into the kitchen looking forlorn.

“I’m hungry.” She announced heading straight for the refrigerator.

“Don’t I even get a welcome?” Florence asked her daughter, noting her sour mood.

“Welcome mummy,” she said tonelessly as she peered into the fridge blankly.

“Am hungry too,” little Tolu whined.

“Ok Pumpkin Tee, dinner will be ready before you know it.” Florence said with an enthusiastic smile.

“You always say that, Mummy,” Mide rolled her eyes, closing the fridge, “and then we have to wait and wait and wait till the food gets ready.”

“Today will be different,” Florence sighed, “We are having spaghetti tonight. Who wants to eat spaghetti?” She smiled.

“Me!” Tolu shrieked with joy, raising his small hand straight up, like a child in a classroom. Mide groaned bleakly, and then rolled her eyes again. Jimi dumped his empty mug in the sink, chuckled to himself and then strolled off towards the parlor, while Florence and Tolu danced around the kitchen.

Several hours later, with the kids now in bed, Florence and her husband were seated on the sofa in the living room, watching a late night soap opera.

“You didn’t get to tell me who you ran into at the supermarket?” Jimi noted.

“Oh yes, it was Bolu Fasanya, although she’s now Bolu George. She’s married too. You remember her don’t you? She was one of my bridesmaids at our wedding, but she left the country a month or so after…?”

“Ah right, that skinny friend of yours,” Jimi remembered.

“Well she’s not skinny anymore. She’s quite chubby now. Perhaps, she’s pregnant. She seemed to be in a bit of a hurry, but she gave me her phone number. Apparently, she lives on Blue’s Drive, that’s the next street to ours.”

Jimi looked up at Florence with a raised eyebrow. He noticed his wife seemed rather happy to have been so unexpectedly reunited with her old friend.

“Hmm, that’s interesting. An old friend of mine, who just got back from the States, just bought a house on Blue’s Drive. He’ll be here on Saturday. How come you and Bolu never ran into each other before?”

“I thought the same thing too,” Florence said, thoughtfully pressing a finger against her lips, “I guess we’ll iron that out once we meet this weekend.”

“Hey, make that meeting on Sunday. You know all the guys will be here on Saturday to watch the Nigeria – Kenya match. I was thinking you could make some snacks for us.” Jimi said winking at his wife.

“Ah I see, and so how much are you willing to pay for my services?” she said folding her arms.

“Ahh, how about we discuss the price right now,” a mischievous grin cropped itself unto his face, as he leaned towards her, nuzzling her earlobe and tracing his fingers down the front of her night dress.

“No, no way. No bribing allowed!” Florence said giggling in spite of herself.

“This isn’t a bribe, it’s a negotiation.” His strong arms pulled her unto his lap with ease and he started kissing her everywhere. Giggling uncontrollably now, she pretended to fight him off.

“I give up.” she conceded finally, melting into his arms.

Bolu lay on her side, watching her husband Kenny working away on his laptop. She had been trying- quite unsuccessfully- to get his attention for almost an hour. She sighed inwardly. His new contract with the Telecommunications Company he worked for, as head of the I.T department, was beginning to wear on their personal life.

In all the four months that they’d been in Nigeria, her husband had done nothing, but soak himself up in work and although she understood his job earned him a rather substantial salary- one which afforded them a more than comfortable lifestyle- she still couldn’t help but feel left out. The way, women who were used to having the attention of their man, often did.

She’d left her job at the Daycare Centre in Maryland, in the U.S to be with him and if this warm silence was all she was going to get out of her sacrifice- for the duration of his one year contract- then he’d better think again.

She gave a rather exaggerated sigh and groaned audibly enough to get Kenny to look up from his laptop.

“You all right honey…?” Kenny asked, giving her a quizzical look.

“Sure, I was just thinking how funny it is that I have to compete with your laptop for your attention.”

“Ah, I see,”

“It certainly seems to be the love of your life lately.” She noticed there was a sting in her own voice, she couldn’t help.

“Aw, come on honey, you know it’s not like that. Let me just wrap this stuff up and am all yours.”

“And how long is that going to take, another hour?” She said crossing her arms.

Kenny chuckled, “Don’t be such a nag,”

“Am not nagging, I’m just---”

“All right, all right,” he said shutting down the system and putting the laptop aside, “I am all ears, love. Speak on,”

“Don’t make fun of me Kenny, I’m serious.”

“And I’m listening, really. What do you want to tell me?”

She stifled a sigh. What do I want to tell you? She thought to herself, I want to tell you how much I miss how close we used to be, how much I miss the jovial and cheerful man I married. I want to tell you how much I wish you and I could start looking for a solution to our problem again and maybe this time we might get lucky.

But, instead she said: “I ran into an old friend of mine at the supermarket today, the one that got married a month before I left for the U.S?”

“Really,” Kenny said, feigning interest, “So how is she doing?”

“From what I could tell, she’s doing great. She has two kids now and she owns her very own catering outfit. She’s really established.”

“Hmm, does she live around here?”

“Yeah, on the next street actually, that’s Pike Avenue. It’s funny we never ran into each other before. Well, it’s probably because I don’t go out much.”

“So now that you’ve found your friend, maybe you two should start spending more time together. You know, it might do you some good.”

Bolu scowled at him, “That’s a tidy way to get me off your neck, right?”

“What do you mean? You’re not on my neck!”

“Uh-huh, could’ve fooled me,” she mumbled under her breath.

Kenny rubbed his eyes wearily. He knew what was coming: another night of heated arguments and half-baked making up.

“Why don’t you just tell me what’s really on your mind Bolu…? What are you mad about now?”

“I am mad about you ignoring me and treating me like a burden. I am mad about you coming home every evening from work, scarcely breathing in my direction as if I’m invisible. What do I owe you Kenny, what?!”

“Please keep your voice down for Christ’s sake. And for your information, as far as I know, you owe me nothing.”

“How about a baby…?”

“Aww God,” Kenny groaned, “Not this again. We’ve been through this a million times before. Why are you bringing it up again?”

Bolu tried desperately to hold back the tears welling up behind her eyes.

“Kenny please…it’s been four months since we came to Nigeria and I think we are ready. Let’s start the treatment again. I could go for the fertility test tomorrow, who knows, the result might be more positive this time. We could try the in-vitro again. Maybe find some other treatment we haven’t tried. Kenny, please?”

There was that look in her eyes. That earnest look that said: This was something she really wanted and would do anything and everything to get.

Stay tuned for another episode of A Life Past Perfect, same time next week. You can also download a free copy of the book HERE.

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