Tiwa pushed the door open and I drove my wheel chair out of the hospital. “Do you think I did well?” I asked.
She stared at me blankly. “The therapy, right?”
I nodded in agreement. “Yes, did I respond well?”
“Yes, you did. But, Mom, what are you going to do about that night?”
I took a deep breath. “I don’t know and right now, I need you to go for your rehearsals.”
“But Mom, the rehearsal isn’t until the next two hours.” She replied.
“I know, but the driver would drop you there before I return home, it’s good for you to start on a positive note.” I protested as I beckoned to the driver who had taken some comfort under a nearby shade.
Mom slammed the door for the umpteenth time as she walked through the living room to the bedroom without any real purpose; at least, it wasn’t obvious to me. “When are you going to stop pacing, Mom?” I asked as she dropped a magazine and picked up a glass cup.
“Is there a restriction on how I move around in this house?” she asked.
“Mom, I know you aren’t exactly thrilled about Olivia’s pregnancy.”
She scoffed. “Thrilled? That’s a long word for how disappointed I am. What are you going to do about it?”
“Nothing, Mom. I…I will just talk to Ijeoma and we would start the divorce proceedings. I have already set up an appointment with my lawyer, I’ll talk to him by noon.”
She relaxed in her seat. “Is this what you or Olivia wants? You don’t want Ijeoma anymore?”
“Mom, I don’t know. I…I still want to be with Ijeoma, but, I don’t know what to do now, my hands are tied. Olivia is having my baby and I can’t allow my child to be born without a father.”
She nodded. “Of course not, I won’t want that too. But, are you going to be happy with Olivia? This is a family we are talking about, you need to have love in it.”
“Ijeoma broke my heart even when I thought she loved me, so, does love really matter, Mom?”
She took a deep breath and drank some water.
Tiwa sat in the hallway nodding her head to some music as she waited for the start of rehearsals. The studio was empty, rehearsal was an hour away but Ijeoma had forced her down earlier. Sharon approached from the hallway and Tiwa immediately rose to greet her. “Sharon!” she called.
Sharon smiled. “Tiwa Johnson, right?”
“A…Amazing! How did you remember my name?” Tiwa asked as she joined her.
Sharon shook her head with a smile. “I memorize lines for drama scripts, your name won’t be a problem.”
“That’s possible, but, you must have thought about me for a while to remember my name.” she replied.
Sharon nodded. “You got me on that one, I actually thought about you. You are a charmer.” She continued as she opened the door to a room. “This is the general room where we have our rehearsals and all, I usually come a bit earlier so that I can take the time to dance.”
Tiwa smiled as she skipped through the room. “You should teach me.”
“I am not a dance instructor and I don’t dance for the passion, I dance for pain.”
Tiwa stared at her. “Pain?”
“To dance the pain away.” Sharon replied as she took off her shoes. “So, tell me about yourself.” Sharon started.
Tiwa cleared her throat. “There is nothing interesting about me, I just want to act. I really love the Lord Tanner Show and I want to go on trips with them too, you know, take part in roles and start being a functional actress too.”
“Have you thought about school and what you might have to give up?”
Tiwa nodded. “I am fully aware of the risks.”
Sharon laughed. “Sweetheart, you are not. If you are fully aware of the challenges, you won’t want to jump on the next Lord Tanner bus.”
“Why not?” Tiwa asked.
Sharon took her hand. “This is not about Lord Tanner. This is about you. Lord Tanner is the best thing that has happened to our age and generation; it has given me and a teeming population of youths like you the opportunity to showcase their talents. Just look at our last show, ‘Magic Time’, it was a complete sell out and I am dead sure that the next show is set to beat this one, but, my concerns are for you. I left my job to be here and I am proud of it and that is because I am an adult.”
“Can’t I merge it with school? I know I don’t school here but I can talk to my parents and make things work.” She replied hopefully.
Sharon took a deep breath. “Rehearsals are in the evening after school, if you can juggle both, you are fine.”
“I will juggle both.” Tiwa replied confidently. Sharon smiled and leaned against the wall as she took her seat on the floor. “You have a very kind heart, any man in love with you is lucky.” Tiwa continued.
Sharon laughed. “Oh Love! Love is just wrong! I…I have been in love all my life and it has gotten me nowhere.” She said. She paused and then stared at Tiwa. “Is it okay that I talk to you about it?”
“With all pleasure.” Tiwa replied, beaming with smiles.
Sharon blinked and then pulled out a picture from her wallet. “That’s the man I love. His name is Austin.”
Tiwa swallowed. “My Uncle goes by the name Austin.”
“That’s nice. Anyway, back to my Austin, he really is a sweet guy, but, I…I don’t know, I didn’t know how to accept his best friend, she is a married woman and they were so close and her husband was not near and I didn’t feel comfortable.” She started. She smiled as she pulled out another picture from her wallet. “This is Austin, I and Ijeoma, she is his best friend. She is so pretty, smart and the type of woman any man would fall for, I almost couldn’t blame Austin when he bailed on me for her.” She said.
Tiwa stared at the picture. “Did they have an affair?”
“He always said that Ijeoma would never go out with him, she was tied or loyal or in love with her husband, we hung out together on a couple of occasions and she honestly seemed like the type of woman who has values and always stood by them, so I think I believe the fact that they were just friends, but you and I know that it is obviously going to be complicated. People don’t stay just friends like that, I guess.”
Tiwa stared at her. “Do you want him back?”
“I do, if he wants me ever again. He made a choice and walked away from me and I doubt if he regrets that, we haven’t spoken in a while now.” She replied. “What hurts is that I have never been able to move on, my life is just all about Austin, I really wish things were different.”
“Is that why you dance?” Tiwa asked.
She nodded in agreement. “Exactly.”
The door opened and a man walked in. “You are always here.”
“Tiwa, meet Tolu Tanner, he is the Director.” Sharon said. Tiwa rose as they exchanged greetings. “She is Tiwa Johnson, a young enthusiast and I think she’ll do great with our team.”
Tolu smiled faintly. “Nice to meet you, Tiwa. I’d love to see you during the rehearsals.”
“I would do my best.” She replied.
He nodded with a smile. “Great! See you guys soon.” He replied as he walked out.
Austin walked into my office. “Your secretary told me you were here, what are you doing here?”
“I told Tiwa about that night.” I said as he took his seat.
He blinked. “Everything?”
“I couldn’t bring myself to tell her the rest. She was already in tears when I told her the part that I walked away from him.” I replied.
He took a deep breath. “What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know. I just want to cry about it.”
He nodded. “Now is not the time to cry, you have got to do something about it. You have to talk to Lolu, try to clear the air.”
“It would be hard.” I replied. “We have never been able to talk about it.”
He adjusted his jacket. “Now is the time to talk about it. You love him, it’s clear he still loves you, what is stopping you?”
“What about you? Are you never going to look for Sharon again?” I asked.
“Forget about Sharon and I.” he replied and walked out.
“I just got off the phone with my lawyer; he said I can file for divorce and permanent custody of Tiwa on the grounds that Ijeoma is incapacitated.” I said.
Mom flipped the page of her magazine. “Is that supposed to be music to my ears?”
“Mom, Olivia and I are having a family, I can’t abandon her.” I replied.
“Do you love her? Or are you grateful to her?” she asked as she dropped the magazine. “Son, I am not going to influence this decision because a child is involved, but, I don’t want you to be miserable all your life, you have to think about this decision carefully and decide if you are up for it. In the end, it is your call.” She replied.
I knelt before her. “Mom, I love Ijeoma, but, Olivia has been there for me and I can’t let her down now, especially now that she is carrying my baby.”
“Are you willing to sacrifice your love for Ijeoma?”
I took a deep breath. “I don’t know if Ijeoma is still in love with me, there are a lot of things that still leaves doubt in my heart and we…we can’t get past those things.”
She kissed my forehead. “It’s your life, Son.”
Sharon passed Tiwa a can of coke and a pie. “This used to be my ritual with Austin, we would eat Meat pie and have Coke for lunch, he never liked it, but for me, he would have it, and anyway, I think you are an amazing actress.”
“Thank you so much for the opportunity.” She replied.
“I am positive that you would be on the next tour with us, you did very well in the rehearsal. You are made for the spotlight.”
Tiwa blushed faintly. “I feel so honoured.”
“You should be, you are very dynamic and your style is unique.” Sharon replied sipping her coke. “So, how do we meet your parents to transfer you down here?”
Tiwa cleared her throat. “My Dad is a very busy man and same with my Mom too, but if you can give me any information, I would be glad to pass it down to them.”
“There is really nothing from us; I just want you in Lagos when the next session starts so that you could be part of the Lord Tanner Cast.” Sharon replied.
Tiwa grinned. “I would be transferring here before September; there is nothing to worry about.”
“That’s cool.” Sharon replied.
“We never completed our discussion about your Austin and that Ijeoma Martins.” Tiwa started.
Sharon nodded. “Yeah, Tolu Tanner walked in on us then. Well, you know almost everything, Austin prefers to be with his best friend than be with me. I guess I was impulsive in making him decide.”
“Have you tried to talk to him?” Tiwa asked. “Because I think the real problem here is that nobody wants to talk!” Tiwa argued.
Sharon paused as she stared at her. “Excuse me? Where is that coming from?”
Tiwa gasped. “I am sorry.” She immediately downed the rest of the Coke. “Thank you for the Coke.” She added and hurried away.
I poked my head in with a smile and a flower in hand as I walked into Olivia’s office. “You are not on my patient list” she said with a smile.
I nodded with a smile. “I know, but, I…I want to make things better between us.”
“Really?” she asked.
I nodded as I passed her the flower. “That’s for you.”
“It’s beautiful, thank you.” She replied, admiring the tulips.
“That’s not all.” I said as I passed her a bunch of keys.
She stared at it. “You got me a car?”
“I won’t get you a car with a bunch of keys, that’s our new home.”
She screamed and rushed over to me to hug me. “Thank you so much, Lolu. I love you.” She said and leaned over to kiss me. I turned my face for a kiss on the cheek on impulse. “What was that?” she asked looking aghast.
I swallowed. “I…I am sorry. I…I…”
“-Just save it, Lolu. You don’t really want to be with me. When was the last time you made love to me? You have been giving so much attention to Ijeoma and neglecting me, how fair is that?”
I took a deep breath. “I am sorry? I…I…”
“Just leave.” She said, taking her seat slowly.
“I am trying; it is not easy for me.” I replied.
She scoffed. “Really? It was easy for you to be with me before now, ever since you returned here on this custody thing, you have relived everything with her. How am I sure that you haven’t slept with her?” she shouted. “Are you cheating on me with her?”
Heat flushed across my face. “I have to go, you are out of control.” I said as I rose to my feet.
“Everyone leaves, you can go.”
I swallowed. “I have chosen to be with you, accept it.” I said and walked out.
“My name is Tiwa Martins.” Tiwa introduced as she got to the security check post.
The Security man checked through a book. “She is expecting you. Top floor.”
Tiwa nodded and hurried into the building. Austin approached her from the elevator. “Ms Martins, what are you doing here?” he asked with a smile.
“I came to get my mom.” She replied.
He smiled. “Where is your ride?”
“I took the bus.”
He nodded. “Of course, your Mom is in a meeting right now, you want to have some lunch with me?”
“Are you asking me out?” Tiwa asked grinning.
Austin chuckled. “You are so full of it, Ijeoma would have my head.”
“You won’t even dare.” She replied. “Where are we going?”
“It’s a tuck shop just around.” He replied leading the way.
Austin pushed the door open as they got to the shop. “Meat pie and Coke.” He ordered. “What would you have?”
“I have had Coke today.” Tiwa replied with a grin.
Austin stared at her. “Wipe that grin off your face, I don’t like it.”
“Do you have Coke and Meat pie for lunch every day?” she asked.
He nodded as he took a bite. “Yeah, it’s my favourite.”
“Really?” Tiwa asked giggling.
He nodded. “Yes and why does it sound so funny to you?”
He sipped his Coke. “I heard you went to the Lord Tanner rehearsal, did you see Sharon there?”
“No. She wasn’t there.” She lied.
He swallowed. “I just thought you might have the opportunity to meet her one on one, I think she is a nice lady, if she hasn’t changed.”
“I see…” Tiwa cooed
Austin sat up as he stared at her. “Tell me, what do you know?”
“Nothing. I…I know absolutely nothing” Tiwa replied.
He nodded in agreement. “So, what do you think about your Mom’s therapies?”
“She was able to move two steps with crutches today, and she rolled her back on that ball quite well. What’s it called anyway?”
He shrugged. “No idea.”
“Do you miss Sharon?” Tiwa asked.
He paused and smiled. “I miss her. But, she has moved on and so have I.”
“Have you moved on?” Tiwa asked.
He nodded in agreement. “I will move on”
“Much better.” Tiwa replied grinning.
I turned my chair as Tiwa and Austin walked into the office. “It’s about time you showed up.” I said to Tiwa.
“Don’t scold her, I took her to have a pie.” Austin replied.
I nodded as I grabbed my bag. “Did you get the compulsory invite from the Chairman on the couples’ dinner?” I asked. Austin looked blank and from his reaction I could guess he had no idea. “Anyway, I have to be home early, we are leaving now.” I continued.
“Are we going to see my Dad?” Tiwa asked.
I stared at Austin and then back at her. “I don’t know about that, Tiwa. There is a restriction and until we get the court to rescind that decision, I am afraid, nothing can be done.”
She nodded in agreement. “I know about that, but he once broke the law to be with you.”
“I am not jeopardizing his freedom for escapades.”
“What?” I asked, put off by her grin.
She smiled. “Nothing, it is just the use of the word ‘escapade’. It…It sounded not you.”
I scoffed and drove my wheel chair on and she followed with Austin.
The Chairman approached us as we stepped out of the elevator. “Is this the famous Ms Martins?” he asked, staring at Tiwa.
I immediately cut in. “She is my daughter.”
“When would we ever get to meet your infamous husband here at the firm?” he asked with a grin. “Anyway, I don’t think it will take long. There is a couples’ dinner for the partners here soon, let’s see who you tag along with.” He said with a cocky smile.
I swallowed hard as the Chairman walked away in smiles.
“He hates you, Mom.” Tiwa said.
I nodded. “I know, but he has no choice but to put up with me till I am ready to squash him into bits.” Austin cleared his throat and I smiled in Tiwa’s direction “I meant till I can manage him.”
“Mom, I am not five.” She replied with a smile.
I smiled back. “Let’s go home.”
I wiped the tears welling in my eyes as I stared at Ijeoma’s picture from when we were teenagers. We had taken the picture during one of our excursions in high school. We had inscribed our names and a love symbol in a tree in the wood during a field trip.
“I think we could carve a love shape with a stone.” Ijeoma suggested.
I stared at the stone in her hand. “It won’t do a good job and we would still be struggling with the edges when the trip is over.” I replied.
“Do you have a better idea?”
I fetched a knife from my backpack. “This is a better idea.”
“What are you doing with a knife?” she asked, perplexed.
I smiled. “I knew it was a field trip and so I brought it.”
“Don’t tell me you brought a knife for this purpose?” she asked, smiling.
I pulled out a drawing from my bag and handed it to her.
“Omololu, you have envisaged this moment.” She said with a smile.
I nodded. “I always wanted to do this, so, shall we?”
“How do we capture this moment?” she asked.
I smiled wider. “I brought my Mom’s polaroid.”
She started to carve on the tree and I followed suit. When we were done, I set the Polaroid down and we took a picture together.
“Omololu, can we be together forever?” she asked as we walked back to join the group.
I laughed hard as she spoke so seriously. She then started to laugh too. “Ijeoma, I only want to laugh with you in this life, there is no life without you.”
I stared at a picture of Omololu and I when we were teenagers, we had carved a love symbol and our names on a tree in the wood during a field trip. The picture was old but I still loved it, it gave me the moments of Omololu and I. I replaced the picture into the shelf and I adjusted my neck chain. I had made up my mind to go and see Omololu; I was prepared to fight for what we once had. I threw it away and I had resolved to get the man I love back.
I rode my wheelchair out of my room into the living room. Tiwa was in her room, so she had no idea that I was going on the ‘escapade’. The doorbell chimed as I entered the living room. I drove over to the door and opened it.
“Omololu…” I said with a smile.
He didn’t smile back. His eyes were red as though he had been crying, he stepped back a little and a man approached from behind him. I stared at the man in a black suit.
“This is a file for divorce from my client.” The man said as he handed me the envelope.