“Hey, there’s no need for the hospital,” she pointed out with a laugh.
“But, you need to get the bruises checked out,” Akan countered.
“They aren’t serious,” she shrugged and sat back in a relaxed way, totally ignoring the pain in her mid section; pain she was sure was bruising. If she agreed to get into that hospital, she was sure, this guy she didn’t even know his name yet, would run off. Rose felt comfortable in his presence, almost like he cared…a tinny bit.
“You have to…”
“Okay, if it bothers you that much, you could just get me a bottle of methylated spirit and cotton balls to clean it.”
Akan kept wondering what he had gotten himself into while he matched to the pharmacy and bought what she needed. She hadn’t moved or changed position from when he’d left her.
He gave her the cellophane and watched as she looked through the stuffs in there.
“So…where can I drop you o…”
“What’s this?” she held a tube cream up curiously.
“Ointment, the pharmacist said it would sooth the bruise after you’ve cleaned it,” Akan explained in exasperation.
“And you even got me pain killers too,” she noticed and then looked up, “Thank you.”
He shifted in his seat uncomfortably, contrary to her flighty nature, her eyes conveyed a deep sincerity in her gratitude. It was extremely uncomfortable, like nobody had shown her such care before, Akan thought. How possible was that? It was just necessary medicine for a situation that was partly his fault.
“I want to sell the TV…I wanted to sell…I was on my way to sell the TV when this unfortunate but rather fortunate event occurred,” she cut in brightly, too brightly, while the smell of methylated spirit suffused the car as she cleaned the dust from her bruises.
Akan was momentarily distracted by the moue her mouth made as she blew on the burning bruise. With light skin, her lips were plump, lusciously so and naturally pink. He swallowed and licked his dried lips and wondered again why he was allowing his attraction for her; she clearly was a bit unstable and she was trying fervently to cut off questions about her destination. Like she didn’t want to go?
He shivered at the thought and mistook the gnawing in his stomach for fear.
Wait…what…this event was fortunate?
“How was this fortunate?” Akan asked, his hand pointing at her bruises.
“Well, you know that neighborhood is always deserted and the transport system isn’t readily accessible except you get extremely lucky, which isn’t something I’m used to. So, I’d been thinking how I would get out of there fast enough, seeing as I’d just taken my boyfriend’s TV without his knowledge…”
“Wait! What? The TV is stolen?” Akan looked like he would blow a nerve soon, he was sure if he survived this chick, he would survive anything. He had been mistaken to compare her to Nse, she was way ahead of Nse in the crazy race, her brake lights couldn’t be seen.
The chick freaking giggled at his consternation, Akan stared at her with wide eyes and the shock he felt.
“It’s not like that,” she murmured while chuckling and spreading the bruise ointment on her skin.
“It’s like how? Look, this is inappropriate and I think it has gone on long enough and well, a stolen electronic isn’t…”
“I caught him cheating and the next day he breakups with me through a text message,” she looks up and in that small time, Akan glimpses the hurt in her eyes.
She wasn’t so blasé, she just hid her hurt with the whole flighty act, which in itself was ridiculous.
“Who does that?” she asked in a choked laugh as though Akan had been her long time friend and they were sharing a joke.
Akan had always been a sucker for damsels in distress; it was how he had gotten roped with Nse in the first place. At that moment he hated himself for not decisively walking away from this disastrous situation.
“How much are you selling the TV?” he ground out through clenched teeth.
Rose noticed his anger and possible frustration and felt guilty, but she couldn’t let this guy go…at least, not yet. It was a particularly lonely day and she just had to make it till sleep time and she’d have victory over the day.
She could have been like her parents and used the money to surround herself with friends that weren’t genuine, but what would be the point? She had already suffered the carelessness of her parents as a child; there was no need to purposely go through it as an adult while paying for it in the process.
She had two houses she lived in, her parent’s mausoleum and the self contain she shared with a room mate then there were others scattered around the metropolis with tenants in them. Ima was a decent enough friend but she had a boyfriend she was crazy about, which she mostly stayed with, so that left her with no companion tonight…except him.
“This is the point where you give me a price?” he asked slowly, breaking into her thoughts.
“Let’s hang out. That’s my price, let’s hang out. Wait…you aren’t married, are you?” her eyes looked concerned.
And for a second, Akan considered lying but her eyes flicked to his left hand on the steering wheel and his ring finger was glaringly bare with not even an indent or imprint that might have suggested that he’d perhaps pulled off his ring.
God damn it. “For how long?” he choked out. It was a Sunday evening after all and he had to be at work in the morning.
“Midnight,” she instantly replied as though she’d been planning this all along.
Akan swept accusing eyes to her pretty face, “Is this some sort of twisted Cinderella shit?”
And Rose burst into laughter, a real deep, belly laugh, something she’d not experienced in a long while.
“That’s a good one,” she heaved, pointing at him and trying to curb her mirth.
Akan looked away from her beauty, his lips twitched in spite of himself. He had been trying to be rude but he was shocked it made her laugh. This chick was a freaking psycho and he feared that the rapid thumps of his heart meant that he liked her…what did that say about his sanity?
“At midnight we go our separate ways,” it wasn’t a question but he waited for her confirmation anyway.
She nodded, “Yes.”
He gazed at his wrist watch, confirming the time on his dash board, “This is 7:45pm, we have approximately four hours…”
“You’re approximating backwards and if I approximate forward, it’ll land us at 12:15am. So, let’s not approximate, we have four hours and fourteen minutes now. Where do you want to go?”
So, she was smart, Akan thought, his damn heart hammering in his chest. It would be a disaster to like this girl; could someone please give his heart the memo?
“Where do you want to go?” Akan countered.
“Hey, this is my treat. You saved my life, got me medication and bought a TV off my hands at the price of your company for four more hours, thirteen minutes now. I’d like to go to your guy spot, so choose…I’m paying,” she added as encouragement.
Akan felt weird about her paying, maybe she wasn’t serious, women were coy that way and whatever happened, he had cash and would support her if she got stuck. She genuinely looked like she wanted to give him fun, but could she handle a guy’s kind of fun?
With narrowed eyes he nodded, “Let’s do this then.”
By Emem Bassey
RANDOM (UNROMANTIC) continues
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