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Moonlight Publishing

HOW WAS TODAY - Titilope Odeyinka

Chigozie slaps hard against her knee, looks down at her palm and sees that she missed the mosquito. She hisses, but doesn’t let this annoy her for too long for she’s filled with anticipation. She moves her chair closer to the edge of the road. It’s evening - anytime from now and he would walk towards the shop. Korede. Tall like an iroko tree, beefy limbs, and a surprisingly soft voice. He would come in his plain long sleeved shirt, suit trouser, and a tie, his laptop bag strung across his shoulder.

Seeing him made her feel how a farmer might feel at the first drops of rain after years of famine.

 

Everyday, he would stop to buy something from the shop on his way back from work. He would joke with her and ask, “So tell me, how was today?” This was the only prompt she needed before the words start pouring out of her like a broken tap, he would hmm and ahh and laugh at the right places. And although she knew very little about him, except that his name was Korede, that he worked in tech and lived two streets away, he was the only constant in her day that seemed to lighten the tragedies of her reality; the fact that she spent her days here, on a wooden chair outside her (aunty who was not actually her) aunty’s grocery store, and not in school like her aunty’s children, even though this was promised to her parents before they sent her to live with said aunty in the city; the fact that sometimes, her aunty’s husband offered her money whenever aunty was away to sleep with him - she always said no, and he never forced her-  but she feared that her rejecting him only made his desire stronger, and one day, he might pin her to the bed, and force himself into her.

 

She sees Korede approaching minutes later and thinks, “You are truly the son of your father.” She wants to stand and throw her arms around his neck, inhale the scent of his perfume and say,

 “Welcome home.”

 She has imagined this scene so many times: He would hug her tighter to himself and say,

“I missed you.” his breath on her neck, his hands caressing her back.

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“Welcome.” she says, and goes into the shop to get his usual - a bottle of Sprite and Gala.

“ Thank you.” His smile makes her knees go weak. Emeka, one of her customers who always asks,         “Baby’m can I touch these your beautiful breasts?” to which she would respond with insults or threats. As for this man, she wanted to bury his head between her breasts.

Her story for today is on the tip of her tongue, and she’s waiting to be asked so she can tell him how she found out the Pastor living on the second floor of their building is actually a yahoo boy.  

“Hope you’re good? Please get me one bottle of water and another Gala.” He says.

It’s been almost a year since she started selling at the shop and he always buys the same thing. Everyday. Confused, she raises an eyebrow in question.

 

He chuckles and she thinks this must be how angels sound when they laugh.

“You know me too well. It’s actually for my friend.”

He points at a lady standing a few steps away from the shop. She had been so enthralled by his presence, she hadn’t noticed anyone or anything else; A shooting could have been happening right in the middle of the street, and she wouldn’t have noticed. She takes the lady in – she looks so delicate like glass, she thinks. Her weave, soft and bouncy and long, her white shirt tucked in an orange skirt – and her face falls. It had not occurred to her before now that he might be speaking to other women, that he might even be friends with them, or have them follow him home and even stop to buy them Gala and water on the way. It had never occurred to her before now that one day, he might walk past the shop without stopping to ask, “So tell me, how was today?”, that one day, she might lose him - even if she never really owned him, that she was not the only in the world he ever asked, “So tell me, how was today?”

 

She goes back into the store to get the items, he pays her and as she fumbles with her fanny pack, trying to get his change, he says,

“Keep it. Goodnight. See you tomorrow.”

 She trails after them with her eyes till they’re out of vision, a mosquito buzzes in her ears, and this time she doesn’t attempt to kill it.

She slowly sits back in her chair and whispers to herself,

“So Chigozie, tell me how was today?”

She begins to tell the story of the Pastor to the wind.

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