… continued from Part Ten.
Somewhere else, Ngozi dressed up and went to work. Her mind was on Tony, wondering if he would call, hoping he would call, knowing, from memory and a deep understanding of him, that he might not, and why. And yet, wishing that he would surprise her all the same.
Tony did not call. – He came.
All of a sudden. She looked up and there he was, standing in front of her in her office in Anthony Village, a respectable, quietly opulent area of Lagos Mainland.
A little distance behind him, leafing in through the newly and quietly opened door, was the light of day, huskily harmattan. A car drove past further in the background, then another, as they smiled at one another. Her smile was open, his shy. She was amused, he was unsure. He took a step forward and shut the door.
Finally, she stood up. They looked at one another, unsure of what to do. Then she noticed how thin he was. A sharp, audible intake of breath, a full-throated hiss, was her first reaction. Then she came to him and touched his arm.
“Tony, you’ve lost weight.”
What is the mystery of love?
“I’ve missed you,” Tony said, speaking, like he so often did, without pausing to think, without ever even having once previously felt it. Since the resolution, years ago. Yet when he saw her, he remembered her again. And missed her. And had her. And was hers.
He let out his breath, slowly, deeply, and said it again:
“Wooow… I’ve missed you like what!”
“Like what?” she asked, smiling like a tease, remembering and playing along in the word-game.
“Yeah, like what.”
And they laughed, smiled, but did not embrace.
The weight of the years, somehow, lay yet upon them and between them. Memories of pain slowly arose. Tony saw it steal over her eyes like grey clouds across an open sky. He had hurt her. Deeply.
She had had her faults, some of them major pain-bringers. But in the end, it was he who had delivered the fatal blow. And she had not forgotten. It was in her eyes.
But had she forgiven?
“How did you know this place?” Ngozi asked, taking her hand off his arm and inching away almost imperceptibly and, thus, most perceptibly.
“Tony-magic,” he smiled, twirling his fingers like a trickster.
They laughed again, partly to soften a heavy moment. Somewhere at the back of both their minds was the immediate understanding that this moment and how they handled it, and how it resolved itself, with or without their participation, would determine their future. Together or apart. Or what.
The undefined what.
Maybe because Yuletide had softened everybody. Maybe because of both their yesterdays. Maybe because of the manner and mood of this re-meeting. Maybe because they had never stopped caring. But, somehow, it was as though they had never parted. This was the moment in which they would meet or part.
Characteristic of Ngozi she wanted it settled at once. And it seemed to her as though she had been waiting and preparing for it all these years.
But characteristic of Tony he wanted to post-pone it again, like he did the last time. Imperceptibly. Like he was a master at doing.
Tony smiled and looked round her office. It had the touch of beauty floating upon it, simple as it was, but he had the feeling that something was missing, without being able to place his finger on it.
There was an uncurtained window behind her seat, and, a toned contrast to the fluorescent be-lit room, again wafted in the light of day upon the tastefully designed, sturdy wooden office table, panelled-over with leather, colonised by but a tiny telephone on one side and nothing else. Tony noted that she still had that habit of being neat almost unto sparseness.
Her office was opened into by the door through which he’d just entered, behind which was a spacious business-centre.
He looked round her office again. There was a painting … he ignored it.
She waited for his eyes to quit roaming, then trapped them again. For a second she thought she’d detected panic in there, but she couldn’t be sure. His eyes, light brown and expressive, were amused and appraising as they settled on her one more time.
The moment, as though it had a will of its own, became now tender.
… continued in Part 12.
– AKA TERAKA.
If you want to skip the excerpts and read the full story of this delicate, subtle love story, the novella is availaable on
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Available from December 2013.
TWICE IS NOT ENOUGH.
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