The lecturer for the module; PR and Media Skills, finally looked at the clock that was now five minutes to 5pm.
“I’ll be sending your course outline for next week’s class. Have a pleasant evening.”
She said, packing her notes together.
Jessica, a classmate from Singapore, joined her shortly.
“Happy Birthday Nora,” She hugged her.
“Oh, thanks a lot, Jessica. I appreciate it.” She smiled.
“Are you having a party?”
“No…I’m not.” Nora laughed, and tried to leave the class in time. She had to drop a text book at the library before it was closed for the day. Alex had missed class, and had sent a text that she couldn’t make it because she had to go to the bank.
Alex had actually been busy getting their few mutual friends together, and making sure they were at the restaurant just in time. She had booked 6.00pm - 8.30pm. By that time, everywhere was dark already. She had gone to pick up Nora’s birthday cake and also gone to pick up her cousins from the train station, who had come from London.
Nora’s phone beeped. It was an email from her bank. She almost ignored it. It must have been one of those debit notifications of about N2.00 for her bank statement. Just then, she saw N85,000.00 credited. She knew it was from no one but Lisa Udeh. The woman had called in the morning, and promised her a gift. She scrolled through her phone to dial her number, but she remembered she was out of airtime. She would top-up and call to show her gratitude. As she walked towards the voucher shop, Alex’s call came through.
“Birthday girl,” Alex said, teasing.
“The day is almost over. Where are you?” Nora replied.
“I’m at the City centre. I’m stranded. Please I need you to bring my other ATM card from my blue handbag. It’s on the table in my room. Pleaseeee…” Alex said.
“You went shopping and missed class?”
“Just bring it and stop judging me. Thanks. Please as soon as you get here just call me. I’ll find you.”
Nora hissed. “Shopaholic. I need to go to the house first then wait for the bus 63.”
“Just pick a cab jo. I’ll pay.”
Nora got down the cab and Alex found her almost immediately.
“So please, I saw this dress at H and M and I really want to get it. I ran out of money…” Alex said, at the same time dragging her friend into the store. They went into the fitting room together, and Alex handed her the sequined blue dress.
“Try this on.” She said.
Nora finally did, after grumbling, and Alex brought out the pair of shoes she had bought earlier.
“The shoes match. Now try them on. I’ve paid for the dress already. I knew size 10 would be perfect.” She smiled. “Happy birthday, darling.”
“Alex!” Nora was shocked.
“The magic word is thanks, you know.” Alex laughed.
Nora hugged her and burst into tears.
“No need for tears. Let me sharply do your makeup. We’re going somewhere.”
Nora was overwhelmed with emotion that she burst into tears. What more could she ask for in a best friend. Alex had thrown her a surprise birthday get-together. Even her cousins had brought her gifts. They all had Chinese dinner and later went out for karaoke.
Christmas came, and Alex needed to travel home to visit her mom. Lisa had complained that she had been ill for a while and needed Alex to come home for the break. Nora had wanted to come along too, but she couldn’t task Lisa further for a flight ticket. She bought a few clothes for her mother and siblings, and sent them through Alex.
The plane landed in Lagos, and a sudden over shadow of mean heat, welcomed her as she walked into the arrival lounge. It would take another hour before she would be able to retrieve her luggage. She finally decided to wait, as she rested on her trolley, waiting for her luggage.
Her purple box came out, and she rushed to grab it. She pulled hard, but the weight was on the heavy side and she couldn't lift it. She remembered she had paid for extra while checking in at Birmingham.
“Need help?” Someone said beside her.
“Sure, please.” She replied without looking. As she turned to say thank you, she saw him, a 6’2 footer, smiling at her. He was handsome, and he knew it, with the way he carried himself and reacted at her stare.
“Too pretty a boy yeah?” He joked.
If Nora were there, she would have hissed and laughed at him.
“Thanks for your help…” Alex said, looking away.
“I guess that’s yours too.” He said, pointing at her second box that was identical with the first. She nodded, and he went to pull it off the conveyor belt.
They exchanged names, contacts, hugs, and memories, because he was all she could think about after she left the airport with her mom’s driver.
Lisa smiled as her daughter walked into the house. At that point, Alex knew her mom had not been sick. She had just been…Alex sick.
“I missed you!” Lisa spread out her arms, hugging her. Alex shook her head and hugged her mother back.
That night, Mr 6.2 Feet called her and she had eagerly picked the call like a giddy five-year old. He wanted to know if she had gotten home, and of course, if they could hang out some time. She didn’t want to sound desperate so she said she would think about it and get back to him.
She called Nora almost immediately and told her everything that had happened with the guy. Nora laughed as expected, and said there was no harm in going on the date, but she should make sure she chose a very expensive restaurant.
Nora took the last order for her shift that night at the fast food restaurant where she now worked, and went to the inner room to change her clothes. She hoped to earn some money so she could send some home to her mom.
As she walked to the bus stop to catch a bus home, she thought about what would happen next after the Master’s degree programme. Alex would definitely get a good job in the oil company where her mother worked. She knew Lisa would help her too, but she also knew she couldn’t depend totally on the woman. Like her mom always said, Alex was not her blood.
She opened her room door, and turned on her laptop, and WiFi connection, then started to check for jobs on job ad websites in Nigeria, and also in the UK. She checked her school email. The PR and Media skills tutor had sent a reminder that a mock test was to hold in the first week of January.
Just then, she received a call from Alex. Alex had met a guy at the airport and wanted to know if she should go on a date with him. Nora had hissed at first. Alex just couldn’t do anything herself. She had always been the one to help her get things done. She had all the money and parental dotting in the world, yet she always couldn't do anything herself.
Nora still couldn’t believe, two years after, that Alex had a first class back at the Obafemi Awolowo University. The girl was not that smart! What hurt more was that, Nora had had to sleep with two lecturers to get an A grade, but one of them had eventually graded her a C. The man wanted another sex date. Nora finally slept with him again for a second time, and at the end, he said his hands were tied, and he couldn’t change the grade. She had eventually graduated with a second class upper division. She didn’t want a 2.1. She wanted to stand out. She wanted to achieve great things and rise above her less than comfortable family. She wanted more out of her life. Even God had given her a small stature, although, she psyched herself that He had compensated her with the right boobs and butt, to climb heights.
Alex let down her hair, and left the house to join her date that was parked in front of her gate. She had thought of where to go, and finally decided on an expensive sea side restaurant in Victoria Island. She saw the expression on his face when she mentioned where she wanted to go. He smiled, with some effort, and nodded.
They ordered. She asked for sea food, and white wine, and he asked for just water. He said he was on a fast, and could only take water. Alex knew he was lying. She laughed, as she thought of what she would tell Nora as soon as she got home.
She enjoyed the date. His name was Kolade. He worked as an IT Engineer with a bank, and had travelled to the UK to visit his elder sister. He was from an average family, and was a church-goer. He was very interesting to talk with. She laughed and let herself loose as they chatted about undergraduate days and Nysc camp days.
“I’d like to do this again sometime, my choice though.” He said, as he dropped her home.
“I’ll think about it.” She smiled, but all she wanted was to say yes.
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