Patiently, Zainab waited for Namdi's response; one hand on the wheel and her eyes glued to the road. Houses came and went, the road pleasantly free of the usual noon day traffic. Namdi wet his lips, his left hand reaching for Zainab. He took her free hand in his. So small, so delicate he thought, her hand like a child in his.
"I'll say the same thing I have always said. It doesn't matter to me."
"But Namdi, they still think you are the problem..."
"Doesn't matter, it's not like I'm so weak that I can't handle the pressure."
A sigh escaped Zainab's lips. She could not look at Namdi, a rare expression of guilt appearing on her face.
"Maybe we should just tell them the truth?"
"What would that accomplish, Zainab?"
"I... I... I don't know. If only that bitch of a mother would just die of..."
Zainab stopped herself, at the same time Namdi's hand left hers.
"I'm sorry, I forgot for a moment. I didn't mean to say that Namdi."
"It's fine, don't worry about it."
Looking at him, Zainab could see it wasn't fine. He once again looked out the window, watching the scenery go by. Like that they drove in silence, the clock on the dashboard marking the minutes go by. Wanting to break the deadlock, Zainab's right hand reached out, landing on Namdi's thigh. Getting no reaction from him, she began to work her way up, her eyes leaving the road to ensure she was on the right path.
"Hey hey, focus on the road!"
A broken down trailer blocked their way, two men frantically waving tree branches, desperate for the car barreling towards them to change lane. With no time to spare, Zainab quickly swung the wheel, safely speeding past but sending the two men diving for cover.
Both hearts jack hammered an inconsistent tempo, struggling to break free of their enclosure. They looked at each other and began to laugh, the grim reapers sickle safely left behind. The tension in the car eased. Fiddling with the knobs, Namdi got the radio working, switching stations till he reached one playing soft tunes.
"You really do like copying me."
"What do you mean?"
"Because I crashed my car you too want to join the crashers club."
"Oh! So now you are proud about being involved in an accident."
Balling her hand into a fist, Zainab lightly punched Namdi in the ribs. Namdi howled in pain, his face a carbon copy of a wounded puppy.
"Stop exaggerating, we both know it doesn't hurt that much."
"Woman, you are too cruel. Is this how you treat your husband?"
"Yes, and it will be how I treat my next husband."
"Next husband? Which next husband?"
"If I can change clothes, why can't I change husband."
"Zainab, I'm not going anywhere."
Each word was laced with emotion, his hand holding onto hers once again. The second soon joining to create a protective cocoon.
"Even when I'm old and gray and no longer as sexy as I am now."
"You'll always be sexy, Zainab."
"Please don't come with these cheesy lines again. Beauty fades with time."
"Okay, okay. By the way, did you find the ring?"
"No. Checked at the forgotten items and the front desk. Probably someone took it at the crash site."
"Maybe we can go there and check if..."
"Forget it Namdi, it's just gold in a circle with an inscription. We can get a new one."
Zainab did not notice the relief that flooded Namdi's face.
"Did you have the doctor check the burn on your fingers?"
The car slowed down, Zainab’s foot easing off the accelerator with a slight tremble. Namdi saw nothing amiss, the turning to their home approaching.
"Can't be disturbing the doctors over a little stove burn. I was too busy worrying about you!"
"What would I do without you, Zainab?"
Turning into their drive way, Zainab parked the car before swiveling to Namdi. With both hands, she cupped his chin, enjoying the strong jawline and the feel of his rough prickly day-old beard against her palms. Around them, soft music joined the scent of violet, enveloping them in. Leaning over the divide, she kissed him. Short and sweet, pulling away before he could get more than a taste.
"You'll never get the chance to find out Namdi."
With that she opened the car door and began to walk towards the entrance to their home, bag in hand. Reaching the simple door made of cheap metal she frowned. Zainab said nothing, merely rooting in her bag for the keys. With a twist, she dealt with the lock, expending some effort for the door to swing open. Before she could take a step into the dimly lit hall, two strong arms wrapped around her waist, embracing her from behind.
Continued on next page...
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