In the visor mirror, Zainab saw features that had been long without the blemish of a touch. Custom fitted, the mirror was much larger than what regular cars came with. Her cheeks gave a natural shine, lips a dull pink. Today no lashes rode her lids, no concealer graced her cheeks. Namdi had said more than once she did not need it. She would always laugh at that. Ignorant man, she thought. In her hands she held a business card. With a sigh, she checked the address again, fingers drumming an even floating sound on the wheel of the car. More than ten minutes had gone by since she parked, her target a couple buildings away. Twice she'd driven past the nondescript building unsure if it was the place. It seemed they truly valued anonymity.
Faster, her fingers drummed against the steering wheel, her eyes scanning the business card again. It had been on the dinning table, right beside a near empty decanter of wine and a single glass. Even though she had just woken up, it did not take much to put the clues together.
"He really wants children."
Out loud to none but herself she said these words, convinced this was a singular need from her husband. The clues pointing solely to this one conclusion. That he would play it off as nothing for so long caused her hand to rub an itch at the corner of her eye. Her stay in the vehicle could not last forever. Her fingers stopped drumming, the last note fading away, her mind steeled and made.
A thumb ran across her lips, noting the way they bounced back from the gentle pressure. A bag, large sun hat and dark sunglasses soon found their way into her hands. The wide brim of the hat covered much of her as it rested on her hair. It's darkness was in stark contrast to the white knee length dress she wore. Determined brown eyes went into hiding from the world behind large Cartier sunglasses. With one last check, she stepped out of the car.
Firmly she walked her chosen path, much of her facial features hidden. Her gait remained steady as the blackened doors of her destination loomed before her. Looking up her lips curled, body reaching a state of tension she did not like. Her stay in front of the door could not go on in perpetuity. At some point, she intrinsically understood, there would be a need to move forward into the jaws of the unknown. Her hand reached for the door.
Stepping through the blackened doors, what hit her first was the smell. Having subconsciously pictured a gray world, she was thrown off by the colourful sights, cool and pleasant fragrance.
"Welcome to Ala Alusi, how may I be of service?"
Zainab turned to the sing-song voice of a short robust woman seated at a transparent waist high table, a flyer in an outstretched hand. On her face was a welcoming smile that melted away the unease Zainab felt when her expectations were flipped upside down. She studied the woman who was more round than straight and full of a million Naira smiles. A bubbling brook in human form. Her glasses and hat still remained on. It did not phase the woman behind the table, such sights not being an uncommon occurrence walking through those darkened doors. She waited patiently as Zainab stood near the door and came to terms with what surrounded her.
"I'm here to see Doctor... em... hold on one second."
"No rush, take your time."
Through her bag she rooted, head down, fingers pushing aside lipstick shades, compact, and a host of odds and ends. Between her thumb and forefinger she held a card, the harvest of her fishing expedition. Bringing it out, it slipped from her fingers, floating into the air behind her on a gust of artificial wind. She turned to catch it, her path sending her into a small scale collision with another woman heading to the door. The slight bump was nothing more than a cushioned impact of chests, both parties not hurt in the slightest. An apology was already at the tip of Zainabs tongue as she she looked up to face the woman she had slightly wronged. Zainab's apology did not see the light of day when she saw the woman's appearance. Within eyes hidden behind Cartier sunglasses a hint of recognition found life.
Continued on next page...
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