In a single moment, two women felt an inexplicable connection to each other. It was not voiced, neither was it physical. Nothing but the power of a woman's intuition. The moment was not long, most moments aren't. What transpired between the two could not be constrained by the laws that govern us mortals, neither could it be explained by the normality we experience each day. Of all that occurred in that moment, one clear emotion pushed all others aside and rode to the surface of both women; hate.
Zainab's eyes bore into the woman beside her, the smile still on her face in complete odds with the chemicals stimulating the right side of her brain. Much like her, the woman wore large shades and a hat covering much of her features. It could not hide her full lips and caramel skin, a direct contrast to Zainab's thin lips and ebony complexion. Pretty, Zainab thought, giving credit where it was due. Still, she was not intimidated, confident she would be crowned Queen if they both participated in Miss Nigeria. All this occurred in less than a few seconds, the card still floating in the air. The woman barely broke her stride as she made her way to the door with little interest in an apology.
Noting the woman had no intent on spending a second more, Zainab reached out to grab her, hoping to make sense of the feelings she felt towards this woman. Her fingers grasped nothing but air, the woman disappearing through the blackened doors. Thoughts of chasing after her were considered and summarily discarded. Taking the time to collect herself, Zainab turned to the robust woman behind the transparent desk, a welcoming smile still on her face.
"Who was that woman?"
Zainab wasted no time pumping her for information, ignoring the pamphlet that remained in the smiling woman's outstretched hand.
"I'm sorry ma’m, but we cannot divulge our clients information."
Zainab smirked, reaching for the pamphlet in the woman's hand. With a practiced hand, ten notes of thousand Naira bills disappeared into the pamphlet and returned into the hands of the smiling woman. Her smile did not change.
"Here at Ala Alusi, we value our clients to the utmost, our goal to provide them with the services and care they expect."
"How laudable of you."
"Thank you ma’m, it is what our business is built on, Trust."
Forty more notes of the same value soon joined the initial ten in the pamphlet. The eyes of the robust woman lit up at the now bulky package, but her hands still did not reach out to accept it. Seeing the glint in the woman's eyes, Zainab reached into her purse for a pen, scribbling a few words onto the pamphlet before handing it back to the lady behind the desk. When she read the note, there was a sharp intake of breath as she began to punch away at a computer beside her. Ten minutes later, the robust woman's phone beeped, a text message from her bank. She could barely contain her excitement as she handed a folder to Zainab after reading the message. The envelope disappeared into her purse, her interest in the robust woman waning. Her initial intent coming here forgotten, she made her way to the blackened door, the card forgotten on the floor.
Within the safe cocoon of her white Mercedes, Zainab held the brown folder in her hand. Silently the air conditioning regulated her world, or at least the temperature of it. A little part of her dreaded what she may find. Ignorance is bliss, Zainab thought, her mind wondering if it was worth it to allow her suspicions gain ground. Dropping the folder on the passenger seat, her palms reached up and slapped her cheeks. Heat and pain quickly spread, clearing her mind of its complicated mess. In that moment of serene thought she made a decision.
Grabbing the folder she opened it. In front of her was the picture of a woman she had, without a doubt, seen before today. To the side, among other information, a name held her. A name Zainab would come to hate with a passion so thick, her fists would clench till she drew blood. Her finger traced each letter, her lips moving as she committed it to memory. Over and over she mouthed the name, her mind not registering when she began saying it aloud. At first softly, but with each recital, her voice rose in volume, dripping with the penchant for murder. It resounded out, filling the confines of the car, her sanity stretched to breaking. Colliding, echoing, till it rung from her throat in a death knell that contained all of her.
Continued on next page...
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