Hey guys, this is coming days late because this episode just had to be written well. It is a gift to someone after all and, I try to go all the way where gifts are concerned.It is an emotional one, so get your tissue people! Lol.

Warning: Very emotional episode lies ahead. Don’t read if your heart can’t take it.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for your heartbreak lol, one of my faithfuls wanted “to cry” so I gave her “tears” I’d do the same for you. So if you want to kill someone, find her. 😂

This one’s for you Damilola Erogunaye (@Aunty_Damdam), may you never lose the love you have found.❤️

“Love, when it finds you, good luck trying to hide from it”

SQUADI

Ekanem

The noise of Generators coupled with her neighbors’ loud voices made it hard for her to find sleep. Cussing her fate for landing her in a neighborhood like the one she lived in, she grabbed an extra pillow and shut her ears with it.

It did not do much, but it helped drown the noise a bit.

She wanted to sleep, because staying awake meant thinking and thinking meant opening the doors to thoughts of Hakeem and that, meant igniting the fire of her own vulnerability.

She couldn’t trust herself not to lose herself in the simple things that made up his being. Like his dark brown eyes, how they reminded her of Nutella and how his smile was as boyish as his attitude and how he favored the color blue over any other color.

The blue color; a color she very much loved herself and which suited his smooth brown skin more than any other, even white. She remembered his favorite slippers too; the Slides. Slides, it was what she easily did with herself these days, she easily slid into thoughts of him and the kiss they shared. The kiss that still remained vivid in her memory, the kiss that instinctively caused her to raise her fingers to her lips.

She bit back a chuckle, she was doing those silly things one only found in love songs. Those stupid little things that preceded a feeling that drowned people just before love came and took over.

But she knew she had to take over her thoughts before the stupid feeling beat her to it.

Willing to escape into a less troubled world, a world where everything seemed alright and she wasn’t wrestling with the overwhelming urge to fall for someone she could never be with, she shut her eyes tight and held the Pillow closer to her ear.

She was asleep for hours before her vibrating phone jarred her back to life

It was her brother, Emem.

“Emem, what is it?” she asked when she heard sobs from the other end of the line. His voice was broken, something was awfully wrong. “It is mummy” she heard him say.

She sprung from the bed, the panic she felt told her something was wrong and it was something they couldn’t do anything about.

“She’s dead”

And at that moment, she wished she was still dreaming because a bad dream was better than this harsh reality.

She was leaning on the wall of the Hospital where her mother had breathed her last hours before, being consoled by the Doctor and her Aunt and being told how to be strong for her siblings but all she could think of was the zero naira sitting pretty in her account.

There was no money for the funeral, she couldn’t even afford to lay her mother to rest. So the tragedy at that moment wasn’t her mother’s death, it was the inability to give her body the proper funeral it deserved.

Slowly sliding down the wall, her hands held her head as she fought back the urge to scream.

“Ekanem” the words that followed her name soon became a distant echo, the Hospital reception itself a blur as her legs became too weak to hold her body.

“Ekanem”

She shut her eyes to the sound of her name, she had to be strong for her siblings and the strength had to be summoned from the inside because at the moment, she was physically weak.

“Ekanem”

His smell interrupted her thoughts that were currently out of order. Opening her eyes, she saw him kneeling in front of her, his hands gently pulling hers from her head.

“Hakeem” she muttered. “Hakeem, my mother is dead” was all she could utter before the tears fell like torrents of a waterfall.

Her body shook violently from the sobs but he held her tightly, his hands gently rocking her body, trying to still the storm within her.

He drew her closer, his lips kissing her tears while she clung to his shirt like her life depended on that one action.

When he put her head on his chest, her ears picking the pace of his heartbeat, she felt like she was home. It didn’t make sense that she felt that way and it did not make sense that she saw he had changed his shirt.

And he was wearing blue.

 

Hakeem

He watched her quietly. She spoke no words, her eyes more lifeless than a dead animal.

The cup of water in front of her was untouched. She had barely touched the cup, neither was she interested in the food that was sitting in a Plate in front of her on the Table.

He wanted to hold her till the pain eased; because it was never going to cease. He wanted to touch her till she found a way to deal with the loss, till it became something she could live with.

But he did not know what to do or where to start.

So he just sat opposite her and watched her quietly, busying himself with the thoughts of the only time he had spent time in the house with her beautiful mother, her siblings and that boyfriend of hers.

He had barely known her and yet, he had seen that her beauty had transcended the physical. So he knew she must have been an amazing mother to her and her siblings.

A brief greeting from outside grabbed his attention, he stood, walked to the window and saw Philip talking to the woman he had come to know as Ekanem’s Aunt and a couple of other family members and friends that he had met since the news of Ekanem’s mother broke.

He remembered he had been devising a means with AJ on how to get his father’s passwords or possible passwords when Yellow had broken the news to them.

He had been trying to call Ekanem and apologize to her on his behalf he’d said and then, she had told him she was on the way to Abule Egba where her mother’s body was lying cold in a mortuary there.

At first, all Hakeem could think of was the hours he had spent with her family the only chance he’d got and how the news was going to devastate them. The woman was an amazing soul, the type who loved her children endlessly and who he knew could lay her life for them.

He remembered how easily he had warmed up to her in the few hours they spent together, the way he had never warmed up to Aunt Martha, the way he knew he could have warmed up to his own mother had she made it.

Philip walked in now, his eyes briefly growing cold when they saw him before it settled on Ekanem who was oblivious to his presence.

“Philip” he called, it looked like he was not going to say anything to him if he didn’t, the look in his eyes seemed to say that.

“Hakeem” he replied, “How far now?” he added, drawing his hand for a handshake. They shook each other’s hands, Philip retreating to a seat near Ekanem. He threw his arms around her the moment he took a seat, holding her tight as if sending a message to him.

Hakeem wondered if he felt threatened by his presence. If he did, he’d be tempted to leave but he wouldn’t. Ekanem needed him, he knew that much and he couldn’t bear staying away from her.

One, because he felt awful for the last words he yelled at her before she left the Island hours before and two, because for some inexplicable reason, he wanted to be by her side as she mourned her loss.

His eyes caught Philip placing forced kisses on her face and he was tempted to tell him to leave her. She was not in the mood to be touched, she was in the mood to be moodless.

Moodless, it made no sense as a word but it simply was what he knew she felt; the state of being numb and feeling scarce nothing. But this Philip guy was either Stevie Wonder or he was stupid.

His phone buzzed, it was AJ. Quickly scanning the room for an exit where he could walk through to pick his call and talk privately, he swiped the screen with his thumb and picked the call.

He was in the Kitchen when he picked the call.

“How is she doing, Hakeem?”

He sighed, “Bad. She is in bad shape”

“I can imagine”

“Her family is here but she is not doing well at all, I don’t know what to do. I was too young when I lost my mom and I don’t even know what to tell her to do” he’d always thought he could never be devastated by any loss since he lost his mother as a child, however, watching someone like Ekanem in pain was devastating to him.

“Just be there for her, you like her, it would come to you naturally”

He chuckled, “I like her” he reiterated.

“I have eyes. And the way you sped out of this Place only says one thing. Plus, it is the only thing Yellow has been talking about”

Hakeem laughed, “Whatever” he spotted Ekanem’s little sister strolling into the Kitchen. She was the only one who hadn’t cried since the news of their mother’s death broke and he was worried sick for her. Not crying meant she hadn’t come to terms with the death yet and in this part of the world, nobody cared about a non-crying child; they assumed it meant strength. What they didn’t know was, it was potentially scarier than someone who cried and threw themselves to the ground after a major loss.

“I have finished work on the duplicate website, just to let you know” AJ said, “Say Hi to Ekanem for us. Yellow says he has an idea where her area is, we would be coming to see her tomorrow”

“Okay, I will” he stopped Pearl with a hand on her shoulder when she neared him. “Talk to you later, AJ” he said and ended the call. Squatting, so they could be around the same height, he held Pearl closer. “How are you doing, honey?” he asked and she smiled.

“I’m fine”

His heart broke at the wide smile on her face. He wondered how long before the truth hit her and if anyone would be there to help her through it.

“That’s good” he said and held her in a tight hug. Seconds passed before he told her, “You know you can tell Uncle Hakeem whatever you cannot tell anyone else, yeah?”

When he did not get a reaction from her, he pulled her away gently and looked in her eyes, “Pearl?”

She nodded, walked away from him, picked a bottle of water and was on her way out of the Kitchen when he realized Ekanem was standing at the door.

He wondered how long she had been standing there, watching him.

“Are you okay?”

“I’ll be eventually”

They stood there for seconds, both saying nothing but holding each other’s gazes while they allowed their eyes to do whatever communication needed to be done.

He stretched his hand to her, wordlessly asking her to come to him so he could be her strength, because he wanted to be her strength. Strength, something he didn’t possess much of but that he was willing to find for her sake.

Her hand touched his after what seemed like a thousand seconds, the warmth of her body igniting a fire he was slowly becoming familiar with.

A fire he knew her body against his could fuel, a fire he knew was going to engulf them both if they ever bared their bodies and he made love to her.

She laid her head on his chest, his hands holding her so tight, her lips broke into a smile and she said, “You’re going to break me”

He chuckled, let minutes pass before he said, “No, you are going to break me”

The silence that followed echoed the depth of his words to her.

“Thank you, Hakeem” she broke the silence.

His fingers found her face and gently lifted it, “Don’t ever say thank you to me again. I want to be there for you”

She smiled and that was all the undoing his body needed, lowering his head, his mouth drew her lips into a kiss.

It had only been a day he last tasted her, yet he felt like he’d hungered for this for weeks. They kissed each other passionately and breathlessly like starved lovers, each going at it like their lives depended on it.

When they stopped to catch their breaths some minutes later, he smiled and then, she smiled, lowering her eyes as she made for a Kettle lying on the Stove near him.

Philip emerged then, asking her what took her so long. She’d told him she wanted to go boil water for her bath, why was she taking so long?

He eyed Hakeem before his eyes fell on Ekanem with questions Hakeem suspected he was aware he’d never get answers to.

But instead of leaving, Hakeem leaned on the Kitchen wall and, he watched her quietly.

This time, Brymo’s Happy Memories playing loudly in his mind.

She was going to break him.

 

 

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