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What is love, really? Flowers, chocolate, and poetry? Or is it something else? Is it being able to finish someone's jokes? Is it having absolute faith that someone is there at your back? Is it knowing someone so well that they instantly understand why you do the things you do—and share those same beliefs?
You see, I'm not perfect. I'm very far from perfect. But when your path is plagued with lies and assumptions from people you don't know, people you've never met, or met only once, you shatter within yourself. You can never really know someone or even yourself completely. That’s why it’s the most terrifying thing in the world, really – taking someone on faith, hoping they’ll take you on faith too, especially when you open few pages of yourself with utmost sincerity. It’s such a precarious balance. It’s a wonder we do it at all.
When Douglas and I went into the mall that day, a whole lot happened. We went shoe shopping; I got a pair of Aldo sneakers for my stepfather. Father's day was the following week, and I thought to get him something to remember me by. Upon coming out of the shoe shop, we ran into some acquaintances. I'd not seen them in a while, some of them I'd met before, others it was my first time. One of them was Maje's boyfriend at the time. I'd not met him before then.
We were invited to join them as they were heading to the food court to have lunch. I declined but in Douglas' persistent and mostly annoyingly overbearing nature, he prevailed on me and we joined them. I took the empty seat beside Maje's boyfriend, Lotachukwu. Conversation flowed freely around the table as the ten of us caught up on happenings going on in our lives. Then Lotachukwu turned to me, smiled and said, "Moyo, I've heard so much about you."
I felt anxiety crawl up my spine as I turned to face him. "So much about me? Really?"
"Yes. I feel like I know everything about you already."
"I doubt that."
Lotachukwu chuckled. "I hear you have a boyfriend. How about that?" The left side of his lips had a ghost smile on it.
"You could very well be reaching," I said woodenly, watching Douglas turn to drop his stare on my inquisitor.
"I know that he's rich too." The smile widened now.
"Right." I gulped down the soda in front of me. I thought that was the end of it.
"Tell me, who's your best friend?"
I sighed inwardly. Apparently not.
"That would be me," Douglas piped up. His voice was clipped but he hid it well behind a smile.
"Birds of a feather –” Lotachukwu began.
"They certainly flock together,” Douglas finished for him. “But if I may, why all these questions though? Is there a reason for the inquisition?"
At this point, everyone at the table was focused on us.
"Well, yes." Lotachukwu faced me. "You see, I didn't think you'd agree to what your friend, Douglas here, said."
"What do you mean?" I was genuinely confused.
"I didn't think you'd agree that he's your best friend. I was thinking you'd say Shanu is your best friend."
This is not good.
I shared a look with Douglas. He knew where the conversation was going.
Shanu was the friend whose boyfriend I made out with, the friend with the boyfriend whose wrist was slashed accidentally with a knife. The friend whose trust I'd betrayed. Yes, that one.
I decided to come clean – somewhat.
"I'm not sure calling me his best friend is right."
"Why's that?" Lotachukwu asked.
"Well," I put my hands on the table, entwined my fingers and sighed. "You see, I messed up. I did something that hurt Shanu many months back. I doubt he'd still see as a friend."
"Oh? That's interesting."
I didn't say anything. I didn't know what to say. Then my phone rang. It was Jovi.
"Excuse me." I got up to take the call. "Hey, J."
"Hey baby, where are you?" Jovi asked. I knew something was up immediately. He'd never questioned my movement. And his voice was also laced with desperation. As if the afternoon couldn't get any weirder.
"Why? What's going on?"
"Just answer me."
"I'm at the mall. With Douglas. I told you –”
"Good. Stay there. I'm coming to get you!"
"Jovi, what is it? What happened?"
"Just stay put –”
"No. Not until you tell me what's going on!"
"I'll explain everything when I get there. I promise."
"Get where? From Ajah to Festac Mall? Jovi, you're scaring me o."
He took a long breath, evidently trying to stay calm. "I'm sorry, okay? Just stay calm for me. You and Douglas should find a crowded place and sit tight. I'll be there soon.”
"I promise, I'll explain everything to you.”
"And don't talk to anyone, friend or foe."
I turned to the table where I'd just gotten up from, only to find Lotachukwu staring at me intently. He raised his glass in my direction and I felt a shiver go up and down my spine.
"Okay,” I said into the phone.
"Good. I love you." And with that, he was gone.
I went back to the table and gathered up my things. "I'm sorry, guys, but we have to leave." I waved my phone by way of explanation.
Douglas could read me well. He got up immediately.
"Was that Jovi?” Lotachukwu asked.
To say I was shocked is an understatement. "Yes, it was. But I don't see how that's any of your business.” There was an edge to my voice.
He chuckled into his drink as he took another sip. "Remember that phrase I mentioned about birds of a feather?" When I didn't answer, he looked at me dead in the eye and said, "Be very careful with this one." He crooked a finger at Douglas. "He's had sex with your boyfriend."
My eyes flew to Douglas. Douglas stared right back.
And Lotachukwu started laughing.
Written by Vhar