Fiction: Tomorrow Never Comes

January 13, 2016 Fiction , POETRY / FICTION

By

Abdul Abubakar

 

 

“10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1….Happy new year” the whole room screams loudly and bursts into laughter. Family, friends and loved ones turn to each other with smiles, joy and happiness. They embrace each other with tears slipping down some of their faces.

I’m standing far away from the crowd. My right hand is filled with a glass of champagne. I stare as people rejoice and celebrate. It’s intoxicating; their joy. As it drifts towards me, I feel it power.

My elder sister Juliana starts standing with her husband Jerry as soon as the music turns on. They dance to Jaywon’s “This year.” They move correlatively but their dance lacks finesse as they both try to lead. My younger sister Juliet is at one edge of the room. She’s talking to her child’s nanny for the fourth time since we got here. Juliet gave birth last year and ever since then has become a mama bear.

“We need to find you a man” a voice says behind me. I do a turning of 360°, it’s my aunt Theresa. I actually don’t know if we are related but she had been in my family for as long as I can remember. She’s seventy but still dresses like a young model going on a fashion parade. Today she’s dressed in a ball gown while her hair is pulled into a matching turban. I open my mouth to say something but another voice interrupts.

“Theresa, Juli lost her husband a year ago. Remember?” the voice says. It’s my mother. She’s in a gown too but hers is less fashionable than Aunt Theresa’s.

“Oh, you are that Juli………The barren one” Aunt Theresa says with a sad look.
“Theresa” mother says in outrage. Aunty Theresa still focuses on me.
“Yes” I whisper. We stare at each other for a while and then I say “Please excuse me” I drag my legs towards the room. Mother stretches her hand to mine. She has a worried look on her face.
“I’m fine” I say. I step closer and give her a kiss on both cheeks. I hope my voice sound reassuring.

 

 

Jeremy. That was his name. His smile held magic. He would smile and whoever was close to him smile along.

I met him in high school. We just started our first term in senior secondary school one and we the students were so happy on our first practical lesson. I was reading a passage from my chemistry practical notebook when the principal walked in. It was his voice and the silence of the class that alerted me since my gaze was glued to my book. Our principal was called Mr. Timothy. He was a forty year old unmarried bachelor. That day, he was dressed in black trousers and a white long sleeved buttoned shirt which stretched his prodding stomach.

“Good afternoon sir” we called out, our voice clear. Some louder than others.
“Good afternoon class” he answered smoothly. His voice, a baritone with British accent he had mastered, boomed. “Students, this is Jeremy Okafor. He will be joining us this term. He’s an American” our principal continued.

Whispers of wow could be heard across the room, especially from the females. Even Mrs. Akin our chemistry teacher was all smiles.
I stared at the new boy. He didn’t look an American to me. The Americans I had watched in the television Papa bought from a second hand shop in Ajanbandi looked so much different. He was tall and lean with scrawny hands. Our principal stood beside him like a red, ripe tomato. He had freckles across his nose and as he stood in front of the class while the room gazed at him, I couldn’t help but notice the nervous smile on his face or the way his left leg tapped the floor continuously like he was listening to a dance beat and moving alongside with the tone.

I walked to him. It felt like I was bewitched. “Hi, my name is Jennifer” I said stretching my hand to his.
His hands enveloped mine and he smiled, this time more real.
“Jeremy” he muttered to me.
“Jeremy, would you like to be my lab partner?” I asked.
I didn’t wait for his reply. I turned back to the class, about to go back to my appointed table when I noticed the silence. The whole class stared at me. Priscilla, a popular girl in my class stared with her mouth hanging open. To them, it seemed quiet Julisha had broken out of her shell.

A few weeks later, we were best friends, laboratory partners and the top contenders of the class. I discovered he was only one quarter American on his father’s side of the family. We were appointed head girl and head boy at our senior year much to the despair of other girls.

After high school, I didn’t see Jeremy until after five year later while I was shopping in a boutique at Ikoyi. He was so different that I couldn’t recognise him at first. He looked taller, muscular and handsome. Even the freckles across his nose had faded.
“Juli?, Julisha  Obiora” he called out.
I stared at the figure standing in front for a second before recognition set in.
“Jeremy” I asked. When he nodded his head, I rushed into him with a hug.
“How are you?…Where have you been” we both said at the same time and laughed at our silliness.
“How are you?” he asked again.
“I’m fine” I replied. “How are you?” I asked.
“I’m good” he answered with smile.
We talked for about twenty minutes and at one point I thought the sales girl looked irritated because none of us were doing any shopping.

We exchanged cell numbers and left separately. I thought it was the last time we were going to see one another for a while. I’ve met several of my mates and even after we exchanged numbers, we didn’t call or text each other. I was surprised when I opened my Facebook account and saw his friend request. My mouth had stretched into a wide smile.

We started meeting, having dinners and catching up with other friends. Priscilla, a girl in my class was married to a commissioner in Lagos and we both visited her place for her child’s naming ceremony.

Then the flirting started. It started with a comment on a photo I uploaded on Facebook. It said “You look beautiful.” The butterfly feeling started and then little touches. Before I knew it, I was in love. Love. That feeling. It took hold of me and gripped me tightly. Never letting me go.

One year after the boutique incident, Jeremy had proposed on bended knee to me on a beach in midst of family and friends. My hand had shivered as he put the ring in my finger. My mouth had quivered and my face was filled with tears of joy.

And then it happened. A few days before the new year a year ago, Jeremy travelled to Abuja for a appointment. He promised to return a day before the new year. His voice sounded soft, tired on the phone. “I love you Juli” he had said at the end of the call.

Then I got a call hours later.……

Jeremy Okafor was no more. A car accident, I was told.

 

 

“Juli …Juli” I feel the hands on me. My mind is somewhere else. I look sideways, it’s my sister Juliana.
I stare at the ring on her finger for a second, I then turn to her to say something. She’s one step ahead of me.
“You are crying” she says.
“I’m not” I say staring at the floor. We both know I’m lying. The evidence is on my face.
“What wrong? ……no more yeye dance anymore?” I say with a smile I do not feel inside to lighten up the mood. She knows what I’m trying to do, but she smiles with a raised brow.
“Someone is looking for you” she says.
“Who?” I ask, looking behind her.
“I don’t know” she replies. She’s not staring at me.

I walk towards the door entrance. Looking at the dance floor, I see it’s almost empty. I can see only two couples.
“Where is everybody?” I ask Agatha who is trailing behind me. She doesn’t answer.

I step outside. This is where everybody is. It is filled with people, but everyone is silent. They are all staring at me. I touch my face fidgety. I look forward, sitting on a floor is a boy whose back is turned to me. I remember mother saying this was an adult event. Who is this kid?

He turns forward, his face still on the floor. I walk slowly to him.
“Hey” I say. He raises his face upward. He stares at me with a smile. I shrink backwards.

That face? I know that face. He has freckles across his nose.
“Mama” he says.
What am I supposed to say. I turn to the crowd, where I spotted mother. She’s standing with aunt Theresa. She’s staring back at me.

I stare at the kid again. I know him. This is when I should feel angry, hurt hate. But all I feel is complete. I squat to my knees and raise my hand to him.

He wraps his hand around and as he stares at me; he laughs. I laugh too. It sounds hollow and strange, but it feels like it’s the only thing I can do. The tears are long gone.

He’s name is Jeremy Okafor and he’s the product of my husband’s extra-marital affair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abdul Abubakar

My name is Abdul Abubakar. I’m a student of Kogi state university. I’m a writer. Most of my stories have been posted on my Facebook account. I read mostly romance. My favourite authors in this categories are Julia Quinn. I also read other categories of fiction such as ‘Crime’ and ‘Paranormal’, my favourites being Kresley Cole and Nalini Singh.

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