Read Chapter XXII here.
Fiifi woke up earlier than usual on Monday morning. He entered the bathroom to get ready. He heard the alarm go off as he was brushing his teeth. He took his bath when he was done. When he entered the bedroom, Bisi wasn’t in bed. Maybe she was in the kitchen preparing breakfast, he thought as he proceeded to dress up. He was putting on his shirt when Bisi entered.
“Good morning,” he greeted. She responded and he realized her tone had lost its hostility from the previous day. That was a good sign. He decided to further confirm it.
“Could you help me with my wrist buttons?” She approached him without a word and took hold of the wrist part of the shirt. Fiifi watched her as she worked on the buttons. Her face only showed concentration on the task at hand, no carryover emotions from the weekend. Or maybe because she had woken up not too long ago so her mind was still rebooting.
“And my tie.” She gave him a look which vanished after a second. She focused on what she was doing, avoiding direct eye contact.
“Still angry with me?”
“It’s a new week, Fii. I can’t afford to carry over negative energy into it. I’ve a job to do and a home to run.” She gave him a tight smile and finished up.
“I figure you’d be taking the lead?”
“Yeah; I have a lot of review meetings today. I need to have a head start.”
“Okay; breakfast is set.”
“Thanks but I think I’ll skip it. My mouth hasn’t warmed up for food yet. I would eat at the office. Kiss the kids for me, okay?” She nodded.
“We’re good, right?”
“Only you can answer that.” He nodded. She was fully awake now. It was the best time to leave.
“See you later, B.” He left the room.
He sighed when he drove out of the house. He had lied about the meetings; he needed to give a tangible reason for his early exit. He didn’t want a repeat of what had transpired the past weekend to occur. Bisi was right; it was a new week. They both couldn’t afford a carry-over. But he had a meeting planned…with Constance. Maybe if Constance would meet Bisi once for all and clear all the issues up. But she had to tell the ‘edited’ story. They had to work on the story.
Bisi came downstairs to find the kids having their breakfast.
“Where’s daddy?” Ewuresi asked.
“He has left already,” Bisi replied as she sat down.
“Are you two still fighting?”
“No, we are not. He said he had things to do.” Bisi scooped a spoonful of Milo into her mug and closed the container. She looked up when she heard heavy breathing. Nhyira had his hand on his chest which was heaving with each breath. She put down the flask and rushed to his side.
“Nhyira, are you okay?” He shook his head.
“Oh no, not today. Kuks, get my bag and keys.” Bisi carried the boy and the girls hurriedly took their bags and their mother’s. Thankfully, Fiifi hadn’t gone with the driver. Bisi sat at the back seat with Nhyira leaning on her and Ewuresi beside him. Kukuaa sat in the front seat.
“Should I call daddy?” Kukuaa asked as the driver took off.
“Yeah, please do.” Kukuaa took her mother’s phone from her bag and called the number.
“Don’t panic, okay? One breath at a time,” Bisi said soothingly.
“He isn’t picking, mum.”
“Great,” she muttered. Nhyira’s breathing was getting worse with every passing minute. Kukuaa retried calling the number but to no avail.
“Maybe his phone is on silent.” Bisi didn’t reply. She was praying silently that God would take care of her son.
“He’ll be fine, mum,” Ewuresi said, brushing her palm against her arm.
Since the hospital was closer than the school, the driver drove to the hospital first. Bisi got down and carried Nhyira. Ewuresi handed her bag to her. Kukuaa joined Ewuresi at the back.
“Come back here after you drop them off,” Bisi said to the driver.
“Take care, girls.”
“You too, mum. We’ll be praying for him.”
“Yeah, he needs it.” They waved her and she rushed inside.
Fiifi arrived at the office only to briefed on an emergency situation concerning one of his companies which he had to see to immediately. As he was about to leave his office to the conference room, he saw the missed calls from Bisi. He sent her a short text telling her he’d call her back. He left his phone in his office and left.
She had just ended her call to her boss informing him of her emergency situation when Fiifi’s message came through. She gaped when she read the scanty message he had sent. She called the number but he didn’t pick up. She sighed.
About two hours later, Nhyira’s breathing had stabilized and the doctor told her she could take him home. She took him to work instead. She glanced at her phone from time to time hoping that Fiifi would call back. How busy was he that he couldn’t call back?
“Daddy hasn’t called?” Nhyira asked after watching his mother for a while. Bisi shook her head.
“I’ll keep long here today. I want him to come pick you up later.”
“You’ll be on TV today?” He asked excitedly.
“Yeah,” she said, her face breaking into a smile. She knew how proud he felt about that.
“Can I join you?”
“No, dear; you can’t.”
“Because you’re not an invited guest.”
“So invite me!” Bisi chuckled. She was glad he was feeling like himself again.
Fiifi returned to his office hours later. He took his phone and he remembered he had to call Bisi. He called her number. It rang for a while.
“Hello.” Fiifi scowled.
“Why are you with mummy’s phone? Aren’t you in school?”
“No, daddy. Mummy took me to the hospital and then she brought me to where she works.”
“Hospital, why? What’s wrong?”
“I couldn’t breathe properly and my chest was hurting so mummy took me to the hospital.”
“But you are better now?”
“Thank God. Where’s mummy?”
“Someone came to call her. She said she will be back.”
“Okay. Tell her I called, okay?”
“She said she wanted you to come for me because she’ll be here for long.”
“Oh yeah. I’ll ask John to come pick you and your sisters.”
“Take care of yourself and no running around, okay?”
“Bye, dad.” The line went dead.
Wow, Nhyira suffered a crisis and he wasn’t there. He could imagine how scared Bisi was handling the situation all by herself. He suddenly felt guilty about meeting Constance. He should cancel the meet for now. He texted her citing some urgent interventions at work.
Constance was admiring herself in the mirror when the message alert arrived. She took the phone and opened the message.
“Oh seriously? After all the time I’ve spent getting ready? This guy paaa….” She fumed. She looked at herself in the mirror.
“Nah, all this work can’t go to waste,” she said and replied the text, “Oh but I’m almost there. You said this was important. Can’t you hold off your meeting for a few minutes so you can tell me what’s going on?” She bit down on her nail as she waited for his reply.
I might as well get it done and over with, Fiifi thought as he keyed in his response.
Constance raised her hands in triumph when she read Fiifi’s reply. She put the phone down and examined her dress. She made sure her cleavage was in full view.
“Here I come,” she said to the image in the mirror and blew herself a kiss.
Bisi entered her office.
“Oh yeah? What did he say?”
“He said he’ll tell John to come and pick me up when he’s going for Kuks and Esi.”
“Oh no; they have club meetings today and I need to prep up for the show. I don’t want to leave you here all by yourself.” She took her phone to call Fiifi. She rolled her eyes in irritation when he didn’t pick up.
“Why is he not picking my calls today?!”
“Can’t you take me there?” Nhyira suggested.
“To daddy’s office? That’s quite far, honey.”
“But your show is in the evening.” Bisi checked her watch and chewed on her lip as she considered it.
Driving there and back would leave her exhausted but if she left right away, she could get some time to rest before her show. She picked up her bag.
“Fine; let’s go. I haven’t been at your dad’s office for a while now. Let’s surprise him, shall we?”
Constance was ushered into Fiifi’s office when she arrived. She entered to find an angry-looking Fiifi waiting for her.
“I thought you said you were almost here. Why then did it take you almost an hour to get here?”
“You know the traffic situation in Accra, Fii,” she sat. He looked at her in unbelief.
“I don’t believe you. I think you were still at home when you sent that message.”
“Come on Fiifi Pratt, you give me much more credit than I deserve. Bottom line, I’m here.”
“I could have done something more productive with the time I was waiting for you to show up.”
Constance sighed. Fiifi was definitely a whiner.
“So stop wasting time then. I also have plans. You just don’t text to cancel an appointment at your convenience. So, why am I here?”
“There was a photo of us talking at the health walk event and my wife saw it.”
“Whoa, did wifey get jealous?” Constance asked teasingly.
“She wouldn’t accept that you were someone I worked with years back especially when the boy said he saw you the last time he came by.”
“Hmmm…a woman’s intuition is always on point, isn’t it?”
“I need you to confirm my story. That we worked years back and that’s it.” Constance leaned forward.
“And what’s in it for me?”
“My appreciation.” This made her chuckle.
“I’m sure you can do better than that.”
“You’re not going to demand money, are you?”
“Well, I drove here, didn’t I? At least a token for my time and the service you’re requiring of me.”
“You’re so vain,” Fiifi said with a shake of his head.
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Constance replied with a smile.
Bisi and Nhyira entered the premises where Fiifi worked. Bisi looked around. Wow, it had been a while since she was here.
“Mummy, I want to pee.”
“Okay, let me ask where the washroom is.”
“It’s there,” he said, pointing at the direction.
“Oh, it seems you know this place better than I do. Let’s go.”
“Mrs. Pratt?” Bisi turned. It was her volunteer spy.
“Hi. Been a while. How are you doing?”
“I’m fine. Should I let your husband know you’re here?”
“Oh no, I want to surprise him. I haven’t been here in a while.”
“Oh okay. I’m sure he’s in his office. If you need any assistance…”
“I’ll definitely find you. Thank you.” She nodded and walked on. Bisi and Nhyira went to the washroom.
Constance got up.
“Aren’t you going to escort me to my car?” she asked Fiifi.
“I’m not your boyfriend, Constance. I’ve work to do.”
“What happened to the guy who used to pamper me when I was carrying his child?”
“He’s taking care of his family.”
“Well, I’m not going out alone so the earlier you agree and walk me to my car, the better for you.”
Fiifi glared at her. To make her point clearer, she sat back down. He got up.
“Fine, let’s go.” His phone rang.
“Could you wait for me outside? I need to pick this.” She got up and left the office.
Bisi noticed the woman standing outside her husband’s office. She looked familiar. The woman at the health walk. Wasn’t that…?
“Constance?” She looked up. What ugly timing, she thought as she put on her best smile.
“Yes, that’s me. Bisi Pratt. We met at the cocktail, right?”
“Yes, we did. Are you here to see my husband?”
“I already met with him. We worked on a project some years back and I came to do a review now that I’m in town.”
“Oh I see. What project was that?” Bisi inquired. Fiifi paused at the door when he heard the voices outside his door.
“It was an independent project of some sort. That was about six years ago. Hi there,” she said and waved at Nhyira. He waved back.
“I met him the last time I was here. Your husband mentioned it was his birthday.”
“So why didn’t you mention that you knew my husband when we met the last time?”
“I hadn’t reconnected with your husband then. Your name sounded familiar but I couldn’t quite place it. But it’s good to see you again, Bisi.”
“Yeah, same here. And you met with him at the health walk, right?”
“Oh yeah, that was a total coincidence. He just mentioned that you were curious about who I was and he wished we could meet so I could clear the air.”
“Ah, I see.” The door opened and Fiifi came out.
He pretended to look surprised to see his wife and son.
“Daddy!” Fiifi carried him.
“How are you feeling?”
“I’m sorry for just showing up here. You weren’t picking my call and I have to prep up for tonight so I thought to quickly drop him off.”
“That’s okay. So Constance, this is Bisi my wife and Bisi, this is Constance, a colleague and friend.”
“I was just telling her about the review we were doing concerning our last project.”
“I hope it was a successful one,” Bisi said.
“Oh yeah, very successful,” Constance said, glancing at the boy in his father’s arms.
“Any chance of you two working together again? Another project soon?”
“Oh no,” Fiifi quickly replied.
“Why not? She just said the last one was successful.” Constance gave him a mischievous look.
“It was but that’s it. And this review meeting is the last official one we’ll have. Isn’t it right, Constance?” Fiifi said.
“Of course. But never say never, right? Anyway, I’ll leave so you two can have some privacy. It was a pleasure doing business with you, Mr. Pratt,” Constance said, offering her hand. He shook it.
“Till we meet again, Mrs. Pratt…” Bisi nodded.
“Bye, Junior.” She walked away. Bisi watched her. Her footsteps…sounded like the one she dreamt about.
“So I hope all doubts have been cleared,” Fiifi said, interrupting her thoughts. She looked at him.
“Nhyira told me what happened this morning. I’m sorry I wasn’t there,” he apologized.
“Just pick up your phone when I call, Fii. I’ll be on my way.”
“Won’t you stay a while so you brief me on what the doctor said?”
“Later. I’ve got to go back to work.” She pulled Nhyira’s cheek.
“See you, baby.” Fiifi smiled at her but she didn’t smile back. She walked away. Fiifi sighed.
The storm was over, he thought in relief.
(c) Josephine Amoako 2016
Read Chapter XXIV here.