Lost Valentine II
"Efe", I called, grinning as she endearingly grabbed my arm.
Memories of both of us together swam through my thoughts. They always did from time to time but, unlike flashing like they usually had, they were crooning now, and were lying to rest there. She and I at the fountain near our University where we seemed to almost always be, at the many gallery openings and park fairs, our late nights out and midnight parties, and our last time together at De Magere Brug; the time I had told her that I liked her but she never heard.
We had been friends, very close friends and she had always treated me like a sort of best friend although, I saw her as more. We had met in our final years in college, in the second year since I had moved here which was her own first year. I was the only Nigerian she knew apart from her family, and we lived in the same apartment. But, we separated after seven months of knowing each other when she had to move elsewhere. I knew that she was caught under many complicated situations at that time so, it happened that I never heard from her nor saw her again. Until now, there she was, at the same table with me, under the warm glow of the diner's lights.
"This is one huge coffee treat." She said with a chuckle. I gave a small laugh at that. She didn't seem to have changed at all. She still looked and acted exactly the same as I saw her a year and a half ago. Not that I had expected her to have undergone a sudden transformation (although I half feared so) but I was swarming with emotions at having her there, as it felt the same again... Like it was back ago. I looked with humour at the result of my excuse to have coffee with her. A dinner. I remember how much I always looked forward to those and my heart still flipped sitting here, doing that.
"You know that I'm an addict of cunning excuses." I smiled. And again, she laughed. She was wearing my cashmere scarf now (I bought it faster and had wrapped it around her neck) and she'd pulled off her huge shades and laid them on the table. Her face looked happier that way.
Our dinner was getting served and I had a lot of questions I wanted to ask her. Why was she back here? When did she return? What had happened all along? How had she been? I wanted to be caught up on everything I hadn't known about her for the past one and a half years. I wanted to hear all about it. I could tell her mine too. I intended to ask once we began eating.
"How have you been?" I asked, a little huskily. I feared to hear the worst. But she bobbed her head up and down.
"Good. I've been coping." She said simply. I didn't believe fully though. She usually underrated situations.
Her eyes softened. "And how have you been too?" She asked.
"Awful. Very awful, since you left." I wanted to say, but I knew that she didn't need to hear that. It would hurt her and she might feel guilty. But it wasn't her fault that she left and had to cut connections with everybody, including me. So I just said; "Fine. I've been trying."
She looked sadly at me and went; "I hoped so. I really hoped you'ld be."
Calmly, I asked her a few other things, careful not to touch any sensitive one. We didn't have to talk about those today. Today, I just wanted to be happy that she was here. It had been a miracle, an unexpected surprise. With a small voice, she told me why she had returned and a few details of what happened in between.
She had been engaged when I met her, to a white guy named Davies. I knew that she had met him when she was in London. I never met Davies but I knew that he wasn't a very great person. She didn't like him but her father had wanted her to marry him. I remembered that he didn't visit even once while she was here. I had learnt a lot about what she'd seen as her 'messed up' life and I had tried my best to make her live another different from the one she'd had before and it had been awesome. Through that period, I grew attached to her although I couldn't tell her then. She was engaged after all. But then, things went sour when her father had come to 'force' her out. He hadn't been in support of her coming to take her last course here, he didn't even know about it in fact. Her dull witted and possessive fiance who hadn't liked their long distance relationship had somehow let her father in on it and everything else had happened. Now, she was back and from the small bits of the story she gave me, Davies was getting himself in trouble and she had left him to run back here; the only place that she knew trustable people.
She wasn't happy recounting most of what she told me, but I knew that she definitely felt relieved telling it to a friend. The atmosphere afterwards was bright. Over the rest of the dinner, we talked and cracked jokes. However, we didn't touch the serious parts. I was especially careful not to, although I was burning to satisfy my curiosity about many other things from her half told story. Instead, I made fun and told her about crazy things that had happened with me and with people we both knew.
It was wonderful how that day had transformed. I cancelled all the plans I had previously to spend my time. They weren't actually important (most of the activities had been 'single' things) now that she was here. I recalled that it was Valentine and I told her.
"Fancy us meeting today of all days." She said with a huge smile.
"Maybe it's a sign." I answered. It was more than a sign to me. For I, who knew what luck that day had brought to me, it was a blessing that I had to use.
"A sign for what?" She asked.
"That you're my Val today." I told her. "And you wouldn't believe how long I've been waiting for this." I wanted to add. But I didn't. Instead, I grabbed her wrist and said it was time to leave. It was already past four pm and I had tons of things I had dreamt to do.
Cover Photo: designed on canva.
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I also faced it. I was going to purpose a girl but she told me she don't think so. Consider me brother lol.