The note was written on a yellow Stick-It but held in place by the car wiper. Dorothy would have missed it if she was walking to her car as absent mindedly as she usually does; her mind pre-occupied with things she would promptly forget once she hits the road and joins the endless traffic out of Victoria Island towards Third Mainland Bridge. Things she would forget because her mind would usually roam until it finally settles on nothing to avoid thinking of everything.
Today is different. It is as if she has been struck with punctilio. She catches sight of the note and pulls it out and unfolds it. It had been folded in half with the glue edge facing the bottom of the note but it was not sticking together. It looks like the paper has not been recently detached from the whole, as if it is a page long left drifting and gathering dust rendering the gum inactive. The writing is in capital letters. Dorothy slides into the driver’s seat and reads the words, “I HAVE YOUR NUDES AND I AM GOING TO LICK THEM”.
Dorothy reads the words again broken into two lines at “NUDES” and then she bursts out into a near hysterical laughter. She laughs until the tears run down the side of her face and settle into the edge of her lips and she tastes the saltiness. She wonders if this is a case of pun or malapropism and the fact that she cannot tell which only makes her laugh some more. She extracts a piece of serviette from the box and dabs the tear off her face careful not to ruin her makeup. She turns the note over. There is no indication of who could have sent it. She squeezes up the note and stuffs it into the pigeon hole trying to deign it no further thought as she fits the key into the ignition and the engine turns over. She winds up windows and switches on the AC. Thoughts of what her life was not too long ago flashes through her mind.
Dorothy steps on the accelerator. The roads are somewhat free today. Maybe because it is a Thursday, slow day for the traders who spend about a third of the day cleaning up their environment. Dorothy momentarily thinks of the economic waste of spending three hours every Thursday cleaning. That’s 12 hours a month. She wonders if anyone has analysed how much Lagos generates per hour and what hours of the day traders are most productive. She approaches a red light and is again reminded of her life. Each time something new happens and she thinks she is going to be propelled to the next level, something else comes along and puts a stop to her movement. She recounts some of her almosts: almost graduated with a first class; almost got her first job as an aeronautical engineer; and just last week, almost making Managing Partner. She is that person who gets knocked out at the last minute, the could-have-been. Oh, there is also almost engaged…thrice.
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The traffic slows to a crawl and Dorothy changes the channel as they begin to play what she terms Nigerian savage music, a mixture of danceable beats and sordid language. How this music appeals to anyone, Dorothy cannot fathom but she sees people bob their heads to this and at parties, waists gyrating to the beats. She finds a news channel and feels the sadness settle into the pit of her stomach as she hears news of yet another bomb blast killing scores. She offers a silent prayer for the bereaved. Life expectancy in Nigeria is already 41 and she wonders how much lower it will get if Boko Haram is allowed to continue their rampage in the North. The light turns green and she shifts the gear stick to drive, propelling the car forward.
The driver of the gray SUV had been travelling at 80km/hour. The only thought on his mind is how to get to the hospital on time. He had received a call from a bystander who had seen his mother slump in the mall. The stranger had been kind enough to take her to a hospital. He had ended the meeting abruptly. His mother has been his all, his pillar, his support. And if she dies now it will a terrible blow to his so far wonderful year. He has accomplished all he wanted this year well ahead of schedule.
The traffic light is about 300 meters ahead. He sees it is on green, perhaps if he accelerates he will make the cross before it turns red. Somewhere at the recesses of his mind the warning about how deceptive the green light is comes on. He can almost hear his driving instructor say, “Green light bad, red light good” following the pattern in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. He hesitates for a millisecond, his reflex forcing a tap on the brakes, but the urgency of the call gets the better of him as he shifts his foot almost immediately. 30 metres out and the light goes red. He is travelling at 93km/hour.
The crash of metal into metal sends Dorothy’s car into a spin. The car does a complete 360 and finally crashes into the concrete road barrier. Dorothy hears Bach’s Cello Suites playing in the distance, the tempo dragging at 30BPM while her physical world speeds at the tempo of allegro vivacissimo.
The automatic break system of the SUV had kicked in, greatly reducing the impact of the collision. It takes ten seconds for the driver to recover from the impact of the airbag. Ten seconds for other road users to begin hooting.
The driver gets out of the car in a flash, not caring about his momentary disorientation. He hopes against all odds that the occupant of the car he just hit is fine. His hope rises a notch as he sees he had smashed into the passenger side and there is no passenger in the car. Other road users are hurrying over to help but he beat them all to it.
Dorothy’s head is lying over her hands which are still gripping the two sides of the steering wheel. The driver cannot see her face clearly but he can see her airbags had not deployed. Thankfully she is wearing her seat belt. The door is stuck, slightly knocked in and the driver is assisted in forcing it open. The driver leans over and checks her pulse.
It has been two years since the accident. Dorothy’s life had taken a turn for the better since then as if the accident shocked the demons out of her life. Dorothy smiles as she puts on her sun glasses. She had stepped out of the car without a scratch. The driver had insisted on repairing the car and they had become friends. Their wedding was coming up in two weeks. She is to become Dorothy Isa-Dada. She had chosen, to the chagrin of her friends, to adopt both her husband’s first and last name.
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Dorothy’s mind momentarily returns to the rumpled note in the pigeon hole. Hadn’t one of her girl friends told her to expect the unexpected? But she cannot remember sending anyone any nudes. But there was a time she had been wild and free. Did anyone hate her enough to do this?
Dorothy engages the car and then a tap on the window. Isa. He is already going round and getting into the car. Dorothy is so glad to see him she forgets the note sticking out of the pigeon hole. He gets into the car and smiles at her.
“I thought to pay you a surprise visit.”
“And I am surprised,” Dorothy responds leaning over for a quick kiss.
Then Isa spots the note and pulls it out. Dorothy’s heart stops beating for a second. She swallows trying to calm her nerves and think of an appropriate defence. What if he doesn’t believe her? Isa opens the note and straightens it out on his thigh.
“This is no way to treat your husband to be’s forget it not note.”
“You dropped this?” Dorothy asks incredulously.
“Of course,” Isa responds as he produces Dorothy’s Strawberry flavoured nude lipstick. “Who else would steal your nudes and then lick them?”
Abigail Anaba is a writer, teacher and thinker. She has been in the writing business for about fifteen years where she worked mostly in the movie and TV industry with writing credits to “Eve”, “I Just Came Back”, among others.
She recently published her debut novel, SectorIV.