Akunna sat on the lounge chair in front of the pool with her legs outstretched in front of her sipping margarita; she had learnt how to drink it by watching Akunna. She loved the breeze that kissed her skin, the bum shot she wore allowed in so much air and she let herself go without so much as a care. She had followed the crew back to Lagos to complete production and even though she didn’t have so much money to live like the ladies who were around the pool with her, at least she could enjoy a little and spend less. She didn’t order meat or small chops like some of the other ladies, the money Kim had paid her was a lifesaver. She had removed a portion, to be saved while the rest was paid into a fund for Chizaram’s education. Her plan was to gather enough to send her daughter back to school even if it meant letting her loose one school year. She turned to where Chizaram was playing with some other young children, saw her pick something from the floor into her mouth.
Her feet found the floor in a second and the drink in her hand found its way to the stool beside her, while her body moved itself until it got to her daughter.
“What are you putting in your mouth? Chi, do you want to be sick? Please, eh… I don’t have money to give to hospital” she collected the chocolate from Chizaram’s mouth and flung it into the bin that was at her right before looking up and realizing that one of the other mothers was staring at her in amazement.
She smiled in embarrassment before wiping her daughter’s lips. Ezinne headed back to her lounge chair, waving away the embarrassment, the woman looked like one of those ladies who have rich husbands taking care of the bills while she had to work hard to cater for herself and her child, so they definitely weren’t on the same level. That perfectly made up face, neat hair, perfectly manicured nails said a lot about the woman unlike her hair that was flying with the air and messing up her make-up. She yanked at some strands that had attached itself to her lip-gloss and pulled it off.
“What happened?” asked the sleepy Akunna whose eyes only flew open when Ezinne sat on her chair next to her.
“Nothing, I went to check on Chizaram”
“Why do you need to? Can’t you see her from here?” Akunna asked again, a quizzed look on her face.
Ezinne smiled, she wasn’t about to explain her relationship with her daughter with her friend. It was only a mother that understood that feeling.
“You know I had a child” Akunna suddenly volunteered, as though she had read Ezinne’s thoughts.
“Had? What happened”
“He died” she dropped the words like they were some heavy bag and turned to face the water, as if suddenly hot, Akunna stood up from her chair and threw herself into the water. Her perfect bikini body swam deeper before bobbing itself up till her head came above the water.
“You should try this sometime Ezinne! It clears the head” Akunna called, wiping off the streams of water dripping down her face.
“Sure, you know I will and I will beat you like I always do” She smiled, she knew Akunna had jumped into the water to avoid giving the full explanation, the other lady had a knack to always run away from things she couldn’t fix, like when she left the science class at Umunya Girls because she couldn’t get Physics. Or when she abandoned the girl’s football team because they weren’t winning, and when she walked away from confirmation class because she couldn’t cram the prayers, couldn’t recite the Eucharist prayer.
Ezinne watched Akunna make a graceful exit from the pool, amidst other onlookers. The men watched her hungrily and it was as though Akunna walked gracefully on purpose, the way she took her time to get out of the pool, giving her hair a little pat to relieve it of the weight of the water before squeezing the water out of the little scarf around her tiny waist.
“Wow! That feels good” Akunna said when she got to her chair. I am famished, don’t you want to have something to eat?”
“How do manage all the food and still remain fit?”
“I exercise to burn the calories, how else do you think I can maintain those stares” she winked at Ezinne and smiled.
Ezinne laughed when she got the meaning behind the words. “You don’t want to grow old this woman”
“Babe, you can be a woman o, I am a bae”
Ezinne saw her smile and wink at one cute guy in the pool with his girlfriend, the guy was practically drooling over her while his girlfriend chatted with him oblivious of what was going on. Ezinne pitied the girl for little did she know that her boyfriend’s arousal had nothing to do with her clinging to him.
“Akunna! Don’t get us into trouble, that girl would soon notice your flirting with her man and come fighting. You don’t need the negative publicity”
“Trust me, the media only needs the bad news to make me famous. If I go to them with good things about me, no one will write about me but when I become the bad girl everyone will know my name and when they continue seeing my great acting skills…gbam! I am the talk of the town and that means more contracts”
“I hear you. Just ensure it doesn’t play the negative”
“come on, what harm can a little flirtatious look do?”
“A lot darling” a whole lot. It was how she had gotten Chukwuma, unfortunately she hadn’t been able to keep him with it. When anger and depression set in there was no longer room for flirting.