The two women stood there in silence, unable to say anything for a while. Then Stella began to weep. She had not known Edede for long. But in a space of twenty four hours, they had talked, listened, and eaten together. Edede had laughed at, scolded and comforted Stella. Their connection had been short but deep. With a sigh, the nurse turned to look at their guest.
‘She was really something, wasn’t she?’ she asked. ‘For me, the beautiful thing about her life was not the level of her achievements, but the meekness she maintained despite them.’ She paused for a while. ‘And she often said that God was keeping her alive for a purpose.’
‘I believe He was.’ Stella agreed. She wiped her tears and let out a sigh. ‘But she did not answer my final question.’
‘She helped you as far as she could,’ the nurse replied. ‘Your meeting ran its course. Now, the race is yours and you must look inward for answers.’ She turned around and hurried towards the door. ‘Excuse me. I must call her children.’
As soon as Stella stepped into Orobosa’s office, he got up and gripped the edge of his table in a characteristic display of wrath.
‘Where on earth have you been?’ he thundered.
Stella stepped back. There was no denying that she felt afraid of him. She had chosen to come to his office because she figured it would be safer to visit him here. Leaving the door open just in case a quick exit became necessary, she stood at the opposite end of his desk.
‘You nearly knocked me out the other day, remember?’ she replied. ‘My whole body, not to talk of my spirit, was damaged, so I went to seek treatment.’
‘And when are you coming home?’ he demanded.
‘Why? Do you miss your punching bag?’ She shook her head slowly. ‘My life is much more valuable than that, Orobosa. I suggest you join a gym instead.’
He gritted his teeth and glared at her. ‘I will not have you making a fool of me before everyone. If you do not return home this evening, do not bother coming back ever again.’
Stella sighed. ‘Listen Orobosa, I came here to apologize. I should never have tried to profit from those statuettes by selling them without your permission. I guess I was not such a good fit in your plans after all.’
Falling silent for a brief moment, she recalled how Rico, the antique collector, had sent her a message to say that the artifacts which she sent him were not authentic after all. He claimed that no one he knew would be willing to pay a reasonable price for them. She replied, telling him she had changed her mind about the transaction. He had slipped into a state of silence and she did not hear from him again.
‘The damage has been done. The artifacts are gone and I cannot get them back.’ Stella said, as she bit her lip. ‘You have wronged me too, you know. However, I will not bother waiting for your apology.’
Slowly, she stepped away as though to exit through the door.
‘Where in heaven’s name are you going now?’ Orobosa snarled at her, his anger resurfacing.
‘I am going home, but only to get my things. I will not wait around for you to finish me off.’ She paused and sighed again. ‘Ours is a union of two misguided souls. We ought to have stopped our liaison from the word go. The grass looked so much greener on your side, but that was only because I was so shortsighted. I have gone to seek help and I think I can see clearly now.’
Retracing her steps down the road along which she had travelled; Stella was certain she now knew the point of divergence, where her legitimate ambitions had been corrupted by a more sinister desire. Edede had warned her that beginning again was not going to be easy, but she had decided there would be no more scheming for her. Leaving Orobosa staring after her, she walked out through the open door and did not look back.