Silence engulfed the compact sitting room while the two friends stared as Eka gulped her drink.
Rita moved first, refilling her glass while Nene let out her legendary fury.
“What? Do you know this woman, where she stays?”
Rita could see she was prepared to storm over to the vague woman’s house and possibly wound her for daring to share air space with her friend’s husband.
“Calm down, Nene. Why do you think so, Eka?”
“Well, first off, it’s been seven months, two weeks and one day since we last had sex, not that I’m counting.” She gave her friends a sad smile.
“Jesus, Eka,” Nene lost her anger, “And you didn’t tell us?”
“Well, I thought it was work stress when he started just going straight to bed. Then the snapping began...”
“Did he hit you?” Nene raged, sitting straighter with narrowed eyes.
“No, nothing like that!” she chuckled dryly, “Nothing at all actually.” She added in a whisper while picking invisible lint from her dress. Then she turned guilty eyes to Rita who’d been quiet the whole time.
“Don’t be angry with me, Rita. Besides, you were helping Nene with her issue at the time. Additionally, I have some pride, girlfriend, we are the married ones and shouldn’t be depending heavily on you, the single one.”
“You’re getting it wrong, Eka. You don’t depend on me, we depend on each other and we’ve been that way for years, girl.”
“I agree.” Nene concurred.
“Tell us what happened.” Rita prodded.
“Right. Added to the lack of intimacy, the snapping, impatience and disdain, I found a text from his mother in his phone a month ago. Well, he’d been showering when he received the text, so my curiosity got the better of me. I realized it was a thread when I opened it, so I read. Apparently his mother has been informing him about her friend’s daughter who’s expected back in the country soon and she was encouraging him to hook up...” Eka choked and sniffled but took a deep breath and continued.
“His mother wants him to divorce me, but only after he’d successfully impregnated Juliet, her friend’s daughter.”
“Jesus! For a cripple, that woman sure has legs,” Nene exclaimed.
“Nene!” Rita admonished with widened eyes.
“What? She uses crutches, doesn’t she?” Nene’s eyes widened with innocence.
Rita was glad to see that Nene’s comment made Eka chuckle. Usually, she said the crazy stuff and was generally acerbic, but she must have really rubbed off her friends if Nene had picked up the baton of snide remarks. She was glad Eka was smiling, she’d been about to explode in tears again, but that comment made her laugh instead. The situation was indeed worse than she’d imagined.
“I needed that,” Eka sniffled and gulped her drink again. “Ah, anyway, the text he received while in the shower that day had been Juliet’s contact, she’d obviously arrived town.”
“Town, like she arrived the country, right?” Nene needed clarification.
“No. Town like, her contact was an address in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.” Eka replied with sarcasm.
“What was Jude’s reply to the messages?” Rita asked, her own anger beginning to show. She had no siblings, her only sister had committed suicide at almost17, her mother had finally passed from heartache, her friends remained her family and she was one to eliminate any threats to her family.
“Agreeable as always,” Eka’s smile remained sad. “Plus, I waited for him to share his mother’s ridiculousness with me, he never did. He told me these things before, so if he’s not sharing this one, he has apparently decided to go with the flow.”
Eka interrupted Rita, “Which is why I’d began applying for jobs online. Luckily, I got called for two interviews, but I’m pretty sure of one. So, I’ll be needing help with work clothes shopping.”
The screams in the apartment could make a deaf cringe. Rita had been about to ask Eka to take her advice and be her own woman, so this was a great development. Their friend, the one they’d lost in the scramble for a child, was back.
“I bet your confidence has returned.” Rita beamed at her and she nodded.
“I’ll help with the shopping. Miss Jeans and T-shirts here is of no use in that department,” Nene said, causing Eka to laugh again.
“Girls, I just want to be prepared in case his mother suggests that he cut me off in the divorce...”
“Hey, don’t say that.” Rita slapped her arm. “When I suggested you be your own woman and get a job, it was only to take your mind off the baby problem. You’ve been focused on it for years and it’s been eating you up. I know you love Jude and I know you don’t want to leave him.”
“Do you...want to leave him?” Nene asked with furrowed brows.
Eka sighed, “No, I don’t, but...”
“No buts, Eka. I swear I’ll come up with a plan of action to get your home back. Both of you shouldn’t dwell on the baby thing, but on each other.”
Nene’s phone started buzzing again. “Yep, short woman has good plans, which is why Mike is attempting to blow up my phone.” Nene showed the caller ID to her friends who chuckled. “I’d photographed the new lace thong I have on, front and back view on my office desk and sent to him just before you called for emergency meeting.”
Her friends fell over in laughter while she answered her husband’s call and promised she was walking out of Rita’s apartment as she spoke.
At the end of the call she turned to Rita, “I’ve got to go.” Her mien was apologetic
“Of course. This was a good one,” Rita got to her feet, hugging her friends. “We’ll gather soon for Eka,” she announced while helping her friends gather their belongings and followed them downstairs to their cars.
Dusk had fallen while they’d talked. They’d parked their cars outside her gate and she followed them out, leaning on the high wall fence while they made U-turns to use the street adjacent to her building.
Nene tapped her horn, flashing her headlight at Eka, they both waited and wound down their glasses.
“Well, what was your news? You never mentioned.”
“Yes, that’s true. I’m sorry I hijacked the meeting.” Eka apologised.
Rita grinned. “No, you didn’t.” She sucked in breath and declared, “I’ll send a message now.” She waved her phone, there was no need delaying them.
“Are you sure?” Eka enquired with a frown. She looked ready to come down from her car.
“I am. Let’s chat about it before bed,” she knew her friends will be busy with their families the moment they got home.
“You’re the best. Muah!” Nene blew her a kiss.
“Love you!” Eka announced as they drove off.
Rita chuckled, walking into her compound and bringing up her WhatsApp chat app and sent a message to her friends on the chat group that had just three of them. I have found the guy I want to have a baby with.