Love In Trouble
Arda, Karina and Jacob strolled towards an event center on the day of the birthmark show.
It was in the late evening and the event center was a bungalow of a building with a spacious parking space that currently contained very few vehicles.
A stone fence went around the building and the entrance gate was locked with a huge padlock.
The signpost just outside the event center displayed a marquee that proudly announced, Marvelous Event Center.
Arda and her friends joined the crowd to stand outside the gate.
It was not a large crowd and a flamboyantly dressed woman in her forties holding a megaphone, came to stand beside a man around her age just inside the gate.
The man had no hair on his head and it was shiny. It seemed to be the only bright thing about him. He was dressed in a black suit and wore black shoes, his face grim.
“We regret to tell you that we have cancelled the event.” The woman announced, shocking them all.
“But why?” demanded a few people from the crowd.
“We figured out too late that lots of people might come to this competition and try to deceive us with tattoos and we cannot handle that stress.”
There were groans from the people and a few people among the crowd started leaving, some swearing and cursing as they left, others, silent.
“Should we go as well?” Karina asked Arda who shook her head.
“Somehow, I knew what her answer will be.” Jacob commented.
“We’re already here. I need to hear all they have to say.” Arda told them.
“Okay.” Karina agreed.
“Whatever you say.” Jacob said halfheartedly but Arda ignored him. Surprisingly, so did Karina.
“Anyway,” the woman went on, “we have a website setup for this purpose. Just get there, fill the form and upload your mark. This is now an online competition. Also, fill in your bank account and our team will inspect your mark. The winners will be announced on the site and paid what is due them.”
The woman looked expectantly at the man beside her and he cleared his throat before opening his mouth to address them.
“The website is www.birthmark.com and I repeat, www.birthmark.com, everybody got that?”
Nobody responded and he cleared his throat again but remained silent.
“That’s it. Just shut up. We heard you.” A gothic looking girl shouted from the crowd, which had some of the people laughing.
“Well, that is good to know.” The man responded coolly, unfazed by the insult. “Submissions will go on for seven days, starting by tomorrow. We look forward to receiving your submissions.” He turned to the woman. “What do you say to them?”
“May the best marks win a price.” She said with a smile and the crowd cheered.
Arda stood between Karina and Jacob, taking their hands in hers. The woman and her counterpart turned away from the crowd and started making their way towards the building. As they left, the crowd started to disperse.
“Mum and dad,” Arda addressed her friends lightly. “I guess you both don’t have to worry about me exposing my mark. The competition is now online.”
Jacob and Karina exchanged knowing glances.
“What do you think?” he asked her telepathically and Karina shrugged.
“Less risk.” She responded humanly.
Arda had been observing their exchange. “Why do I feel like you guys are not really on my side?” she said teasingly and they both smiled at her.
“Don’t be silly.” Jacob responded. “Let’s go.”
They joined the dispersing crowd and Arda sucked in a sharp breath as she caught sight of Tracy.
Dressed in jean trousers and jacket, she stuck her hands inside the pockets of her jacket as she walked towards a scooter by the curb on the street.
Arda remembered that Tracy’s mark was real and not a tattoo. That would explain her presence there. Perhaps, she was also competing.
Arda pushed herself away from her friends and hastened towards Tracy. “Hey Tracy.” She called but Tracy was mounting her bike, seemingly oblivious of anyone’s presence. “Tracy.” Arda called again, curving both her hands around her mouth in order to amplify her voice.
Tracy turned her head and caught sight of her as she made her way forward.
“Hello, Arda.” Tracy said. “It’s starting to feel like we are stalking each other.”
Arda forced a smile. “You could say that. Did you come for the show?”
“Yeah. I came to watch. You?”
“I see. Okay.”
“Too bad it won’t be live but online.” Said Arda.
“Too bad, yeah.” Tracy agreed. She watched Karina and Jacob come to stand beside Arda. The two waved at her and she waved back.
“I almost thought you’re one of the participants.” Arda told her.
“Well, I guess you could say that I’m one of those people out to deceive the judges.”
She started laughing at her own joke but it was so short-lived that no one could join her. “I guess I’ll see you around.”
“Yeah. How did it go with prof?”
“He was okay.” Tracy replied, adjusting the glasses on her face even though it did not seem to be off balance.
“Alright, see you around.” Arda said.
“Bye.” Tracy responded, kicked off her bike and hit the road.
Arda turned her attention to her friends standing beside her.
“Is she going to compete?” Karina asked. “What kind of mark does she have?”
Arda wasn’t sure that she wanted to reveal Tracy’s mark to them. Tracy was doing a good job of hiding her mark. It would be unfair for her to just talk about it.
“Arda?” Jacob said curiously, letting her know he was expecting her response as well.
“Um…” she began, about to tell them of the mark she had earlier seen on Tracy but she changed her mind. “I really don’t know.” She finally responded.
Then and there, Arda decided not to buy Tracy’s seeming lack of real interest in the show. She hadn’t been there just to watch the show. Tracy probably wanted to showcase her mark too.
That night, Arda lay in bed in her night dress, her eyes glued to the page of a history book. Her phone rang with a call from Luke and she picked it up.
“Hello, Luke.” She said.
She smiled and placed the book down on the bed. “Are you back?”
He had travelled to attend his big sister’s wedding after their date and they had not been able to see the doctor about his headache as planned.
“I’m sorry we’ve not been able to see since our first date.”
“It’s okay. Your sister’s wedding is important.”
“So what’s up?”
“I’m actually outside your house.”
Arda was confused. He had not told her he was coming to her place. Her eyes darted to the wall clock, which read 8:45pm.
“Wow, that’s quite surprising.” She said.
“I know and I’m sorry but I just wanted to see your face. Please come outside briefly, will you?”
“Okay.” Arda responded and pushed herself away from the bed as he ended the call.
Somehow, she was excited about seeing him. It felt good to know he dropped by just to see her face. It made her feel special and loved. Love was truly a beautiful thing.
Arda paused by the dressing table and checked her reflection in the mirror. Her hair was slightly unruly. She combed her fingers through the errant tresses and smiled. The smile left her face as she caught sight of the gift and letter from the anonymous man on the table. Ignoring it, she walked out of the room, her phone in her hand. When she emerged at the living room, she saw Jacob and Karina watching a movie.
“What’s up?” Jacob asked while Karina looked expectantly at her.
“Luke is outside. He just wants to see my face.”
“Hmn. Love is calling.” Karina teased and Arda found herself blushing.
“Behave yourself out there.” Jacob chided, his countenance, mockingly stern.
“Yes daddy.” Arda replied, pretending to take him seriously and he laughed, waving her off. As their eyes returned to the television, Arda walked to the main door, opened it and let herself outside.
Luke was parked before her car outside the house and he was leaning against it. The flower planted there, obscured part of his vehicle. They smiled at each other as they drew towards themselves, meeting each other half way.
“Hello, Arda,” he said, taking her hands in his.
“How are you?”
“Great. Thanks. It’s so good to see you.”
“I am glad to hear that.” He said. “Good to see you too.” He hugged her and they stood like that for a few seconds before he pulled away, holding her back from him. “Now, how about that kiss?” His finger gently caressed her lower lip and she smiled.
He lowered his head, bringing his lips towards hers. She closed her eyes, offering her lips up to him. Their mouths were barely touching when he groaned in pain, his hand flying to the back of his head. Her eyes flew open and he took a couple of steps back from her but his eyes were shut in agony.
“I am so sorry about the pain.” She said. “You’ll see the doctor won’t you?”
He opened his eyes and when they fell on hers, the love she had once seen in them was gone, replaced by wariness and coldness.
“I don’t believe that I need a doctor.” He said flatly and she reached out a hand to touch his arm but he recoiled, shocking her.
“What?” her eyes were wide with unbelief.
“I do not need a doctor.” He said forcefully. “What I need is to stay away from you.”
“Luke…” she began, reaching out to touch him again but he took another step back from her.
“Don’t touch me.” He said coldly.