A New Beginning Love Story of Laide and Ayodeji, a Flash Fiction Story

Happy Friday! 😀

A New Beginning is the second story in our February Flash Fiction Fridays series.  The first story was A Brilliant Idea: A Tale of Two Villages.

Enjoy!

A New Beginning: A Flash Fiction Story

 

“Where are you going?”

Laide froze.  Should she answer or keep going? She had no choice.  She would have to answer.  This was her mother, after all.

“Out,” she responded reluctantly.

“Out . . . ?” her mother said, temporarily suspending chewing the chunk of sugarcane she had just popped into her mouth.

“Out, ma.”

Her mother quickly spat out the sugarcane chaff into an empty bowl, swished water in her mouth and gulped.  In that interval, that short space of time, Laide considered slipping away quietly.  Or in the words of her older brother, Tomi: absconding.

But there was no opportunity to abscond.  Not while your mother was interrogating you on impromptu mid-week afternoon plans.

So, Laide just waited for the next question.

“You’ve still not said where,” said Mrs. Akingbade giving her daughter a knowing look.  “I hope you’re not going shopping.”

Laide laughed.  “No, ma.  Unless using my eyes to scope fine boys qualifies as shopping.”

Her mother smiled.  “That’s normal.  I just hope they scope you back.”

“Mummy!” Laide gasped.  “When I was in secondary school, you said ‘run away from boys.’ I can’t believe you’re now encouraging me to scope boys.”

“Point of correction:  I am encouraging you to scope men.  You’re a grown woman.  And yes I am encouraging you because … the time is right,” said Mrs. Akingbade.

Laide shook her head.  Parents, sometimes …

Aloud, she said:  “I’m going to watch a movie.”

“Okay, tell Julius to take you.”

Julius was the family’s driver.  He lived in the boys’ quarters on the West end of their spacious residence.

“He’s not at home, ma,” said Laide.  She had seen him leave earlier from her bedroom window.  The gateman had said:  “Julius don follow woman go.”

In other words, he would not be back soon.

“I didn’t know,” said Mrs. Akingbade.  “When he gets back, he has to drop off some documents for Mr. Ikotun.  Maybe he can drive you back home.”

“That sounds good,” said Laide.

“But how will you get there? You want to wait for Julius to come back–” said Mrs. Akingbade.

“No-o, Mummy.  Haba!” said Laide.  “I can find my own way around Lagos.  I’ve called a cab,” she added, pointing to the open app on her phone.

“I don’t trust those unmarked cars.  Maybe you should just wait for Julius or … take kabu-kabu.”

Laide sighed.  “Mummy, I’ll be fine.  I have one hour before the movie starts.”

And without waiting for another word of protest from her mother, Laide left.

Her taxi was already waiting outside the gate.  It was a gray Toyota corolla, driven by a morose-looking 40-something year old.

As soon as she entered and before she even settled down, he offered her a bottle of water.  She refused.

“It’s not pure water o.  This one is bottled,” he insisted.

“Oga, I said I don’t want.  Please let’s be going,” said Laide.

As the car drove down the quiet street, Laide’s thoughts drifted to the events of the past week.

She had moved back in with her parents after relocating from the UK where she went for her Masters in Economics.  But she had just felt so bored, and with her parents constantly questioning her movements, she missed the independence she had enjoyed when she lived alone in Leeds.

But nobody had forced her to move back to Nigeria.  It was her personal decision, and her parents supported her.  She had moved back home because she could not picture a future for herself in the UK.

Besides, she missed her family terribly.

And now, here she was trying to spend time away from the said family.

Life ehn . . .

Laide had not even started applying for jobs.  For now, she was just enjoying her mini-vacation, knowing that once she started working, taking time off like this would be a luxury.

Laide looked up from her reverie to see that they had arrived at Silverbird Cinema.  She paid the taxi driver, and promised to leave him a good review.

“You sure you don’t want water?  It’s free o,” he said for the umpteenth time, pushing the bottle of water towards her.

Laide waved it away.  “No, thank you.”  As she walked towards the entrance, she wondered:

Does water really make a difference between a good and bad review?

She bought a small bag of popcorn, and bought a ticket for “Phone Swap.”

The movie theatre was almost empty, being a Wednesday afternoon, but she didn’t mind.

About halfway through the movie, a young man entered the theatre.  He was tall, caramel-colored skin, and in the light of the humongous screen, he looked very tired.  Mr. Tall and Tired noisily made his way to Laide’s row.  As he got close to her, he glanced briefly at her face, and said “Excuse me,” at which Laide retracted her feet, and let him pass.  In the brief instance, Laide caught a glimpse of his face.

This guy looks familiar . . .

But no matter how hard she dug, she could not recall where she had seen him.

“It must be a long time ago,” she concluded.  In moments like this, she wished she had Tomi’s “sharp brain.”  Tomi, like an elephant, always remembered.  He could remember the last time he had seen a person, down to the specific date, what they had talked about and many details that fly past other people.

Meanwhile, Mr. Tall and Tired picked a chair about four seats to the left of Laide’s chair, and sank into it with a loud sigh.  Laide looked at him in wonder.

Who comes to watch a movie halfway through the whole thing?  He should’ve just stayed at home.

About ten minutes later, out of the corner of her eye, Laide saw something she refused to believe.  This guy was nodding off to sleep!

And just when she thought she was imagining things, irrefutable proof of this guy’s drowsiness fell right in front of her.

Literally.

His bag of popcorn, which was untouched, rolled out of his hand, and scattered in a mess all over the floor.  Some of the fluffy white corn rolled in front of Laide and stopped near her feet.

“Unbelievable!” she muttered under her breath.

The guy didn’t even wake up.

Laide wanted to get up, grab him by the shoulders and shake him.  But then she remembered that it paid to mind one’s business.

So, she let him be.

Meanwhile, the guy slept throughout the movie.  It was not until the closing credits rolled and the movie soundtrack boomed through the speakers that he woke up.

He looked surprised to see that the movie was over.  He was even more shocked to see his popcorn all over the floor.

While she was watching his reaction, her phone flashed.  It was a text message from Julius.  He was waiting for her in front of the movie theater.

As they rode back home, she wondered about the guy who fell asleep in the movie theater.

*  *  *  *

 The following Saturday, she decided at the last minute to attend her secondary school reunion.  She sent her payment, and got dressed.

When she arrived at the events hall, she came face-to-face with her mistake.

The walls were plastered with pictures of her former schoolmates in their school uniforms and boarding house wear.  They all looked so young, but she was able to recognize some familiar faces in the crowd.

But beyond that, what hit her were the colors:  everyone was dressed in white.

Laide groaned as she looked at her own outfit.  She was about to voice her regret when she heard:

“Hello-o, fellow aso-ebi wearer.”

She turned around and saw a grinning face.  And then she drew back in surprise.  Standing before her was Mr. Movie Theater Dozer a.k.a Popcorn Wasting Champion Extraordinaire.  He was dressed almost exactly like she was.  Neither of them got the “wear white” memo.  Instead, they both wore velvet wine colored blazers, jeans and white t-shirts.  But while he wore loafers, she wore matching red heels and carried a gold purse.

“It’s you …” she said, pointing at him.  “You slept and wasted your popcorn.”

He looked confused.  “You know me?”

“Yes.  We both watched Phone Swap last Wednesday.”

“Oh … You’re the … I walked past you,” he said as recognition finally kicked in.

“Yup,” said Laide.

His name was Ayodeji, and she heard from him his own explanation for dozing off in the middle of a movie.  He had worked late the night before, went to work and took off early to catch this movie.

“But you can’t cheat your body.  If it needs to rest, it won’t ask for your permission,” said Ayodeji.

“True,” said Laide.

They spoke at length, and she finally realized where she had seen him.

“You were the Day prefect,” she said suddenly, snapping her fingers.  “I remember.”

“That’s right.  It was my job to punish all you latecomers,” said Ayodeji chuckling.

“I’m sure you enjoyed it,” Laide teased.

“Over-enjoyment dey worry person sef,” said Ayodeji.  They both laughed.

By now they were both sipping glasses of sparkling white grape wine.  Then, the MC called for a toast.

Ayodeji turned to Laide, and said: “Cheers to New Beginning.”

“Cheers,” said Laide.

They clinked glasses.  Before the night was over, they had exchanged numbers.  And as they parted ways, they both knew in their hearts that this was the start of something new.

Something beautiful.

# # #

Other Flash Fiction Stories
like A New Beginning:

Elevator Ride

Without His Approval

Unfriending Mama

At the End of  Long, Loose Braid

 

 

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