A Great Mistake - Nigerian Romance Story

A Great Mistake is the third and final installment in our February Flash Fiction Fridays Series.  The first two stories were: A Brilliant Idea and A New Beginning.

Thank you to everyone who followed this series.  I appreciate your support.

Have a great weekend, and see you in March. 😉

A Great Mistake

Nigerian Romance Flash Fiction Story

“And do you, Motolani Olatilewa, take Olukayode Dada to be your lawfully wedded husband . . . ?”

Tolani froze.  What was she doing here?  She should not be there.  Not like this.

She looked at Kayode.  He was nervous.  She too.  But she was sure it was not for the same reason as Kayode.

She shifted her gaze from Kayode to the person who stood behind him, the real reason for her nervousness:

Wole Adams, the best man, and Kayode’s best friend.

Do something.  Say something . . . Tolani pleaded with her eyes.  But even she knew that it was all in vain.  It was not Wole’s place to speak out.  Not there.  Not like this.

Tolani heard the guests whispering.  The Pastor cleared his throat, and repeated the question.

“Do you, Motolani Olatilewa, take Olukayode Dada, to be your lawfully wedded husband . . .?”

Kayode mouthed the words, “I do.”  Tolani could have kicked him.  Did he think her hesitation was for lack of knowing what to say, how to respond?  He had no idea how close she was to . . .

“I do, God helping me.”

Tolani heard herself say the words, but they sounded strange to her ears, like they had traveled from the mouth of another person.

And as soon as she spoke those words, she felt it:

Regret.  Instant regret.

In the loud, uproarious celebration that followed the wedding vows, Tolani’s eyes searched for Wole.  The look on his face mirrored what she felt in her heart:

A deep sadness, an aching pain that she feared she would carry for the rest of her life.

As they danced towards the table designated for the signing of the marriage certificate, Kayode whispered:

“Are you okay?  You looked worried back there.”

“I’m fine,” Tolani replied, avoiding his gaze.  “It’s just … I was thinking about . . . the hall.  Are you sure it’ll contain all these people?”

“Don’t worry, babe.  It’ll fit those who were invited,” said Kayode.

And then, as if he just remembered something else, he added:

“Why did you hesitate back there?”

Tolani bit her lip.  She saw that question coming, but still hadn’t decided what to tell Kayode.  Until that moment.

“Stage fright.”

Kayode laughed.  “I don’t blame you.  There are a lot of people here.  It feels like a production.”

After the church ceremony, they went outside to take pictures.  That was the last time Tolani saw Wole.  He did not come to the wedding reception.  One of Kayode’s brothers had to give the toast.

As Kayode’s brother spoke, Tolani’s mind drifted to Wole, and what had happened between them.

Kayode had always spoken fondly of his best friend, Wole Adams. However, while they were dating, Tolani never met him.  Wole lived and worked in Abeokuta, Ogun state, and she always seemed to miss him whenever he visited Lagos.

They had spoken on the phone a few times, but it was not until after Tolani and Kayode’s introduction ceremony that she finally met Wole.

From the moment they laid eyes on each other, the chemistry was undeniable.  It was electric.  They felt drawn to each other, as if by an unseen force.  To further complicate matters, they discovered that they had many shared interests:  they both shared an intense passion for all things lawn tennis, were obsessed with watching medical dramas and had endless debates on a wide range of silly topics like whether or not point and kill a.k.a catfish pepper soup could be elevated to the status of national cuisine.

They found excuses to be around each other and talked about everything and nothing.

As if fate was on their side, Kayode traveled out of the country for an intense two-month business course, sponsored by his company.  Around this time, Wole moved back to Lagos.

While Kayode was away, Wole became the surrogate fiancé, and actively participated in planning the wedding with Tolani.  With each passing day spent in each other’s company, it was clear that their feelings for each other ran deep.

But neither confessed anything to the other.  It was as if they were afraid that if they said what they felt, it would alter the balance they had so carefully established, and ruin what they had.  There was, it seemed, an unspoken mutual agreement to keep things as they were.  And it worked.

Until the day Kayode returned from his trip.

That afternoon, Tolani and Wole had gone together to meet Kayode at the airport.  In the parking lot, before they went into the lobby of the airport, Wole had reached out and held Tolani’s hand as she tried to open the door.  She turned to look at him and what she saw shocked her.

She saw longing in Wole’s eyes, a desire to unburden himself.  She could see all the things he wanted to say, but couldn’t.  Just when she thought she had misread him, he spoke:

“Tolani, are we going to pretend that this isn’t real?” he asked.

What isn’t real?” said Tolani. Her palms were sweaty, and her tummy felt uneasy.  She knew what he was saying, or rather, what he was trying to say, but she did not want to accept it.

“The way we feel about each other.  Stop pretending.  I know you feel what I feel.  This is not like.  I lo–” said Wole.

“No.  Don’t.  Not another word.  I don’t love you,” she lied.  In her heart, she wanted to tell him she felt the same way.  But she kept thinking of Kayode.  He had never done anything to hurt her.  How could she do this to him?  And what would people say?

That last part kept echoing in her mind.

What would people say? 

She knew that what she felt for Wole was much stronger and more genuine than what she had with Kayode.  But she allowed the “what will people say” sway her decision.

She told Wole:

“How would you feel if you came back from a trip and found your fiancée had run off with your best friend?”

Wole shrugged.  “First of all, we wouldn’t run off.  We wouldn’t slink off into the shadows like our love was something to be ashamed of.  I want the whole world to know how I feel about you, Motolani.  Second, if this happened to me, well … I’d pain me–”

“Oh-ho, so you too, you know and you want–” Tolani began.

“No.  Wait now … let me finish,” said Wole.

“I’m listening,” said Tolani.

“It’d pain me, but I’d get over it,” said Wole, and then he paused briefly.  “Kayode will get over it.  See ehn, in this life we only get one shot at true happiness.  If two people truly love each other, they should be together.  Besides, you guys are only engaged, not married.  Nothing is final until you say ‘I do.’ ”

“I disagree.  Life will give you multiple shots at true happiness.  You just have to recognize those opportunities when they present themselves.  And what if I was already married to Kayode?  Would you still say these things to me?” said Tolani.

Wole looked serious.  “No,” he said emphatically.  “I draw the line at marriage.  That is a line I will never cross.  Till then, anything can happen.”

There was a long silence.  Then, Wole spoke again.

“I wish . . .” he began.  He let out a deep sigh.  “I wish I had met you before Kayode did.  If I could change anything in my life, I’d change that in a heartbeat.”

And then, he asked:  “Will you at least, think about it?”

Tolani said:  “I’ll think about it.” And she did.

What Wole didn’t know was that she had already thought about it, about him, about what life would be as Tolani Adams.  The more she thought about it, the more excited she got.  But then that cloud of “what will people say” kept hanging over her head.

In all her thinking, Tolani overlooked a key point: people will talk regardless of the choices you make in life.

They never spoke about it again.  But Wole took Tolani at her word, and held onto hope up till the last minute.

Two weeks later, the wedding day arrived, and Wole’s hopes were dashed forever when Tolani said, “I do” to Kayode.

Wole knew then:  GAME OVER.

After the wedding, Wole called Kayode, and told him that something came up at work, and he had to leave abruptly.  That was his excuse for missing the reception.

In the weeks that followed, he kept giving excuses for not coming to visit the new couple.  One evening, Kayode said:

“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Wole was avoiding me.”

Tolani shrugged.  But in her heart, she knew the truth.  She fought the urge to tell Kayode:

It’s not you he’s avoiding . . .

And two years passed.

*   *   *

In the space of two years, Wole relocated to Nairobi, Kenya.  He kept in touch with Kayode, but their friendship was not what it had been.

In all that time, Tolani never stopped thinking about Wole, never stopped wondering “What if?” He was ever present in her thoughts.

Out of the blues, one day, Wole called Kayode and said he would be visiting Nigeria from Kenya.

“He said he has a surprise o,” said Kayode, when he told Tolani about the impending visit.

Tolani was nervous.  What could the surprise possibly be?

Finally, the D-day came.  While Tolani was freshening up in the bathroom, the doorbell rang.  Kayode went to answer the door.

When Tolani entered the sitting room, she saw Wole.  As soon as their eyes met, she knew he still felt the same way he did two years earlier.  But there was something else there too.  Resignation?  Contentment, maybe. She was not sure.  She did not have time to dive deeper because standing beside Wole was the long-awaited surprise.  Or rather, surprises.

“Oh hi, Tolani.  Long, long time,” said Wole, trying to sound casual.  “Meet my wife, Jane.”

Jane, Wole’s Kenyan wife, caressed her belly as she gave Tolani a warm smile.  She was at least six months pregnant.  Tolani felt a sharp pain in her chest.  But she managed a weak smile.

Later, Kayode went to see them off.  Tolani stayed behind at home, feigning a headache.  She locked herself in her bedroom, and let out the tears she had held back.  As hot tears rolled down her cheeks, that old feeling, the same one she had felt right after saying “I do,” returned.  This time, something else accompanied it:  heartbreak.

For she knew that the great love of her life was lost forever.

# # #


Don’t miss these short stories:

August Fiction Series

Unfriending Mama

Hotel Surprise

An Understanding Woman

At the End of a Long, Loose Braid


September Short Stories

September Short Stories, A Collage of all four book covers of Nigerian Romance Short Stories including: A Bouquet of Promises, Mr. Perfect Shoes, Considering Mr. Wrong and To The Man I Once Loved

A Bouquet of Promises

Mr. Perfect Shoes

Considering Mr. Wrong

To the Man I Once Loved


Pin It on Pinterest