Flight of fancy
Pelumi was excited to be visiting Lagos after six years away in The US. For months she had painstakingly planned her trip—tracking different airline websites for flight deals, purchasing her return ticket, making sure she had the best seat on the aircraft, buying little gifts for everyone she could remember—yet, she couldn’t shake off the sinking feeling that accompanied her excitement anytime she thought of visiting Lagos. She was happy she would finally get to see her Mami, Baba and younger brother Tunde, who was probably taller than her if his recent pictures were any indication, she was thrilled that her aunty Bisola and uncle Soji had insisted she spend a week of her vacation at their Abeokuta residence, she couldn’t wait to see the cousins she had left behind when she left the shores of the country for graduate studies, she was looking forward to catching up with old friends and making new ones, but she didn’t want to see Frank, and she knew Frank would be waiting for her. He had been waiting for her for six years. He was the dutiful boyfriend who swore never to leave her side. She wasn’t sure what to do about him.
As the weeks passed and her trip drew closer, her discomfort at the thought of Frank increased. I hope he takes ill or something, so that I won’t have to see him, she would think to herself, then feel guilty for wishing illness on a guy who had been nothing but kind to her. I can’t believe he waited! Why? She had been dating Frank Ositeme for about nine months before she had to leave for the US. Frank, a dashing young entrepreneur whose cyber security business had grown in leaps and bounds over the years fell madly in love with her at first sight. They met for the first time at the annual Social Media Week in Lagos. She and her best friend Lamide were budding bloggers and attendees at the event. Frank’s young company was sponsoring. As soon as she saw Frank she nudged Lamide and said, “Look at that handsome young man sitting over there. He looks delicious.” Lamide giggled and replied, “You want him? You know you can work your charm on anyone. You’re a pro.” It was game on from then. Pelumi wanted him. He was breathtakingly handsome, the color of burnt caramel with full brows, dark eyes behind wide-rimmed glasses and lips that any lady would yearn to kiss. His muscles were toned under his polo shirt and he looked likea real catch. Pelumi nudged Lamide again, whispered “watch me take him,” and cat walked to where he sat.
They hit it off instantaneously. Frank was enchanted by the goddess who had stepped up and asked to sit next to him. Pelumi was beautiful. Her long neck flowed like honey down to her prominent collar bones. Her slender arms flexed as she placed them on the table. Her long legs caught his eye as she crossed them. Her smile was wide and her teeth were white and even. She wore a crop top with a low neckline, showing off both her full cleavage and her flat stomach. At first Frank was confused. The Pelumis of this world were way out of his league. He was the nerdy, tech guy who never thought he could attract the likes of Pelumi. But as they talked, he found himself falling harder and harder for her. By the end of the evening, he knew he wanted her. Forever. He asked her out a week later. She said yes.
Frank was a doting boyfriend. Since he returned to Nigeria after his masters in England, he had not been in a relationship and he swore to himself that if he ever got into one, it would be for the right reasons. He was in love with Pelumi and never missed any opportunity to show it. He was soon visiting Pelumi at home, and her parents approved of him. He made sure she lacked nothing, motivated her to apply for graduate studies abroad and paid her fees for the first two years until she was able to secure a scholarship. Each time he called he was excited to tell her about his growing business, how he was setting up shop in different states of the federation and attracting huge investment, how he was contracted by the federal government for a massive project, and so on. Pelumi hated hearing about his business. Once,on the phone with Lamide, she complained, “He can’t seem to shut up about his damn business.”
“But Pelumi,” Lamide replied, “You know he loves you. He’s not playing. He’s going to marry you when you return.”
Pelumi cackled, “I don’t love him. This was all a game, remember?”
“Lamide? You still there?”
“Pels, I think it’s time to stop this game. He’s clearly serious about you. I track him, like you asked. The guy isn’t cheating on you. Even though you never let him visit you abroad, he’s very serious about you.”
Pelumi cursed, then replied, “I was hoping you would catch him cheating or something, so that I will finally have something to hold against him. You know I’m currently dating Christian and that hot Arab guy Sameer. I don’t even like Frank that much.”
“Then break up with him.”
“Lamide, I’m not ready to do that yet. He serves a purpose. I just can’t throw him away now.”
“He visits your family. Tunde loves him.”
“I just think it’s not fair to hurt him. So, either break up with him or be serious with him.”
“Lamide, please! When I’m done with him you can have him if you want. Just let me be for now, OK?” She hung up.
Baba was in the living room. It was 2 pm and Pelumi’s flight to Lagos was scheduled to land at 6:50 pm. In the kitchen, Mami and Tunde were sweating over the gas stove making ewedu, gbegiri and amala for Pelumi. Baba’s cell phone rang, it was Frank. “My son, how are you?” He bellowed.
“I’m fine sir.” Frank replied,“I just wanted to let you know that I’ll be at the airport in a few hours to await Pelumi’s arrival.”
“We shall also be there! I just hope we get there in time because mama Pelumi and her younger brother have been cooking all day. If you come now, you will think a party is about to take place!” he chuckled, “I don’t know when they will finish all their cooking.”
Frank stifled a laugh, “It’s no problem sir. If she arrives before you all get to the airport, I’ll gladly bring her home. I’m sure Pelumi will love the food Mami is preparing.”
Baba shook his head, “OK, there is still time. We shall meet at the airport. Perhaps before she returns to the US, you shall, err, do the needful.”
This time Frank laughed, “Baba, I’ve waited six years. You do not have to tell me. Pelumi is the love of my life. I can’t imagine the rest of my life without her. My family is eager to meet her again.”
“That is fine, that is fine,” Baba responded with a wide smile on his face. “See you later, my son.”
“Goodbye, Baba.” Frank hung up.
Frank was sitting at the arrival lounge of the international airport when Pelumi’s family walked in. Lamide was with them. They must have picked her up on their way to the airport, he thought. When they saw him, they walked up to him. Mami and Baba both hugged him and said something about how he hadn’t visited them in a while and he said something about how work had kept him very busy lately. He and Tunde shared a hi-five. Lamide smiled shyly and refused to look him in the eye. When he asked if she was alright, she mumbled something that sounded like yes, fine.
Pelumi’s flight was scheduled to land in another 10 minutes. The anticipation was palpable as any time an announcement was made over the airport speakers, Mami would move a bit to the edge of her seat. Ten minutes crawled by, and then twenty. Baba was starting to complain about delays when the announcement finally came: This is to announce that Delta Airlines flight AQ496 from New York has crashed just outside Abuja. Emergency services are currently on the scene and no survivors have been reported yet. We urge all friends and families of passengers onboard to please make their way to the Delta…Mami jumped from her seat and screamed before the rest of the family could hear the rest of the announcement. All around them, people began wailing and others hurriedly made their way to the Delta Airlines airport office. Baba and Frank held Mami as she collapsed, while Baba kept whispering “Ha! Pelumi!”
For weeks, all the local and international news stations carried the report of the tragic Delta Airline crash that left all 178 passengers and crew dead.
Lamide was relieved.
Maureen Onyeziri loves to write fictional short stories. She’s currently in her third year of a microbiology PhD program at Indiana University Bloomington. When she’s not in the lab or taking long walks, she’s writing, daydreaming or simply curled under a warm blanket watching movies. Checkout her blog.