She woke up to the smell of food wafting into her room. An architectural problem with her house ensured that nothing being conjured in the kitchen remained there. She turned lazily in the bed, feeling for her duvet which had long been kicked to the floor and shivered as the cold air from the air conditioner blasted her. She wondered when she started turning while asleep as she picked up the duvet and draped it over her chilling body.
Her phone buzzed just as her eyes began to close again with Beyoncé, through the ringtone, asserting that she ran the world. She groaned as she stretched for the phone and answered without bothering to unplug it from power. The screen read “Izzy”
“Hello?” She answered
“Hey! Why are you still asleep!?” Izzy replied
Izzy was her best friend. They had been friends for as long as she could remember. They were neighbours who went to the same secondary school and were in the same University before her parents relocated to the outskirts of Lagos, retirement home they called it.
Christened Isioma Onyebuchi, her lively personality got her into so much trouble that one day a teacher bellowed at her, asking her to take things easy. Thus, the “Izzy” nickname was born and it stuck and endured the years. Although best of friends, she was convinced that Izzy was born with the innate ability to annoy her and make her happy at the same time. Izzy’s only worrisome trait beyond the noise making and shouting was her propensity for giving bad advice, not out of any intention for evil, but because of her simplistic happy-go-lucky personality. If you could deal with that, she was convinced anyone would like Izzy.
“I’m not asleep Izzy. I’m answering you right now.”
“You know what I mean,” Izzy retorted “Get up! I’m coming over till Sunday.”
“You heard me babe. My parents are travelling and unlike your Mom, don’t trust me enough to leave me alone with my brothers at home.”
“I don’t have siblings.” She replied between a yawn.
“Whatever. You know what I mean,” Izzy continued “Your Mom trusts you. My Mom is scared I’ll poison those boys and she’s right.”
“Izzy, you’re not poisoning anyone.”
“Anyhow, I’m around M.K.O. Abiola gardens.”
“Are you driving? Where are your brothers?” She inquired
“They split us,” Izzy said referring to her parents “My brothers chose to stay with my Uncle, I chose your mom.”
“Are you driving?” She inquired again
“No, the driver is dropping me,” Izzy paused to answer someone in the background “I hope there is food.”
“I think my mom is cooking something, now that I think about it, it’s probably for you.”
“I trust Mrs Ola-Bruce!” Izzy practically screamed into the phone
She grimaced at the loudness of the screech.
“Izzy, I’ll talk to you when you get here.” She said and promptly cut the phone, hearing half of a complaint from Izzy.
Setting the phone down on the side table, she tried to get back to sleep but the conversation with Izzy had fully roused her. A full bladder didn’t help matters either as she got up to relieve herself of the unnecessary pressure.
On getting downstairs, she met a table full of bread and eggs in a ceramic bowl covered with a plastic lid. Pancakes lay steaming in another. Her mother had been busy.
“Finally, it’s almost 8:30.”
She spun around to find her mother in a Royal blue business suit, 3 inches added to her height by cream heels she was sure were her Gucci pair.
“Good morning Mom” She greeted, attempting to hug her.
“Eesh! Makeup! Good morning,” Her Mom replied nudging her away from her when a kiss was attempted “As you can see, there is food for you and Isioma.”
The older lady began walking towards the door
“So no good morning kiss for me?” She inquired
“No. I’ll be back by 7:00 or thereabout, tell Isioma about the vigil.” Her mother answered.
“That’s harsh Mom!”
She heard the gate open and the car drive out and then the house was silent.
“Vigil. Thank God Izzy will be here. I won’t have to endure it alone.” She thought to herself.
She walked into the kitchen to retrieve honey from the fridge and on getting back to the dining, met Izzy opening the bowls.
“Is this for us?” Izzy inquired
“You’ve opened it already na, what’s left?”
“Whatever babe, I’m hungry,” Isioma replied helping herself to some bread and eggs “I didn’t eat breakfast at home.”
“Yeah, that matters when it comes to you and food.” She answered with her voice heavily laden with sarcasm.
“Ahn ahn now, that’s not fair. That I’ve even lost weight sef.” Isioma complained.
She studied her chubby friend casually. She definitely wasn’t the prettiest girl on the planet but her skin was one of a kind. It was true that she had lost weight and that had left her hovering on the brinks of voluptuous. Her white lumbar shirt accentuated her caramel coloured skin. Tight blue jeans revealed her form and offered a sneak preview to what lay underneath. Her footwear had been discarded somewhere and red toe nails served as a reminded for the girl’s talent in style and make-up.
“Maybe just a little,” She said and bluntly added “And there’s a vigil here today”
“What vigil?” Isioma looked confused.
“12 to 2am,” She replied in between laughter “Right over there in the living room.”
“Swear down!” Izzy almost screamed.
They spent the rest of the day talking, texting, gossiping and fantasizing. She conjured a make shift meal of Jollof Spaghetti for lunch as Izzy insulted her own cooking in comparison. They watched back to back episodes of various shows until her mother got back at around 7pm. Indecision led to toast at night and by the time the pastor and two other members of their church arrived at 10:30pm, the girls were fast asleep.
Mrs Bruce wasted no time in rousing them and implored them to join the rest in the living room till the time the Vigil was scheduled to start. They obliged and were intermittently entertained by their guests’ stories on cultism in Nigerian Universities back in the days.
At 12:00am sharp, the vigil began with one of the church members leading them in worship songs. She groaned inwardly as she sang those songs that had very little meaning to her. She was surprised at how quickly Izzy had drifted into “S.U.”, hands lifted to the ceiling, lyrics pouring out of her mouth with an almost beautiful voice. She made a mental note to insult Izzy on her apparent theatrics. Thirty minutes into worship and the pastor halted the singing to give a brief exhortation before sending them into prayers, really loud prayers. She felt like God wouldn’t exactly be pleased at her faithlessness and promptly bowed her head to utter out some prayers, half hoping that the ground didn’t swallow her as her conscience began to accuse her.
“I shouldn’t be praying,” She thought “God, you’re obviously not a fool, but not now Lord.”
She felt slightly better knowing that God who loved her had given some extension on life. For her, the vigil was over.
A number of minutes later, the Pastor ended the prayers.
“For in Jesus’ mighty name we have prayed!” He said in a loud voice.
“Amen!” They answered in Unison.
The pastor kept quiet for some moments, cocking his head to one side like a curious spaniel. He groaned and opened his eyes, looking round the room to survey everyone. His eyes fell on her and he spoke.
“My daughter, there is a word for you.” He said looking at her.
She looked shocked.
“Me?” She asked.
“Yes you. My father is telling me that you’ve been doing some things that He is not pleased with.”
“Yeah right! Like all young people aren’t.” She thought
“He says the next time you do it, you will be sorry,” The pastor added, pointing his index finger at her “and your life may be on the line.”