Our Beautiful Angels EPISODE 3
Richard backed away from Desola because he knew kissing her would not obliterate the hurt his wife’s actions had inflicted on him. After all, it was only five days ago he found out his son might not be his. His soreness was like pus, it didn’t matter how much dressing he chucked at it, it kept seeping through.
Richard went to sit on the edge of the office desk. He might as well listen to Desola. He used to love hastening home after a hard day’s work. The smell of cooking from the kitchen and the sound of Kenny chasing Taye over a raggedy doll or a fairy wand, welcomed him to his dwelling.
On Fridays, they would eat out, not at Naija Spice, but at Pizza Hut, Gino’s Italian or he would pick up a few paper-wrapped freshly battered haddock and chips from their local pie shop for them. His wife did not like cooking on Fridays.
“Thank you for listening. I have to go now before it gets too late” Desola’s voice found him.
“No, stay please. I mean, I will give you a lift home. I am about to leave so it makes sense that I drop you off. I am going to your building anyway to check on a flat, I don’t know if Sister Grace told you that me and my dad have bought a flat in your building to let out” Richard spoke quickly.
“Yeah, I heard. Ife told me. But I have to go now….Uncle Richard…I failed an essay and I have to redo it. So, tonight when I get home, it will be coffee and five hours stretch with my laptop and journals” Desola told him because she could not come up with another excuse to leave.
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She did not really want to leave. But something was different about him. Usually on the odd evenings, he came to help his father; he hurried home after doing the books. His attitude to his father’s employees was pleasant enough, but you wouldn’t usually find him chatting to the female staff.
“You are studying something social work related, right? Richard asked.
Desola nodded, wondering if he would recommend she should approach his wife for support. Ife had told her that her sister, Eniola -Richard’s wife- had recently completed her masters in social work. She also knew that Eniola had become the manager of the women’s centre on Lloyd Street.
“Community and social care”, she told him.
“Which module did you fail?
“Guess who the king of interpersonal skills was back in the day when I was at uni.” Richard slapped his chest, grinning. Desola smiled. She preferred the more animated version of him than the subdued one that always seemed to be glued to the side of his wife like an identical twin.
When he offered to help her with her essay she did not say no. He said he had eagle eyes, where grammatical errors and language syntax were concerned. When he offered to drive her home again, she did not say no either.
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The drive to St Aidan’s Street took a couple of minutes. Habitually, during the mild-weathered days of summer, spring and early autumn she walked home. The winter climate would often force her to accept a lift from Ife’s father, Elder Iwoye, Our Angels’ deputy pastor. She did not like him dropping her off because Ife and her father didn’t live in Stratford but in Miles End.
St Aidan’s street sits off the busy main road where rows of business premises including the restaurant are tucked. The street itself, St Aidan’s street houses the modern twin block of flats where more Nigerians than other nationals live.
Richard’s family occupy a detached house in the middle of the street. If you keep walking towards the train station, you were bound to see the shopping centre, the old library building and the vue cinema. The street after that, Lloyd Street is where the women’s centre and Our Angel’s church are. St Aidan’s school and church are on the other end of the street, clogging the area full with traffic at times.
He was quiet as they climbed the stairs; Richard’s pace uncharacteristically slow, stalling just behind her. Desola thanked him for her lift after they walked up to the first floor. She had hoped he would use the lift. He showed her the flat he had recently purchased with his father, flat three beside flat four. She felt his eyes on her back as she said goodnight and walked on to flat four.
Desola found Grace her older flat mate tucking into a meat pie as fat as a moi-moi with a full-size glass cup of what looked like coke-which Desola guessed was not the diet version. Grace still had her nursing uniform on. A few buttons of the tunic undone. She was sat on the black leather sofa in the room, her eyes glued to the TV, watching a repeat of Eastenders on BBC three.
“Sister Grace, I thought you finished your shift this afternoon” Desola said as soon as she noticed the latter’s uniform.
“It is true my dear, I got home ages ago” Grace said in her mild Ghanaian accent. “But Sister Agnes saw me in the lobby downstairs and said she had juicy news, so we went upstairs together. Guess what has happened dear” Grace reduced the TV volume and put her plate of meat pie down.
Desola’s eyes narrowed because Grace wouldn’t usually put her food down for anything. She also knew Agnes very well from church: she had a terrible habit of starting rumours and then sitting back and letting it spread like wildfire.
“What has Sister Agnes told you now, Sister Grace? Desola asked trying not to think of when Grace told them a lion was seen on an elevator in Oxford Circus or when she told them Pastor John winked at her during a sermon.
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“Apparently, Pastor’s son, brother Richard has sent his wife packing. According to Agnes, they have been fighting like cats and dogs for sometime. I doubt that part is true because brother Richard is a good man. Pastor’s daughter-in-law is now back in her father’s house. I feel for her. Can you imagine the chaos this is going to cause between Elder Iwoye, her father and Pastor?
“Poor Sister Eniola, Desola mouthed. Her heart tugged for Richard. She hated herself for rushing to get away from him. “I really hope they work things out”
“Well, Sister Agnes hopes they divorce. She says that one more single brother in church increases her chances of finding Mr Right” Grace wringed her plump face before adding, “I am surprised Ife did not tell you, have you two fallen out”
“Long story Sister Grace, let me have a shower and then I will come out and tell you”Desola took her bags with her to her bedroom, the first door in the narrow hallway. She heard Grace’s shrill protests from the lounge as she started to undress.
“Hurry up dear, I am not getting any younger and you know I like gists”.
Desola smiled. After taking out the hair band that straddled her braids together in a bunch and letting the curly braids frame her chocolate coloured face, she paddled into her en-suite bathroom with a small towel draped across her curved but slim frame.
She stared at her reflection in the mirror. Intense eyes stared back at her. Her stomach had retained it’s firmness, despite her bust and her hips filling up because of Grace’s sumptuous cooking, taking her from a size eight to a dress size ten. Grace herself had inflated from a size sixteen to eighteen overnight. Desola promised not to eat the meat pie she knew would be waiting in the oven for her.
She suddenly wanted to loose weight and be able to wear her old skinny jeans again. She wondered if Richard thought she was beautiful before waving her thoughts away from her mind, chiding herself.
After her shower, she went back into her bedroom. She checked her phone for the time and was surprised to see that she had had a missed call from Richard.