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The first thing that Alexander saw when she opened her eyes was the familiar white color of her dad’s hospital, what she did not know was what she was doing there. The last thing she remembered was preparing to sleep. Wait, she had gone into the bathroom for a shower, right? Alexa tried to swallow even though her throat seemed heavy and tasteless.
“Sweetie, you are awake” she heard her mum gasp out in a tick breathless voice even before she saw her. Her mum did not look like the usual collected woman that she was, her hair was ruffled and worry was spread throughout her face.
“Mum” Alexa moaned weakly.
“Oh, thank God Alexa. How are you feeling? Do you need something?” Belina asked in a rush.
“Why am I here mum? Did something happen to me?”
“You fainted in your bathroom, but you are Ok now” Belina ran her hand through Alexander’s hair, feeling the temperature of her forehead. The door opened and Richard entered, his steps quickening when he noticed that Alexa was awake.
“Hey princess” he bent to plant a kiss on her forehead. “How are you feeling?”
Alexa smiled faintly. “I am fine dad, I am sorry I put you and mum through a lot of stress”
Richard sat down and pulled Belina until she was sitting on his laps. “It was your mum that got the grand share of fright because she found you unconscious”
Alexa winced as she thought about the scenario. “Sorry mum”
“Oh, c’mon dear, have you been skipping sleep? See dark circles beneath your eyes, Michael is not the only man on earth, you know?”
Alexander winced as all the incidents of the past day flooded her senses. “Please mum, I never want to hear that name again”
“Sorry honey, why don’t you sleep more, you need it” Richard said.
Alexa had to admit that sleep was a very welcome idea because her eyes were fighting to close up. “I need water” she murmured.
Belina got up from Richard’s laps instantly and got water for Alexa. After drinking, Alexa succumbed to the invitation of sleep. Richard looked at Alexa. “Now that you have seen that she is alright, would you obey what I have been repeating since? You also need to sleep”
“No buts, come with me, you would sleep in my office”
Patricia wore a simple gown and felt very awkward in it. She was always used to her ‘badoo’ type of dressing: her trouser, shirt and heels type of dressing. Putting on a gown, especially this one that she had on which made her look like a small school girl, seemed strange, even to herself. She smiled and laughed herself to scorn until she finally decided to change her cloth. She wore a trouser and a very simple top. Satisfied, she exited the room.
Patricia did not see any sign that suggested that her mum had left her bedroom. She thought that her mum must have been very exhausted due to the long wait at the hospital the previous day. Pat perceived the aroma of the breakfast being prepared in the kitchen by the house help and her mouth watered. She had passed on dinner yesterday night when she had arrived with her mum but now, her hunger had doubled. She resisted the urge to go and fill up her tummy and made for her mum’s bedroom.
Pat reached her mum’s bedroom door and knocked softly, opening almost immediately, fearing that she might wake her mum up if she knocked louder. She was however stunned to note that her mum was not asleep, instead, she was seated on the bed, hurriedly closing the big book with her. Is that a book? Looking at it again, it looked a bit like an album, not the one Patricia knew to be the family album though.
“Mum” Pat called, entering fully. “I thought you were not awake yet, morning mum”
“How are you dear? You are all dressed up, are you going out?”
Pat sat beside her on the bed, pretending not to notice the album that Prisca was trying to make invisible. Pat sensed that something was wrong but she could not put a finger on it. “erm… yes, I want to see Alexa. Have you been crying mum?”
“Oh, no no no, why should I?”
This even ticked Patricia even more. “I don’t know. Can I see that album?”
Prisca noted sadly that it was absolutely impossible to keep a thing from her journalist daughter. She reluctantly pulled the album from her back and held it delicately in her arms.
“I have never seen this album mum”
Prisca smiled. “it is a private album of your dad and I” she said. “It has more intimate pictures of us both before you children came along”
Patricia smiled. “Hmmmmmm… the romantic two! Can I see it?” Prisca hesitated a bit. “Oh mum, I am old enough to see whatever is in there; I just hope it is not nudes because I can’t think of gawking at x-rated pictures of my parents”. Prisca smacked her playfully and they laughed. Pat collected the album and opened it.
It still surprised Pat how her parents were able to keep themselves from ageing. Their outlook in the pictures which were obviously taken years back was just slightly different from what they looked like currently. If there was any major difference, they were definitely looking better. Pat prayed she would be just like her mum when she reached Prisca’s age. There were several kissing pictures that drew her attention and even though Pat joked all through, she kept her jealousy carefully hidden. She wondered what it would be like to share this with a man. “Oh my God! I think I should leave the house so that you both would have enough space to relive these beautiful moments.”
Pat said and glimpsed a look of pain flashing through her mother’s features. She frowned slightly. “Is there something you are hiding from me mum?”
“Uhn? Of course not. I just… I just miss your dad’s presence, you know we are inseparable”
Pat smiled. “Oh mum, he would be home soon and you would continue your honeymoon from where you stopped. You should eat mum, I am sure something delicious has been made. I need to rush off to see Alexa.”
“Ok Pat, eat before going. Lina called and said Alexa woke up some minutes ago. I would go there later”
Pat stood up. “Ok mum”, she bent and kissed her mum’s cheek, turned and walked towards the door. As she went, she thought of how to find out what was going on with her mum because she would definitely not believe the vain excuses that her mum gave her. She knew her mum well and knew that something was totally out of place here.
Patricia entered the room Alexa was admitted into and met her eating. The fried rice and chicken was obviously purchased but the outlook alone was enough to invite an hungry man. Pat became happy that she had eaten at home before coming, if not, the sight of the food alone would have sent her rushing to the eatery to get hers. Belina and Richard sat with her.
“Hey cousin” Pat called from the door. “Great. If this is what you get for being sick, I won’t mind falling sick myself”
Richard laughed and even though Belina was smiling, she scolded Pat. “Don’t think of falling sick young woman, one sick person is enough trouble”. Everyone shared the joke but Alexa seemed to have distanced herself, it was almost as if she was unaware of Pat’s presence. Richard winked at his wife and they both stood up to leave in order to give the two cousins some privacy. Before Belina fully exited the room, she whispered to Pat. “No emotional tension. I have heard the whole messy story and I won’t want to be reminded if I were in Alexa’s shoes”
Pat nodded. “Don’t worry Mummy B, I don’t do ’emotional'”
Belina smiled vaguely, like she could not believe what Pat had said, then left the room.
“You might as well go out with them traitor, I have nothing to talk about with you” Alexa murmured as she continued her food. Even though the food had not appealed to her earlier, due to her lack of appetite, she gave the food her hundred percent attention now to spite Pat.
Pat smiled and moved towards the bed. “Of course we need to talk cousin, I need to know why you are pissed off at me; I did nothing wrong”
Alexa dropped her fork with a clang. “Really? Jeez Pat, I thought we were closer than this!” She exclaimed. “You knew I was with the wrong guy and you did not tell me”
Pat shook her head. “Absolutely not sister, I did nothing to hurt you. Do you remember that I came to your place the very day I arrived from Canada? I wanted to see you, but above that, I wanted to know if you were still with Michael, or Marcel as the case may be. I did not want you to get entangled in this mess”
“But that is what eventually happened right?” Alexa chipped angrily.
“But it was not my intention. Look, I admit I kept my suspicions from you but it was just a mere suspicion. I had no proof to support my thoughts.”
“But you just had to find out at the right time right? How coincidental”
“You might not believe me but my suspicions were confirmed two days ago. I was absolutely sure that Michael is a twin, just did not know if Michael was the one here. Michael is in Germany, I saw him before I came to Nigeria. When I discovered that another ‘Michael’ was here, I came to Nigeria to find out if the current head of ‘Tel Communications’ was the real Michael Coker. Using my connections, I had someone monitor Michael’s movements in Germany. It took some time for the guy to be able to gain access to Michael’s apartment but immediately he did, he planted cameras in his apartment. Only then were we able to get the confirmation we sought. He called Marcel and the conversation made us believe that the person in Nigeria was actually not Michael but Marcel, his unknown twin. Marcel did not mean any harm Alexa” Pat paused when Alexa’s face changed then hurriedly continued. “He really did not mean to hurt you. You can’t blame him for wanting to do something for Michael, he grew up without a family. I just wish he knew what a jerk Michael really is. Frankly, I am surprised that you are Michael’s woman, he does not seem to be your type”
Alexa was silent for some seconds. “I guess you can never tell who a person really is. Do you know the funny thing?” Alexa laughed slightly. “I don’t know who I am in love with, Michael or Marcel” she hissed. “Anyway, it does not matter anymore because I don’t want to set my eyes on either of them again.”
Prisca arrived Best Results Hospital earlier than she had thought earlier. She had quickly left the house when all she could think about was Tony. Why was their love going down the drain. All she had ever done in her life was love her husband and allow herself to be loved by him but why was Tony throwing all they shared away.
Prisca reached the relaxation room that Belina asked her to come to and knocked softly. Belina opened the door and Prisca smiled. “Hey Lina, how are you doing?”
They shared a kiss. “I am fine, just a bit tired” Belina smiled faintly then frowned. “Is something bothering you Pric?”
Prisca entered fully and Belina closed the door. She saw Richard coming out of the inner part of the medium sized relaxation room that was made specifically for Richard and Belina, including those related to him. This room was perfect when family members visited Richard in the hospital and Richard did not want to accommodate them in the formal settings of his office. “Oh, I did not know you two were in your love nest” Prisca said with a grin.
Richard smiled widely. “It is great to see you in-law”
Belina was not in for pranks though. “Sweetheart, could you please give us a minute? I think I need to relive my days as a psychologist.”
Richard gave a mock bow. “Anything for the ladies.”
After Richard had gone and the two women were seated, Belina faced Prisca squarely. “I am all ears Pric”
“Oh Lina, do you think a time would come when we won’t have to worry about having problems? Because problems seem to just flood our lives whether we invite them or not”
Belina frowned. She had thought of this several times but the odd thing about this scenario was that the person complaining here was Prisca. Prisca always encouraged everyone when problems surfaced, making her own problems seem totally insignificant. But now, Prisca seemed to be struggling to keep water from spilling from her eyes. Alarmed, Belina said. “Prisca, what is going on? Does it have anything to do with the children?”
The tears that Prisca held back finally rolled down her cheeks, increasing Belina’s alarm. “It is Tony” she gasped out. “He is filing for a divorce”
“What?” Belina jumped up.
Richard walked to his office. He had no one to attend to, thanks to the numerous trained doctor he had in his employ. He dialed Tony’s number when he entered his office and after some seconds, Tony picked up. “Hello man” Richard said.
“Hey Richard, how is everything over there?” Tony responded.
Richard smiled to himself. “I don’t even know how to answer that but how are you?”
Tony sighed. “Still the way I was Richy”, there was a long pause. “I don’t even know who I am anymore. How is… Prisca”
Richard exhaled, “How do you expect her to be uhn? She is devastated and I can tell that she has not told the children. Honestly Tony, I don’t know why you are doing this to her, don’t you know that these ridiculous lies would hurt her the more?”Richard was angry now.
There was a slight pause. “I know Richard but how can I tell her the truth? How can I tell her that I have heart problem and would be dead in a few months? Uhn? Congenital Heart Disease is not a joke Richard, I know Prisca, the news alone would make her die before I do. It is better if she hates me for divorcing her, it would make the pain of my death a bit bearable for her.”
“Stop this rubbish now” Richard rebuked sharply. “You are not going to die, I would never let that happen” Richard choked slightly.
“I have accepted it Richard, I am a doctor and I know that CHD has no remedy”
“So you are just going to give up?” Richard yelled. “Well, that is your choice but I would never give up on you, I promise. I won’t watch you die.” he swallowed heavily.