Dream Chaser II

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

I wake up with a throbbing behind my eyes. The pain feels like an offended bride is pouring out her frustrations by pounding yam in my head. I must have passed out. That’s a first — I mutter to myself. I have found that adulting will teach you all the firsts you never knew. I find myself hyperventilating again, but this time, I remember what the lady with red and bright green extensions in her hair taught us on Mental Health Day at my former job. The mental health expert taught us a breathing exercise I found very effective. Breathing in and out slowly, through my nostrils, I silence the rising anxiety. I need a plan.

Going back home or even telling my mother is definitely not an option.

I mentally scan through the possible places I could go and decide to call three people. My book club crush, my ex-boyfriend and as a last resort, my childhood friend, Masesera. I walked to the entrance of our room where I dropped my bag. I pull out my phone and call Stanley from my book club. It rings and there is no response. Taking a deep breath, I try again, and this time he picks.

“Hello?” He says in his rich timbre voice.

I am tongue-tied and unable to utter a word.

“Hello? Uhh, who is this, please?”

Anxiety cripples me to nothing but a heavy breathing weirdo on the phone.

“Hello, are you there?

I drop the call and curse myself for being such a chicken. But more than that, for pretending I didn’t like him. What was I thinking!? I should have given him my phone number when he asked. Now my number will be blacklisted as a prank call or scam.

I have only two options left. My ex-boyfriend Lukman, will welcome me back to his place and probably set me on a weekly stipend. But this will mean returning to the vicious cycle I escaped fifteen months ago. I have made such tremendous progress since I left him. I am singing again and making some good money from it. If I were to return to Lukman, I would have to sneak to sing and lie about job hunting, until I was able to afford to escape again. Masesera, I have not spoken to since we disbanded. I choose to take my chances with her. I might be desperate for a roof over my head and food in my belly but not desperate enough to forfeit my art. I scroll through my contacts till I find Mase’s then I dial.

Masesera picks up on the third ring

“Z! Wow! Zee! You called me?” She says her voice thick with disbelief.

I chuckle shyly. “Hey, Mase,”

“Ah Z, I thought you blocked me oh.” I sense her pain in that statement and cringe inwardly.

“No na, I can not do that to you, Masesera. You are my oldest friend.”

“I am truly sorry things went the way they did’’ I added

“It’s just life. Shit happens, people hurt, they heal and we move on” Mase states matter of factly, in a tone of certainty I can only hope to attain someday.

“So what’s up? Did you dream of me or are you calling to tell me you are marrying Lukman? You know, I won’t be your bridesmaid if he is the groom right?”

“Hehehe, No. We are now ancient history. Fifteen months and counting.” I reply nervously

“Oh well! I am proud of you for leaving his sorry ass.”

“Yea, me too.”

“Mase,” I say slowly, making my words drawl like I had a sudden speech impediment.

“I wish I could say I called as an act of reconciliation.” I pause slightly, listening to her sharp intake of breath and its rapid release. “I need your help” I continue.

“Are you alright Zughumnan? Is it Lukman? Is he stalking you?” She says concern lacing her words.

“I am alright-ish I guess.” I pause, unsure of how to say the next part. “So my roommate left me with an empty house” I chuckle

“left you? with an empty house? How?” Mase’s puzzlement is evident in her rising pitch.

“Yea, I came home from work and found our door open, with nothing in the house except the curtain at the front door. I mean absolutely nothing. She even cleaned up after moving our stuff and she hates to clean” my voice begins to quiver, now that I have said those words, it hits me all over again.

“I don’t know what to do Mase. Everything I have carefully saved and bought — my guitar, my recording equipment, my Reebok and Jimmy Choos. Every damn thing!” I realise I am crying now. Tears, snot and the scrunched face — the whole ugly cry package. “I know it is selfish to call you, out of the blue after what I did, but I have nobody to turn to. I just quit my job, hoping to tell…

“Where are you?” she cuts in, but my sniffling inhibits me from responding. “ Zee! I said where are you right now?” Masesera asks urgently

“At my house.” I laugh hysterically. “What used to be my house,” I say in a whisper.

“Okay babe, I know this is a lot to deal with but can you please tell me where I can come pick you up?” She says in that soft voice she reserves for children and wounded animals. It makes me cry all the more.

She waits patiently on the line, until I tell her “anguwan lemu. Take the first right turn after the roundabout, then drive past the big Anglican Church and the Juma’at Mosque behind it. Towards the end of the bad road, you will see a rusty gate on your left.”

“Okay, I am coming. Hang on tight Zee”

I wonder what she meant by the last statement. What should I hang on to? The walls? The emptiness? I open the Garage band app on my phone and type furiously to pour out my heart. It is not fast enough so I tell Google assistant to convert speech to text. I let the words flow out of me, first in fury and rage at Udo, then in self-loathing and disgust at myself — the one who is excellent in making bad choices. I will revisit the whole thing and draw out some powerful lyrics later, but right now, I need to speak to feel better.

I can’t help but bite my index fingernail. Anxiety has got my stomach in a tight knot. I don’t know what to expect from Mase. I hurt her really badly, and she has every right to stand me up, or just drive me to the park and send me back to my mother’s house. But Mase is kind. That’s why she’s everyone’s heartthrob, and I am the jealous rival in the story. I hear my phone ring and I know it’s her. I pick up my bag, look at the room wistfully and walk out.

“Hey, Are you at the gate?” I ask, my nasal voice sounds foreign to my ears

“Yep. Where are you? I hope I’m at the right gate sha

I walk out of the gate and see Masesera’s army green Kia parked by the other side of the road. I wave at her, signalling where she can turn. In a few moments, she has manoeuvred her car to be In front of me. She’s wearing a red dress with tiny white hearts littered all over it. It stops mid-thigh, the sleeves of the dress are negligible. Her skin is clear and glowing with health. I watch her pink coloured nails grip the steering wheel — a sign of her own anxiety. Inwardly, I am relieved that we are both anxious. It makes me feel better that this would be a mutual discomfort and awkwardness.

“Get in madam.” She says, not unkindly.

“Thanks, ma’am” I retorted while closing the door.

The ride is very uncomfortable. So many unasked questions sitting in the car, like some crying children being ignored in the backseat. We get to her house after forty minutes. I noticed she has added a few new things, another clay pot of hybrid aloe vera at the front door. An indoor plant that looks more sad than uplifting. A colourful painting of a dancing jaguar. It made her place look different. Gave it some sort of life it was lacking. I feel shame wash over me as I remember what I did to her place in my hurting spree. If I were Masesera, I wouldn’t ever talk to me.

Photo by William Bayreuther on Unsplash

Thank you so much for reading this far.🤗 I had to cut it. Again. Because you would not like an entire twelve minutes read. What are those dreams? Wanna share? Whatever they are, please know that I am rooting for you. And it is never too late to chase your dreams.

Love, Ballie💖



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