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THE WARMTH'S GONE

It's 6:45pm, dinner time. Everyone is not seated round the
      table, my mum folds her arms as she hums to hymn210(Rock of
      Ages), Kemi's head is bent and the reflection of light from
      her phone screen makes the dinning room a little less dark for me to see what Everyone is up to. Ade is not here, he's
      the one missing for dinner. He is supposed to start the
      generator outside but he is not there either. Dad is having a phone conversation, he's talking about some shares he had with some
      bank and how it was worth it. I think dad is giving Ade some
      time to re-think skipping dinner and neglecting to start the generator. We all know Ade is in his
      room, pretending to be "unconcerned" about "his" family. I
      count to hundred in my mind and cross my fingers, wishing Ade
      would just appear smiling for dinner in the middle of my count; probably between 80 and 95, when the tension within me would have heightened and apologize to dad. So
      far, I've counted to three hundred and fifteen and my pointy finger
      hurts like hell, still no sign of Ade. I change the  pattern ,and start tapping my
      feet under the table, "if no one steps on my feet throughout
      dinner", I tell myself, "dad won't get mad at Ade forever."
      I'm tapping to the beat of "Adaobi" by the Mavins' crew,
       ah, I love this song so much with the way all the
      ladies.... "ouch!" I screamed. My mum paused her humming and
      looked at me with the corners of her lips screwed up as if
      they were trying to reach her nose. My dad didn't stop
      talking on the phone though, he was currently talking about
      his new year business plans. Trust Kemi to interrupt my pattern, spoil what could have been another prefect opportunity for Ades' entrance, the deal I had already made with the Universe was off. She had stepped on my feet! 

Kemi had deliberately stepped on my feet and signalled me to look at my phone, I guess she had texted me. Sighing inwardly, I pulled out my phone from
      my pocket easily and opened Kemi's message. It read, "dad to
      bring up Ades' gist. txt that idiot Ade to cme dwn here
      asap.already tried." I nodded, typed a quick, " Ade quick cme
      to dinninrum now! Shit abou to get dwn"... My message marked delivered but he did not reply. Dad was def going to be mad. I somehow felt it was my fault, that I should have chosen another pattern other than feet tapping and flung it at the Universe. I tried to visualize what Ade would be up to in his room. He'd probably be surfing the net or sketching a comic which he so loved, I knew for sure wherever he was, his heart wasn't racing "Fast and Furious"-like just like mine. He'd have a knowing smile I knew, the kind he always gave me when he talked about the fine babe he had met and spoken to at the mall or cinema. The knowing smile of someone who knew that he had gained the attention he wanted, maybe not as he expected, like in Dads' case, but overally, the knowing smile that he had at least gained that attention he so craved. 

The soup tasted bland, like a leaf of paper. The way a blank paper tasted, hopelessly tasteless that it begged your tongue to spit it out and regret why you had eaten a blank paper in the first place, and equally questioning your sanity. I knew this because in Primary school, I was an expert in eating "nonsense" as my mother called it then. That was not the case for me though, I knew the reason I ate blank papers, inked papers, chalk and even pencil lids. I felt that by eating these odd items I could communicate with a higher being. The communication never came. The only communication I got from eating them were the 'abara' (a  hot slap) my mother and father landed at the back of my head while asking if I was possessed. I smiled at this flashback. It was a short-lived smile. The kind that comes and disappears almost immediately as if  regretting smiling in the first place. I captured all the fish in the soup and gave up. I couldn't go ahead and I didn't fancy playing with the soup in front of me anymore. I yawned and wished in my head that somehow, magically, I possessed the power to fast-forward dinner. I just wanted to be alone,in my bed, away from the tension in every member of my family around me. I could even manage a teleporting gift, I didn't mind transporting myself to anywhere and anytime except during the Biafra war or the World Wars 1 and 2. I hated those events, I could be killed, imprisoned or malnourished and I didn't fancy those. 

Dad cleared his throat as he placed his phone and glasses on the table and washed his hands. His mouth went sidewards like it always did when he wanted to start a conversation. I shook. He was about to start the conversation about Ade...

Grace Okogwu





























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