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“So you’re telling me my father is dead? Oh my God!”
Morenike burst into tears again, and buried her head in Rose’s chest. Her shoulders shook as she gave vent to her emotions, while her friend kept trying to pacify her.
“It’s okay Mo’, don’t cry dear. At least he’s gone now, gone with all the pain and sorrow he brought into your life. It’s now time to get yourself together and move on to greater things. “
Morenike looked up, her long lashes glistening with tears.
“No Rose, no! You don’t know what this means? He’s gone, and that means I’m all alone in this world, an orphan. You don’t know how that feels right now? I feel lost and alone. Yes he took advantage of my innocence and did me wrong, but that doesn’t mean I want him dead. No!”
She burst into another round of tears.
Femi had been standing around for the last five minutes, looking very uncomfortable. He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do to show his empathy as events played out. Morenike hadn’t reacted too strongly to his appearance earlier, as her major concern had been more about how he came about her father’s phone. His explanation had given her the bad news, and she had been inconsolable since then. Thank God Rose was here. He let her continue comforting her distraught friend and walked out of the room.
“Don’t you at least want to see his body?”
“No I don’t, it’ll only make the pain harder to bear. It’s still like one very bad dream from which I’m supposed to wake up. I think I better just go home and make arrangements for his burial instead.”
Morenike’s eyes were red swollen from crying all night. She hadn’t slept at all, and Rose had been cuddling her most of the time.
There was a knock on the door.
“Come in.” Rose said.
The door opened and Femi walked in looking slightly refreshed, although he had a hint of stubble on his jaw which added a touch of ruggedness to his natural charm. The white coat was gone, leaving his blue shirt and jeans. His sleeves were rolled up to his elbows, and he cut a real dashing figure.
“Hi girls” he greeted with a smile.
Only Rose offered an audible response, Morenike simply nodded.
“Did you girls sleep at all?”
This time nobody answered. He sighed.
“I’m really sorry about how everything has turned out, but there’s nothing we can do about the past now except move on. Morenike needs to rest, and same goes for you Rose. All the outpouring of emotions is a sure drain of energy. I’m going off duty in half an hour, why don’t I drop you guys at home now since there’s nothing else for you to do here. The corpse has already been moved to the morgue and it’ll be there for as long as you need to make all the arrangements for the burial. I know a funeral parlor that can handle all that for you if you don’t want the stress. How about that?”
Morenike just sat there sniffling, until Rose spoke up.
“Thank you Femi, I think it’s a fantastic idea if we leave here. I’m not sure about going home though, as there might be too many fresh memories there right now. I’ll suggest we find a good secluded hotel somewhere and chill there for a while to let her get back into her stride. Only then should we think about going home.”
“I think that’s a very good idea Rose, but you know she can’t be left alone don’t you? I can sneak in and visit a few times but she needs someone constantly by her side, a familiar face.”
“I know that Femi. I’ve already called my husband that I won’t be back for a while based on what’s happened here. He’ll take good care of Jennifer in my absence.”
“Great. I’ll go downstairs while you girls tidy up. I’m sure I should be able to find a good hotel where I can drop you off before I head for home. You probably will need to buy some stuff, like clothing and other consumables to make your stay easier, so I’ll meet up with you later in the day to take you shopping.”
“That’s okay. We’ll be down in a bit.”
“I’ll send one of the nurses up just in case you need anything.”
He strode to the door and went out.
The elderly Matron who had just resumed duty playfully scolded Femi. She had already heard the details of what happened in her absence.
“Haba, Doctor Femi! You of all people should know better than drag both of these ladies out of here like that without something to warm them up. You always forget that not everybody is a machine like you abi?”
Femi tried to defend himself.
“But they didn’t even say they were hungry, and even if they were, there’ll be breakfast at the…”
She didn’t let him finish.
“Hmmmm, I know you’ll try to wriggle your way out. Turning to the girls she continued, Girls, I do apologize on his behalf. You know how driven men are with their insensitivity. Let’s go to my office so I can make you some hot tea myself. I have an unopened box of Danish cookies that’ll go just right with it this early morning, especially with the wet weather outside. Shall we?”
Femi threw up his hands in mock surrender.
“Okay. So Femi is the bad guy now right? I kuku accept all charges. Meanwhile no one is asking me if I also need something to warm me up after working all night o. Diaris God sha. You girls go ahead and enjoy Ma Adejare’s delicious hot cocoa. I’ll be here waiting, cold and alone, since I’ve offended the gods.”
This time, even Morenike who had been morose all morning chuckled.
Thirty minutes later and they were done. In a single file they left the building, Femi first, followed by Rose. Morenike brought up the rear. Both girls had an umbrella each to protect them from the slight drizzle. There was some wind too, and the fronds of the palm in the neighboring compound struck an awkward rhythm in the early morning quiet.
Femi had no cover, choosing instead to run towards his car immediately he got out of the hospital building. He fumbled with the keys a bit before he yanked the door open, slid into the seat and started the Pathfinder’s engine, then shut the door and put the car into reverse with the aim of meeting the girls halfway.
The hospital gates clanged open.
Almost immediately someone screamed from behind the moving car, louder than the humming engine.
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