15 FREELY – Depending!

Accommodation at the place on the card was on Banana Island! The family had never heard of it but the driver exclaimed and talked about it till they arrived at a huge fenced compound with two detached duplexes.

“Ah, una no no Banana Island? Pastor, ah. Na the richest people in the world live here o.” He went on. “So you get person wey fit lodge you for here? Banana Island? You sabi how much rent dey cost here?” He didn’t say though.

The name on the card was Ajua. Pastor Kent found her behind a reception island, and explained why he’d come.

Ajua had a flat face, and despite being neatly made-up, lacked beauty or enthusiasm. At least she didn’t put up an air.

She batted artificial eyelashes. “Welcome. Where’s your luggage?”

Pastor Kent told her and she instructed him to bring it in. With the J5 driver, the family took the suitcases and bags to a first-floor apartment. Ajua gave Kent a set of keys, and excused herself.

The driver slapped his head. “Kai! I don enter house for Banana Island.”

“This house is ny-ceee.” Edidiong looked around. “Wow.”

“Huh, thank you so much.” Kent looked at the driver.

With the new development, he couldn’t send the man away empty. He rolled the bills he’d originally thought he’d give for the trip to Uyo, and handed them to him. The man paused his amazement at the beautiful parlour, and gasped.

“Pastor! Thank you.” He grinned. “Let me come and go.” He pushed the money into his pocket and went off humming.

“That man got his reward right away,” Annie said. She sighed heavily. “What now?”

Her question got everyone’s attention. Kent looked at each person before he spoke. “We’ll sleep tonight, and pray. Let’s see if the woman who sent us here will show. If she doesn’t, I’ll call the driver to pick us the day after tomorrow.” He shrugged. “We’ll have to go back to original plan.”

Eno burst into tears, shocking all. Annie glared at her. “What’s the matter?”

“I’m tired.” She stomped her feet. “I’m just tired.”

Chioma dropped into a soft leather seat and moaned. “At least we have beds for one more night, thank you God.”

“As in.” Ima chuckled. “I was just thinking of how I will sleep inside that horrible bus.”

Edidiong clapped. “Well, let’s find the beds.”

He walked toward a door, and disappeared inside. The other children followed. Chioma took Eno’s shoulder and patted it as they trailed the younger ones.

Their parents heard a lot of “oohs” and “aahs” but couldn’t rejoice. Annie looked around the perfect finish of the décor, the beautiful marble walls and floor. Asian rug, and marching blinds. The leather upholstery which matched the glass dining set at one side of the room.

“I think they are playing with us. The man says go, the wife says don’t go.”

Kent scratched his neck. “You don’t know if that woman is the wife.”

Freke ran into the parlour. “Mummy, come. Come. This house is very nice. They have water bed.” She pulled Annie’s hand. “There are four rooms and all are very big.”

Edidiong strolled in. “I’m taking a room to myself.”

Freke gasped. “What of Idara?”

Edidiong laughed. “I don’t know. He’ll sleep with you girls.”

“Take the bags inside,” Kent said. “Freke, call the others.”

“Yes, Daddy.”

Annie shuddered. “Let me find the kitchen. Hopefully they have a kettle or something.”

She opened a door close to the dining, and indeed it was the kitchen. For a moment, she stood rooted to the floor, stupefied by how big and modern it was. She walked slowly to a 2-door French-door refrigerator, and opened it. There was water, soft drinks, and some fruits, butter, and jam.

“Lord Jesus!”

She clasped her hand over her mouth to curb her vocal explosion, and inspected the cabinets, and a small pantry she discovered by the corner.

When she returned to the parlour, no one was there. On legs as weak as cooked noodles, she found her family in one of the big rooms, chattering excitedly.

“There is plenty of food and water.” Tears gathered in her eyes. “I’m—oh thank you God.” The children shouted with joy.

Kent waved. “Go and eat. Chioma, coordinate them.” He walked to his wife, and pulled her into a hug.

“Why are you crying? Everything will be alright.”

Annie gripped his shirt front. “Ah Kentoro, what are we doing here? What have we gotten ourselves into?” She shook him. “Let’s go back while we still can.”

He cupped her face. “God is a great storyteller, and I think he’s telling one great story right now.” He kissed her nose. “I won’t want to leave the scene when the suspense is so high.”

“This suspense is too much. Who was that woman? And why would she send us here?”

“I don’t know, and I don’t care. Tonight, I want to enjoy my wife.”

She shoved him. “Enjoy under high tension like this.”

“Food is served,” Eno said and left before her parents could turn to her.

Annie pushed out of Kent’s embrace. “I’m hungry, please. The food I saw looks too good.”

She left the room, and Kent smiled. “After you eat, then what?” He followed her out.

Ife is officially an adult!

Ah, I’m overwhelmed today. My baby is now officially an adult. So babes Ifeoluwa, now you can vote, drink (lol), marry (someone we know, lol) and just continue to be the awesome young woman you are.

 

 

 

God bless your new age and multiply you on every side. You will be celebrated by many nations and generations. Your dreams will all come true, and your family will rejoice with you in them. I love you, babes. Make it always count.

14 FREELY – Defeating!

The family had an impromptu night vigil and slept in the early hours of the morning. Those who could, at least.

At about eight, Kent woke. It was clear news had reached their “friends” they had the wrong successor because no one showed up.

He tapped Annie awake. “I have to get to town and find a driver willing to come and pick us from here.”

She grunted. “Okay.”

When he was gone, and everyone finally woke up, they packed their bags, and waited for the outcome of Pastor Kent’s search. The sauce from the day before was finished but a loaf of bread remained. Annie and the kids shared it, and finished the water and drinks from the left over.

Meanwhile, Annie suggested they praised God in anticipation of a favourable result. The session went on for almost four hours. Pastor Kent met them and joined in briefly, and then rounded up with a prayer.

Everyone was eager.

“We got a bus. There’s good news and there’s bad.”

Annie heaved a heavy sigh. “Hmm.”

“The bad news first. We have to sleep in the bus tonight.” Everyone groaned. “The good news is, at least we got a bus, and a driver willing to come here to pick us. He will be here in another two hours.” Kent clapped as though to round them all up. “We will not face the embarrassment of being thrown out.”

Annie breathed in. “What if he doesn’t come?”

“He will.” He looked at the children. “Come on, go and pack up.” No one moved.

Annie clasped her hands across her chest. “We were trusting God they would come and tell us otherwise, that it was—a prank.”

“A prank? Annie, please.” He clapped again. “Go and pack.”

The children all moved together.

“I pray he will come. All this embarrassment.” Annie sighed. “What about payment? And are we going to Aba or Uyo?”

“The driver agreed to take half of the fares. We will pay the rest when we arrive.” Kent moaned. “Uyo. Nothing is left in Aba.”

“Did you call Senior Evangelist about it?”

“I will call him when we are well on the way tomorrow afternoon.” Kent moved toward the staircase. Annie’s voice stopped him.

“Ah, Kent. Don’t you think you should call now? What if we get to Uyo and there’s no accommodation anywhere for us? Where will we go, all of us?!”

Kent snapped an exclamation but controlled it. After all, she was right. If he’d gotten to hear from Pastor Favour before packing up and leaving Aba, none of this stress would have happened.

“No.” He closed his eyes. “I will call tomorrow afternoon. Uyo is home for us. We can never be stranded like this.”

He went up the stairs and his wife followed him. Grim, they packed and waited downstairs. The food had digested and stomachs churned. There was no energy left to pray or worship. Everyone sat in resignation.

Four hours on, the J5 van arrived. Annie exclaimed. They had to sleep in this? J5 vans didn’t have good seats. They’d have to squeeze in. She thought of the more than twelve-hour journey ahead.

“Lord, have mercy,” she breathed.

No one complained. They were first and foremost grateful the driver showed up. Barely five minutes after his arrival, a red GMC Yukon drove up and Pastor Favour came out of the flashy jeep with Victor in tow.

Kent and the bus driver were stacking the first of the suitcases into the J5. Pastor Favour walked past without answering any of their greetings, and went into the house. Annie, and the children greeted and he waved his hand at them. Victor shoved on dark glasses and didn’t say a word.

The two men walked up the stairs, and after a while, returned downstairs. He walked into the kitchen, and back outside, where he stood by his jeep till the family left.

“It is not easy to be a Christian,” Annie blew steam out of her mouth.

Eno asked. “Who is he?”

Edidiong snapped. “He’s the pastor who came to take Daddy and Mummy last time. Don’t you remember?”

Eno hissed. “If I remember will I be asking?”

Everyone went quiet afterwards.

Annie giggled. “When we get to the park, we will find something to eat. Everyone is hungry and a hungry man is an angry man.”

No one found her statement funny.

The driver approached the entrance of the camp, and nearly ran a woman down. She stepped in front of the van, close enough, and moved aside just in time. The skilled driver shouted. He looked at the mirror, cursing her. But when Kent turned, he realized she was waving frantically.

“Maybe she needs a ride.”

The driver sneered. “That’s why she wanted me to kill her?”

Kent shook his head. “Please stop. She’s still waving at us.”

Amidst grumbling, the driver stopped in the middle of the road, and only pulled over to the shoulder when Kent insisted.

The woman did not seem in a hurry as she approached the van. She walked over to Kent’s side in the front seat.

He arched an eyebrow. “You need a ride to Lagos?”

She blinked. Her face was wrapped in a shawl almost like a hijab, only the scarf nearly covered her eyes. She raised her hand and produced a business card.

“Go to the address. Ask for the name on the card. They will give you accommodation and food.” She stepped back. “Please. Sir.”

She crossed the road, and stupefied, Kent followed her with his gaze. She half-ran to a small car parked several feet away, and drove off.

TUESDAY ROSE BUSHES – STALKER

What started as a silly bet turns to a race for survival.

Thanks for voting last week. 57% wants our Stalker to live alone, and 79% want her to have a regular career job! It’s forming. We will now vote her race/ethnicity.

Take 3 – Where is she from?

Where the stalker is from will determine which country this story will be set in. Is she African? And if so, is she Nigerian? To help me the writer, I will keep the options few so we don’t get confused. The truth is, a stalker anywhere in the world will behave the same, so really her race/ethnicity does not impact her negative behaviour, but rather the facility she has at her disposal.

As a regular career lady, she is enlightened and this gives us a lot of props to work with. I am excited about where this story is going.

Please vote now.

Next week, I will create two simple profiles we will vote on, and then we’re done voting and our story can start in May! Yay.

From time to time, we will vote on the course and twist in the story.

Stay connected.

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/night-stalker-person-scary-hide-423704/

MONDAY CHOCOLATE MELTDOWN – #BASISFORLOVE

I picked my phone more than twice to call but couldn’t. Finally, sleep took over my exhausted body.

The following day came and went at work. No call, no message, no Aaron. I half-expected to meet another bunch of roses when I got to Salome’s but there was nothing. We closed from the salon, and went to our apartment.

My sister was withdrawn and I wondered why. Since I wasn’t in the mood to tell her Aaron and I had a fight, it made sense to ignore her moodiness too.

We were in bed with the lights out when Salome mumbled, “I go find man wey koret like you, uhn, Shirley?”

I turned toward her. “Wetin be dat na?”

“Aaron bring me gift again today. Say hin wan buy me so I go make sure Shirley no go ever follow anoda man.”

I gasped. “Which gift hin bring you?”

“Jewelry set. Yarin, and chain. Dat tin fine I no fit let any wan see ahn. Dem go tif am.”

She stood abruptly, and walked to her wardrobe in the dark. She was back with a small case within seconds. I snapped on our bedside light. The jewelry was the most beautiful I’d ever seen. What game was my boyfriend playing. Yet, I couldn’t bring myself to tell my sister what happened. She’d feel responsible. And want to return the gifts.

I touched the expensive piece. “It’s so beautiful. Looks like diamond o!”

“Heh! Diamond kwa! Where I wan sabi wear am to?”

It was hard to sleep that night, and the following one after I got to Salome’s and found everyone sharing from a box of exotic chocolates by Roberto Cavalli. I never heard of it but a loud woman in the shop couldn’t stop her boastful tale of how the chocolate cost over a hundred thousand naira.

Aaron still didn’t contact me.

On Thursday night, Aaron sent Salome a pearl set. I picked my phone with shaky hands, after I made sure my sister was fast asleep, and saw a text from him…

Roses and chocolates

Diamonds and pearls

It’s what you deserve my love

Call me or I die

I smiled then hissed. What nonsense. Who deserved all that when we couldn’t communicate. I dialed his number.

He picked up at the first ring. “I’m here, outside. Just by the roadside.”

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/rose-flower-nature-floral-romance-402093/

Check out other titles in my #TrueDream novel series on amazon, okadabooks, iBooks, and smashwords.

                

I need your feedback too. Thank you!

13 FREELY – Discerning!

Pastor Kentoroabasi Etim stood in the dark so long his knees buckled. Pastor Favour’s words reverberated in his mind till he thought he was hallucinating. Could this be? Truly the love of money was the root of all evil. Had he become so covetous he couldn’t discern? Go back to what?

Resources were so scarce his house had been reallocated before he packed out of it. His church was reassigned. If he had to go anywhere now, it was to Uyo, to sit in the congregation till there was a vacancy. The future of his children’s education thrown into uncertainty.

He found the flashy pastor’s words unbelievable but how could he know? His name may be unusual but how could he ascertain he was the only pastor on earth with it?

“Holy Spirit, help me.”

He made the walk back to the house, his heart heavy. He had never been thrown into such a controversy. He had suffered lack, and pain for the gospel’s sake. He knew how to abase but nothing like this had ever been thrown at him. To be so convinced of an abundance only to discover emptiness. Would his children ever understand?

Fifteen-year old Edidiong was so sarcastic about everything, would the boy be able to handle this complexity? Eno had sworn never to marry a pastor so many times, it had become a curse in his ears. How would he tell her he missed this? Due to moving around so many times, his children had attended more than their share of schools. Constantly being the new kid on the block was their plague.

He arrived at the entrance of the house and his heart thudded. They should all be asleep, it was close to midnight. The easiest thing to do was not to take any responsibility. Tell them exactly what happened, and the need to go back to where they came from.

He opened the door, and was surprised to see Annie seated in the parlour, her arms folded across her chest combat style.

She flew to her feet. “Aha, Kentoro? Where have you been?”

He opened his mouth to reply but a sob escaped. Annie ran to him, fluttered. He may have been emotional in her presence before but then, they would have both been in a situation obviously terrifying.

She gripped his face and looked into his eyes. “What happened?”

He drew in a shuddering breath, and told her everything.

“It’s a lie. It’s not possible.” Annie stepped back. “What’s wrong with these carnal people?”

Kent lowered himself into the couch where she recently vacated. “We have to tell the children in the morning and make arrangements to leave.”

“Leave and go where? Will you call your senior missionary and tell him we’re coming back? After all that happened?”

He could barely hear his own voice. “What else can we do?”

Annie paced. “We’re not leaving. Tell them we want to see proof you’re not the one.”

“The real person is here. He sat on the altar tonight.”

“That’s what they said. And it’s not true.” Annie screeched. “We’re not going anywhere. They should come and throw us out. After all we suffered to come back?”

Kent covered his face. Annie proceeded to vent. She talked rapidly and stomped about the room. Her husband did not say a word.

“I’m just tired,” she said. “What kind of life is this?” She heaved. “How can we miss it so flatly?”

“That is my biggest question too. How did someone not just discern? Am I truly called, if this can happen to me?”

Annie sobbed. “What are we going to do? The children will be so upset.”

“I don’t even have any money. And we owe on the transport down here.”

Annie’s shoulders shook with defeat as she cried.

They turned at the sound of footsteps, and saw Chioma at the foot of the stairs.

“I’m sorry, ma. And daddy. I couldn’t help but hear your conversation.”

“It is well, Chioma.” Kent stood. “Go to bed. We will sort this out tomorrow morning. I’m sure we can get a vehicle.” He looked at his broken wife. “I will let Pastor Favour know we can’t leave tomorrow but will go the day after.” He climbed the stairs though he heard his wife’s sobs.

Chioma hugged Annie as soon Kent left. “Mummy, light can never be conquered by darkness.”

Annie sniffed. “Ah! What are we going to tell these children? And what about you. You left your salon just to follow us.”

“We are all awake. We heard everything Daddy said. Everyone understands we are in battle. And we can only win through prayers.”

Annie covered her face. What had prayer done for them so far?

Happy Good Friday

Happy Good Friday!

May the goodness of God swallow any trace of sorrow, pain and distress in Jesus name!

Matthew 15:28 KJV

[28] Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Faith sees opportunity even where others see disappointment. The woman believed that the ‘crumbs’ were substantial enough to change the circumstances of her daughter! If ‘dogs’ can access the favor of their master, how much more those who are children of the house!

In Jesus name we see and seize your opportunities for our lives even where others see disappointment! Thank you Jesus for satisfying us with the ‘bread’ of the Kingdom!

#LearningFromTheWordsOfJesus

Used by permission of Apostle Afolarin Ogunyinka @pastorflo

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/passion-three-crosses-cross-2168797/