Come up to meet you, tell you I’m sorry, you don’t know how lovely you are….
Coldplay was whispering sensous serenade into my ears through my dangling earphone, I was nodding half consiously like an agama lizard that had just skipped from some three storeyed building; that kind of satisfied nod. Each musical note, each sweet croon trickled into my brain like droplets of cold water, creating a soothing rivulet within my mind. I kept nodding.
“I just love Coldplay…” I muttered almost inaudibly, simultaneously releasing an effortless sigh of satisfaction as the song rippled to an end. As it did, I twitched a bit on my chair, resting myself better. I was reclined on the soft furniture with my eyes closed- they were still closed – and merely needed to rest my back better as it was beginning to ache. I tapped the play button on my pod and resigned myself to another lovely trip with Coldplay, O’ from the Rush of Blood to the Head’ Album was already on its second string, when I thought I heard something; a statement perhaps.
At first I couldn’t pick the words, but someone had said something along the lines of “me too”. It wasn’t directed at me though. I smiled unnecessarily and slid into a daze as the first wave of beautiful symphony took my ears.
Wait…..it had been directed at me! A reply to my mutter perhaps. I jerked from my daze, opening my eyes as I realized how embarrasing the scenario I would be facing could be. That was when I noticed her for the first time.
She had been sitting by my side on the chair. She must have helped herself to the furniture while I had been lodt between a “A Rush of Blood to the Head’ and ‘Ghost Stories.’
“Hi…” she said…flashing the most magnificent set of teeth I ever saw. Well probably not the most magnificent. But close. They were darn white. Why was I looking at her teeth?
“Hey…” I replied. Trying my best to sound suave. Truth is, I was so ruffled by the prospect of her unexpected appearance and was at that moment totally without an iota of composure. I took in her appearance diligently; oh, I have a habit of checking people out – it comes with being a sucker for details. So, she had these pair of eyes one could describe as glittery. They reflected the light in these illustrious opic beams, shimmering like jade does in the dark of night. She had a face one would describe as cute oval for want of a better descriptive. No, not oblong, certainly cute oval. She was petite, in this exciting way. I can’t even explain what I mean by that. Her hair was rounded up to one side and her mouth seemed to be in a constant pout, with lips like Kim Kardashian had a baby with Elvis Presley. She was not bad….Not half bad. Who am I kidding? She was gorgeous, and appealing too, if I would not be so pretentious. She noticed that I was checking her out, but instead of being awkward, she smiled. She actually smiled -took it as a complement if I could guess – the second time that evening I was having to look at her teeth without knowing why.
“Pardon my manners…I was deeply engaged” I offered, trying to be as polite as possible. I was for some unknown reason readily willing to be of my best behavior.
“Oh…..I saw as much. No offence taken” She said still smiling. I took that as a cue. She seemed bored anyways.
“You like Coldplay?” I asked. More of an assertion than a question.
“Who doesn’t? They are just epic. I just love their thing. From their instrumentals down to the wordings of their song and certainly, their unique style and how they somehow manage to blend so many cultures into their sound. Its pure beauty in my opinion. They are my favorite band”
And she talked quiet well too.
“Wow….you are really into them I see” I offered in an overemphasized note, smirking mischeviously as I did.
“I guess we already have one thing in common” I added.
“Unfortunately so” she offered rolling her piercing eyes in what was certainly mock disappointment. This was going to be fun.
“You were listening to ‘The Scientist’ I suppose?” she asked.
“Yeah I was. How did you know that” I asked, feigning surprise.
“You were humming and I know the song by heart. How hard could it have been?”
“I see…..” I started, bent on keeping the conversation. “So you know a lot about Coldplay I bet. You probably know all their songs by heart?”
She laughed. “Not at all. ‘The Scientist is kind of very common. But I know a lot about them. Like I said, they are my favorite band. I’ve heard a good number of their songs too, maybe 6 albums in my pod? I don’t keep track though”
“Now we’re getting cocky eh?” I said, winking jokingly. She seemed to be very easily taken to humor.
“Not at all.” She replied, giggling almost childishly, “ I am just stating a matter of fact. Besides,” She continued, “modesty is an unnecessary virtue at times it would seem”
She spoke with such an off-handed austerity, one that would have been a bit intimidating if it was not obvious she was acting it up.
“Like I said cocky…”
“As you wish” she offered softly. Almost a whisper. Flashing her smile again. She was looking squarely at me now, She held my eyes and wandered a bit on my face, her eyes boring holes into my pores through those laser lids of hers. I grew stiff as quick as Thor’s lighting. What was she staring at?
“Uhmm…….you have stuff on your eyelashes” she said finally, when she noticed I was a bit uncomfortable.
“Oh. I’ll just take it off then…” I said, fidgeting with my eyelashes on cue. Swiftly and without invitation, she moved her slender finger over to my eyes and plucked the debris off, all in one smooth movement.
“So, back to Coldplay…” l began, realizing I already had an angle I was willing to dabble with her on. Besides, I needed to dispel the building tension… “ Do you know that Chris Martins wasn’t always the Leader of the band?”
“You dont say. I don’t think I ever heard anything of the sort” she quipped. Genuinely interested in the suggestion. She looked intruiged. Good for me.
“Ah…indeed there used to be a sixth guy amongst them. Some nice chap like that. He left the group in the late 90s” Her eyes were intent again. Glistering…..like wet apple. “ Truth is, I even know the ol’ chap personally” I concluded. Realization suddenly dawned on her as her lips curled into a smile.
“Really?” she asked, playing along. She seemed amused by my sorry attempt at a joke. “ and who was this sixth man if indeed he exists?”
“Sure they exist. Infact, They are sitting right by you…”
She laughed now, I was rewarded. And the best laugh I ever heard. Perhaps. Not really. These things are tricky. How does one rate laughter anyways. She turned to her right and away from me, in search of the mythical man that was supposed to be sitted by her.
“Certainly, you don’t mean him?” she asked now. Turning to face me. She was pointing to the old woman at the far end of the chair, who had been struggling with a fiercely disagreeable young boy.
“Not at all. I was referring to myself. You see, I used to play tambourine for the group, plus I was lead vocalist sometime in … 1992?”
She laughed again. This time with more mirth. I realized I liked her already.
“Wow….now that’s cool. So, like rumored, you left the band eh?” she engaged…playing the fool.
“Yeah. Unfortunately. I had a bigger calling”
“Let me guess….IT?”
“Permit me to call you a genius” I said. I laughed now. I had earned it. I handed her my card. She must have noticed the rather copious designs on my shirt. ‘IT Department’ was carelessly etched on it.
“You are Michael Adebayo?” she asked. Her question was rhetorical at best.
“And you are?” I motioned quickly, offering my hand in mock courtesy. She took it in her soft tiny own.
“Michelle” she said at the same time tucking my card into her purse. “My friends call me Mitch. It is an unusual name I know” she specified in the preemptive.
“On the contrary, I think it’s a great name and I am ‘Michael’”
‘I already know that…?”
“I know…I was pointing out the similarity of our names. Wow….we already have too much in common”
“Don’t flatter yourself dear.” She was smiling even more warmly now.
“Don’t worry. I wouldn’t want to leave you out. We can both flatter me if you want.” I said. Tucking my head into a pose. She giggled yet again.
Then she stood up all of a sudden. She was staring at her watch. God…this here, this is the reason why I hate watches. Man I hate watches!
“Time’s up I guess?” I asked, trying too hard not to sound disappointed. I almost ended up sounding arsey.
“Yeah” she said, not hiding her disappointment. “That last call was for my flight. So…..I guess it’s time to ‘fly’” she said, trying to offer a joke.
I laughed for the sake of courtesy. I had no stomach for mirth at this point.
“You are headed to PH I suppose”
“Yeah….it’s my first time travelling there by air too. I have an urgent errand to run. I work in a bank by the way.”
“Cool. Good luck then” I mumbled standing up for no reason. I really didn’t know what to be saying. I just mumbled. “My flight leaves in an hour. I’m headed to Lagos. Got some stuff to run”
“Well…good luck to you too then.” She spoke after a while. Slowly, she picked her bag and headed it a direction. I just stood there dazed. She walked very tentatively, eloquent steps….
“So….if you ever return from your errand….and you feel like listening to some good ol’ tambourine…” I started. But then I stopped. No she stopped me….with a quick smile that said it all. I just relaxed and looked on. She continued walking, but then stopped after some several steps. She turned to look at me. She wanted to say something. But she pursed her lips – more like bit it – and turned away.
And I knew it. I knew I would see her again. It wasn’t going to be the end of us. She had my number. She would call. She would call. We would chat up and meet in some fancy restaurant when we got back to Abuja. We had a connection, she had no ring on right?
But she never did call. And we never met in the waiting booth of an airport by the sweets of providence again. Her plane crashed that day. We heard the news some days later. No one survived.