So, it happened that Monsieur Gauthier was out on a two-day trip and yours faithfully and Mira were practically as free as birds.
You know what they say—when the cat’s away, the mice play. And o, did we play! Lol. Of course we weren’t entirely idle and work free. We still had mails to respond to and documents to rearrange and file. But in the whole, we had a lot of free hours at hand and we did whatever and everything with ‘em free hours. We lounged around the office, chitchatting about every subject under the sun and we made sure the television hanging on the wall of our office was switched permanently from its usual CNN or Aljazeera News channels to movie channels. It was a non-stop two days fun for us and we went at it like two prisoners let out briefly from their cells.
So, we were inside our office, eating our lunch, a little before lunch time. The television was turned on to Telemundo but we weren’t exactly watching the Spanish soap showing at that moment. It was our last day of freedom and fun and we’d been chatting off the hook all day.
“I don’t feel like Luke is the right man for you.” Mira was saying now.
Our chitchatting since yesterday has touched every aspect of our lives and I’d told him about Lucas and Geoffrey.
“Why?” I asked, frowning mildly.
Mira lifted his shoulders casually. “See, I know that Luke’s kind—the tall, dark, handsome and all built male-type—make you ladies go all mushy and dewy eyed. But those kind are mostly like top designer shoes, all gorgeous looking, expensive and delicate. They never can stand even the shortest distance on foot.”
“That is some comparison, Mira.” I pursed my lips. He had a point. But still… “Some top designer shoes can stand long walks. Besides, why walk with a designer pair of shoes for heaven’s sake?”
“Because life is not always a long ride in a fast moving car. Sometimes we have to walk, and many times the distance is always long.” Mira said wisely.
I picked a finger of Irish potato, dipped it into ketchup and chewed. I knew Mira had a good point and he made sense. Life is not always a long, smooth ride under a pleasant weather. The thing was long, smooth rides can be such fun and really tempting. “So, you are saying that Jeff is the right man for me, is that right?”
Mira laid back his soda drink and shrugged. “I can’t easily say that Jeff is the right man for you, but I know… I sense that he is a better man than Luke.”
“Why, because he’s not tall, dark and handsome?”
“Because he’s more than just mere physical looks.” He took a bite of his chicken and munched. Then shrugged again. “You said it yourself, he is more earthy. He is more down to earth and so natural to relate with. And you sense a lack of pretence in him.”
I sighed impatiently. “Yes, I said that. But…”
“Wait. Just let me finish.” Mira cut in. “You actually used the words—‘I sense a lack of pretence in him’—does it mean you sense some pretence in Luke?”
I opened my mouth to argue and then stopped. My God! I’d said that. And it was how I felt, that with Jeff, what you saw was really how it was. But with Luke, there seemed to be some hidden depths. Depths that are murky and unclear.
“I don’t really know if Luke is pretending with me or playing. I just have feel like he’s not being totally open with me. Maybe it’s because of Angela and her unclear position in his life… I don’t know.” I said truthfully.
“I’d be playing God if I said I said I knew either.” Mira said quietly. “But I think that if I were a lady and had these two guys after me, I’d go with the one I feel most comfortable and at peace with.”
I frowned, considering his counsel. It sounded like something PJ would say. Gosh, why was I still hesitating if it all sounded so right and reasonable? “Oh Mira, I swear to you, I’ve never been so confused in my whole life.” I groaned.
“And what exactly is going on here, Miss Olisemeka?”
We both jumped guiltily at the reproving tone of Lady Macbeth from the door. She too had been out of the office on a two-day casual leave and no one was expecting her until tomorrow. What the heck was she doing here now?
“Err… nothing, ma’am.” I stuttered, turning slowly and lifting my takeaway pack off my laps. Since we weren’t supposed to be eating in the office in the first place as that was prohibited, I held onto the plastic dish as I stood there, fidgeting.
Mira had quickly turned off the television and was on his feet too. From the corner of my darting eyes, I could see his head was bowed, no doubt in shame at getting caught.
“This is very disappointing, Miss Olisemeka.” Lady Macbeth continued in her strong, censorious tone. “You as a staff here should be a guiding light to Mr. Dung on the adherence to Company’s rules and regulations, instead you are the one leading him astray. Watching a movie and taking your lunch inside your office? And it is still fifteen minutes shy of lunch time!” She shook her head, truly looking disappointed. “This is unacceptable behaviour, Miss Olisemeka. The absence of your boss does not spell anarchy and freedom to act disorderly.”
I felt so ashamed. And it was because of the quiet disappointment in her voice. My mother used to have that tone when I did something bad. “I am very sorry, ma’am.” I apologised sincerely, managing ot meet her eyes. “I should have known better. I fully take responsibility for what has happened here. I am Mira’s… Miracle’s superior here and should educate him better on the rules and regulations of the company.” I slowly drew in breath. “I am sorry.”
“I too take responsibility for my part in this, ma’am.” Miracle spoke up. “Miss Olisemeka has given me an orientation on the company and if I chose to break any of the rules, I should be held responsible.”
I wasn’t entirely surprised he would take responsibility too. I have come to know Mira and as quiet and shy as he was, he was also honest and conscientious.
Lady Macbeth regarded us for a long moment. A moment that seemed to be as long as an hour as we both stood there, head bowed. Then she expelled a breath. “Very well, I accept your apologies and I hope that this would not repeat itself.”
I was shocked. I’d fully expected a reprimand and a query. I flung up my head and gaped at her, speechless. It was Miracle who first spoke.
“Thank you very much, ma’am.” He sounded really grateful.
I recovered and stammered. “Thank you… Thank you, ma’am. And no, it will never happen again.” I used never because I was sure I wouldn’t dare touch the cobra’s tail, twice… at least not in this matter.
She gave a brief nod, turned and left as quietly as she’d come.
We both stood there, staring after her until we could here her clinking footsteps no more. Then I sank back into my chair and blew out a long, hot breath. “Oh my God, when did she get back?”
“Obviously not too long ago.” Mira was clearing away his pack of food and drink. “What I can’t believe is that she forgave us just like that.” He shook his head. “Or is she saving the punishment for another time?”
I hoped not. “I don’t think so.” I answered, rising and clearing off my stuff too. “Lady Macbeth is the on-the-moment action type of lady. I’ve never known her to delay a deserved punishment.”
I closed what was left of my chicken and fries and dumped it back into its takeaway paper-bag. “I think I’ve lost my appetite.” I said. “I am off to the ladies. Be back later.”
On my way to the ladies, I was stopped by another staff who wanted to alert me on Lady Macbeth’s out-of-the-blue return. I smiled and thanked him, but didn’t bother to tell him he was too late. I wasn’t in the mood to gossip and bad mouth her, especially after we’ve been let off so lightly.
I pushed open the door and walked into the ladies and then had my second shock of the day… and from the same person. Lady Macbeth was at the other end of the powder room section of the ladies, she had her head bowed and was sniffing into the white handkerchief she had over her mouth.
I stared at her, unable to move. A part of me wanted to rush out and pretend I never saw her like this. The other part refused to move and instead replayed a déjà-vu scene of me being at her position some weeks back and Nonye coming in and consoling me.
While I debated whether to go forward or backward, she raised her head, noticed me and quickly straightened up.
“I am very sorry, ma’am. I didn’t know you were inside.” I apologised quickly. It was the only thing I could think to say. Yet, I still couldn’t move. Something was swirling inside of me and I recognised it as sympathy. I felt sorry for her, for whatever reason that would have made her cry in a public ladies room.
She said nothing. Only wet the handkerchief and ran it gently over her face. She worked with such graceful dignity, you wouldn’t have believed she was the one that was bent over in tears a minute ago. Face wiped clean to her satisfaction, she stepped back from the wash-hand sink and looked at me for the first time. Her expression was clear and almost devoid of any emotion.
“Life is not always what we expect, Keziah.” She said quietly, suing my first-name for the first time in a really long while. Then she walked out without another word or glance at me.
I was too dumbstruck to think of what to say. I remained in my position at loss of what to do, just staring at the door she’d slipped through. It wasn’t until another staff opened it and walked in that I recovered enough wit to march into one of the toilet stalls.
What can have made Madame Colette cry and what had she meant by what she’d said? I pondered as I emptied my suddenly full bladder.
At the moment, she had become Madame Colette and no more Lady Macbeth. And I felt more than mere sympathy for her, I wanted to help her. But how?
**Took a moment’s break from my eye-rest and decided to type the episode of KD I already had written on my phone. Hope you enjoyed it. Have a great day. And Hope I can meet up with CC, if not, it’d be Sunday or so. Cheers.**