An Engagement Not to Remember
By Chisom Sylvia Chika-ilo
Mara stared at the gift box containing the cake but wasn’t in any hurry to unwrap it, to the bewilderment of the delivery man. “Ladies are known to pounce and tear the wrappers off gifts once they set eyes on them, this one is in a bad mood”, he thought as he waited for her signature.
Three days ago, Mara had stumbled on a text from Damian, Eric’s best friend while using his phone to text a friend because she was short of airtime. It said the cake had been pre-booked and every arrangement was in order for the surprise birthday and engagement party. The excitement from the text spurred her to snoop further. She was in utter disbelief. The texts had been forwarded to virtually everyone she knew: families, friends and colleagues.
“Wow”, she heaved. “So, this is why Eric has been acting weird these days, hiding things and all.”
She returned the phone to him when she was done and pretended to have seen nothing while waiting excitedly for her birthday which was just two days away. She could still remember the first day she met Eric, roughly sixteen months ago. She was on her way back from the market with a friend Ada when a car stopped and the driver beckoned on Ada. Ada and the stranger had chatted for so long and Mara was getting pissed because of the scorching sun when she heard him.
“They are taking so long, aren’t they?”
She turned around to see who that was. It was the other passenger. Mara examined the man closely, taking in every detail of his –from the strands of hair standing tall on his head to the blue pair of jeans he had donned.
“Yes, they really are. I’m actually irritated already”, she said, looking in the direction of the car.
“I am Eric, and you are?”
Ada returned immediately to cut them short and apologized for taking long.
“Mara, I guess we have to talk some other time if you don’t mind”, Eric said.
“Okay, I know you are going to ask for my contact next, so give me your phone so I can save it in there myself.”
They all laughed as they exchanged contacts.
He had called that evening and many other times for a whole month before she agreed to date him. Now they had had a smooth relationship but Mara had no idea Eric had wanted to make things official this soon.
“Ma’am, you need to sign here,” the deliveryman said, pulling her out of her reverie. She hissed, took the paper and signed. Absently. She looked at the gift box as the deliveryman departed and remembered Eric’s plan. He had planned to slip a ring into the cake box and have all the invited guests around her apartment staring while she opened it, a surprise lurking inside.
Everyone would have been here chanting birthday songs and clicking away on their camera phones. If it were not for the unfortunate day yesterday had turned out to be. A car crash had claimed Eric’s life in the morning. A tear dropped from her left eye as she slumped to the floor and wept.
Chisom Sylvia Chika-ilo is a Nigerian and studied Mass Communication at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra state, Nigeria. She loves literature and has many unpublished works in all genres.