SHILOH rummaged her wardrobe, certain she had a new pack of sanitary towels in there.
“I bought a new pack when I realised I had only two towels left from my last month’s pack. I never stay without a fresh pack handy.”
From her reclined position on the lounge chair in her bedroom, Joy rolled her eyes at the muffled complaining words. “Maybe you thought you bought a new pack but actually didn’t.”
“I did buy it!” Shiloh yanked her head out of the tees-session of her wardrobe to glare at the opened doorway that walked through a foyer into her mother’s bedroom.
“Okay, don’t bite off your mother’s head. She’s only an innocent bystander.” Joy’s voice was full of laughter. “Now, I would be a suspect but nature has put me on the no-red-dots lists for life.”
“This is not a joke, mum. I have a new pack in this house. I bought it just two weeks ago when I shopped for Provisions.” Shiloh dropped to her knees and fished her hand around the last compartment of the wardrobe.
Not that there was much to ransack through there. It was the part of the wardrobe where she dumped easy-wear shoes, sandals and slip-ons. And of course, it wasn’t there. It wouldn’t be, Shiloh grumped, pushing back to her feet. She never put it there. It was always kept in the upper part of the wardrobe, along with her cosmetics and makeup bag.
“Have you tried looking through the Provisions cabinet in the kitchen?” Joy asked. She didn’t, of course, think it would be there. Shiloh was very meticulous about unpacking her shopping bags whenever she shopped.
“It can’t be there.” Shiloh impatiently dismissed the suggestion. “I unpacked every bag, like I always do, once I was back home that day.”
“It wouldn’t hurt if you look.” Joy returned.
“It won’t be there.” Shiloh muttered under her breath.
But since she’d looked through practically every inch of her wardrobe and her desk drawer, and the bathroom cabinets, checking the Provisions cabinet… and maybe all the cabinets in the kitchen, wouldn’t indeed hurt.
“I told you, mum, that it won’t be there.” Shiloh complained two minutes later, storming back into the foyer and stopping to suspiciously eye her mother’s bedroom.
Joy caught the look. “Want to check if I snuck it in here in an attempt to remember the good old days?” She teased.
“Very funny, mum.” Shiloh swept into her room. “God, I hate having to search fruitlessly for something. Where can this thing be for heaven’s sake?”
Patience has never been Shiloh’s strongest virtue, Joy mused, casting her an amused glance as she paced the centre of her bedroom. “Now, if your brother was here, I’d begin to worry if he’d sneaked it out to gift to some girlfriend.”
“Stop being a comedian, mum. You know how irritable I can be when I have something misplaced.”
“Yeah, like a porcupine.” Joy chuckled.
Shiloh ignored the tease and grumbled. “What am I going to do now? I’ll definitely be needing that pack after I’ll use my last towel this evening.”
“Just go out and buy a new pack. If and when the other one turns up, you add it to your collection, no harm done. I’m sure it would still be usable when it does.” Joy’s tone was exasperated.
“But I didn’t want to go out at all today.” It was the sole reason she’d been ransacking everywhere for it. “Even told Ene and Chioma I won’t be going with them to the movies anymore. I just wanted to stay indoors and finish the book I was reading.”
“Twenty minutes to and fro the supermarket isn’t going to ruin that plan.” Joy stretched back on the recliner chair and shut her eyes. “Stop grumbling and go buy a new pack. I need some silence to rest abeg.”
Shiloh threw her a sulky look. It was all right for her; she wasn’t rising from her lounge chair and going out to trek about under this hot sun, was she?
Exhaling, and reminding herself that mutters and complaints never achieved anything, she strode to her wardrobe to slide on her this-season knockabout sandals, then picked her phone and purse before striding out of the room.
“I’m leaving you to rest oh, mum.” She muttered and then managed a grudging smile at her mother’s melodramatic sigh. She was so not getting her anything from the store.
But of course, she could never resist being at the supermarket and not browsing the candy and chocolate session. And her mother would narrow her eyes menacingly at her if she dared return without so much as one KitKat for her. She didn’t know which one of them was more sweet-toothed of the two of them.
This was one of the reasons she most often preferred to shop with budgeted cash instead of her debit card. Spending extra cash she shouldn’t be spending today, Shiloh silently grumbled as she picked one extra Snickers. She wouldn’t buy any sweets next week just to make up for this free-spree spending, she promised herself, turning out of the aisle.
And she saw him.
“Oh Jesus!” Shiloh groaned under her breath.
“Well… hello.” Surprise lit Jeth’s face and then an appreciative smile spread over it. “Shopping?”
“Done. And going home.” She shouldn’t have bought what she came for and gone straight home, Shiloh thought sourly.
“Me too.” He jerked his shopping bag. “This is such a pleasure running into you here.”
“Not from my end.” Shiloh mumbled and instantly coloured at the mean words.
But he only laughed. “Well, it’s definitely a pleasure for me. My elder sister—the eldest; I’ve got two of them. She put to bed the early hours of this morning.”
“Oh. Congratulations to her. And to your family.” Why was he sharing family news with her? “Is that why you are shopping—for her?” Shiloh aimed a glance at the basket crammed with a couple of fruity drinks, biscuits and the likes.
“Shopping?” He glanced down at the basket, laughed and shook his head. “Oh no, this is for me. I’m celebrating. We’re all celebrating. This is her first. Their first, her and her husband. They’ve been trying for eight years and it just wasn’t happening. Then last year, she announced it’s finally happened and we’ve all been kind off on our toes until her husband spread the news that she’s put to bed this morning—about four. Twins—a pigeon pair.” His excitement glowed and brimmed through his eyes. “My other sister—her immediate junior—she’s already bundled her own two kids and they are right now in Abuja. You know, for the omugwo after-birth care.”
“Wow! That is awesome news. God always performs miracles and demonstrates his power among his people when we least expect it.” Shiloh was awed by the amazing news.
“Indeed he does.” Jeth beamed. Then slid out his phone. “I’ve got a picture. My brother-in-law sent it.” He leaned towards her. “Aren’t they adorable? Now, I’ve got me three nephews and four nieces.”
“They are beautiful.” The warmth and scent of his body made her step back. “I’m really happy for you and your family, Jethro.”
“Thank you.” He grinned and slipped back the phone into the pocket of his khaki trousers. “It’s the biggest news and blessing for us all. Went over to my elder brother’s but he’s out at some construction site. So Sister Gloria, his wife, recommended we all celebrate together this evening. Hence…” He jerked the basket again.
“It is something to be celebrated.” Shiloh agreed with a smiling nod.
He was a good looking man. And he wasn’t in a suit today. Good for him. He wasn’t very tall—man-wise. Possibly five-eight-ish. He looked fit. Not muscular and he wasn’t effeminately slim either. Fit like he didn’t shy from a jog or from a brisk walk a couple of times a week. His complexion was that kind people called creamy chocolate and it was flawlessly smooth as he had a clean-shaven oval face.
Shiloh very consciously stopped her analysis of his physique. “Congratulations again to your family.”
“Thank you once again.” Jeth stared at her a moment. Then he stepped back. “I guess we should head to the counter.”
“Yes. I should be getting home.” Shiloh caught two female attendants close by exchange a smirking look and almost rolled her eyes. People only thought one thing when a male and female stood together.
Since she was in front, Shiloh emptied the small contents of her basket on the counter. Then she opened her purse to get out her debit card. But it slipped off her fingers and fell to the tiled floor.
“Sorry.” Jethro said quickly and bent, before she could, to pick it up.
He passed it to her without looking at it.
“Thank you.” Shiloh said with a faint grateful smile.
“You’re welcome.” He beamed his own smile. “So, how’s your weekend going?”
“Uh… eventful. Not as positively eventful as yours but… I thank God.” She took her receipt and bagged goods from the cashier and moved aside.
“I’m glad to hear it.” His continued chatting stopped her from walking away. “What service would you be attending tomorrow?”
“Not sure yet.” It was the third. Same as she attended every Sunday.
“I’ll be attending the fourth and fifth service. That’s how I often do it. Thank you.” Jethro smiled at the cashier before picking his paper-bagged purchases. “After you.”
“Right.” Now it looked like they’d come shopping together, Shiloh silently sighed as they made their way towards the exit.
Outside, Jethro said. “My car’s over there. I could drop you off anywhere you are going.”
“Not necessary. I live within a walking distance.” Shiloh sent him another faint smile. “Congratulations on the baby news again and… have a great weekend.”
He dipped his head. “Thank you and you have a great weekend too.”
Shiloh turned and aimed for the exit gates. Against her wish, she cast a glance over her shoulders and found him still standing in place, watching her.
He sent her a wave.
She waved back and turned, hurrying through the gates.
Shiloh found herself casting furtive glances over her shoulders as she walked home. She didn’t know his car make but she looked out for any car steadily following her.
When she noted a slow-driving navy blue Corolla, Shiloh purposely stopped at the edge of a shoe-mender’s stall, waiting until it drove past her. Then she sighed with relief, even chided herself, before continuing on her way home.
“YOU took your precious time just getting a sanitary towel.” Her mother said as she strolled into her bedroom.
“Thought you were impatient to catch some quiet rest.” Shiloh lowered onto her bed, kicking off her sandals.
“Furo called and distracted me.” Joy held out her hand. “My KitKat?”
“Like you sent me to get you some.” Shiloh teased, then passed her the paper bag of candies. “You won’t believe who I ran into at the supermarket.”
“Who?” Joy’s eyes lit with interest as she bit off a chunk of the KitKat.
“The very same.” Shiloh bit into her snickers. “Her elder, I think eldest sister just put to bed. Twins. A boy and girl. They’ve been trying for eight years.”
“Oh, glorious miracle-working God!” Joy praised, instantly overjoyed with the news. “Eight years and she had twins? He is indeed Jehovah Over-do. Wow!”
“That he is!” Shiloh chewed on her Snickers and grinned. “He was so ecstatic. Naturally, of course. Says his family—his elder brother, wife and him are celebrating this evening. His other elder sister had bundled her two kids to Abuja to go do omugwo things.”
“And his mother?”
“He didn’t mention her, or any other parent. And I didn’t ask.” Shiloh shrugged. “I only felicitated with him at the great news and we parted ways.”
“Indeed it is great news.” Joy eyed the nonchalant expression that now covered Shiloh’s face. “Imagine you two meeting a second time and on a day he had such amazing news.”
“Uh… well, this is actually the third time we’re meeting.” Shiloh grabbed another Snickers and fumbled with its wrap. “He walked up to me after Thursday’s evening service.”
“Really? You didn’t mention it.”
“I forgot all about it. Told myself I should.” Shiloh confessed and grimaced at the twinkle in her mother’s eyes. “He said he wanted a wife and he believed I am that wife he wanted.”
“He said that?” Joy burst into laughter.
Shiloh’s grimace turned into full-blown scowl. “Glad you find it amusing. I was shocked. Didn’t know how to respond. At the end, I just got into the taxi he’d stopped for me and told myself it was best to completely forget dear, crazy brother Jethro.”
“And today, when you two met again, he didn’t mention the proposal at all?” Joy was smilingly unwrapped another KitKat.
Shiloh shrugged. “He was too much on cloud nine to recall that crazy moment, I guess. Beside, I’m relieved he didn’t.
“What does this man look like anyway?” Joy’s curiosity made her ask.
“Does it matter?” Shiloh frowned.
“Not too much to those who value the inside more than the outer layer.” Her mother’s eyes were amused. “But I’m sure you’ve had a good look, meeting him thrice now.”
“He’s not bad looking.” She didn’t want to dwell again on his looks. “But his physical looks don’t matter to me. Not when I’m not at all interested in him.
“Still because he made a pass at you in church?” Joy wondered why women, in all generations, liked to make oceans out of tiny fountains in matters of the heart.
“Yes, mainly because of that.” Shiloh granted. “Then because I haven’t heard from God on this. And no, mum, I haven’t asked to hear either. I just feel unprepared for a relationship right now. I’m still getting the feel of Port Harcourt and would prefer to do so on my own.”
She sounded too amenable that Shiloh scowled. “What?
‘Nothing.” Joy smiled. “Just accepting your choice…” She bit into her candy. Chewed slowly. “…to remain single and alone and unprepared for a relationship…” she bit into it again, “at twenty-eight.”
“I can’t believe you just played that cheap card, mum.” Shiloh chided and rolled her eyes.
“It’s not a cheap card. It’s every mother’s trump card. And I should know better how to play mine.” Joy passed her her half-eaten KitKat and received her Snickers. It was a private thing of theirs—exchange half-eaten candies. “Sometimes, when we think we are not ready, we are actually holding ourselves back from being ready, Shiloh. He might not be following the clear-cut path you’ve paved in your mind, but the most beautiful things in life don’t come in wraps we expect them to.”
“You’re saying I should give him a chance?” Shiloh asked.
“I am saying, don’t be quickly dismissive.” Joy pushed off her lounge recliner. “Next time you two meet, try telling him your name. That’s just simple courtesy.”
“How do you know I haven’t told him my name already?”
“I was a young woman once. And the tricks and wiles don’t seem to be changing.” Winking, Joy turned and headed for the door. “I’ll start dinner.”
Smiling, Shiloh rose and followed her. But she stopped first in her room to drop the sanitary towel in her wardrobe. Then strolled to her bed to pick the book she’d earlier been reading from under her pillow… and there, right beside her book, was the pack of sanitary towel she’d spent frantic hours looking for.
“What the heck!” Shiloh gaped at it.
Then she tossed a glance at her wardrobe. And then, back at it.
“How did you get here?” She queried, stupefied and bemused. “Mum?”
But her mother wouldn’t do that, would she?
And to what end?
She wouldn’t know she would…
What was she beginning to think—that someone—God—wanted her to get out of the house so she could run into Jethro at the supermarket?
“Stop being fanciful, Shiloh!” She chided, picked her book and turned to walk out of the room. Coincidences do happen… every day.
I hope y’all saw my excuse to post late on the Happy Valentine’s Day Post? Hehehe. Enjoy today’s episode.