The sound of the doorbell startled Trisha, so she quickly jerked out of the bed and wore her slippers.

“I can’t believe Mum has found me.” She muttered to herself as she walked out of the room.

The doorbell rang again.

Trisha tiptoed to the door and peeped through the keyhole. But the person in front of the door didn’t look like her Mum or anybody else she knew.

She opened the door and in front of her was a girl, maybe a little older than her, bearing a small cake on a tray.

“Hello. My name is Kelly. I’m your new next door neighbour.” She introduced herself.

Trisha took a good look at her from head to toe. She wore a faded jeans and pink blouse with a pair of white coloured slippers. She looked nice, and friendly.

“It’s nice meeting you.” Trisha said.

“I just moved into the neighbourhood yesterday and I decided to get to know my neighbours.”

“That is nice of you. Well, if you ask me, I think you made the right choice moving here. The neighbourhood is neat, quiet and there are a lot of good people living here.” Trisha smiled, but kept looking around to make sure no one suspicious was watching.

“That is good to hear.” Kelly smiled back. “Anyway, I did some baking this morning, so I brought this small cake for you. I am a baker and hope you will patronise me sometime.”

“Thank you. I promise to when I have any occasion to celebrate.” Trisha took the tray from her.

“I’m looking forward to that. Okay, I will be on my way now. You can return the tray after you are done. I live in the next house. See you.”

Kelly turned around to go but turned back again.

“Did you forget something?” Asked Trisha.

“No, I didn’t. I just wanted to ask what your name is.”

“Esther.” Trisha said. She used her confirmation name here because nobody called her by it before now.

“Esther, that is such a nice name.”

“Thanks a lot.”

“You are welcome. Okay, I will be on my way.”

“I guess I will be seeing you around.” Trisha said.

“That is for sure. Bye for now.” Kelly waved and walked away.

Trisha closed the door and walked to the small fridge to keep the cake. She had been lucky choosing this small town to hide away and lucky to have found this house. Her flat was a self-contained apartment and very affordable.

But the luckiest thing for her was that she had enough money in her account from all her allowances over the years. She had used some of it to rent the apartment and buy some small furniture and food. Now, she was a teacher at a private school close by, so she was saving more money and soon, she will enroll herself in the polytechnic at the state’s capital.

Yesterday had been her eighteenth birthday. It was almost a year since she left home. She missed Brenda and Bryan and sometimes, her father, even her mother too a few times.

But she wasn’t going back. Not until she had fulfilled her dream to become an artist. For now, she will only continue to pray for everybody.

***

David Egbuta followed the maid into the house.

“Please, have a seat while I go call Madam.” She told him and walked away.

David sat down and looked around the lavishly furnished living room. The rich knew how to live, he thought. He had been hired by Felicia Ogbonna to investigate the whereabouts of her daughter, Trisha. She had run away from home eleven months ago and every effort to find her had failed.

Unfortunately, he was yet to succeed himself.

He stood up as soon as he saw Felicia Ogbonna. “Good day, Madam.” He greeted.

“Good day, David. Please, sit.” Felicia sat down herself. “So, what do you have for me? I’ve been expecting to hear from you.”

“Well, we are still not in luck, Madam. But one thing is clear, she is not in this city.”

“That is not news to me, David. I’ve always suspected that she has left the city.” Felicia was disappointed. She had been hoping for some good news at last. “Anyway, what about Brenda?”

“She is in Lagos. She has rented a shop and opened a pastry store.” David replied.

“I see. I expect you have her addresses.”

“Here is all the information you need.” David handed her an envelope. “We will keep working on Trisha, and I promise you, Madam, we will have good news for you soon.”

“I hope so. Thank you, David.”

“Thank you, Madam. I will take my leave now.”

After he left, Felicia opened the envelope and brought out its contents. There was a picture of Brenda coming out of a gate and another where she was standing in front of a store. The name above the store was ‘Best Pastries’.

She lifted the neatly folded paper. Two addresses were written on it. At least, she now knew where Brenda was. Bryan continued to stay abroad and wasn’t yet ready to come home. As for Trisha…

Felicia sighed, stood up and walked back upstairs.

***

© Marie-Antoinette Otobo

***