When I first met Anya, I was washing my hands in the girl’s bathroom. I was in Primary five then – short, small-framed, not much hair on my head. I was staring at my reflection, feeling rather lonely. I had no friends. As I drank in my features, my reflection smiled at me. I shrieked in fright, my heart racing. I closed and opened my eyes. My reflection stared back at me and waved. I could’ve fainted. I wore our yellow and blue striped shorts. Deep blue shirt. An embroidered badge that read “Crestfield Primary and Secondary School”. And even as I touched my top, my reflection remained static.
“Wha- Wha” I was finding the words.
“Hello,” the girl in the mirror said. Her voice was high-pitched, melodious almost like a symphony of birds. Nothing like mine
I looked around the bathroom stall to be sure I was alone.
“He- hello” I responded, my voice shaking
“My name is Anya. And you are..?”
“Chiaka” she repeated. “So Chiaka, you can see me?”
I shot her a confused look. “Yes”
“Not everybody can see me. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Will you like to be my friend? I have no friends” she said. She had a faraway look in her eyes that day. A look of dreams that never came to be. I thought about it. Even though I was afraid, I was curious.
“Ye-yes…I will”. A friend was what I needed and I was too shy and timid to make one. Anya smiled. A big, bright smile that reminded me of the spring season I saw in our picture books.
“I like you Chiaka” she began, then in a serious tone, added, “But you have to promise not to tell anybody about me. Not even your mum. Will you do as I say?”
I nodded in agreement, the candy shaped hair packer bobbing against my temples.
“Very well. Do you have a mirror in your room?”
“Yes I do,” I said, eyebrows raised.
She laughed. “Good. I’d see you later. Watch your mirrors”
I blinked and my true reflection stared right back. I waved. It waved too. I breathed. It was all in my mind but still…
That night, I sat in front of the mirror after dinner. Bored out of my mind but giddy with excitement. I was curious to know what would happen. Would she come to me as she’d said? I started coloring the Unicorn in my coloring book when something rippled in the mirror. There staring back at me was Anya. I looked around to be sure I was alone.
“You’re not afraid anymore,” She said. “I guess that’s why you can see me. You’re special Chiaka. Not very many people have your gift”
I’d never had a friend tell me I was special so when Anya said those words, I felt validated. I felt good.
“Would you like to know me?” Anya asked.
“Definitely. I’d tell you about me too”
There wasn’t much to say about me, to be honest. My mother was a workaholic but still managed to peel away from work for a few minutes to spend time with me. My father was hardly ever home. So I let her go first. She told me stories…stories of her dreams. How she wanted to be a singer. She wanted to be famous the world over. She said she used to sing at church and at school functions. Everything seemed so certain until the trip with her parents to the East. They had skipped the traffic through a by-road that linked into the East-West road. An incoming truck lost control of the wheel and sent them skidding across the road and into a tree trunk. She said at first the fear locked in her throat until there was nothing but darkness. And when she woke, she was standing in the midst of choking flames, her mother holding onto her stiff hands. Her father, dead against the wheel. There was a long silence before either of us spoke.
“I’m sorry to hear that”
She sniffed and shrugged
“I’ve been roaming since. No one’s been able to see me Chiaka except you. Can I trust you?” she asked, her eyes wide. I was so close to the mirror, my wide nose almost touching the cool glass.
“Yes, you can” I whispered.
“Then let us be one. Let us live our lives together, in one body”
It seemed a noble thing to do. At least, at first, it was. I was giving this little girl something. A chance to be real again. I never thought about me or my dreams. After all, I had changed choices for career day like twelve times. Pfft! I had no clue! But this story isn’t mine alone. You will read Anya’s too. That night, with shattering of glass and flashing light, we became one. By morning, it was Anya that saw through my eyes and spoke for me. But I was there, you’ll see. We found a way. A way that worked until…
“I’ll have a frappe and a slice of banana cake please,” I said to the waiter. I was at Coffee Cravings. It was our spot. It was a Monday and the coffee shop was quiet in the mornings with very little customers. They had a huge mirror at the far back with coffee graffiti on either side. Chiaka was staring at me in the mirror, her smile a reflection of mine. We were both very happy. She beamed and spoke when the waitress had left, “Oh my God! Anya I’m so happy and excited!”
I laughed, “Girl I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t think I’d ever get this record deal but damn!”
“What do you mean you didn’t believe? You’ve worked so hard at this. All the rehearsals, Instagram videos, and promotions. Its all paid off sis”
“So tell me about this person we’re meeting today?” Chiaka asked.
“Well, he’s a rep from the record label. I want to have word with him on what it’s like to work with the label. I mean a deal worth five million Naira is good money in my books but I still have to be careful”
Chiaka rolled her eyes, “Like you haven’t already accepted”
“Well, there’s that… and he’s kinda cute”
“What?” I asked, smiling. “I checked his profile on IG. Looks clean”
“Just don’t do want I wouldn’t do”
“It’s our body, Chiaka. And, its time”
I noticed how she shuddered in the mirror. Chiaka – pious, shy and too timid to do anything. She’d insisted on celibacy for us. But now, that each time I wake in this body, feeling more powerful. I know I cannot keep that promise. I had already made my decision.
I laughed. “Ease up Chiaka. We are adults now so no need to be afraid. I’d make sure we’re okay”
“Yes!” I pressed. “And that’s that”
Chiaka breathed in, worry etched in her face. I knew she was playing it in her head but she wouldn’t win this. She knew. It was my week and I had full control. Finally, she agreed. “Be careful”
I shrugged. “I always -‘
“Shhhhh, I think he’s here”
I turned and sure enough, there was a guy standing in the foyer looking around. I recognized him from his photos even though he was shorter than I’d expected.
“Ochuko” I called, stepping out of my seat and down to the floor.
Of course, I had chosen my name as the stage name. It was a way to keep the balance. Plus, it sounded better.
“What’s up! The latest rock-star in town!” He said, beaming. I held onto his hand a little longer – flirting tip 101. He had a goatee and a small fro. He dressed in a black sweatshirt and black jeans.
“Good to see you, finally. Let’s have a seat”
Ochuko was brilliant. He understood the entertainment industry enough to give me insightful tips. We chatted well into the late morning before he asked if I’d like another date. Of course, I agreed and because I had other plans, I suggested my place. Chiaka shot me a snarky look when I told him he could bring a bottle of wine and chocolate
I paid for our order – flirting tip 102 and we left. He, in his grey 2015 Toyota corolla and me – in an Uber. Chiaka was quiet all through the ride. She was sulking when I stole a look in the passenger side mirror. Good thing too because I had studio sessions and a media tour to plan for.
I had looked forward to Thursday that when it finally came, I was all giddy. I started early that morning. Cleaned the apartment, had breakfast and set out to make my classic jollof for my date. Chiaka was rubbish when it came to jollof. When she cooked for mum, she would sneak a mirror into the kitchen so I could give her directions and tips. At first, mum didn’t understand how someone could be good at something one day, and useless at it the next. Finally, she stopped wondering and we found a way to alternate our strengths when we had our week.
At five minutes to seven, Ochuko called to say he was on his way. A little late, but I could forgive him. At twenty minutes past seven, he’d texted to say he was at my estate gate. I called the security to let him in. It had rained earlier in the day, so I was sure he will have to swim through the floods to get to mine – Lekki style. He was at my door at 7:30 pm with the wine and chocolate in hand.
I smiled when I saw him.
“Hi, welcome!” My tone was higher than I’d want. It was usually so whenever I was excited. Our living room consisted of a seven sitter couch in grey. A small coffee table. A round medium-sized mirror where Chiaka looked bored. A floating shelf for our favorite books, art and house plants.
“You have a nice pad” he complimented. “And it smells nice!”
“Orange and jasmine incense,” I said, as we took our seat and I switched to Netflix.
I picked a movie for us while he poured us a glass of wine. Two hours, a few glasses and a full belly after, I started to trail my finger on his arm, leaning into his shoulders. I let him lift my chin to meet his gaze. The smell of orbit mint hung on his breath as he leaned in. His lips parted mine – me enjoying the feel of his tongue, unlocking the button at the top of his collar. I trailed soft kisses down his adam’s apple to the point of his collar bone. I smiled when he groaned. Soon we’d undressed and I was straddling him on the couch. Every part of me enjoyed every part of him and even though I felt Chiaka’s protests, I blocked her off completely. This was my moment. I was the star…
Holla! Thank you for reading! If you liked this story, there’s more. This is the first part and the second will up in a bit. Please subscribe to my site so you get the notification when its up. Don’t forget to like and drop a comment. I can’t wait to hear what you think about the story.
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