Culled from the book “May Baby” written by Ibukun Tunbi
In the room, Amina was her usual chatty self however, Tobe tried to keep up but couldn’t. When she went into the bathroom and the shower was on, she put her medal on the bed with a note for Amina and Coach B on it and started sneaking out of the room, her small bag strapped around her back. As soon as she got to the door she heard,
Turning back to face Amina, Tobe quickly found words to defend herself.
“I wanted to see the hotel one last time before we leave.”
Amina watched her and was almost buying her story when she spotted the medal and a note on the table. She started walking toward it and Tobe was trying to distract her.
“Are you almost done in the shower? You know we-”
But it was too late, Amina picked up the letters and read hers. “You are leaving?” She said in shock.
“I am sorry. I didn’t-”
“Sorry ke. I am coming with you.” “I don’t think you have to.”
“I don’t want to return too. I like it so much here. So what’s the plan?”
“I have no plan.”
Amina started getting into proper clothes.
“You haven’t even had your bath.”
“I can bath later. If I enter the bathroom now, you will run away. We will go together.”
Tobe tried everything to discourage Amina but her mind was made up so instead, she started strategizing on how they could both get out without being seen.
“How do we get past-“ Tobe started to say.
“Oh, that’s easy,” Amina said and she walked across the room to get a bag with uniforms and aprons.
“Amina!!” Tobe exclaimed.
“You are not the only one who thought of this. Can we go now?” She said.
“Where did you get these?”
“I asked the cleaner nicely. What do you think?” “You stole them!”
“Don’t act like you are holier than me, please.”
Tobe burst into laughter and walked back to where Amina was to get a uniform from her. She kept laughing all the while as Amina let her in on her plans to escape.
Tobe had settled well in Texas after 3 months. She stayed under the radar as much as possible and would not so much as allow herself to go to public places for fear they might be searching for her. She had called Amarachi a number of times using the bartender’s phone from across the street to tell her she was alright and that she was going to get her with them as soon as possible. It wasn’t long after that, that Amina got into trouble for dating a married man, Shawn. Shawn had told her he loved her and wanted to marry her only two weeks after they had met. Tobe told her he was just using her for sex but this statement had hit the wrong nerve and Amina and Tobe had had a falling out.
Tobe moved to another part of town for fear that Amina would call her out to the authorities and found a roommate to squat with for a while. It was here she met Stephan. Stephan had worked out of the coffee shop in the building opposite Tobe’s apartment. Every morning, Tobe saw him from her window as he walked into the shop and sat at the same spot every day. She could not tell if it was love or maybe mere fascination.
One day, she saw him walk into the coffee shop again and this time, curiosity got the best of her. She wanted to know who this man was that fascinated her so much. So she got up, dressed nice, put on a jacket to combat the cold wind that had been threatening Dallas for days. She knew she was still observing her environment to see how she ought to interact with it and her plan was to walk into the coffee shop and order a coffee moving close enough to observe this man she had her eye on.
When she got in she spotted him seated at his regular spot by the window. She was not going to say anything to him but after getting her coffee she realized her curiosity had not yet been fed enough. The spot was busy and so she walked in the opposite direction trying to find a way she could position herself as close to him as possible. The room was full and she could not find a spot still that was close to him but she stayed as far as she could trying to see what he was working on on his computer.
She saw him change between pages but kept coming back to one specific webpage so she moved closer on her way out. She mistakenly dropped a pen on the floor beside him but he did not even look her way. The guy on the next table saw it and bent over to pick it for her, it was during this time that she managed to spot the website name and as she picked up her pen thanking the man, she quickly wrote the web address on her palm as she crossed the street.
Something inside her asked her, what if this was the last chance she would get to see him again and for some reason, she could not bear to hold that thought. She ran upstairs to her housemate’s computer. She knew Rucci was not going to find it funny that she was using her computer but she had to find out about the man. She pulled out the keyboard and searched for the button to turn it on.
Tobe had never had a computer before and did not know how to use one yet here she was trying to get on the internet for a chance to know a stranger. He could be a serial killer and she could be his next victim. With that thought coming to her head, she realized she didn’t care what he was. She struggled to find the buttons on the system and eventually turned it on. The system was rolling and she didn’t know what to do again. A screen later came on asking her to input a password and it was then that Tobe decided she had had enough of this method. She was going the traditional way this time.
She went and sat by the window again and watched until he was packing his things. With so much speed in her sprint, Tobe started running down two flights of stairs and out the front door. The serene road somehow had many cars gracing it at this time and Tobe tried very hard to be patient with the cars but seeing they were not stopping, she started walking fast right in the middle of the road and screeching tires was the result of this. Everyone turned to the road to see what was happening, so did Stephan who was making his way out of the coffee house shop. Immediately Tobe’s eyes caught him she had an immediate attraction to him and her breath got caught in the act making her stop dead in the middle of the road staring at him. Stephan immediately ran to her stopping cars to get to her. He quietly directed her out of the road to sit on the chairs at the sidewalk of the coffee shop.
“Are you ok?” He kept asking.
Different people watched the scene all in shock at what happened.
“Are you alright?” Stephan repeated again. It was then that Tobe realized his French accent and realized also that if she continued to be mute, he might think that she was actually that.
“I am fine.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. Thank you for saving me.”
Stephan smiled and Tobe’s breath got caught again. “You are welcome.”
“Do you want me to call someone to come get you? Maybe a relative or a friend?”
“It’s alright, I live there.” Tobe pointed to the white three-story building across the street.
“I can walk you home. Just to make sure you are ok?”
“Sure. I mean, that’s ok, thank you. I can seat here for a bit”
“Alright. Do you mind if I sit with you?” Stephan said. “I am Stephan by the way.”
“I am Tobe but you can call me T.”
“Oh, Tobe. Nice to meet you.”
Excerpt from the book ‘May Baby’ written by Ibukun Tunbi